A birthmother’s visit to Abrazo’s office two days before Christmas got us thinking: what if Mary had placed?
A Modern Day Madonna
There’s this birthmother we know and love. She’s beautiful. She’s funny. And she’d be the first to tell you, her life is a hot mess. (Admittedly, she’s no virgin.) When we met her, she was needing to make an instantaneous adoption plan for her child who was already born but not in her care, because she knew she was about to lose rights and she didn’t want to forever lose contact.
Abrazo does fully-open adoption, and that was the gift we were able to share with her, her child and the adoptive couple she chose for her baby. They have come to genuinely adore each other, and their visits each month or so are something they all truly enjoy, for just that reason. The adoptive couple is thrilled to have become parents at last. The baby is thriving in their loving care. And she is at peace, knowing firsthand how well the child they share is doing.
Here’s the thing, though: everyone’s life has stabilized except for hers. While she has availed herself of the free, continued counseling and emotional support Abrazo can provide, the limited housing and maternity care Texas agencies are permitted to provide moms who place ran out months ago. She has little or no connection with her own family. She sometimes struggles with mental health issues, and she does have a record, so she’s had a hard time finding steady employment. At present, she’s living in her car, something she claims to be doing by choice, but when she told us about having to wash her hair under the cold harsh spray of outdoor car wash hoses, her eyes filled with tears.
She didn’t come by our office to complain, though. She came by to pick up the adoptive parents’ monthly update and the baby pictures they send for her here. See, even though she gets to talk with them whenever she wants and she sees them regularly, she never overstays her welcome nor asks them for handouts. She’s so proud of that family she helped create, she would never do anything to jeopardize that relationship. She is overjoyed that her child is so happy with them, and she reminds us often that she gave her baby the parents she wished she herself could’ve had. That’s why she treasures the mementos of her decision so much, hard as it was on her.
Like so many mothers with unplanned pregnancies, she did the best she could at the time with what little she’d had. And she changed the course of her child’s destiny by doing so… even if it did not significantly improve her own station in life. That’s the most selfless sort of love there is.
A Holy Virgin in Adolescent Form
This season, history reminds us of another young expectant mother in particularly tough times. She too had a baby she wasn’t prepared for, in the most humble of settings, without the advantages of adequate healthcare, indoor plumbing or even a bed to rest upon. She too didn’t have a wedding ring. She also surely bore the indignity of societal judgement; she was just fourteen, uneducated and unemployed, and some may have questioned her mental stability, given her reports of having been visited by an angel, followed by a star and being given regal, expensive gifts by three kings. She and her beau (admittedly not the baby’s father) had to flee to a foreign country after the birth to escape persecution, and while she did not forfeit her child in an adoption plan, she ultimately lost him to a fate far worse.
Mary could’ve hidden her illicit pregnancy and given her baby to someone else to raise, as her forbearer Jochebed had done, long before. She could’ve moved to a village where nobody knew her shame and gone on to marry someone else who made more money than an aging Jewish carpenter. If Mary had placed her baby for adoption, He might have had an earthly adoptive father who might have lived longer. and a mother who wouldn’t always everyone she’d had to endure giving birth in a stable. In Texas, there is no “age of consent” for adoption, so at 14, Mary could certainly have relinquished without her parents’ knowledge nor consent. She could possibly have placed him with a Gentile family, thus restricting his knowledge of and exposure to the Torah and Hebrew law and limiting his ability to reach both the Jews and Gentiles. Perhaps he could’ve grown up in a Roman household, which could almost certainly have bettered His social and economic standing in life, and spared Him from crucifixion. He wouldn’t have known His cousin was John the Baptist, His miracles may have been mistaken for mere party tricks, and the whole course of human history might have been changed.
The Song of Every Mother (& Birthmother)
Yet every mother who gives birth under less than ideal circumstances can only do the best she knows to do with the resources available to her at the time. Every mother wants the best for her child, and every mother worries that her best is not enough. Each mother wants security and stability for herself and her child/ren. No mom every gets everything right, all the time, and nobody should have to, either. While God enlists males to participate in the reproductive process, God entrusts the autonomy of the pregnancy experience solely to females, and one has to assume God has divine reasons for doing so. However a mother earns her title, whether via birth or adoption, the decision whether one is ready to become a mother is personal and sacrosanct.
If someone decides to become a birthmother by placing her baby or child for adoption, she deserves the lasting respect of everyone who ever stood outside an abortion clinic holding a picket sign, as well as those who self-righteously boast “oh, I could never give my baby away!” and anyone who ever adopted (or hopes to.) She deserves to always find a warm welcome and free post-adoption support awaiting her at the office of whichever agency or attorney accepted her surrender. And there should be far more resources available to her to help her stabilize and rebuild her life afterwards than currently exist for birthmothers living in cars and in shelters or motels.
Abrazo is not “a religious adoption agency” but we’re smart enough to know the miracles we witness here do not happen by our hands. The Bible says in Romans 8 that God works all things together for good, and we see that happen here, again and again. If Mary had placed, there may not have been water turned into wine nor lepers healed and souls saved, but then again, God has certainly used adoption for good, as well, so who knows how that story may have turned out? This Christmas, the story of the Holy Birth reminds us of the importance of family, the power of maternal love, and the divine gift shared on earth with the birth of every single baby born– whether adoption is part of their life story or not.