SHELLY: HER ADOPTION STORY
Shelly shares her adoption story in her own tender words. She has presented her adoption story with church teens and in the public schools. In an effort to help young teens facing life and sexuality choices, Shelly lovingly suggests options for unplanned pregnancies. We are very thankful for the bold and courageous stand that Shelly demonstrates. Her love for God, for life, and for children is evident and touching. Shelly and her husband have successfully adopted 2 children--and praise God they will be raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. All names have been changed to protect everyone's privacy.
Submitted by Shelly in 2000.
(Another 2 successful adoptions associated with Christian Adoption.)
I am here today to share with you about adoption. I understand you are talking about family life and sexuality in this unit. I'm glad to hear that you have talked about abstinence, because that would be my first priority in talking about anything related to sexuality. I believe that the greatest choice you can make as an individual is to keep yourself sexually pure - to stay away from sexual activity - until you are married. When I was in high school I used to get asked the question "If you were to get pregnant, what you would do with the baby?" Well, I had already made a commitment to wait until marriage to have sex and so my usual answer was "I won't have to deal with that." And that is how my life played out.
But back to adoption. What IF I had gotten pregnant and had to face the very difficult decision of what to do with the baby? What would I have done? Privately I had made that decision as a teenager as well. I knew that if I were to be in that position, I would place my baby for adoption. I made those two decisions before I even began dating guys. I knew then that a teenager is not equipped to raise a baby. Period. I know that is a pretty harsh statement, but I believe it more today than I did then.
When you hear the word "adoption," what comes to your mind?
I have always had a positive view of adoption - even as a little girl. I knew kids who had been adopted and knew people who had adopted. I always wanted to have a family, but thought if I adopted, it would be to add to my biological family. Today I'd like to share my own story of adoption because I think it will help you see that adoption is a very positive experience - not just for the adoptive family, but also for the birthmothers.
Like I said, I have always wanted to be married and have a family of my own. I come from a large family and I had a great time growing up. When I graduated from college I was single and without a prayer for a husband! I figured I would meet him "any day." It wasn't until several years later that I met my husband and we got married when I was 27 (he was 32). Neither of us had been married before and we had waited until we were married before being intimate with each other.
Because we were older, we didn't wait too long before wanting to start a family. I got pregnant within the first year and we began making plans for this little one who would join our family. We began getting the house ready, looking through name books, etc. Then we experienced one of the worst days of our lives . . . at 26 weeks in my pregnancy; we were told our baby would not live. They offered us a medical termination (another term for abortion), but we were committed to giving our child life as long as God gave him life.
Samuel Clayton was born July 27, 1995 and lived one hour. I had never dreamed I would go through something like that. The grief was overwhelming, but because we have Jesus in our lives, we became stronger both as individuals and as a couple.
The doctors told us the chance of something like that happening again was slim, so we decided to have another baby right away. I got pregnant with our second baby and made the choice each day to love our baby even though I fought thoughts of losing this baby too.
Well, at 20 weeks our doctor did a routine ultrasound. He discovered this baby had the same problem - kidneys that didn't produce the amniotic fluid, which is necessary for the lungs to develop. Again we were offered a medical termination and again we chose to give him life until God chose to take him to heaven.
Scott Andrew was born September 4, 1996 and lived 7 hours. Our pain was real and deep, but because we have Jesus in our lives, we again became stronger as a result. I know that sounds so simple to say, but it's true. Statistics say 80 percent of couples who lose a child (no matter the age of the child) will divorce within 5 years. We were so committed to each other and we determined to get through this difficult time together. Divorce is not in our vocabulary and so we chose to let God strengthen us through the experience.
Losing two babies in two years was not a part of my dreams for my family. I have known only a few people in my whole lifetime who have lost a child, let alone two.
It was after these experiences that we were drawn towards adoption. We began our first adoption process in March of 1997 and during the following months we had several contacts regarding birthmoms who were placing their babies. None of them worked out. Then on November 18, 1997, we got "the call" about a baby boy who would be born that week in our area. The birthmom wanted to place with us. We adopted Michael when he was 24 hours old on November 22. What a miracle it was for me to walk into the nursery, see my son for the first time, and love him instantly!
This year we went through the adoption process again. We matched with a birthmom in April and Anna was born August 17 in Texas. We picked her up from the birthing center when she was 7 hours old. We have a semi-open adoption which means we send letters and photos every three months this year and then annually after that. We E-mail occasionally too. While we were in Tennessee, we were able to spend several hours with Anna's birthmom prior to her birth and it has been a blessing to know her.
The interesting thing about our babies' birthmoms is that they are both older. Michael's birthmom is my husband's age and had some kids from a marriage. Michael was born from a post-marriage relationship. She knew what it takes to raise a child and knew this little guy needed more than she could provide.
Anna's birthmom is 21. Anna is her 2nd daughter by the same guy. She kept her first daughter and when she got pregnant with Anna, she knew she could not provide adequately for two - in fact she could barely do it for the one.
Both women knew how challenging it is to raise children alone and knew their babies deserved better than that. I believe they both showed great courage when they chose what was best for their babies. What a gift of love.
It's interesting to me that older women, who probably are more equipped to parent, are also wise enough to know the baby needs a 2-parent home. Young gals, however, who are less equipped to parent these little people, choose to keep their babies.
