A few weeks ago, I received a text from this mom friend I have been sharing about, and I want you to hear what she has to say.  I have her permission to share because she wants to help other birth moms get through these tough situations and encourage those in a better place right now with how to help.  Here is what she wrote: "I want to thank you for encouraging me to go to church and helping me to follow through by being there because of my anxiety.  But that is something I should be doing every Sunday anyway!  So I want to thank you for your guidance; I really needed it.  Last week I went [to church] cause I wanted to go.  I want to follow God's way.  I have a long road ahead of me, and I'm not always going to make the right choices.  But, I want to keep going and learning.  I went [to a different church] last week to show that I am not going to church just for you...I am going because I want to" (and then she added these crucial ending words)  "Thank you for not giving up on me."  (That text totally made my day and is the reason I love working with birth families so much!)   

          Why do I share this?  I want you to see how building relationships with people is so rewarding to both individuals/families- both in the temporary and the eternal.  This wasn't a one time gift that brought this relationship about, but a series (over 4 years) of visits, doing life together, texting advice, encouraging, praying with and for, and boldly sharing what Jesus has done in my life and how He wants to do it for her as well.  It took perseverance through the tough times when I thought my words were falling on deaf ears, but I kept on serving and caring and sharing anyway.  Many times, my only reason for continuing was because I knew that Jesus never gave up on me when I failed over and over, so how could I give up on her.  That would have been hypocritical.  

               In the next several blogs, I plan to share how this relationship all began and how it grew into what we have today.  There are some AMAZING stories, so you won't want to miss them.  For now, however, I will share my first memories of meeting her through foster care.

           We got "the call" for a two-month-old baby boy a few months after our first foster child left to be adopted by a relative.  He came from a shelter home where we were told the mom was doing great and most likely would be getting her children back soon (the other children were with grandma).  When the baby arrived, I remember picking him up and thinking "Wow, he is so skinny!"  His legs were like thin sticks attached to this cute little body.  Since he just turned two months, I scheduled his well-child visit right away and was shocked to find that he hadn't really gained any weight since being born.  Undeterred, I cared for him as I did my own children, and he quickly gained weight and began to look more normal.  Since his mom wasn't considered "dangerous," we allowed her to visit us at our home.  I still remember the first time his mom came for a visit.  She was so nervous that she got "sick," literally.  It was heartbreaking to see.  I could tell that she loved this baby dearly and cared for him so well.  

           Since the visits worked out so well for her to come a couple of times a week to see her baby, we offered to host the first meeting, with all of the workers and the parents, in our home.  We had never done this before, so I was excited for them all to come.  Just before the meeting, I gave her baby a bath and started putting his clothes on him when I felt and saw- a lump.  Immediately, the blood drained from my face.  I examined the spot more closely and saw that it was next to his left nipple and a bit bigger than a quarter.  My first reaction was to bring him in to the doctor right away, but the visit was scheduled in about an hour.  I think he had been with us for a little over a week at that point, and all I could do was think about why I had never seen the lump before and how I would tell his mom.  Needless to say, my excitement gave way to heavy anxiety as the time approached for the meeting to occur.  

         Now, I am going to do something very mean, or so my kids tell me when I end a chapter in a read-aloud-book.  I'm leaving you with a "cliff hanger."  Hey, in my defense, it was a cliff hanger for me too, so we are even!  You will have to read the next blog to find out what happens...  But I want you to remember "The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed....the LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  He will not always chide, nor will he keep His anger forever.....As a father shows compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him." Psalms 103: 8-9;11


          If you have a story of how you have reached out to a birth family.  Let me know and I would love to include it here on the blog!


Katie O'Neil