by Robyn

Birth Stories from the Sound of Music

January 1, 2018 in Adoption, Birth Stories, Book, Book reviews, Dads, Faith, Family size, Fear, home birth, Midwives, Music, Pain, Prayer, Robyn, Uncategorized, Waiting by Robyn

So I am always looking for a good book to read and stumbled upon The Story of the Trapp Family Singers: The Story Which Inspired the Sound of Music on my mother-in-law’s bookshelf. I was hoping to find something that was not only entertaining but inspiring as well. It didn’t disappoint. I have always loved the Sound of Music but had never bothered to learn more about the story that inspired it. The Trapp Family Singers is written by Maria Augusta Trapp herself. The real story may not be as fantastical as the Hollywood version but it is even more compelling. There is so much more that happens to them after they escape from Austria. I don’t want to give too much away because I think you would enjoy it. It is about a family and its determination to stick to their religious principles not matter the cost. The book and the movie are timeless and appeal to all ages.

Hidden inside the book is a beautiful birth story. Maria did adopt seven children as her own when she married the Captain Von Trapp but she also gave birth to three more children. And interesting to note, the Captain was not the strict, cold representation shown in the Sound of Music. His children actually describe him as a very calming influence as does Maria. Below are excerpts from her first birth:

“By the middle of February Frau Vogl [the midwife] came to stay and two days later it was obvious: this was the day. As it hadn’t occurred to bring a doctor into the picture so it also didn’t occur to anybody that I should take an aspirin. Everything was just fine, the pain simply belonged to it. . . Georg was sitting by my bedside, and that was very necessary. He knew so much more about it all than I; he had gone through it seven times. He assured me that I was not going to die, and the less I moaned now, the more strength I would have later, and this was only the beginning. He said it so casually that it took the edge off my anxiety. I went through the entirely new sensation that this was not pain like a toothache, which at times seems to screw itself into your very bones. These pains seem to come at regular intervals like breakers on a seashore. The moment they stopped, you felt perfectly wonderful and ready to dance, only to change your mind rather quickly when the next breaker came.”

Towards the end of her labor, the children were in the next room singing and repeating the rosary which calmed her. Her husband stayed beside her through it all. She repeated to herself, “Oh God, help, help that this Thy child be born healthy in body and soul.” As the first cry of the newborn was heard, the children broke into singing “Now Thank We All Our God.” Maria described her feelings, “In these precious moments the human being feels itself lifted up into the heights of God, partaking of his power, a co-worker of God, the Father, the Creator of Heaven and Earth.” As the evening closed she said her prayers and her parting thought before sleep was, “It-was-wonderful” (pgs. 80-82).

Maria shares the birth stories of her other two children as well. So if you are looking for a book that is about the strength of family and the adventure it takes us on when you live by faith, you might have to look this one up. Happy Reading and a Happy New Year!

by Lani

Celebrating Life on Mother’s Day

April 23, 2016 in Abortion, Adoption, Adversity, Depression, Fertility, Grief, Heavenly Mother, Lani, Loss, Motherhood, Pain, Parenting, Waiting by Lani


Image SourceMother’s Day can be really hard.

Hard because you want to be a mother, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Hard because you recently lost a child through miscarriage or stillbirth.

Hard because you’re healing from an abortion.

Hard because you have been waiting to adopt for a very long time.

Hard because you weren’t able to have as many children as you wanted.

Hard because your mother passed away, and you miss her terribly.

Hard because you wish you could spend more time with your children.

Hard because you’re a single father without a partner.

Hard because you’re a single mother, and you’re tired of doing it alone.

Hard because you’re unable to be with your husband or wife because of military, work, or other reasons.

Hard because your stepchildren reject you.

Hard because your mother struggled to give you the love you needed.

Hard because you struggle yourself to be the mother you want to be.

Hard because your mother was brutally abusive.

Hard because your mother committed suicide.

Hard because you gave your heart and soul to raising your kids, and now you never hear from them.

Hard because you long to know your Mother in Heaven.

So hard.

