I stroked his soft cheek. His blue eyes gazed into mine as I touched his soft hair. I counted his toes and fingers and caressed his plump little belly.
My baby boy had grown perfectly inside of me for nine months, and now I could see and touch him. Tucking his thumb under his fingers, he made a little fist that he waved at me, his 15-year-old mom.
I leaned back, closed my eyes, and listened to every breath he took.
I had fallen in love with him during my pregnancy. At first I wanted to keep him and raise him. He could come to school with me and attend the daycare for teenaged mothers. I bought him clothes and a crib. But one day in math class I thought about everything I wanted to give him—but couldn’t.
At that moment, I knew I loved him enough to give him to a family who could give him what he needed: a father who was active and present in his life, a mother who was not a child, financial security, and more.
Part of my heart died. It had to die, so he could live the life I wanted him to have.
I chose his family with great care, deciding on one in Iowa. The man was a farmer and the mother a nurse. Their arms were empty because of infertility.
Time stood still for three days after his birth. I stayed awake, not wanting to miss a moment. I changed his diapers, fed him bottles, and took Polaroid pictures. Late into the night, I read Scripture to him and talked as he lay in my arms gazing at me. My tears fell on his cheek as I told him:
“I love you, my baby boy . . . Please don’t ever forget. Forgive me for the hurt and pain my choice may give you. I am making this choice for your future because I love you . . . Be at peace, follow God with all of your heart, and when you are old enough, come and find me one day.”
His parents came into my room the next day, ready for their baby son. The woman was beautiful and kind. She hugged me and whispered, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” The man said: “We promise to raise him well. We will take good care of him.”
I cradled him for the last time and began to weep. I kissed his forehead and told God, “I can’t give him up.” He answered, “Give him to Me. I will watch over him. His destiny is with another family now.”
I watched as my son left my arms, but not my heart. Then I wailed with a grief I thought would never pass.
My life continued. The years went by, and I graduated from high school and college and became a wife and mother. But I never stopped thinking about my son.
— — —
A voice called in the night. I strained to see who was walking toward me. “Mom! Mom!” His voice was urgent and pleading. “Where are you? I can’t find you!” I tried to scream: “I’m here!” But my words came out in a whisper.
“Mom! Why did you leave me? Please! I’m looking for you!”
I began running toward the figure in the darkness, tears pouring down my face, but couldn’t get to him fast enough. He began to fade. “Mom! Where are you? I need you!”
Waking from my dream, drenched in sweat, I got out of bed and knelt beside it. I buried my face in the mattress and whispered, “Jesus, is he is looking for me? Please help us.”
It was Good Friday, April 2002, at 5 a.m.
— — —
The dream weighed on me all day while I worked at the church. As the Children’s Ministry Director, Easter weekend was a busy time for me. I set up classrooms for the Good Friday service while thinking about my birthson.
I hadn’t seen him since he was three days old, but I had come close to him through prayer. God would wake me in the middle of the night to pray for him. Now he was 18 and about to graduate from high school. I often wondered if he would try to find me. Years ago, I had decided that I would not intrude in his life, but I prayed he would look for me. I yearned to know all about him.
My beautiful daughter was 8-years-old and she filled my life with joy. But the ache of losing my son never left.
The Good Friday service was beautifully sad, as it is meant to be. Remembering the cross reminded me that God knew what I felt. He was a birthfather. In giving up His Son, he chose an adoption plan for humanity. He saw, felt, and knew my sorrow. Leaving the service, I longed for Easter—a time of new birth, life, hope, healing, and joy at the impossible, the miraculous, and the utterly fantastic, unfathomable grace of God.
I tucked my sleepy 8-year-old into bed and kissed her forehead, praying she would draw near to God and He would draw near to her. I prayed this for both of my children every night.
As I closed her bedroom door, I saw the light of my answering machine blinking.
I listened to messages and checked caller ID. I recognized the area code: Someone from Iowa had called but had not left a message. I stood frozen. It was him, or someone calling about him. Running to my computer and typing in the phone number, I discovered the caller was the law firm of the attorney who had handled the adoption.
