catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 4, Num 9 :: 2005.05.06 — 2005.05.19


My son, Jacob

Thanksgiving has always been a special holiday for me. When I was younger, my family would celebrate by baking a dozen pies and inviting friends over to help eat them all. Eating pie remains one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving!

Four and a half years ago, Thanksgiving was given even more meaning as it was the day I gave birth to my son, Jacob. I was filled with love for Jacob and thanks to God who allowed me to be a part of bringing such a beautiful boy into the world. Jacob was born on Thanksgiving Day 2000 to four proud parents—his two birth parents as well as his two adoptive parents. It was a heart-wrenching decision to make an open adoption plan for him, but time has shown how wise it was. We wanted the best for Jacob and we were honest enough with ourselves to realize that it wasn?t the right time for us to parent a child.

I became pregnant in April 2000. I was working as a campus minister for the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO). I was scared, depressed, and confused. Early on in my pregnancy, I knew I was not ready to parent the child inside of me. I resigned from my job and had relocated to Pittsburgh by the end of the summer. I read about adoption and cried at what I perceived to be the end of my life.

In October, Patrick and I were in agreement to pursue an open adoption plan for our baby, but were feeling discouraged about finding the right couple. We had looked at numerous profiles of couples wanting to adopt, but none stood out to us. We wanted a couple who were committed to God, involved in their church, had a solid relationship, loved the outdoors, lived simply, read, were sensitive to the earth and the poor, and who would be able to stay at home to parent. We stumbled across a promising profile of a couple named Steve and Diane. We interviewed them for three hours one day. At the end of the interview, Pat and I knew they were the couple we had been waiting for. We asked them to parent our baby that very day.

Jacob?s birth is one of the ten most amazing experiences of my life (the lone U2 concert I went to with a friend is right up there, too). I looked at him and loved him. I was not prepared for my feelings to wash over me. Up until then, I had been very ?cerebral? about the whole thing?I just knew parenting wasn?t going to work for reasons X,Y and Z.

Our time with Jacob in the hospital was very important to us. At last, we were getting to know the person who had been living inside of me for close to nine months. We showed him off to visitors, examined his face, hands and body, held him and marveled in the beautiful boy God had created. How humbling it is to know God can create something so wonderful through you!

To symbolize the fact that a transition in the parenting of Jacob was taking place, we had planned a ceremony. Many people who had been part of our support system came to the ceremony. We sang, prayed, and read Scripture together. There was a message delivered by Bill Painter in which he spoke about children belonging to God. The most difficult part of the ceremony was when Patrick and I handed Jake to Steve and Diane.

The next few months were agonizing. I learned that birthparent grief, while not identical, is very similar to the pain of the death of a loved one. We missed Jacob. I never knew I could automatically love someone that much. I had serious doubts and reconsidered my decision at one point. I doubted because, while I believed our decision was what was best for Jacob, it hurt a lot. When I thought through the facts, all of our reasons for choosing adoption still rang true. It was still the right decision. One huge life lesson I learned during this time is that the right choice doesn?t always mean the choice that is free from pain, as our culture would have us believe.

God has done a great work in me in the years since my pregnancy and placing Jacob with Steve and Diane, his adoptive parents. Not only has he taken me out of a relationship with Jacob?s birth father, that was not life-giving, but he has lavished me with many good gifts.

A few months after his birth, my depression lifted (with some help from Zoloft) and I felt as if I?d emerged from a long tunnel. The light of possibilities was blinding. I?ve been blessed with a wonderful, yet still broken, community here in Pittsburgh.

I am working once again for the Coalition for Christian Outreach after a three-year hiatus, this time in the development department instead of as a campus minister. It has been a symbol of God?s never-ending grace toward me that I am working for the CCO, the very organization I was working for when my boyfriend and I became pregnant.

Jacob, now 4 years old, is growing into a beautiful little boy. I certainly miss many of his special moments by having asked Steve and Diane to parent him, but I do make it to some. We show up for every birthday celebration and every few months spend the weekend with Jacob, Steve and Diane. He loves to play and explore—mostly with trains and outside. He is full of different facial expressions, but is smiling most of the time. He has begun talking to himself (in a good way!) as his imagination is just taking off. What a gift for both of us that I have the opportunity to push him on a swing and that he is able to grow up knowing who I am and how much I love him.

Steve, Diane and I are all on the same page, which is nice. We all want Jacob to grow into a healthy well-adjusted boy and are willing to do whatever we need to, despite the pain it may cause us, to allow that to happen.

As you can tell, there was nothing passive about our choice to make an open adoption plan for Jake. I tend to bristle when others talk about adoption as a passive act, as in, ?I was given up for adoption?, etc. Patrick and I literally placed Jacob in Steve and Diane?s hands. We asked them to parent Jacob for us. We didn?t ?give up? anything and neither did any of the birthparents I know. We sacrificed. We sacrifice parenting our children. We sacrificed being the ones they come home from school to. Our hearts have been torn in two and through the years, our hearts have been healed.

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