It’s OK if you love Mother’s Day. It’s OK if you hate Mother’s Day. Your feelings about Mother’s Day are valid and real, and I want you to let yourself feel them. You don’t have to pretend. You don’t have to hide your tears. Because I believe Dr. Aletha Solter’s words about children are also true about adults:

No matter what the source of stress, children will not feel better until they have been allowed to cry and rage as much as needed (Tears and Tantrums, p. 12).

Sometimes we will cry and rage for years.

I can’t take away your pain. I won’t take away your pain. Your pain belongs to you. But I do want you to know that I celebrate you.

I have carried some heavy rocks in my backpack. One of the heaviest was labeled: no-will-to-live. It was so heavy that when it was gone I felt like I might float right up to cloud nine-hundred-and-nine from the relief of it. I never could have imagined how much joy and hope my future would hold. I thank God every day that I chose life. This Mother’s Day I have so much to celebrate.

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These words quoted in our most recent General Conference are brutally true:

Each one of us experiences dark days when our loved ones pass away, painful times when our health is lost, feelings of being forsaken when those we love seem to have abandoned us. These and other trials present us with the real test of our ability to endure. –Thomas S. Monson

I know you have carried, are carrying, and will carry some of your own heavy rocks. You too have known indescribable sorrows. You have dragged yourself, bloody and bruised, over piercing paths and menacing mountains.


You are still here. You are still breathing. You have successfully endured. All of your days. And all of your nights. And you are still here.

That is why I celebrate you.

Yes, let’s celebrate mothers. Because there are some inspiring and remarkable mothers out there, and thank the Lord for those nurturing souls who heal humanity with their presence. Yes, let’s celebrate women. Because women give life in so many ways beyond what happens in the womb. But even if you don’t personally feel like celebrating anything on May 8th this year (and that is totally OK), I will still be celebrating you.

That’s what Mother’s Day will be for me this year… A celebration of the gift of life. A celebration of the ones who gave us this messy, brutal, exquisitely beautiful thing we’re living every day.

I will celebrate those who have had the courage to give life, and with an extra measure of compassion and awe I will also celebrate those who have had the courage to give life a chance. And to keep giving life a chance… day in and day out… even when those days are full of ache.

I am so glad your mother gave you the gift of life. I am so glad you exist. And every day that you choose to keep going is a gift to humanity and yourself.

On May 8th I’ll be holding you in my heart.


Sale begins April 24th

Sale begins April 24th

by Lani

The Messenger

December 3, 2014 in Adoption, Angels, Book, Depression, Dreams, Lani by Lani

sarahandmeFor many years, I have been fascinated by pre-birth experiences (PBEs). I have also had the privilege of sharing a heaven-sent friendship with Sarah Hinze, the expert on PBEs with decades of research. Her website explains PBEs in more detail:

In a typical prebirth experience (PBE), a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, or grandparent, etc., receives communication from a child before she is born, or in many cases, before he was even conceived. These unborn children at times can warn, protect and enlighten us through the veil.

Most of my children appeared to me in dreams or visions before they were born. I have written about some of those experiences on my blog (see HERE, HERE). I cherish these glimpses from beyond the veil.

Last week I wrote a blogpost on my blog about an encounter with an “angel.” Angels have been on my mind a lot lately. So when I was at the dollar store today and saw a little book called Moments with Angels (by Robert Strand), I picked it up. Robert Strand is a pastor who has spent thirty years collecting inspirational stories like the ones in Moments With Angels. I’ve only read a few of the stories so far, but I’d say it was worth $1, especially after finding a pre-birth experience on p. 21. Definitely money well-spent. I instantly wanted to share the brief PBE/angel story here. Here’s an excerpt:

Yvonne (name changed) was 17, pregnant, penniless, and afraid. She was at her wits’ end not knowing what to do. . . . Nightly, she cried herself to sleep.

Then, one night an angel appeared to her in a dream. It said, “Don’t be afraid. Everything will be fine because you and your baby will be well taken care of.”

