By Jessica O’Connor-Petts
Brentan, whom I called Gabriel during the first four weeks of his life, was conceived in Atlanta the summer after I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill. I have always advocated adoption over abortion, and have always wanted my children to grow up in a two-parent home environment. I commend, and sometimes envy, those single mothers who choose to parent. However, for me the right choice was adoption. Although initially hurt and disappointed by the fact that I was pregnant, my parents supported me and my decision to place their grandson for adoption.
After Gabriel was placed, I participated in his adoption mass, where my parents and the adoptive parents read from Scripture, and we shared the sign of peace. As I handed Gabriel over to his adoptive mother before Communion, he was renamed Brentan. I see Brentan now as a boy in a family of his own, with creative, fantastic parents for whom I am very grateful.
I wish that I could convey to every woman facing an unplanned pregnancy what I have learned. Carrying a baby to term and bringing a life into this world is a tremendous privilege and accomplishment – whatever the hardship you may face along the way. It will be difficult. But, it will be possible, even joyful and rewarding. As a woman, you are strong enough to accomplish this, and you won’t be alone in doing so. Especially now, you can have a Birthmothers Friend to walk with you – something I did not have. In addition, you will be amazed at how God will strengthen you and give you hope as you nurture the new life growing within you.
Saying goodbye may be painful. It may be one of the hardest moments you will ever face. It was for me. Even as you check anxiously to plan for your baby to be well-loved, you hope he will know just how much you loved him by placing him in the embrace of adoptive parents. In that instant, you know that your baby is of you, yet will never again be with you.
All of this is a severe mercy — severe in its pain to you, merciful in its provision for your child. But your heart does heal. Your birth child grows up well-loved. Your child is adored by new parents and becomes the center of attention in their new extended families of thrilled grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. And your birth child loves them in return.
You have done as much as any mother can do by knowing that your birth child is happy and well-provided for. You have been strong, brave and selfless. By bringing life and love into this world, you have done as much as any person can hope to do.
A Prayer for Gabriel
I wrote this prayer for Gabriel which was shared during his adoption mass, and which he will have always.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Continue to watch over Gabriel.
Protect him and guide him in your ways, through the love of his new family.
May the delight and sunshine with which he has warmed our lives go with him into his
new home, and may it return to him a thousand-fold throughout his life.
May he grow up principled and compassionate, loving and brave.
We know you have instilled in him rare and marvelous
qualities – we have seen them in
the myriad of expressions which have flitted across his face, flashed in his eyes, and fluttered through his fingers since birth.
He is truly a blessed child of Your grace who will bring joy to all who know him.
We thank You for this and ask that You continue to keep him close to You.