A FRIEND’S STORY: God put us here for each other
Denise Harrison heard about Birthmothers through her church, trained as a Friend, and was matched with birth mom Tania.*
Birthmothers: How did you meet Tania?
Denise: Tania called Birthmothers several times, but never left her contact information. I began praying that we could find her, and so did my women’s prayer group. A lot of people were praying for Tania even before I’d met her. Finally, we connected.
Birthmothers: What happened at your first meeting?
Denise: We had dinner and Tania explained her situation. She was an au pair from Latvia and was pregnant. The birth father had lied to her about his marital status; it turns out he is married. Tania decided to carry the baby to term, but her host family said she could not stay with them once the baby was born.
Birthmothers: How did you respond?
Denise: As we talked, I realized that Tania’s situation was overwhelming, so I prayed for wisdom. The complications were many: Tania needed to apply for Medicaid, get an immigration extension, seek child support. Initially, I thought, “I’ll just write her a check and take care of all of this.”
But my primary passion was to help Tania experience God’s love and rely on Him for her life. So instead, I said to Tania, “Let’s pray for a miracle. I’ll be with you every step of the way through this. God is in control.”
Birthmothers: What first steps did you take?
Denise: We began to meet regularly, and I discovered that Tania has some wonderful qualities. She’s resourceful, loving, kind, patient, has a good work ethic and is excellent with children. A fellow church member suggested that Tania might be able help a family with disabled children in exchange for room and board. Miraculously, we were able to find a living situation for Tania with a single mom and her 14-year-old autistic son, Simon. Also, my professional contacts allowed me to act as a liaison for Tania as she worked through paperwork with legal specialists. We took one step at a time, deliberately and carefully. We prayed about everything.
Birthmothers: How has Tania’s living situation worked out?
Denise: Wonderfully. Before Tania came along, the mom was desperate for help. Now, Tania cares for Simon, cleans their home, cooks for them and does their laundry. In addition, Tania helps care for another autistic child — 8-year-old Ryane — in exchange for diapers and baby food from Ryane’s family.
Tania has worked a transformation in the lives of these two disabled children. They’ve learned their manners, know how to tell time, and can now take care of personal hygiene tasks. I can also see the difference Tania has made in the lives of the parents. They have connection to resources they didn’t have before. Tania is a gift to them, and they give her a sense of purpose.
Birthmothers: Describe how your relationship with Tania has developed.
Denise: We’ve become quite close. It happened gradually, over time. She began attending church with us, and her faith is growing. My husband and I look on her as a daughter, and our son considers her a part of the family. She eats dinner at our home about three times a week, and she spends holidays with us. We love her.
Birthmothers: Tell us about Tania’s baby.
Denise: I was privileged to be in the delivery room when Tania gave birth to her baby girl, Dana. What a thrill! Afterwards, I bought a small, lovely Bible trimmed with lace and placed it in Dana’s crib with a balloon. Tania was visibly moved. Later, she told me that putting a Bible in a newborn’s bassinet is an old Latvian custom – a tradition of which I wasn’t aware before! I wanted to preserve opportunities for Tania while she recovered from childbirth, so I took on the responsibility of caring for Simon and Ryane temporarily. They brought a rich, new dimension to my life – one I didn’t expect.
Birthmothers: What is the most significant lesson you learned from being Tania’s Friend?
Denise: That God put us here to help each other. All of us had needs: I wanted to serve, Tania faced a crisis, Simon’s family and Ryane’s family needed help. Now, we’re an interconnected, loving family, looking out for each other and caring for each other.
Tania once told me, “When it seems everything is falling apart, you can’t give up. You have to believe and go forward, reminding yourself that somebody else needs you.” Each of us was put here by God to help each other grow. Tania was the catalyst — the seed that started that garden. By connecting me with Tania, Dana, Simon, Ryane, and their families, God grew a garden!
*named changed for confidentiality