By: By Lisa Smartt
As I write this, our boys are running wildly through the woods that surround our home. They’re climbing trees and killing bears and having pirate adventures. Well, they’re probably not killing bears. I hope they’re not killing bears. I mean, I’d hate for some poor lost unsuspecting bears to wander through our woods, not realizing how dangerous two boys with plastic swords and light sabers can be.
The above childhood scenario was provided by the grace of God through the miracle of adoption. November is National Adoption Month. Our family has tremendous cause for celebration. Twelve years ago, after almost eight years of unplanned childlessness, we were blessed with the gift of a son. Our older son’s birth mom made the difficult choice to place him for adoption. She chose us. We chose her. It never stops being a miracle. I’ll never forget the day we brought him home for the first time. When we laid him in the crib for the night, we just stood there and stared at him while he slept. He was the most beautiful human being we had ever seen, bar none. We cried tears of joy. When Philip and I knelt to pray that night, I will never forget our prayer, “God, for every time we asked you to help us get pregnant, thank you that you always said, ‘No.’ God, if that pregnancy test had ever turned blue, we wouldn’t have Stephen. And we can’t imagine not having Stephen.”
There’s a connected story to the touching one above. It’s the story that took place at Stacy’s house that night. Stacy is Stephen’s birth mom. I’ve no doubt there were tears at her house that night, too. Tears of loss. Tears of pain. She was and is an incredible woman. The first time we met Stacy, we immediately felt a strong bond with her and her family. She said she felt the same way. It’s like we all knew that Stephen’s adoption was meant to be. But that doesn’t mean there was no suffering on her part. She describes her loss in this way, “When your grandma is old and terminally ill and suffering terribly, and then you get word that she has died, you feel this tremendous peace that she is in heaven now, this peace that her suffering is over, this peace that she is in a better place … but you still cry. You cry and cry and cry. Your tears are not saying you would want her back in the state she was in. No. You know she has gone to a better place. Your tears flow because she will be terribly missed. And so it is with placing Stephen. He will be missed and I will be sad. But that’s not the same as regret. I know he’s in a better place. I feel tremendous peace about that.” I know. She showed a maturity that was far beyond her 21 years.
Jonathan was born a few years later and our joy was multiplied. We couldn’t believe that God would grant another beautiful son. Once again, we were blessed with an incredible birth mom. Kathy was a 35-year old college graduate, the mother of a 12-year old. She and I were the same age. She remained committed to her adoption plan even as her tears flowed freely at the hospital. She shares this story, “A friend asked me what I would do if Jonathan came to find me one day and he was angry and saying things like, ‘How could you do that? How could you give away your own son?’ I just looked at her and said, ‘Are you kidding? If he comes lookin’ for me … it will be to thank me … to thank me for giving him a mom and a dad and a chance.’”
This Thanksgiving, we give special thanks to God for Stacy and Karen. Their selfless love gave us the gift of family.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger on 11.21.07