Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Remember

My New T-Shirt That I Was Given From The Pregnancy Center Today!

Today, of all days, Nov. 6th, Election day 2012, I had some free time so I went to visit our local Crisis Pregnancy Center. Lucky for me it was right down the road from my house. What I thought was going to be a quick in and out visit turned out to be so much more. I was so impressed with the facility and all that they do. I was moved by the warm hearts and passion to serve that I saw in every person I met. And most of all I was able to remember how near and dear to my heart matters of life are and have always been.

So, I thought I would take this time to share a little bit of history and my testimony regarding choosing life. As an adopted child, I never gave it too much thought, but as I grew up I began to think about the reality of what my birth mother may have gone through. Being the third child of my birth mother's while she was dealing with her own personal struggles could not have been easy. The easy choice for her could have been to abort, but she did not. I was born in Chicago, stayed in the hospital for six weeks until I came to live in a foster home in River Forest, IL.

My foster family cared for numerous children, but for some reason their daughter, Julie, decided to place a note on her mom's pillow the night I arrived that simply said "Can we keep this one?" And so they did!

But is wasn't that simple, while it was fine for them to do foster care for black children even though they were white, the movement at that time was to keep black babies with black families and not to do interracial adoptions. At the advice of their social worker they were advised that if they really did want to keep me they should lay low and not say anything or the most likely action would be to lose me. So my family laid low. For 12 years they didn't stir the pot until they thought it was time. So when I was 12, I stood before the judge and told him that I wanted Joan and Paul Grotelueschen to be my parents (even though they already were). I remember him asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told him I wanted to be a pianist (go figure). And that was it, at age 12, I officially was adopted by the parents that God prepared in advance for me. It was a great day!  I then received my first birth certificate with my name Maria Ladonna Grotelueschen.

Interestingly enough, since I was not adopted for 12 years, I always had my original birth certificate. Legally my name, until I was 12, was Ladonna Gene Sykes. As a young athlete I was constantly having to produce my birth certificate for state tournaments, so I knew the name of my birth mother and the hospital that I was born in. This led me to a place when I was 16 to call 411~information one day and ask for her phone number. Just like that I had it. I remember the day when I was 16 and I secretly called her. I remember her words "I have waited my whole life for this call." It was then that my friend and I jumped on a train and a bus into the inner city (keep in mind we were two suburban girl) to meet this women. There is so much to write about the whole experience, the pain, the joy, the unraveling of emotions from me and others in my family, but at the end of the day what God did through this relationship was all in his hand.

Fast forward 3 years to when I found myself in a place where I was 19, playing college volleyball and about to go on to play my Junior and Senior year with a full ride Volleyball scholarship and suddenly pregnant. PREGNANT! I remember the devastation, the disbelief of truly believing that this could happen to me! I remember very clearly my coach telling me to fix the situation because I had an opportunity to play volleyball and I would be making a big mistake if I had the baby. I remember a friend telling me to get an abortion because I had too much going for myself. In the midst of everything, my crazy life, the partying, the reckless living, I remember something about what they were saying not ringing true. I remember TRUTH. I knew that what was inside of me, as crazy as my life was at that time, was LIFE.

I remember the day I sat down to tell my parents that I was pregnant and the disappointment that filled their hearts, but I also remember their love. I remember crying, sobbing, wondering what on earth I was going to do. I still remember their love. I also remember the reality of my lifestyle at the time. I remember my Dad speaking in love to me that maybe the best thing for this child might be adoption as I was in no shape to raise a child of my own. That was my reality at the time. I was reckless, selfish and living a fast partying lifestyle. I also remember how this new reality changed my life. It was like hitting a wall and coming to a full stop. Instantly, I stopped smoking, drinking, and partying. I stopped and became a mom.

You know what else I remember? I remember the day my baby was born and I said to him "Good morning Sunshine" My life was different. I also remember the day that my Dad said to me "Thank you. Thank you for keeping him and not giving him up." He became my Dad's little man and always had a special place in his heart. I could not have done it without my parents.

The fact that my parents instilled the value of Life in my heart is the reason that I stand before you today. They spoke Truth into my heart as a child and even though I strayed away throughout my life, Truth reigned and was brought back to my mind in the darkest moments.

So back to my biological family.....One of the greatest joys from meeting my birth mother was meeting my grandparents, Uncles, my siblings and then ultimately having the joy of taking in my biological niece to live with us for a time. She was named Maria aka Little Mia. Through my adoption, I was able to turn back to where I was adopted from and take in my own niece for a time. That is God's hand, His sovereignty!

In a nutshell  today was just a good day and visiting the Crisis Pregnancy Center was just a reminder to me of God's grace and mercy over our lives and I praise Him for all He has done and for how faithful He is.

PART 2: So here I am, a day after posting this, with more thoughts. As I thought about the adoption story, I left out one of the most joyous parts. After being a single Mom for a year and a half, I started dating an awesome guy, Bob, who not only chose to love me, but love my son...OUR son. The story continued in that my husband adopted our first born and the cycle of adoption continued! So thankful for 18+ years of marriage and family built on the foundation of Christ and His adoption of all of us into the body of Christ!

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