The angel pulled back the curtain and gave her a look into the future. Yvonne watched as her baby, healthy, strong, and beautiful was placed by the angel into the arms of a wonderful, caring, loving couple. The next scene showed the baby as a grown woman, mature and happy. The angel told her God was concerned about the baby and would work it all out for good for her as-yet-unborn child. Then the angel turned to Yvonne and touched her with a light that seemed to give off a warm glow that stayed with Yvonne in her heart.

As Yvonne awoke the next morning she felt wonderful, loved, and that everything would be worked out for the best. On this same day she was introduced to a lady who told her about a support group/home for unwed mothers. The next day Yvonne found herself in attendance with this support group where she found healing. . . . Her choice was to give birth and place the child with a Christian adoption agency.

God is good.

I love Maggie’s Place, a local support home for pregnant women in need. I hope to be more involved in their mission as my children get older.

More stories like this one:

Saved from Suicide
Ready to Receive
More stories collected by Sarah
Sarah’s soon-to-be-released book

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by Lani

Cherie Burton Book Review

April 28, 2014 in Adoption, Adversity, Book reviews, Depression, Fertility, Grief, Lani, Loss, miscarriage, Personal Revelation, Virtual Book Tour, Waiting by Lani

150602_426562187424709_1846303491_nToday’s Virtual Book Tour post comes from Cherie Burton. Cherie is an amazing, powerful woman and mentor/coach of other strong women. Because of her family’s history with depression and suicide, she is passionate about helping others achieve health and emotional balance. Cherie was also Utah County’s Young Mother of the Year in 2011 and considers being a wife and mother her greatest calling.

I loved meeting Cherie last summer. After she contacted me to set up a meeting, I spent some time on her blog reading about the miraculous and beautiful adoption of her Elijah. It struck a strong chord with me for a number of reasons. One being that I began having spiritual experiences with my own unborn son (also named Elijah) almost as soon as my fourth baby was born. I felt his presence among my children often, I dreamed about him, I saw him in vision. Reading about Cherie finding her Elijah stirred my own heart’s assurance that my Elijah wasn’t a figment of my imagination.

I love Cherie’s post about The Gift of Giving Life. Here’s an excerpt:

the-gift-of-giving-life-book-review-1I read The Gift of Giving Life in 2012, shortly after the miraculous private adoption of our magnificent son, Eli. I wept with the women who detailed their experiences with loss, grief and divine compensation. I felt a rising empowerment, a blazing second witness that women are in a very real partnership with The Creator of All as they sacrifice and bear down and descend. And then nobly and beautifully ascend. The Atonement of Christ is demonstrated more mightily through the sacrificial practice of mothering than through any other practice on Earth.

The Gift of Giving Life is a book about power. Woven into each chapter are stories that affirm the massive spiritual powers of wisdom, love and creation embodied in the Feminine. I love that this book addresses so many women’s experiences, from so many walks of life, who have the same underlying belief: That God knows our hearts and our needs as women and will mold a perfect plan that, through birth and rebirth, will take our souls and bodies to heights and depths we could never before fathom. I have learned that it is not just the experience of giving birth physically that empowers a woman to call herself mother. It is the praying, the losing, the weeping, the waiting. The pouring of her heart and soul into a vision and promise that only she and her Creator can hold form for.

You can read the rest of Cherie’s beautiful post HERE.

2014-04-24 09.56.04 am

by Lani

A Glimpse of Heaven

November 6, 2013 in Adoption, Angels, Attachment, Book reviews, Depression, Holy Ghost, Intuition, Lani, Miracles, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal Revelation, Zion by Lani

Glimpse_of_Heaven_Joanna_Oblander_coverBack in the summer of 2012, when I had pretty much hit rock bottom emotionally, I received a review copy of A Glimpse of Heaven by JoAnna Oblander in the mail. She and her publisher had contacted me a few weeks before asking if I would be willing to review the book on this blog. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. There I was, struggling to retain my will to live, and I opened up the book to read this on the very first page:

“At day’s end I sat on my bed overcome with convulsive tears. My will to live had been obliterated. . . . Holding onto life had proven itself too hard. . . . My emotional avalanche had battered me so severely that I was unwilling to consider giving life another chance. . . . I was done.”