My dream from last night had become reality—my son was looking for me. Kneeling, I wept tears of joy. “I’m coming, son. I’m here. Hold on,” I said. And, “thank you, Jesus.”
— — —
“Carl is doing very well,” the attorney said. “He is interested in finding you. He’ll contact you when he’s ready. He simply wants to know if you are open to contact.”
Am I open? You have no idea, I thought. “Yes, whenever he would like,” I replied.
“Okay,” he said. “We’ll be in touch.”
Every day I checked my mail, e-mail, and phone messages. Nothing. I wrote Carl a casual letter telling him about me and my daughter and letting him know I was looking forward to talking to him.
Two months went by. His parents sent graduation photos. I carried them everywhere and showed them to everyone. His parents wrote that he loved music, and people, and working in ministry with kids. He was very busy that summer, they said, advising me to give him time. I waited, sent another letter, and waited again.
I waited for two more years.
And I realized in the waiting that there is a lot to learn—about God, myself, and the way things are sometimes out of our control and we have to depend on God because otherwise we would go crazy. Crazy, thinking we can control times, and destinies, and futures, and the past. I had surrendered Carl once before. Now I surrendered him again to God, trusting that the meeting—when and if it took place—would be in His timing.
— — —
As I waited, Carl’s parents were a blessing to me. They sent pictures and reminded me that he was probably nervous about making contact. I was at a loss as to how to proceed. When I discovered him on MySpace, I spent hours reading every detail and sentence. I discovered he had a deep relationship with God and loved ministry. In many ways we seemed alike.
I wrote to ask if it would be okay to e-mail. The answer was “Yes.” Our conversation flowed—sometimes the e-mails were so long, it seemed like we could talk forever.
Then one day he texted to ask if he could call. I was cleaning the kitchen floor at the time. I dropped my mop, sank to the floor, and didn’t move. I was about to hear my son’s voice!
Five long minutes later, my phone rang. “Hi!” he said, and began telling me everything that was happening. Tears of joy streamed down my face as I sat on the floor and listened to the voice of the one I had loved and missed for so many years.
— — —
It was Mother’s Day weekend, 2006. I boarded a plane, my stomach full of knots. I was on my way to meet Carl.
I carried a scrapbook of pictures and memories. It would tell him about who he was and why I chose to give him to his mom and dad. It was precious to me and I hoped it would be precious to him too.
The shuttle dropped me off at the hotel, which was full of tropical rainforests and fountains. I was tired and emotional. My phone rang: “I’m here and waiting for you by the bridge,” he said. “On my way,” I answered lightly.
There were several bridges, so I wandered the hotel looking for him as he tried to give me directions. I began laughing as it became apparent we were both directionally challenged. Then I saw him across the bridge, talking to me on his phone. We made eye contact and began running toward each other. It was like my dream—only real. I was weeping and laughing as he picked me up and whirled me around. I put my hands on his face, tracing every feature, and we both cried and laughed and cried and laughed some more.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw and held my adult son. It was the most incredible, redeeming, and powerful moment of my life.
We had dinner and talked late into the night. I gave him the scrapbook and shared stories of his birthfamily. The next day he took me around town and shared stories about his childhood. They were good stories. Stories he could not have had with me and that make him who he is—stories I needed to hear.
The next morning, on Mother’s Day, I walked into church arm-in-arm with my birthson. The usher gave me a rose and wished me a Happy Mother’s Day. I stood beside Carl, thanking God for this Mother’s Day and for the grown man next to me who had grown under my heart.
I will never forget the laughter, the stories, and holding my birthson in the longest hug I have ever given or received, as tears streamed down my face. Mother’s Day—always a difficult day for me—was redeemed in so many ways. I am so thankful that I surrendered my son to God, who is a birth Father and my adoptive Father. I am so thankful that He held my son all those years.
We spent three days getting to know one another. He has a good life. I saw the result of the choice I had made in profound love. I was able to kiss the cheek of this grown man and whisper, “Thank you,” to the God who gave me three days to meet my son so long ago and now has given us the rest of our lives to know each other.
The views expressed in this post are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Hope4Kids.