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My Special Mother's Day Gift

By Karen Ledbetter

I used to dread Mother's Day. Year after year I suffered in silence during the church services that honored mothers. I still remember the pain but now look forward to this special holiday. Five years ago, God answered my prayers, and I became a mother through His miracle of adoption.

Our long and sometimes difficult and frustrating journey began in 1984. Knowing very little about adoption, we applied to our local DSS office, completed our homestudy, and then began to wait and wait and wait and wait.

Three years later we decided to try infertility treatments and were referred to a clinic in Charlotte. We both underwent extensive evaluations and treatments were begun. We looked forward to holding our newborn. Our first intrauterine insemination was performed just before Mother's Day. My blood hormone levels looked good, and our doctors were optimistic. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Each unsuccessful, stress-filled cycle was worse than the one before it, so we considered adoption again.

In September 1989, a friend called to tell me about a young woman who had given birth to a 5-pound baby girl a few days earlier, and she wanted to know if we were interested in adopting the baby. I talked to the young woman and her mother by phone, and we were asked to adopt the baby. We contacted an adoption attorney, who began the legal paper-work. We planned to name our baby Mary Elizabeth. Sadly, it turned out that the birth mother's family was pushing her to make an adoption plan for the baby, and she changed her mind about adoption. We never saw the baby but were devastated to learn that she would not be joining our family. Still, we never gave up on our dream of adopting.

A few months later, we contacted our DSS social worker and updated our homestudy. By that summer we were convinced that there were no healthy Caucasian infants available for adoption, so we considered a child with special needs. Our social worker encouraged us to pursue this route. We read everything we could find about adopting a special-needs and/or older child. About a year later, a 12-year-old child was placed in our home. Unfortunately, her special needs were more than we were prepared to meet. The placement lasted less than a year before we made the painful decision to disrupt, without ever finalizing.

Once over the grief of disruption, we began exploring domestic infant adoption and found several agencies that we could work with. I mailed out copies of our adoption resume to high school guidance counselors, college chaplains and counselors, and ministers. I prayed daily for our baby and his or her birth mother, trusting God to bring us together and work out all the details.

In late 1993 something unusual happened. Just before leaving church one Wednesday night, I knew that God would answer my prayers. I can t explain what happened. I only know that something incomprehensible in human terms had occurred. For the first time in years, I felt an unexplained peace about our childlessness. A few weeks later, the same thing happened just as I was drifting off to sleep one night. I later learned that around the same time my husband had a similar experience.

The afternoon of January 20, 1994, was cold and icy. My office phone rang, and somehow I knew before answering it that it was no ordinary call. The caller was a young woman, a college student, who had received a copy of our resume and was making an adoption plan for her baby, due in April. She had been receiving pregnancy and adoption counseling from an agency but, for some reason, was not interested in placing her baby with any of their waiting families. She wanted us to adopt her baby! We agreed that she should discuss the possibility of our adopting her baby with her counselor, and I needed to talk it over with my husband. She gave me her phone number, and we agreed to talk the following week. I hung up the phone, said a quick prayer, and rushed upstairs to share the good news with my husband! Four days later I called to tell her that we would be honored to adopt her baby. She had talked with her counselor and told us who to contact at the agency to begin the process.

We filed an application with the agency, had a new homestudy completed and approved by The Children's Home Society of North Carolina, and busied ourselves meeting all the agency requirements. At first we felt like the agency in Florida was trying to discourage placing with us, but the birth mother remained adamant that we were the family she wanted to raise her baby. Almost everyone we knew (and some people we didn't know) asked God to put His Will on the hearts of everyone involved. I wanted this baby, but I wanted God's Will even more. Within a few weeks, the agency agreed to our adopting the baby. This meant I would be a mommy by Mother's Day!

The baby's due date came and went, and I became a bundle of nerves. Finally one Monday morning in late April, our social worker called with the news that our birth mother was in labor! The next two days were full of anxiety and anticipation. I jumped each time the phone rang. I worried a lot. What if she changes her mind about adoption? Or, worse yet, what if something happens to the baby? On Tuesday afternoon, we finally received the call we had been waiting for. Our birth mother had given birth to a healthy 8-pound baby girl, and the adoption papers were signed. Did we want to adopt the baby, and how soon could we get there? I called my husband at work and then began packing.

We spent the next day driving to Florida. On Thursday morning, after signing a huge stack of papers, agency personnel watched and made photos while the most beautiful baby in the world was placed in our arms. It was love at first sight! We laughed and cried at the same time.

We spent about 10 days in Florida, awaiting Interstate Compact clearance. During this time we were able to meet the special young woman who had given our daughter life and thanked her for the precious gift, promising to love and cherish our daughter always.

We arrived home with our new baby the day before Mother's Day. Waiting for me in the stack of mail was my first Mother's Day card from my daughter s birth mother. After an emotional 10-year adoption journey, I finally celebrated my first Mother's Day as a mother!

True, it wan't an easy journey. There were lots of tears and disappointments along the way. At times we felt like giving up. I still sometimes think about the biological child that I'll never have, and I ve never forgotten 'Annie'* or Mary Elizabeth. I know in my heart that Sarah is God's special answer to our countless prayers. Through one young woman's pain and unselfish love, God gave us a priceless Mother's Day gift that year.

Children are a gift from God. Psalm 127:3

© 1999 Copyright Karen Ledbetter

Real Moms is a newsletter by and for adoptive mothers. Support, information, encouragement, and networking for domestic adoption are offered to adoptive and prospective adoptive mothers.

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My Special Mother's Day Gift
To Tell or Not to Tell The School About Adoption)

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