As JoAnna drifted off to sleep, fully intending it to be her last night on earth, an angel appeared, pulled her spirit from her body, and took her to view heaven, more specifically her pre-mortal preparatory experiences and commitments. After all she saw and felt, she knew she could no longer follow through with her suicide. She would choose to keep fighting for her life. As she describes later in the book, “I, like all of God’s children, was a wreck worth salvaging” (p. 79).

At the time, I wasn’t reading or writing much at all. But JoAnna’s story pulled me in. She had been where I was. She had inhabited those awful depths of despair. And she had lived to tell of a better day. Perhaps I would too. Though I was initially drawn into JoAnna’s story, and despite the book being very short, it has taken me over a year to finally finish A Glimpse of Heaven and feel ready to post this review.

A Glimpse of Heaven covers more than just JoAnna’s brief visit to heaven. It also contains other powerful spiritual experiences, including several pre-birth experiences with her soon-to-be children. If you’ve been following me for awhile you know that I adore pre-birth experiences. So I loved reading about JoAnna’s.

One of the things that struck me as I read the book was just how much JoAnna and I have in common. It was so validating to read about her search to find the son she had been told through the voice of the Spirit to find. In the years she spent searching, she was given more and more information through personal revelation about this son, including his name and the name of the young girl she would find him with. I myself have also been given specific details about a son I have yet to bear. Sometimes I can’t help wondering if I’m making it all up, but at the same time the things I have been taught through the Spirit about my son feel very much real. The connection I feel to him is real. Reading JoAnna’s specific spiritual guidance about her future son felt like another witness from God that I’m not crazy. Mothers really can be given specific details about the children who will be coming to their families.

Another piece of JoAnna’s journey that struck me was her family’s struggle with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Here’s a brief summary of the condition:

“Reactive attachment disorder develops because the child’s basic needs for comfort, affection and nurturing aren’t met and loving, caring attachments with others are never established. This may permanently change the child’s growing brain, hurting the ability to establish future relationships” (Source).

After adopting two orphans from Russia, JoAnna’s family learned first-hand what RAD was and how painful it can be for those who are dealing with it. Many children who have experienced neglect and/or abandonment in their infancy or early childhood later struggle with RAD. Joanna’s adopted children were among them. She said:

“If there is one lesson I have walked away with after having lived with children with RAD, it is that we must make sure that the infants and toddlers of our world receive the love and nurturing they need. Our children are priceless, and we must not take our responsibility for them lightly” (p. 75).

It breaks my heart to think of all the children out there in the world who do not have loving caregivers. Mothers have so much power! Loving mothers are key to the normal development of children’s brains. Zion, the pure in heart, will never be built without loving mothers to protect those pure hearts in their infancy. We are literally molding the future of humanity. That is no small thing.

I’m grateful A Glimpse of Heaven appeared in my life when it did. Though I found the structure and organization of the book somewhat scattered, it has many treasures to enjoy in its 111 pages. It would appeal to women struggling with depression, women waiting for future children, women seeking to adopt, those with chronic health difficulties seeking relief, and those who enjoy near-death experience accounts. You can read more about JoAnna and A Glimpse of Heaven on her website HERE.

Adoption: It Really is About Love {Giveaway}!

November 7, 2012 in Adoption, Giveaways, Guest Post by Heatherlady

Did you know that November is National Adoption Awareness Month? Well, it is. In celebration I am pleased to introduce author Shari Guess, whose new children’s book “Once Upon a Baby: A Tale of Adoption” has just been published. Shari has been good enough to share with us her own adoption story and is giving away a copy of her book and a $25 Amazon gift card, so make sure you enter!

I’m so excited to share a little about my adoption journey with The Gift of Giving Life!

We’ve all heard the phrase “It’s about Love” spoken regarding the spiritual principles of adoption and I have been one of the lucky ones who has found out how true this really is!

