Service: Giving and receiving

 A FRIEND’S STORY: Stuck in Herndon

Denise Williams lived in Herndon, VA, when she was matched with birth mom Laura.*

“Why are You keeping me in Herndon, Lord?”  I prayed in anguish, prostrate on the floor.

It had been a horrible year.  My dad died, I lost my job, and my adult son moved to Philadelphia.  Then, my condominium in Annandale had been womanheadhand.jpgdestroyed in a fire, killing my precious dog.  I was alone, stuck in a rental in Herndon (VA), nearly 20 miles away from my condo while it underwent repairs.

At my lowest point, an e-mail from Birthmothers popped up in my inbox: Friend needed for birth mom in Herndon. 

I’d found Birthmothers’ website while surfing on the Internet and had taken Friends Certification Training months earlier, but my personal circumstances had prevented me from being matched with a birth mom until now.

It turned out that being stuck in Herndon was God’s way of throwing me a life preserver.

The meeting 
Laura, the birth mom, was seven months’ pregnant. She and Matthew, her five-year-old son, lived with her parents. Neither birth dad was in the picture. I picked Laura up one day after work and took her to Burger King.

Although Laura hadn’t planned on becoming pregnant again, she was committed to raising the child. She’s a loving mom, I realized as she talked.  Many of the important elements that go into creating a safe, stable environment for her children she already had in place – a job (albeit, a low-paying one) with health care benefits, a car and adequate child care.

But what Laura lacked was self-confidence – the belief that she could build a new, independent life for herself and her children.  When we parted that day, Laura thanked me profusely for listening.  It was obvious that we had good feelings about each other, and we agreed to meet once a week. 

The miracle of Laura’s Need List
Laura had nothing for the baby.  Together, we assembled a list of essentials: a crib, diapers, clothing, a car seat.  My thought was to broadcast Laura’s needs to the Birthmothers e-mail distribution list.  Then, I reasoned, we could figure out the next step. 

crb.jpgBut miraculously, no next step was necessary.  The response to the e-mail request was overwhelming.  By the time Laura’s healthy baby boy was born, she had everything she needed, all from Birthmothers supporters – donations of gently-used items and gifts purchased through an online registry.  “I don’t know what to say,” she said to me, with tears in her eyes.  “I’m so grateful.”

How hope empowers
Once the baby arrived, my relationship with Laura took a deeper turn.  She struggled in her relationship with her mother. It seemed like the right time to tell Laura about my own challenges as a teenage single mom – my parents’ divorce, my mother’s alcoholism, the guilt and shame that I’d carried for years. 

My disclosures opened a secret door between us.  Laura realized that I understood her, and she became more willing to share her inner conflicts. She explained her frustrations with her parents and her work, and talked of quitting her job and leaving her parents’ home with her boys. 

I encouraged her to look at the hard facts.  We crunched the numbers: rent, car payment, health insurance, child care.  How much would Laura have to save to get a security deposit?  How long until her car was paid off?  As Laura faced the realities of her situation, she saw it was simply not feasible for her to leave her parents’ home right now.  But with a plan, she’d have a concrete goal. We began constructing a timeline for Laura.

God’s love gives back
The plan gave Laura hope.  “You’re going to get there,” I said.  “Look at you – you’ve found a way to provide a warm, secure environment for your sons until you can be out on your own.  Lots of people wouldn’t have coped as well as you have.” That’s when I told Laura about my faith – how having and raising my son allowed me to find the Lord.  “I can see now how God used my unplanned pregnancy to grow me closer to Him.  I see that happening to you, too.” 

That was a significant revelation to Laura, who had always viewed religion as a ritual, not a personal relationship.

“My struggles have become my testimony,” I explained.  “Right now, God is developing your testimony through your experiences – with the boys, and with me, for instance.”

“What do you mean?” she asked, trying to understand. It was my turn to grope for words. 

In the beginning, I thought God had kept me in Herndon to help a birth mom through a pregnancy.  But being a Friend to Laura had allowed me to redirect my anxious energy from my personal circumstances, and focus on someone else. It gave me a sense of purpose.

“Laura, you have been a lifesaver for me,” I explained.  “You came into my life during a time of chaos and uncertainty. I think the Lord brought us together through Birthmothers so we could love each other for Him.”

Laura nodded slowly, and beamed.

“Give, and it will be given to you.”  (Luke 6:38).  I should know.  I was stuck in Herndon, but that’s how I met Laura, and she was a godsend.

*name changed to protect confidentiality

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