Sunday, February 7, 2016

I was in Prison and You Came to Visit Me

Over the last several weeks, I have had many well-intended people question my decision to visit Sweet Mama in prison. I know the concern is for the protection of our family. I understand their unease. I, too, have sought the Lord multiple times, this week.

How did we get, here?!?!

With each question, the Holy Spirit would answer with Matthew 25:35-36.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
My friend and I made the long drive together. She gripped my hand, tightly, and prayed for God's presence, before I walked in. I didn't have the slightest bubble of nerves.

I had to wait in a holding room for two hours before I could see her. I didn't have my phone or a book. I just sat there and prayed. I listened to the sad stories around me. There were many family members visiting prisoners that day and the mood was heavy.

The air was so thick, I pushed through tears, all afternoon. 

I had called the facility earlier to make sure I would be able to see her after making the long drive. The officer on duty said, "You must be Rebekah? You're the only person on her list."

Those few words broke my heart and set the tone for the hours before our visit.

I made eye contact with her from across the room while I was stopped at the third security station. When I passed the final inspection, I nearly ran to her and grabbed her as tight as I could. She sobbed and hugged me back with all her strength.

She kept apologizing for her tears, but I told her I wasn't in a hurry. She could cry for as long as she needed. She asked me a hundred questions in rapid succession. We started with Cisco and exhausted every topic on all three kids. I was happy to share our life with her, as I can only imagine the loneliness that eats through her days.

She asked me if it was hard to say yes to bringing home another baby when the agency called about Baby Brother. I only know how to be genuine, so I shared my heart and the emotions that came before our "yes".

She interrupted me halfway through and said, "I'm glad you brought this up." 

I didn't.

"This is what I have been wanting to talk to you about."

I braced myself for one of the many questions Ben and I imagined she would ask.

"I would like to have him back...what I mean to say is, I am going to fight to take him back."


I was shocked speechless. We, literally, sat staring at each other for a minute without a word. 

When my life - turned TV movie - started playing, again, a thousand thoughts rushed through my head. I am a confident girl who is not afraid of silence - uncomfortable or otherwise. So, I just sat there. I really didn't know what to say. Mama started in about the attorney she is meeting with, her hopes for a strong case, the brokenness in her heart, and the guilt she fights.

I never took my eyes from her.

After her ten minute monologue she looked at my face and said, "How does this make you feel?"

It took everything in me not to laugh. The humor was not in the seriousness of the conversation. I had to push down the giggles because of all the many questions Ben and I prayed and prepared answers for, THIS WAS NOT ONE OF THEM.

I took a breath and very lovingly and kindly said this. "My mama heart understands exactly why you want to do this and even respects your desire to fight. But, I am his mother, too. And as hard as you are going to fight, I am going to fight harder. Your kids have experienced trauma, but they find security in each other. If you saw the love that exists between them - the rolling, belly laughs that only Edie can get from Baby Brother - you would never try to pursue this."

Tears started streaming her face.

"You asked me to always be honest with you, even if the truth would hurt your heart. Baby Brother's adoption will be final in a few weeks. There is nothing you are going to be able to say or do to have the judge reverse his decision. If you follow your heart on this, you are only giving yourself false hope and I don't want to see you even more devastated on the other side."

I took her through the judge's instructions at the end of the termination trial to help her remember that her decision was irrevocable. That she agreed she was not impaired or coerced in any way to sign over her rights. I asked her if she remembered when the judge told her that "changing your mind" is not grounds for an appeal and that the time for filing an appeal has long since lapsed.

She buried her face in her hands and sobbed. I just sat, quietly, and waited.

After several minutes, she calmed. With puffy eyes, she said, "Okay. I won't fight. Hearing you say that you would fight harder, reminds me that you love him as much as I do. I won't fight. You can be his mom."

Looking back, I understand that this is EXACTLY the scenario that keeps adoptive parents bound to fear. But, if I gave in to all of the [completely] rational fears I have had over the last several years, I would have limited God's ability to move in my life. I, certainly, wouldn't be mother to five, and I would have been settling for a pretty mediocre supply of blessing.

I want to live in overflow - every day.

There was absolutely a part of me that wanted to get up from our meeting, walk out on Sweet Mama, and never look back. It would be easy (and justifiable) to convince myself that she is not worth the energy.

But....if I had done would I reconcile Matthew 25? How would I make an account that the Lord asked me to go to him in prison, but I was too uncomfortable?

Our [admittedly] crazy conversation strengthened our friendship. If I had turned my back on Mama, I would have missed my reward. I wouldn't have been able to offer her hope or stomp on the lies of the enemy or hear her parting words, when we hugged:

"Thank you....Thank you for being the only person that treats me like a human being."

I hope this challenges you to increase the depth of your love.

Shove your fears into a closest.
Pray for wisdom.
And invite someone in.

