As I reflect upon our two adoptions this National Adoption Month, I am left teary-eyed remembering the beauty of the journeys for me and my husband, as well as the strength and generosity of their biological mothers — women who went above themselves in choosing life and hope for their children.
Twenty-four years ago, doctors diagnosed me with endometriosis and told me I would likely never be able to have children. My husband and I were devastated. As I coped with my grief, I had no idea that a 19-year-old girl named Elizabeth was grieving nearby for the opposite reason: She was pregnant out of wedlock with a baby she was terrified to raise on her own.
Elizabeth didn’t want an abortion, but she thought there was no way she could raise her baby alone. Just nearby, I was grieving my dreams of motherhood. Somehow God found a way to connect our separate suffering and to produce something beautiful out of it.
When a mutual friend introduced me to Elizabeth, I was struck by how young and scared she was, yet also resolute in her opposition to abortion. She believed that having two parents was important for raising a child.
Ultimately, she chose my husband, Tom, and me as adoptive parents. We were overjoyed and eager to support her throughout the process. My mother recommended that I connect Elizabeth with the local pro-life pregnancy center, Women’s Life Care Center, where Elizabeth was able to receive regular support from the center’s advocates in addition to maternity clothes.
I learned later that Elizabeth’s acquaintances had asked her how she could give her baby up, to which she responded, “You don’t know Rose and Tom.” That faith in us, and the courage it took her to place her daughter up for adoption (or make an adoption plan for her daughter) humbles me to this day.
Elizabeth’s selflessness and generosity did not end there. Throughout her pregnancy, she welcomed me to every ultrasound appointment and invited me to be present at Maria’s birth. She also insisted on putting my husband’s and my names on Maria’s birth certificate. In honor of Elizabeth’s incredible generosity and strength, we made Maria’s middle name Elizabeth.
We always welcomed a relationship with Elizabeth and are blessed to have a strong one with her and her family, even today, more than 20 years later. As Maria grew up, we sent Elizabeth pictures every birthday and Christmas. When Elizabeth got married, Maria was a junior bridesmaid in her wedding party. A photo of Elizabeth, Maria, and me at Elizabeth’s wedding is one of my most prized possessions.
Elizabeth’s parents also blessed our family in many ways. They attended Maria’s baptism, and they often helped us with childcare throughout her childhood. Their overwhelming love and support helped me respond when Maria came home from school upset, telling me through tears that she’d been bullied for being adopted. I told her, because of adoption, you have all these extra people who love you!
Our joyful adoption experience with Elizabeth, and our deep love for Maria, inspired me to give back to the Women’s Life Care Center and to raise awareness for the center’s incredible work. So during my time as Maria’s Girl Scout troop leader, I organized a trip for the Scouts to visit the Life Care Center. Together, the troop and I made and donated 53 blankets for the women at the center, and the little girls were able to see all the good things going on there.
My husband and I were also inspired to adopt again. A few years after adopting Maria, we adopted our precious son, Joe, from Guatemala. Maria instantly loved him and took on a motherly role toward him. I knew it was no coincidence when we discovered that Joe’s biological mother was also named Maria. Through our openness to adoption and the openness of Joe’s birth mother to life, God had found another who would forever love and mother Joe.
Looking back, I can’t imagine life without Maria and Joe. They are now both successful young adults. Maria is a 24-year-old, ninth-grade Algebra teacher in Georgia, while 19-year-old Joe is working as a plumbing apprentice and personal trainer.
As for me, once Maria and Joe grew up, I decided to share some of the joy and blessings I’d been given by volunteering at the Women’s Life Care Center. I tell women who come to the center that I don’t know what it’s like to be pregnant, but I do know how to advocate for them.
And when women ask me about adoption, I share my story with them so that they realize their precious son or daughter deserves a chance to live and to experience the joys of life with the many people who will love them.
The circumstances surrounding their adoptions may not be perfect, but their children will forever know that their mothers were strong and made the heroic decision to choose a good life for them.
More importantly, I hope that this story and message helps show women that they are never alone — whether they decide to pursue adoption or to raise their children themselves, we will be there to walk with them every step of the way.