I received a call on September 4, 2002 that would change the life of my husband and I forever. A young woman had chosen us to be the adoptive parents of her unborn son who was born just six days later. As you can imagine, there was a whirlwind of emotions surrounding these events and in many ways, I feel that this story should really be coming from her as I have never technically had the gift of giving life given to me. I feel instead that my husband and I were blessed to bring a life of happiness centered upon gospel teachings to the special spirit this incredible woman bore. Together we all brought him a life, and what came of her untimely circumstance has brought something more beautiful than either of us could imagine into our lives. This fact was spoken to by Elder Russell M. Nelson in the in the October 2011 General Conference when he stated, “Some of us are the literal seed of Abraham; others are gathered into his family by adoption. The Lord makes no distinction. Together we receive these promised blessings—if we seek the Lord and obey His commandments.”

Susan, my son’s birth mother might have sought more to council the Lord than to be counseled by him in the early days of her pregnancy. She had initially decided that she was going to be a single parent. She shared “I’d always wanted to be a mother. This was not the ideal arrangement, but with help from my family, I’d be able to provide for this child; never would a mother love her child more. I’d waited for this; my friends called me mother, I was born to be a mom. I went to the Lord and told him so. I wanted him to agree. I said unless I got an absolute, no wiggle room, answer that this baby was not to be mine, I would keep him.” What followed this challenge to the Lord was that a month before his birth an incredibly personal spiritual experience spoke to her heart and told her this child was meant for another family. They could give him what she couldn’t, but believed in with all her heart- an eternal family.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World states, “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs… The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The biblical prophet Isaiah also affirmed this when he stated in Isaiah 54:13 “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

Susan said of those first precious days with her son, “I held him close and breathed in every bit of him I could. I tried to blaze into my memory that time and memories of him. It was certainly bittersweet. I knew I would miss him, but I was completely confident in my decision. I held him close and marveled at the innocence of him. I sang to him and told him I loved him, but I knew his mom would love him more. I felt sad, but was fully committed to the path I had chosen.”

Susan became willing to follow the counsel of the Lord and his prophets. She turned to the Lord in faith, knowing that He could make something beautiful of her experience despite her pain. She used that point as a starting point, and continued to make right choices. The more we watched this amazing woman progress, the more we wanted to know her-and wanted our son to know her. What became of that decision almost ten years ago is not only a son that has been given the gift of an eternal family, but we feel that our family has increased. Today we enjoy an extremely open relationship with Susan. We have all had our testimonies strengthened on both sides. We have learned about sacrifice and charity and through it all have been able to see the hand of God in every particular. We see his love in all things, so you see…it is about love! My son is close to Susan and her actions have set a true example to him about something she unselfishly believed so strongly in: choosing the right. His little testimony is so strong!

Susan says, “I wish I could tell you that it was easy, knowing that he was taken care of, that Heavenly Father approved of this choice, that he had a better life there than I could have given him in so many ways. It wasn’t. As with most things in life, it was a process. There were times that making it was all I could do, but these times grew further apart. The nights got easier. It’s been a blessing to be able to stay part of his life. Our relationship has grown and redefined itself through the years. The repentance process was a joy. The atonement of our Savior became a real force in my life for comfort and healing.”

Because of Susan’s gift my husband and I have experienced the joys of seeing a child embrace all that life has to offer, along with choosing to take upon himself the blessings that will bring him life eternal. Some days I even forget that I have not given birth. We all know that this was truly part of God’s plan for our son. Because of his birth and circumstances, more was made with all of us than we could have each made on our own. President Dieter F. Uctdorf said it perfectly when he said, “When we look at the foundational principles of the plan of happiness, the plan of salvation, we can recognize and appreciate in its plainness and simplicity the elegance and beauty of our Heavenly Father’s wisdom. Then, turning our ways to His ways is the beginning of our wisdom.”

