Today is the third Sunday in January. The day that churches recognize as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. This observance was brought about because of a proclamation issued by President Ronald Reagan on January 13, 1984 which designated January 22 as the first National Sanctity of Human Life Day. This latter date coincided with the U.S. Supreme Courts legalization of abortion-on-demand in all 50 states.
Today is also our oldest daughter’s 32nd birthday. In past blog posts, I’ve talked about our son’s birthdays and our youngest daughter’s birthdays because most of the ladies who have visited the shop throughout the years know our younger two children. They were 11 and 9 respectively when we bought the shop. Our oldest daughter, however, is eight years older than her brother and ten years older than her little sister. And get this; she came in the middle of the other two. Yes, you’ve guessed it. Our oldest daughter, Julia, is adopted. Nathanael was eight and a-half months old when she came to live with us at the age of eight and a-half years old. Believe it or not though, he always claimed to be the oldest because he came into the family first. Thankfully, his math skills did get better as he got older.
As for Victoria, she is the only person that Julia has known from pre-birth to present day. Because of the age difference between them, Julia essentially became a second mother to Victoria which had its pluses and minuses to be sure. Victoria learned early on that if I said no to something, all she had to do was go ask Julia who never refused to get for her or do for her what she was asked.
All three of our children are miracles in their own right. Rick and I were told we’d never have children and were given the alternative of adopting or accepting our childless status. As is the case with human nature, being told you can’t have something only makes you want it all the more. To fill the void we were foster parents for a while when we were living in Albuquerque, NM for a volunteer organization known as Healing the Children. We loved the children that came to stay with us for medical attention, but it was always difficult to see them go back to their parents when the time came. It’s amazing how attached you can get to a child whose language you can’t even speak well.
To be a foster parent in the state of New Mexico in the early ‘90s, even for a volunteer program which did not pay the foster parents for taking the program’s children into their homes, you had to be fully licensed by the state. Because of this requirement, we were also able to take children who were in need of care should their adoptions not work out for one reason or another. This is how Julia came to be in our family. She had been adopted by another family but things weren’t working out very well for the three of them. She came to stay for two weeks and eleven months later we became her new family.
We’ve always seen Julia as a double miracle really. The first was because of the cost to adopt from Russia at the time. As I understood it, her original adoptive family had around $20,000 invested in her adoption. Because of the expense, there was no way we could have ever afforded to adopt, and Rick was not going to go in debt and borrow money in order to “buy” a child.
The second reason we saw her as a miracle was the fact that she’d been born at all. We had no information about her birth mother, other than a name, so we do not know if she was put up for adoption at birth for financial reasons or for cosmetic and mental reasons. While folks in Russia weren’t always well off during that timeframe, it could be that her birth mother didn’t feel that she could afford to care for Julia properly. On the other hand, Julia was born with Strabismus, an eye condition that’s easily corrected in the states but apparently not so easily at that time in Russia. The condition was corrected by her original adoptive parents but not before her depth perception was affected. She was also born with a very small head which apparently lead the Russian doctors to conclude that she would be mentally retarded, which she isn’t. As is often the case, children who are not born “perfect” in other countries are not accepted by their birth family and are sent to orphanages, or worse still, killed.
Julia wasn’t the easiest child to raise. There is definitely a difference in raising biological children whose actions you can trace to yourself or your spouse and raising an adopted child. Why? Children are children, right? No, I’m afraid they are not. With an adopted child you are flying blind 100% of the time. You haven’t a clue why they do what they do; you just have to deal with it. The one thing I’ve regretted the most though is the lack of medical history. We have no way of knowing what genetic gremlins might be lurking inside Julia just waiting to cause problems.
I’ve said all that to say this and will try to tie it all back to the significance of today. I’d like to thank Julia’s biological mother, whoever she may be, for giving Julia the chance to live and to add to the dynamics of our family. I can’t help but think that this woman has wondered all these years about the child she gave up for adoption. I’m sure I think that because that’s what I’d be wondering had I given a child into someone else’s keeping. I’m sure she’d be happy to know that her daughter has grown up into a beautiful, Christian young lady. A young lady with a kind heart, one who is a hard worker, and one who is fairly independent and able to stand on her own two feet. Mind you, she has a couple of areas to work out still, but we’re hoping those will be resolved this year.
What if her birth mother had aborted her? Nathanael wouldn’t have had a big sister who rode him around in a cart hooked to the back of his little tractor until he fell asleep. That was no easy task as he never slept more than 30 minutes at a time when he was little. Victoria wouldn’t have had someone to run to when mom said no and to keep their room clean. How different our lives would be, as well as the lives that Julia has touched throughout the years, if her own life had been ended because her birth mother didn’t want the pregnancy. What a shame it would have been had Julia not been given the chance to live, to love, and to be loved.
If you read the post before this one about Tim Tebow’s latest book, Shaken, you need to realize there is much more to his story than what is in that book. His mother was told he was a tumor and she needed to abort him in order to save her own life. Thankfully, she relied on God to preserve her life and allow her son to be born healthy. This young man has had a tremendous impact on so many lives; lives that are better for having made contact with him. Now, imagine the difference life would be for so many people in America and abroad had his mother thought only of herself and done away with the child God had blessed her with. She had a choice. Thankfully, she chose life for her child instead of death.
As a woman who thought she’d never have the privilege of holding her own newborn, I find the reasoning given for abortion, by far too many women, appalling. I was 32 years old when I had Nathanael and 34 when I had Victoria. I was probably considered “at risk” because of my age, but never did I think of aborting either of my children in order to “save” my own life. Granted, had Rick and I chosen to remain childless we would have been spared more heartache than we ever imagined possible, but we would have also missed the privilege of parenting three beautiful children who have grown into three responsible adults. Will they make a difference in the lives of others? I know for a fact that they already have and I trust will continue to do so in the future. To give a child the opportunity to be born should not be seen as just a choice. It should be seen as an honor, a blessing, and a privilege.