While I slathered on sunscreen and adjusted my ball cap, my striped, low-to-the-ground, reclining beach chair was waiting for me and my new book - the one I had just purchased the night before on the way to the beach.
Six days earlier, my father-in-law passed away; two days before we were to leave for our annual family beach vacation. The vacation where we would have celebrated Father's Day with two dads (my father-in-law and my husband) was celebrated with one, and at home.
This abbreviated vacation began three days after Father's Day. My daughter, her friend, and I had arrived for a much needed change of scenery and some relaxation after a very full, sad week.
I always love to settle into a really good book and escape schedules and routines while soaking up some rays. I was determined to escape this time too, even if I only had 3 days.
And boy was my last minute selection a good one! The Waiting, by Cathy LaGrow. Excellent!
Escaping back into the early part of the 20th century in America, I was escorted brilliantly into a young girl's life growing up on a dairy farm with no formal education past the 8th grade, raped by a stranger at a sewing class celebration picnic at the lake, and who soon discovers she's pregnant. She begins preparing to be a mother at the tender age of 16. Soon after her 17th birthday, this young, sturdy, but very sheltered dutch girl named Minka gives birth to a beautiful baby girl. She named her "Baby Jane" after her beloved sister. She is required at the House of Mercy, where she stayed for the last few weeks of pregnancy and where she gave birth, to stay with her baby for 5 weeks because they weren't equipped to take care of the babies like the mother's could. This arrangement was just until the adoption was finalized. Brokenhearted, Minka vowed to never forget her baby.
Each morning when I got up, I looked out the sliding glass doors at the sun rising over the ocean, sipping my cup of Joe in anticipation of my next great escape into the next chapters of Minka's life.
Through a very difficult process, with an undeniable faith, Minka chooses to give her "Baby Jane" up for adoption. She didn't want her baby to have to work from a very early age on a dairy farm without an education like she did. She wanted "Baby Jane" to have the chance to go to school and to get a college education. She wanted her to grow up in a Christian home, know and love God, and have a happy life.
This true story parallels much of my own adoption story:
- A woman made a difficult choice because of difficult circumstances to give her baby girl away.
- She tried to keep her baby for a period of time, all the while bonding with her, but discovers that adoption is the right and only choice for her baby girl.
- She requests specifically for her baby girl to be placed in a Christian home.
- She never forgets about her.
- The baby given up is happy, loved and celebrated by the adoptive parents and never thinks about searching for her birthmother.
Minka's story intrigued me. It gave me insight into the mind of a birthmother and what she feels and thinks. The author, Minka's grandaughter through "Baby Jane's" child, is like a wonderful travel guide as she leads you through places and through history with such detailed eloquence. It's as though you are living life right alongside Minka as she works hard, matures, learns about life, gets married and eventually has a family of her own. There was much to discover about a young, war weary, but fast changing America.
Minka sees so many major inventions throughout her very hard and tragic, yet adventurous and fulfilling life. Her faith in Christ is unwavering and her prayer life so strong. She studies the Word first thing every morning, continuing to trust that God will answer her fervent prayer and allow her to see her "Baby Jane" just one more time before she goes to heaven.
The last morning of our mini vacation, I was itching to pull out my book and finish Minka's story.
At the age of 92, Minka was still working, cleaning house, sewing, working in her garden, serving in her church and community. Then, in an almost fairytale-like fashion, her prayer is answered and her lifelong dream of a reunion takes place. Minka's 77 year old daughter, Ruth, (previously named "Baby Jane") and Ruth's family, come to visit Minka, thanks to Ruth's grandson, Brian.
This incredible story which kept me glued to every page was a beautiful reminder of how perfectly planned our lives are by our Creator and Lord. No matter how we were conceived, God formed us in the womb and knows us intimately. We were designed by the mind of God with a specific purpose to fulfill while here on earth, and that is to point others to Christ through our lives and to bring Him the most glory possible.
For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)
Our future and hope is in Jesus Christ.