A FRIEND’S STORY: I’m an answer to a letter
Stephanie Dosch served birth mom Jocelyn* almost entirely by mail.
When I was introduced to Jocelyn White, I didn’t expect to be so inspired by her courage.
At 14, Jocelyn was a runaway. Her mother was dead. Her father and aunt didn’t care much about her. Jocelyn was living in a group detention home last fall when she discovered she was pregnant. Jocelyn’s boyfriend, the baby’s father, was in jail. Yet in spite of no loved ones nearby, no job and no education, Jocelyn desperately wanted to keep her baby.
She had no idea where to start looking for help until a group home staff member shared that she’d adopted two children. That revelation led Jocelyn to Bethany Christian Services, a faith-based adoption and family services agency. Bethany’s Fairfax, VA office sent Jocelyn a list of nearly 60 organizations in northern Virginia that regularly help women and families who face an unplanned pregnancy.
Jocelyn could not use the telephone, computer or internet at the group home. In order to seek help, she personally hand-wrote a letter to each organization on the list. She explained that she was pregnant and wanted to raise her baby. She’d be transferred in a few weeks to a group home two hours away. She had no family and nowhere to turn. Could anyone help her?
Hope when things looked desperate
It shocked me to learn that the majority of Jocelyn’s letters went unanswered. The few agencies that wrote back indicated they couldn’t help a birth mom who lived outside the D.C. metro region. Only two answered positively. One organization sent a box of baby items and a letter.
“At that point, things looked pretty desperate,” Jocelyn later told me. “I was four months’ pregnant. I had no maternity clothes and no way of getting anything for my baby.”
You can imagine Jocelyn’s gratitude when Birthmothers responded by offering her the two things she needed most – emotional support through a Friend and practical support with clothes and baby supplies.
A providential Friend-birth mom match
My match as Jocelyn’s Birthmothers Friend was providential. We each had limitations. She was confined to the group home 100 miles away, with no telephone or internet privileges; I was confined to my bed with a medical condition and was under doctors’ orders to rest.
Jocelyn and I set about getting to know each other the old-fashioned way: by exchanging letters. We wrote to each other two to five times a week. I asked her if she was living the kind of life she would be happy with in 20 years. She told me about her dreams to get an education. I encouraged her and shared how proud I was of her for coming to Birthmothers for help and for putting her child’s needs first. Reading Jocelyn’s letters and answering them gave me a sense of purpose during my long days of convalescence.
A car full of love
My health improved, and I put the word out about Jocelyn’s needs to others who know and love the ministry of Birthmothers. Gifts of gently-used items poured in. I scoured yard sales and added what I could. Soon, the stash was overwhelming: a brand new Pack-N-Play; a baby bath tub; a stroller; a car seat; a year’s supply of diapers and wipes, lotions and powders; ten bags of baby clothes for the first 24 months; toys, bibs, bottles, socks; maternity clothes … even a diaper bag! By my quick calculations, Birthmothers supporters provided more than $1,000 worth of supplies for Jocelyn and her baby.
I wrapped each item, carefully packed the gifts in my car, picked up a dozen roses and drove two hours to meet Jocelyn for the first time at her baby shower. When she saw what I’d brought, she was speechless.
“I really needed someone who cared enough to find a way to stay in touch with me,” Jocelyn told me. “And Birthmothers did. They gave me you.”
Paul wrote to the Philippians, “You sent me aid again and again when I was in need” (4:16). I like to think that’s what we do at Birthmothers. Jocelyn had the courage to write to us and explain her needs. We were there and we responded. I’m so grateful that I could help be an answer to Jocelyn’s letter to Birthmothers.
*name changed to protect confidentiality