By God’s grace, I was in the most embarrassing situation I could think of: Known by all as a Christian, I was pregnant out of wedlock. So far, no one but me and God knew, and my belly probably wouldn’t be noticeable for three months or more. I had time to think, and to pray.
I booked a flight to my hometown to tell my mother in person. She blinked for a long, suspenseful moment, then opened her eyes and said something like “I was aware of that possibility when you began dating a non-Christian.” It seemed God had prepared her heart to help me. She asked some good questions to help me think through my options. She was strong for me, but she couldn’t hide that she was deeply hurt. That night, as I lay in my childhood bed, I was pierced by the awareness that I had disappointed my mother. She was hurting for me, because of me.
My heart stinging, I knew that this was God’s mercy in action. As I prayed, I remembered Hebrews 12:6, “The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”
Amazing. Despite my spiritual flabbiness, God’s word was still in my heart from former years of studying and memorizing. The living word of God rose up to remind me that I was still His child; in fact, it was because I was His child that He had allowed me to get into this mess. If He had let me “get away” with all my lies, growing further from Him — what kind of love would that be? I sensed that now, in an even greater act of love, He would comfort me through the months to come.
I returned to my city apartment, inhabited by a fear of the shame I would have to walk through as all my friends and acquaintances found out. I decided to tell people one at a time, waiting for circumstances that would allow us to talk it over. I wanted to be honest, not flippant or rushed, and I hoped that each would tell me how they really felt. I feared that people would simply shut me out, or disappear from my life, because they felt uncomfortable.
God truly amazed me with grace. One at a time, my friends embraced me. Some told me they were sorry; some cried with me; being honest about their own spiritual health, some even told me “it could have been any of us.” Many asked how they could help. No one condemned me, not even my most legalistic friend. No one disappeared. I was truly humbled.
At first, Dave (the father) was in favor of at least “trying” marriage — as a means to make our situation socially acceptable. I began to imagine that we could “make” it work for the sake of the child. My mother and a respected pastor persuaded us that marriage was not a good idea. When Dave came to understand that marriage is a lifetime covenant not to be broken, he backed away from the idea, though. While I had no doubt that the ideal situation for our child would have been the nurture of two parents who loved each other, marrying Dave wasn’t going to fix a relationship that should have never started in the first place.
Dave had a strong sense of responsibility, and he stuck around through the entire decision-making process — he even offered to cover some of my pregnancy-related expenses. Abortion was never an option. We discussed every other possibility imaginable, even some that no one else had thought of. None of the options we came up with seemed to offer the stability that I wanted for our child.
At 20 weeks, I had a routine sonogram. Never did my predicament seem more real than when I actually saw the little body moving around! We found out it was a boy, and I soon began calling him “Alexander.”
In my free time, I started exploring adoption. I consulted three different agencies, and found that the counselors were compassionate and knowledgeable. They also told me some hard truths — “giving up your own child,” they said, “will be the hardest thing you have ever done.” My counselors gave me as much emotional preparation as they could, not letting me smooth it over or live in denial of what would soon happen.
Dave didn’t respond well to the idea of adoption. From the time I first mentioned it to him, he went through several stages of opposition. He felt that he would be abdicating his responsibility. He didn’t want to sacrifice the privilege of having a child who knew him, a child he could take pride in, a son that could take care of him when he was old. When he did think about choosing adoptive parents, his standards were different than mine. He and I fought and argued, both of us getting pretty emotional. At times I hated him for making the process difficult, but these times just kept me going to God for guidance, and I was reminded that I could be wrong just as easily as Dave.
Eventually — God’s grace again! — Dave came around and agreed to consider adoption. We went to an agency and looked through dozens of portfolios of prospective adopting families. I was intent on finding a Christian family, and he was intent on having his child go to an Ivy League school. No portfolio pleased both of us.
To make a long story a bit shorter, we finally found the right family. We also made a sort of hybrid arrangement with them. We got to know our chosen adopting family pretty well — even visiting them in their home more than once — but we agreed that, for the sake of our (their) child, we would not visit him as he got older. This way, he would have the simplicity of knowing just two parents and the option of meeting one or both of his birth parents when (and if) he felt ready. His adoptive mom agreed to send us photos and letters at least once a year, and I was comforted simply to know that she could reach me at any time if a need arose.
I kept working, and praying, as the day of this tremendous sacrifice kept drawing near. Every day, strangers rejoiced with me over my growing belly and the child within. What could I say? I just smiled and thanked them. Once in a while, I’d tell someone that the child was going to be adopted — but I felt incredibly awkward bringing it up. There were even some people at the office who weren’t aware of my situation, and I didn’t feel like burdening them with the whole story. It was a strange time and emotionally exhausting, but I tried to be graceful and always ready to share my testimony.
One day, I had to watch videos of births for my birthing class. I saw women endure extreme physical pain and then elation once they held their babies. In a moment of despair, I perceived that I was going through 40 weeks of pregnancy — nausea, abdominal distortion, backaches, swollen feet, stretch marks and then the ultimate pain of childbirth — for nothing. Unlike God intended, I wouldn’t cross the finish line by holding my baby and feeling the greatest reward on earth. I wouldn’t see his first smile, first tooth, first step. My pregnancy would end with me, alone and deflated. To make things harder, in my heart I knew that I deserved it for my disobedience.
I had a good cry that day, on the shoulder of someone who’s since become my best friend. It was embarrassing to sob like that, but the tears were cleansing. There’s simply no healthy way to go through a process like unplanned pregnancy and adoption without tears.
In the following days, God continued to remind me that He hadn’t forsaken me. He gave me a special perspective that kept me at peace: The child was my responsibility from then through birth; it was my job to keep the two of us healthy until it was time to give him to the family God had prepared for him. This made me happy and gave me a sense of purpose, enough to get through each day.
At long last, the day of labor arrived. My new best friend was there, coaching me and holding my hand. The delivery was short and uncomplicated, albeit intensely painful! The adoptive parents picked up their new son shortly after he was born, but I had a couple of hours with him first. I looked at my newborn in wonder and gratitude, but — strangely — not with a sense of possession. I fed him, and my special friend prayed for him. I cried while we prayed, but not when Alexander left. In the deepest sense expressible, his leaving was well with my soul.
According to the photos and the reports I get from Alexander’s adoptive mother, my son is healthy, happy, smart, and just a little bit mischievous. It’s amazing to think that out of my darkness and disobedience, God created this wonderful human being, and gave him as a gift to a couple who couldn’t conceive. Their words are grateful when they write, and I know they will always cherish him. Just today I received some brand new photos of my son. I cried, but I didn’t mourn. Ours was as happy an ending as I could have hoped for.
Many people who read this have found (or will find) themselves in situations just as messy as the “unplanned” (was God not, after all, Alexander’s creator?) pregnancy I got myself into. I can’t promise you that your story will turn out just like mine, but I can promise you that you can never outrun God’s mercy, and that it is never too late to start doing the right thing.
Copyright 2003 Liza Dreski. All rights reserved.