Messy Mamahood

May 8, 2010

24 Days

I’m the mother of four incredible children – Matthew, Taege, Keile and Blane. I’ve talked a lot here about my youngest three, but today – after being through 24 of these days, 24 Mother’s Days – I wanted to share the story of my oldest, Matthew.

In late 1984, when I was 16 years old, I got pregnant by my boyfriend at the time – and my world pretty much came crashing down around me. I stayed silent about and hid my condition until I finally had to confess the truth. I was scared and didn’t know where to turn.

I first visited a local abortion clinic, with plans to terminate my pregnancy – only to have the sonogram show I was too far along for the procedure. That was my first clue that I wasn’t in charge of my life or my baby’s. That someone far more powerful was looking out for both of us.

A few weeks later, another doctor informed me that my tests had been miscalculated and I actually had not been too far along for the abortion at the time. By God’s grace, my unborn child’s life had been saved and I was so incredibly thankful.

During the last couple months of my pregnancy, I was determined to place my baby for adoption, and I don’t recall ever wavering in my decision. At the time, I felt I had a whole life ahead of me and trying to raise a baby was nowhere in my plans at that point. But all that changed when my son was placed in my arms the morning of August 5, 1985, following 24 hours of labor.

As he nuzzled up close to me, there was something in his big, blue eyes that struck me as familiar. They were the same eyes I’d been watching in the mirror for the past 16 years. I can’t even begin to describe the feelings this amazingly beautiful baby moved within me those first few hours of his life. I felt I’d aged and matured 10 years – and everything that had mattered to me before no longer mattered at all.

I held him, fed him, touched him and just stared at him, drinking in each and every detail of my tiny son. I wanted to remember everything about him. He never cried the entire time he was with me, until the morning the nurse came to take him away.

For days after that, I wrestled with my decision to place my son for adoption. I didn’t want to let go him because my future no longer meant anything to me if he wasn’t a part of it. I contacted numerous agencies that provided aid to unwed mothers; I talked with friends, pleaded with family members and, of course, prayed, a lot. But I failed to hear God’s response because it wasn’t the answer I wanted.

Ultimately, when he was 10 days old, I had to resign myself to the fact that I couldn’t give my baby everything he needed and deserved. In those 10 days, I had been through the most joyous and most painful times of my life – the joy of my son’s birth and the pain of letting him go. God knew how difficult it would be for me, but He also knew the strength I had within me – that which I could not yet see.

I was allowed to see him one last time before going to court to sign the final papers. And as I held him that morning he just cried and cried. At the time, I remember wondering if he knew I was saying "good-bye" and was feeling abandoned. Nothing I did could calm him. I remember feeling helpless – not having a clue how to comfort my own son.

My tears soaked the blanket he was wrapped in that day, as he once again was taken from my arms. I remember wanting to die as I watched the car drive off, carrying him out of my life.

I had surrendered and relinquished any rights I had to my son, placing my trust in God’s promise to me – to provide him a loving Christian family, which He did. My son’s adoptive parents gave him the name "Matthew" which means "a gift from God," and what an amazing gift he ended up being to so many people whose lives he’s touched. And I did move on with my life – never forgetting Matthew, but learning how to live again, despite the emptiness his absence left in my life.

About 18 months later, I was volunteering on the production crew at a Youth for Christ event. I remember walking downstairs to the vending machines, and as I opened my soda and turned the corner to head back upstairs, this sweet little boy toddled over to me with his arms up saying, "Coke? Coke? Coke!" I kneeled down and when I reached eye-level with him, something in his eyes struck me as…familiar…they were the same eyes I had kissed good-bye not two years before. It was my son, Matthew.

To be honest, I couldn’t have stopped myself from following him to the child care area if my life had depended on it. I was stunned and amazed that my son was standing there in front of me. As I sat down on the floor beside him, he crawled into my lap and just sat there, playing with Matchbox cars. The touch of him, the way he felt in my arms, the smell of his hair, his sweet little voice – all rekindled in me the intense feelings I had for him the day he was born – the feelings I’d been fighting to forget every day since.

When I share that story with others, I’m often asked if I considered sneaking away with Matthew in my arms. Strangely enough, the thought never even crossed my mind, for in those moments I spent with him, I felt more at peace than I’d ever felt in my life. I knew then that my decision had been the right one.

In fact, a few minutes later, Matthew looked up at me and started saying "Mama." Over and over, he said the word – "Mama? Mama? Mama!" I quickly realized he was asking for his one and only "Mama" – the woman who had received my gift, this beautiful child, and was raising him with the love and nurturing of a real mother. Because I had trusted God with Matthew’s life and had completely surrendered to Him, I believe that unforgettable moment was His way of gently telling me, "I told you so."

As I mentioned earlier, I was blessed with three children of my own – Taege, Keile and Blane. They are living proof that surrendering to God does bless you; He has blessed me three-fold.

My children have as much desire to meet Matthew as I do. To them, he is simply their brother and we pray for him regularly. A couple of years ago, my 12-year-old daughter Keile told me she had prayed about Matthew the night before. When I asked her what she had prayed about him, she looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said, "That he’ll decide to come find us." I asked her why she was crying and she said, "Because I miss him." Having never even met Matthew, she already has this incredible love and longing for him. That is how much he has touched our lives, without even knowing it. As his name implies, Matthew truly has been "a gift from God."

There have been 24 days – 24 Mother’s Days – since Matthew’s birth. And, although my first few Mother’s Days were very lonely, ever since my three youngest were born this day has been incredibly special for me. And this morning, as I do every year on this day, I said a prayer for Matthew and his Mama – that wherever they are, they’re enjoying a wonderful Mother’s Day together.


Shibu said...

wow...what an incredible story and prayer. thanks Kenyon.

Tracy P said...

Kenyon, I can clearly remember your stories of "Ann" and the letters you shared. Thanks for the additional details. I have always been impressed by your strength and maturity given the circumstances. My hope is that you and the three kiddos meet Matthew someday.

- Tracy