It was important for all of us to share with our son that he arrived in his earthly family by divine design. It wasn’t just by chance or accident. I longed for a book I could sit down and read to him that would share my testimony of this belief. To my surprise, I couldn’t find one. What was born from that experience was the writing of my book “Once Upon A Baby: A Tale of Adoption.” It is written for an LDS audience and follows the story of the adopted child from the Pre-existence to his family’s home on earth, their sealing in the temple and then on into eternity. I am hoping that it will be readily received in the LDS adoption community. As you can tell, the story has a special place in my heart. I hope that it might find one in yours.

For more information, or to order a copy of “Once Upon A Baby: A Tale of Adoption” see the official website at . I also share about adoption with an LDS perspective on the Facebook Page at and on Twitter: @OnceUponABabyBk.
Come join us!

Also, today the author is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card + a copy of Once Upon a Baby  (Book available to US & Canada only).  To enter please do at least one of the things in the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway will close on  11/30/12.  Best of luck!

Code for Rafflecopter for Tour Giveaway:
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Your Endless Hours are Making a Difference! by Joanna Oblander

July 28, 2012 in Adoption, Attachment, Guest Post, Motherhood, Prenatal influences by Heatherlady

I am thrilled to share this guest post by author Joanna Oblander. Joanna has written the book “A Glimpse of Heaven”, which is a memoir about her near death experience  with God, her vision of  the pre-mortal world, her struggle with depression, and an amazing journey to find her adoptive son. I reviewed Joanna’s book on my blog, which you can read here, and have been so touched by her beautiful testimony and experiences. I have so enjoyed getting to know Joanna and hope you will too!

Now that I can no longer claim to be a young mother (let’s just say that my daughters are young mothers) I like to think that I have gained some amazingly
wonderful insights into the whole business of birth and motherhood!

If you have read my book, A Glimpse of Heaven, you know that I have four children that I have given birth to and 2 children that my husband and I adopted
from Russia.

I was determined as a young mother to stay home with my children. I was a pretty typical run-of-the-mill LDS mother who exercised lots of creativity in figuring out how I could maximize time with my children, maximize our income, minimize our expenditures, and minimize my time away from the home!

I believed President Benson’s admonition to stay at home with my children rather than pursue a career. And….there was that something inside my heart that couldn’t bear the thought missing out on all of my children’s ‘firsts” in exchange for a career. However, I can’t honestly say that I understood…really understood what my sacrifices for my children were about or what they were accomplishing.

Fast forward to our adoption…then fast forward 5 years after our adoption was finalized and VOILA….I understood. I understood in ways that I could have never understood before.

It was about five years after we adopted our children from Russia that I learned about an emotional condition called Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). I had personally been dealing with two cases of RAD for 5 years but I had not understood what it was that I was dealing with or its causes.

You see…my two Russian children were removed from their birth parents for neglect and abandonment. As a result of not receiving the care, nurturing, and
love they needed as infants and young children their emotional well being was greatly impaired.

What I learned is that when a child does not receive the care, nurturing and love that they need – the appropriate development does not occur. Reasoning ability is delayed or not developed, the conscience is impaired, desire to engage in loving relationships is dismally weak and desire to engage in strange, controlling behaviors is frustratingly strong. For example, my son once deliberately failed an honors class not because he wasn’t capable but because he wanted to show the teacher who was really in control.

In the normal development of a child, the first five years is very important but the time between the ages of 6 months to 18 months is especially critical. It is during those months that a child learns to trust. That’s why we often see babies become so attached to their mother’s during that time of their life.

As a child learns to move and become more independent, they need to learn that we are there for them. They have a dirty diaper and they fight us when we
want to change them yet our changing their diaper communicates our love for them and that we are going to take care of them. They try to climb something dangerous and we don’t let them and they learn that we are going to keep them safe. They try to hit us and we teach them hitting is wrong and they may cry
unhappy tears but they know that we are providing boundaries that they know will help them be secure.

