January 21, 2016
Weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard parent community:
Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision. I thought it would be fitting to present this beautiful adoption story. I thank BCHS teacher Amanda Horan, who will be sharing her story at our pro-life prayer service this morning.
There is not much better than the perfection of a brand new baby.
My husband and I had been married for more than 6 years when we decided that it was time to start a family. We assumed that it would be easy. After all, people have been having babies for thousands of years. We were perfectly healthy. There was no reason to believe we would have trouble.
Yet, weeks, months and years passed without progress. I struggled through some of the worst times of my life as I watched jealously while everyone around me got pregnant, had their baby, and in some cases, even got pregnant a second time without any change in my own situation. News stories about a baby abandoned in Eagle Creek Park or a trash can brought me to tears, as did each new pregnancy announcement. I even remember crying silently in the back of these bleachers during another pro-life week, as topics like abortion are difficult to understand when all that you want is the chance to be a mother.
My husband and I chose the path to adoption because we felt that God was calling us in that direction. Adoption was already a large part of our life. My husband’s older brother was adopted. One of my cousins was adopted, and although she grew up in Oregon, she and I were close in age and were pen pals growing up. As a teenager, I dreamed of adopting a little girl from China. My husband and I wanted to be parents, and we did not feel that a baby needed to share our DNA to be our son or daughter.
Once we had decided to adopt, we set out to choose an adoption agency. We looked at several agencies and ultimately chose St. Elizabeth-Coleman, the Catholic agency in Indianapolis. This was the same agency that my husband’s parents used to adopt his brother more than 30 years ago, but more importantly, we believe that this agency has its priorities straight. See, I believe that the best way to be pro-life is to support places that support women in making a choice other than abortion rather than opposing places that perform abortions. As Father Guy Roberts explained in a homily at pro-life Mass here a few years ago, the way to end abortion isn’t necessarily to change the law, but rather to change hearts. At St. Elizabeth-Coleman, every woman has a counselor who helps her to determine what choice is best for her. No woman is pressured to choose adoption, and there are classes, support groups, and baby supplies for women who choose to parent their baby. Although St. Elizabeth-Coleman has a longer waiting list than other adoption agencies, we believe that they support ALL of the lives involved in adoption, including that of the birth mother.
We applied after a long home study process that included doctor’s checkups, two different background checks, a detailed statement of our finances, and a written autobiography, we were approved to adopt. We waited, and waited, and waited. In the meantime, my sister and several of my close friends had babies, and my pain continued.
Last spring, we met a birth mother who knew she was unable to care for her child but told us over and over again how she wanted the girl she was carrying to have a life she couldn’t give her. She allowed us to attend doctor’s appointments, including two ultrasounds. When I heard the baby’s heartbeat for the first time, she watched me to see my reaction. It seemed to give her peace with her choice to see the joy that she brought to me. I will never forget the moment when the midwife handed me a paper and said “Congratulations, your daughter will be born via c-section on June 11th.”
The morning of my daughter’s birth was the most terrifying three hours of my life. Even though her birth mother had promised not to change her mind, the fear of what could go wrong made me sick. Looking back on the three years of our journey to start a family, I can remember the pain, but it no longer hurts. I tell you about the pain briefly so that you can understand the joy that my daughter has brought to my life.
When the nurse walked out to the waiting room to tell us that we could meet our daughter, three years of pain and fear began to melt away. When I met Sybil for the first time, I was overcome with peace and calm. She was tiny, healthy, and perfect. Every day since June 11th, I have grown to love her more.
Like every new mother, I had plenty of worries. Maybe more than most mothers, I worried that I wouldn’t bond with Sybil or wouldn’t love her enough because I did not give birth to her. But by the time we left the hospital, Sybil was listening for and responding to my voice. Now, at 7 months, she reaches for me over anyone else, and it melts my heart. I know that I am her mommy and she is my baby. As some friends of ours observed, “You guys are just like a normal family.” That’s exactly right, because we are. Regardless of the color of her skin or the content of her DNA, she is our daughter. Her smile, happy babbling, and beautiful spirit have brought us more joy than I could ever imagine. Sybil made me a mother.
I would like to end with a quote that describes my feeling about adoption: “A child born to another woman calls me Mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.” -Jody Landers
I will never forget Sybil’s birth mother, who by choosing life for her unborn baby made my dreams come true.