Thursday, April 21, 2005

mother's day tribute

The Mother's Day cards have hit the racks at Wal-Mart. Here is my own card, one I wrote several years ago as I contemplated another mother from another time.

October 1953

Every year my mother tells me that the sky was the most beautiful azure blue that October of any fall she can remember.

She said they had forgotten to bring along a bottle and I screamed bloody-murder all the way from the courthouse to our home in Farmington.

When I was about four and first asked where I came from, my dad told me that I had been hatched on a stump. The wide eyed expression on my face made my dad laugh and laugh! Then the crinkles on his cheeks disappeared as he became quite serious. God had given me to them, he said.

I loved this story and listened each time he told it as if it had never been told before. As he spoke, I always pictured this young couple bouncing along a county road in the old Willes Coupe. Suddenly the blue sky turned golden and opened up, and as angels sang, a soft, round bundle was gently handed down into their arms. It is a wonderful memory. I was a planned and wanted child.

I was born October 9, 1953 at Crittenden Home in Peoria, Illinois to a young woman who possibly came from the Champaign or Mattoon area. In those days, pregnancy for a teen meant a hasty wedding, an adoption, or a secret abortion, often self-induced. My very brave birth mother chose to make an adoption plan for me.

I know little about the woman who made this choice, not even a name. She was a young teen who had been in trouble and had become a ward of the court. She lived in a single-parent home with only her father so she was placed in a group home for unwed mothers.

Since most of their lives were spent in seclusion, church ladies from the community would often bring gifts to these girls on holidays. Because their identities could never be known, the packages were left in the yard under the trees and when the visitors left, the girls could go outside and pick them up.

Not a birthday or Mother's Day passes that I don't think of this frightened young girl, for that is the only way I remember her. She asked to see me on the day of my adoption so I was dressed in pink and a nurse took me in to her. She held me for a long time and said my name should be Karen. And she cried.

I must have seen her then, the memory of her face somehow recorded in my memory but never to be retrieved. I often wonder if she ever married or became a mother again, if she was able to go on with her life in some normal fashion.

I have a small porcelain music box, now a little charred from a house fire a few years back. It plays "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" and was given to me one Mother's Day by my oldest son when he was just a small preschooler. How excited he was as his chubby little-boy fingers presented it to me!

My children are the sunshine in my life. I know the pain and joy of being a mother, of the sense of immortality that comes with being a part of the future through the lives of your children. I know the blessing of grandchildren. In their faces are the unfamiliar marks of a past generation. The round "kitty noses", the green eyes, the maverick blonde hair, these are not of their father. These are secret gifts, left under our family tree by strangers we will never know.

But beyond that, I have tasted life and all the fullness it brings because of one woman's great choice to give me that life. I may be the only child she ever had and she may not even celebrate Mother's Day. But each year on this day, I thank God for her and for her part in His sovereign plan for my life.

She held me close to her heart for 9 months. She didn't scream that it was her body and somehow I was an intruder. She didn't become a victim, though she may have been a victim of rape or even incest. Instead, she lovingly endured the shame of a teen pregnancy and the pain of childbirth so that I could have life.

In this day when a women's rights are the ultimate goal of some, I want to thank this young woman who set her personal rights aside for me. The spirit of our age is not one of nobility or sacrifice. My children's generation knows little of doing the courageous or the inconvenient.

But there are heroes today. The young woman who finds herself in an unplanned pregnancy and chooses to give her child life, she is my hero. The teenager who tenderly places her child into the arms of a mother who cannot bear her own, she is my hero. And wherever she is this Mother's Day, my birth mother is also my hero. May she be blessed today and always.

(If you are a woman in an unplanned pregnancy pleaes consider making an adoption plan for your baby. Your gift to a couple who cannot have their own children may be the greatest gift you will ever give and through doing so you may be a part of God's grand sovereign plan for that precious new life! And, you will be added to my own personal list of Hall of Fame Moms! If you want to talk, please contact me at )


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