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.
 - Jesus


  1. When you posted that you were going to visit Sweet Mama, I knew that you were always going to put your children first.

    My spiritual path is a bit different than yours, but that does not mean I don't pray. I prayed for your hearts. I'm amazed at the deep well of strength and compassion inside of you. Thank you for meeting with that battered soul and thank you for treating her with honesty and dignity.

  2. Interesting that people questioned your desire to go see her. I just viewed it as part of your strong Christian faith and totally normal. I know that's what we would do if any of our children's birth moms were in that situation. God bless you for being totally honest with her. Thank you for continuing to share your lives with us.

  3. Those verses are so important to me, they made it into my (otherwise entirely secular) PhD dissertation.

    I've been reading your blog for a few years now, and the recent posts (last 6 months? last year?) about Sweet Mama make me think the same thing every single time I read them: You aren't just adopting her three children, you've adopted her as well. She seems just as much in need of a mother's love and the stability of a family as her children do, and while there may be no legal paperwork, the bands are still there.

  4. His light is shining bright through you. I am in awe.

  5. All I can say is wow thru my tears. You are a truly inspiring person Rebekah.

  6. Beautiful. And a challenge to us all to truly live out our faith. Thank you for sharing - prayers for you, your family, and sweet mama.

  7. There is a part of her that needed to 'give' the baby to you even though she has no say in the matter. She will be at peace, even if it is the tiniest bit, more than she was before. She needed to hear that. She needed someone to tell her the truth. It matters. That probably was a very good visit but most standards. And, she didn't even ask you the questions you worried about. So that actually worked out well. Hugs. I hope you guys can have some type of healthy some point.

  8. i live just a teeny tiny of this personally--that i have adopted my son's birth parents, as well as him. i've had to say 'no' to his birth mother on some things and it hurts my heart.
    but so many things you experience i've never had to. i'm amazed at you and your beautiful heart. you are such a godly example and it does me good to read your words.

  9. What a path you are on! I pray that the Lord will continue to strengthen you. I've been enjoying a hymn since last week and it came to my mind as I read the love you are showing to Sweet Mama. "Let it be said of us that the Lord is our passion " by Steve Frey. The last verse has been speaking to my heart so much. Also a line in the chorus.."till the likeness of Jesus be through us made known". I will continue to pray , Rebekah.

  10. I have tears for you and tears for her reading this. God bless you both and may His love and mercy become real to her as she sees who you are in Him.

  11. Just because other people might choose to make a different decision than you have made does not give them the right to judge your decisions as are making the completely right decisions for you and your family and only you and your husband can know that. Others can worry for and love you but they should not judge you. I pray every day that this woman will someday understand the wonderful gift you are giving her. She is getting to still be a part of her children's lives only because you are so compassionate and loving. Very very few people in this world would be able to do what you are doing. I admire you...kathy

  12. God give her the strength to rebuild her life - and you the strength to keep being her friend, in spite of this.

  13. Your love and strength are very inspiring. Without her you wouldn't have the 3 blessings. She is part of them...and of you. Peace and continued strength to continue this journey. She needs as much love as all the rest of us.

  14. This is amazing. You are amazing. I don't know what else to say. <3

  15. Thank you for what you did (are doing) for her. Our God calls us to do hard and seemingly impossible things- the Gospel doesn't make human sense. What you are doing for her doesn't make sense to the world. But in Kingdom words it sure does! Thank you for showing her that she matters, that she is worth your time. I pray she never forgets that, and that by someone showing they care, it brings her to the cross.

  16. Your story is so inspirational and encouraging. Thank you for letting God use you in such a powerful way and thank you for sharing your story! You are certainly earning jewels for your crown in heaven!

  17. Rebekah, I've been reading some of your posts from long ago, and I read something that I think could bring your some joy. In 2011, on December 9th, you spoke of a potential brother for Ty; you said "in my head, I had started raising twins." Little did you know that your triplets were so close

  18. When you wonder how this blog impacts people remember that there's a teenage girl whom you've inspired to adopt.

  19. Rarely do I read your blogs without hot tears streaming down my cheeks. If only the world could see more often this kind of raw faith in action...So inspiring!


  20. I think God was definitely present for this and I pray you continue to be His vessel when speaking to Sweet Mama. I may have had a very fleshly reaction to her remark of wanting to fight for baby boy. Remember where you all have come from when you start to feel weak or uncertain. Remembering what those babies have been through will rekindle your resolve and renew your passion.

  21. I haven't visited since you adopted your second child, but I'm glad I read this post today. Your love for souls is shining like a bright star! What a beautiful family you've created!

  22. I have to admit that I was in a similar situation, and after going to church for a few weeks, it hit me. We all have our own cross to bear, so no two people are going through the same thing. If you are doing what feels right for you, then you are in fact doing the right thing for your family.

    Eliseo Weinstein @ JR's Bail Bonds