When you think back to your first decision as a paren … you probably think formula or breastfed? Co-sleeping or crib? Maybe you think more to the toddler years, when discipline becomes part of the equation.
Some parents haven’t thought a TON about their parenting style. That’s ok too! Are you free-range? Are you a helicopter? Are you self-identified as free-range while ACTUALLY hovering?!
Some of you have even gone lengths to read books and books and books about what philosophy of parenting you wanted to adopt.
My first parenting decision looked quite different from all of those above. My first parenting decision was to parent.
At the age of 30, freshly moved to a new town in a new state, I realized I was pregnant. I was not married to the father, in fact, had just broken up with the father. What was I to do?
As many of you reading know, the emotions that come with pregnancy are intense and not easily ignored… imagine navigating that alone, with the weight of needing to make a decision about what to do with this life in you. Do I parent? Do I put the baby up for adoption? What? How do I preserve this life and make a wise decision for this baby knowing I will be going it alone?
Well, in comes the tearful conversations, the counseling, the long talks with close friends and family… so many hard and painful considerations to make. Would I become a stereotype and bear a child into poverty? Would I limit my career and earning potential? Would I ever have a shot at marriage? Would I be doing permanent damage to a precious child that deserves the best of everything in life and the opportunity to thrive?
Finally, after many sleepless nights, I decided to approach a family I knew that was interested in adoption. Through mutual friends, a call was set up. And this couple I knew through a previous job with a campus ministry interviewed me and I them. It was a long conversation. They knew I was pregnant long before I approached them and had been praying for me. We talked about my stage in life, we talked about their history of failed adoptions, we talked about trust in Jesus, we talked about our hearts and our desires. It was emotionally the most exhausting thing I had experienced to that point in my life. We hung up. I immediately prayed that the Lord would either open this door or close it.
A few days later, the wife called. She said the most beautiful and devastating thing I’ve ever heard. She said, “We love you. We have prayed about this. We have been praying for you. This is not our baby.”
Can you imagine the huge weight that was lifted? This family did not believe that the Lord had this baby for them. And in the same breath, the weirdest feeling of rejection I have ever felt in my life. But I understood, they didn’t want to walk the road with me in pursuance of adoption for me to change my mind … there was some self-preservation in their wisdom.
This left me almost 6 months pregnant with the ultimate parenting decision in front of me. The decision of whether or not I would parent.
More counseling, more tears, more hard conversations and flashes of reality. I kept pointing back to the community I had and the people in my life that would love me and my son. I even had a great job! Then my pastor said to me, “At the end of the day, it’s you and Jesus and this baby.” The reality that although I had great community and job now, I might not always.
Many more prayers and considerations later, I made my first parenting decision. I decided to become a parent. I decided to raise my son. I knew it would be hard. I knew there would be challenges. I also knew I had witnessed God’s faithfulness and provision to this point in my life, and I could trust that His promises would continue.
Today, I can’t imagine what the alternate path could look like. My son is my world. He makes me work harder. He brings me such joy. He reminds me constantly of God’s goodness and provision.