I've asked myself, "Why don't many young girls choose the loving option of adoption when they are pregnant?" I think it is because more and more girls are getting pregnant on purpose. Perhaps they fear losing their boyfriend and think that getting pregnant will force the guy to stay with them. Or perhaps they feel empty inside and are looking for someone who will love them back. Whatever the reason, these girls are being frivolous with human life . . . they are making babies for selfish reasons. Babies don't need selfish moms and dads . . . they need parents who will give them the unconditional love and care they need in order to become healthy human beings.
We knew a gal who fits this scenario. Dan and Jean had been dating for over 2 years and Jean was feeling insecure about their relationship. They were sleeping together without the commitment of marriage. She was on the pill so it was "safe sex" right? Wrong. One day, without Dan's knowledge, Jean decided to go off the pill. She thought that if she got pregnant, that would secure her relationship with Dan.
Boy was she wrong. Dan was angry when he found out she was pregnant. He wasn't ready to be a dad. Fortunately, he was wise enough to see that this baby needed to be placed for adoption. Over time he convinced Jean of that and we were contacted in February 1999. The baby came in March and Jean just couldn't go through with it. She thought that little guy would fill the hole in her heart and so she selfishly decided to "give it a try," as she put it. That little boy is growing up with a mom who didn't even know how to take care of a baby (in fact he almost died in her care at the hospital). She had no job, no goals, and no purpose in life. He should have been adopted by a family who could give him what he really needs. I think she knows now that this baby can't meet her need for love.
I think that story is duplicated over and over here in our area of the state. Girls who have empty hearts somehow believe that having a boyfriend will fill their lives. Boys with empty hearts think that having a girlfriend will make everything great. In order to keep the boyfriend, girls give sex so that they feel loved. For the guys, they give "love" so that they can get sex. When the relationship becomes fragile, the girl feels insecure about her future with this guy she thinks she loves but who is probably just using her for sex. So she thinks that if she gets pregnant, he'll have to stay with her. SHE MAKES A BABY WITH THIS GUY AND USES THIS PRECIOUS LITTLE LIFE WHO HAS NO SAY IN THE MATTER TO MANIPULATE THE GUY INTO STAYING WITH HER.
The sad thing is that this baby cannot fill her empty heart the way she thinks. She hasn't counted the cost of raising a child alone. She hasn't considered what she will do when that baby becomes an unruly toddler and begins telling her "No!" and "I hate you!" She doesn't think about how much children need a mom and a dad. She can only think about what she needs.
Most girls and guys don't think of what is best for the baby. And that's why I'm here.
What makes adoption such a positive option?
One of our connections in the adoption process was an Internet web site called Christian Adoption. (christianadoption.com) We listed twice with them and connected with Anna's birthmom through that web site. Here are some statistics from the ministry of Christian Adoption:
Adoptions are taking place. In fact last year we assisted in matching a couple from another state and from the web site with a birthparent couple here in our home town. That little baby boy is their first baby and they are ecstatic about being parents.
Here are some often-asked questions about adoption:
Two common methods of adoption are: agency and independent. We opted for independent which enabled us to search for a baby on our own. As a birthmom you can link up with an agency or contact an adoption attorney who has leads. Trusted friends can help you make a loving plan for your baby as well.
Making a loving plan to place your baby with an adoptive couple will cost you nothing financially. We were responsible for attorney fees, counseling fees, and any medical expenses that weren't covered by insurance.
You can make the adoption experience exactly what you want it to be. You can do what is best for your little baby and he/she will grow up knowing that you loved him/her so much that you let him/her grow up with two parents who can provide for his/her needs.
OH, BUT I COULD NEVER GIVE MY BABY AWAY! What about that reasoning? When a baby is conceived without the benefit of a marriage, all the choices become difficult. That's when you need to consider what is best for the baby. That baby needs a mom and a dad. He or she needs stability. They need love and nurture. They need instruction and discipline. They need food and water and shelter and clothing. Most unmarried couples can't provide all of those things like a married couple can.
The experience of adoption is the most loving and the most painful experience at the same time. A birthmom who chooses to make a plan to place her baby with a mom and dad is making the most courageous and loving decision for that baby she can make. But the grief of her personal loss is very painful. The couple who receives that baby experiences great love for that child and the blessing that comes from parenting. But they have the grief, also, of knowing they weren't able to produce a biological child.
That's what makes adoption so beautiful. The couples involved in the adoption - both birth parents and adoptive parents - are looking beyond their own personal needs or expectations to those of that little tiny baby. It's a miracle for the birthmom to let someone else love her baby and raise him/her. It's a miracle for the adoptive mom to take that baby and love him/her as if he/she had grown inside of her.
I hope that you will consider the information I have shared with you today. My husband and I pastor a church and we are in the business of helping people. If you or someone you know becomes pregnant, I pray that life will be chosen and that the baby's future and welfare will be the most important consideration.
For more information please read Shelly-2 and Sarah. We encourage you to prayerfully consider registering with our service, and/or writing to us.
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A non-profit Christian and Internet service ministry. We're helping others in the adoption process.
Eddie & Deborah S. Hill P.O. Box 243 Coffeyville, KS 67337