During those formative months and years that we carry our children within, give birth to them, and then raise them are soooo precious. It is through our presence and our care (physical, emotional and spiritual) that we are able to teach them that they are loved, that there is a safe place for them in this world,
and enable them to develop in the very ways that Heavenly Father designed for them to develop. So the next time your baby cries as you leave for date night
or your energetic children are exhausting you – smile! Something wonderful is happening! Know that your endless hours and daily care are making a magnificent difference!

JoAnna Oblander
A Glimpse of Heaven

One Family, Different Paths by Kara

February 20, 2012 in Adoption, Guest Post by Heatherlady

Today’s birth story comes for Kara. I met Kara few years ago. We were standing in line for lunch at the restaurant on the bottom floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial building and somehow I mentioned the book project I was working on. She shared her story with me and I asked her if she would be willing to send in her story for our book. Due to space we weren’t able to put it in the book but I wanted to make sure her story was shared. I think it is a beautiful reminder that God is ultimately the one who opens or closes the womb and that he knows when and how each of his precious children need to come to the earth.

         After struggling with infertility my husband and I were able to adopt a beautiful little girl. When I watched my eldest daughter Brooklyn being born I was in awe that a woman could carry a child for nine months and then allow herself to place the infant in someone else’s arms. With our second daughter, Ashlyn, I watched in awe as not just a woman, but a whole family, placed an infant in my arms.

Before Ashlyn’s birth I had a powerful experience. My oldest daughter Brooklyn was two weeks old and she was refusing to sleep. My husband was away on business and so I was solo on that night’s battle.  As I sat in a chair with my infant laying on my lap I plead with Heavenly Father to inspire me on how to get her to settle down and go sleep. Immediately after my prayer Brooklyn stopped crying and smiled. She looked over my right shoulder and then over my left and then she then proceeded to cry again. At that moment I was blessed with the inspiration to know that she saw my second daughter, whom we were waiting to be born, and that she also saw a third person waiting to come into our family. From then on I knew that we were meant to have three children, but I had no idea how they were going to get to our family. I always kept that thought in my head and was constantly looking for inspirations on how it was going to happen.

Little did I know that my third daughter would come to us, through my body and not through a birth mother.  Most people I come across, even strangers, tell me that they see this all the time—that since I had adopted I was relaxed enough to get pregnant. I have a different version of the story.


         When going through the process of “finding” Ashlyn to adopt we encountered many spiritual and divinely guided experiences. When we met her birth mother and her family it felt like I had known them for years. The welcome and love they gave us was incredible and it testified to me that this woman’s unborn daughter was mine to raise. After spending a lot of time with the birth mother she and I formed a relationship that few women have the privilege of experiencing– we are bonded in a way that only she and I can understand.

After she had given birth she had hoped to transfer Ashlyn into our care immediately but State law required her to keep the baby for three days before placing her with her new family. When the third day came we expected to meet her but instead we found her Mom. She was sitting in a chair holding our tiny baby girl and crying. I saw the pain in her eyes in knowing that she had to say goodbye to this child not knowing if she would ever see her again. As I walked towards her and sat down next to her  I couldn’t help but share tears with her. We and I had shared the moment of Ashlyn’s birth together, as well as the birth of the motherhood companionship that had formed between me and her daughter– one that could never be broken. I knew the blessing of Ashlyn coming into ours lives, yet understood the heartache and hardship of a family letting her go. Now, after carrying and birthing my own child I have a better understanding of what these women did for me and my daughters.

Once, when I was feeling quite discouraged and overwhelmed with my three little active girls I asked for a blessing. My husband asked a close friend to give the blessing since he felt too close to the situation. After they prayed together in a separate room they laid their hands on my head and gave me one of the most intense blessing I’d ever received. The strongest thing said, and that I still hold onto today, was that I was friends and sisters with my daughters in the pre-existence. In that moment the Spirit testified to me that regardless of how my three beautiful daughters came into my life, we had been together in the Spirit world since the beginning of time.

