by Janine Smale
Grief. How do I describe it? It’s gut wrenching and lonely. It’s dark. Oppressive. Inexpressible.
I found myself in such a state after dealing with the loss of my Mother, who was my best friend, to cancer. My Father passed when I was 16 and now at 41, I was an orphan.
I felt alone. For weeks, as my Mom laid in her hospital bed, I had prayed she would not leave this earth on my one year wedding anniversary. As the day drew to a close, praise the Lord, this prayer was answered. She departed for His eternal kingdom minutes into the next day. Thankfully, my husband Brian was by my side as I processed that I was now an orphan. God was drawing me near, and oh how comforting were the words, “Abba, Father”.
My Mother’s last visit with us was during the previous Christmas season. During this time, we saw a Christmas drama at our church with an adoption theme. The drama featured a song by Meredith Andrews, titled You’re Not Alone. The words in the chorus penetrated my heart.
“You’re not alone for I am here
Let me wipe away your every fear
My love, I’ve never left your side
I have seen you through the darkest night
And I’m the One who’s loved you all your life
All of your life.”
This became “my song” during my time of grief. I felt so alone, and I had lost my Mom who had loved me all of my life. The song just fit. God continued to remind me that I was not alone.
A few months after my Mother’s death, we were still dealing with the legal issues related to probate and my parents’ estate when God showed me He had a few more surprises for me.
Through a series of events involving legal paperwork, I learned that my parents, whom I had known from birth, were not my biological parents. At 42 I learned that, surprise, I’m adopted!
Immediately my thoughts turned to Now what? and Who am I? It was all too much to process. Like the Christmas play where I was introduced to the song, I was now dealing with my own personal adoption drama.
Hoping to find some encouragement during this time of utter confusion, I tuned into Christian DJ Tom Dooley’s show in the Dallas area. Immediately You’re Not Alone comes on the radio and it brings me to tears. It reminds me of my mother’s love, and even though she was not my biological Mother, it was the most comforting love I had experienced on earth.
The song ends. And then it begins again. The exact same song played twice in a row on the same radio station! My knees hit the cold tile floor of my bathroom as I sobbed uncontrollably. This time, it reached my core. It wasn’t just my mother’s love, it was God’s love. He had loved me all of my life! His love was by far the most powerful thing I could experience. Abba, Father, no greater love. He is my Daddy, and He loves me more than I can comprehend.
I wrote a letter to the radio station, telling them that a likely equipment malfunction or human error in their studio, spoke volumes to me. I shared what I was going through and the power of that song in my life. Amazingly, the next day I happened to be tuned in and I heard my letter being read over the radio! It was another strong reminder from Abba Father that I was not alone.
God continued to surround me with love and support during this season. Some of that support came through a Women’s Bible Study I attended. The ladies supported me as I shared my journey in class. I had learned small pieces of information about my adoption. My adopted mom was 38 and she was having trouble conceiving a second child. Her gynecologist had another patient who was 16 with an unwanted pregnancy. It was a closed adoption to take a life that was unwanted in one family and provide it to another family where it was desperately wanted. And since this life was mine, I’m so thankful the Lord had His hand on each piece of the adoption puzzle.
Even though all these pieces were coming together, a question still remained in my mind – why am I learning this, now? A question that is still not completely answered today. With my husband’s help, we unsealed the adoption records and I learned my biological mother’s identity. She lived within a 25 mile radius of me all of my life, although to my knowledge our paths never crossed. My husband left a vague voice message at her residence, but a call was never returned. I did not know if we had found the right person, and I was not looking for someone to replace my Mother, so no additional calls were made.
Behind the scenes, God was still moving pieces. Unbeknown to me, a woman in my Bible study was touched by my story. She was approximately the same age as my birth mother, and she had attended high school in Dallas. What I can only assume was the Holy Spirit, nudged her to find more details where I had stopped searching.
For the next year, she continued to gather data on my birth mother. She approached me almost two years later to the day that I had learned I was adopted with a folder in hand with information on my birth mother. It contained pictures from her high school years. My resemblance to her was astounding. Now, I had a visual. She was real, and not just a name on a piece of paper.
To date, I have met my biological mother. She never married, and she never had additional children. She is kind and respectful, but she keeps to herself. She shared with me the dark story of my conception. It was difficult to hear, but I’ve come to learn that it does not define me or her. It has been a challenge to get to know her as she does not open up easily, and I trust that the Lord has a reason in our relationship. She does not know Him as Abba, Father. I continue to pray that she will one day.
The thread of God’s redeeming grace is woven into the fabric of my story. He continues to show me that I am not alone. I am not defined by how I was conceived. I am not defined by my parents. I am not defined as an orphan. I am defined by His unending love and His purpose for my life as His child.
As I read His Word, each reminder that I am an adopted child of God has new, bold meaning to me. “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:14-17 NIV).
Grief. It can be gut-wrenching and lonely, but thankfully it’s not the end of the story!
Thread of Redemption
Hope When Life Unravels
The Thread of Redemption exists to point out the fingerprints of God in the brokenness of life. Through people’s stories we highlight the thread of redemption weaved through-out the fabric of our lives.