If I had been able to get pregnant when I wanted to then Brooklyn and Ashlyn would never have come to our family and their birth families wouldn’t have gone through the growth that they did. I know that all of my children were meant to be with me but had to come different ways. Yes, I have fears of teasing, arguing and harsh words between my daughters regarding their adoptions and biological births but I hope they will eventually come to understand the process just as I have. I know this is how the Lord’s plan has worked for us and after all is said and done I know that that our lives are in the care of God’s hands.

by Lani

Tender Mercies

November 28, 2011 in Adoption, Birth Stories, Lani, Prayer by Lani

It was difficult, as we were finalizing our book’s contents, to choose which of the many wonderful spiritual stories we had received would be included. We consoled ourselves, as we made those difficult decisions, with the intention to post the extra stories here on our website. The following is one of those tender stories.

Giving the gift of life is sometimes a partnership between two mother hearts—a birth mother yearning for a loving home for the child in her womb and another mother eagerly awaiting the child she has “grown” within her heart. I hope you enjoy Judith’s story of the adoption of her second son as much as I did.  —Lani

Tender Mercies

Even though only a brief time had passed since the adoption journey with our first son, we began the conversation again. It had taken two and a half years to find our wonderful boy, and it seemed clear that seeking his sibling was the next step. I just didn’t know how.  Prayer is the answer for me. However, in my experience, the answers to prayer can be very long in coming. So the search began but went slow-w-wly.

After many months, I was feeling particularly discouraged about the fruitlessness of the process and asked to meet with the Bishop. Compassionately, he listened to my grief.  When all was said, the Bishop replied encouragingly, saying that he knew several wealthy people and believed that one of them would be willing to give us the $25,000 to $30,000 we needed. My job, he said, was to find our baby.  An unbelievable offer of mercy shown.

Several adventures followed, but nothing came together. While we were in Utah for our summer trip with the family (almost two years after our son’s birth), we connected with an adoption agency there at the encouragement of friends. We were given a packet to complete and return. Once home, it only took moments to become lost in the activities of family, as well as work, friends, neighborhood, and garden, to forget all about the paperwork.

In December, we unexpectedly got a call from the agency, asking about the packet and saying that they had some new birth mothers who were going to review the letters they’d received. We were strongly encouraged to complete the packet and send it along with some other essential material within the next two days. Unfortunately, some of the necessary information, used in our first adoption, was nowhere to be found.

I began looking in all the usual squirrel-away-papers spots with no success and felt stuck and frantic. Then I knelt in my room and asked to be directed to the papers.  [Here I acknowledge that some people hate hearing stories about praying for lost keys, but there was nothing in this moment that was mundane to me.] I knew I had to find the paperwork quickly and the seemingly simple task of looking everywhere could take weeks in the in-between-moments of life.

After my prayer, I got up, walked to the basement storage room, and stood in front of two cardboard file boxes in the midst of a pile of other boxes. I took off the top box and looked into the second. There on top were the papers I was seeking. At that moment I could only drop to the floor in gratitude to a compassionate, attentive, and merciful God.

Swiftly completed, the packet and papers were sent overnight to the agency. All the rest of December and January there was no word.  Just waiting.

One Saturday in February, the phone rang, and I happened to answer it. The girl on the other end said something quickly, but I couldn’t understand her. I asked her to repeat it. She said, “I’ve picked you, and I was wondering what you believe about disciplining?” I said, “I’m sorry. Who is this?”

She responded, “I’m H. at the _____Adoption Agency, and I’ve picked you to be the parents of my baby. I’m wondering what you believe about disciplining children.”

Surprised and breathless, I responded, “Yes, it’s so wonderful to talk to you, H.  I’m Judy. Well, here’s what we believe about discipline….” Breathe, answer, smile, listen, breathe, talk. “Would you like to speak to my husband, Martin? He’s right here.” Jump wildly.

When my husband handed the phone back to me, she said, “I’d like you to come out to Utah this week. Could you do that? I’d like to meet you in person right away and get everything arranged.” I replied, “Of course, I can do that” (not having any idea how I would do that). With tentative arrangements made, we hung up. Stunned and exuberant, Martin and I held each other and cried and laughed.  Then I started making phone calls.

Using the ever-so-generous bishop’s frequent flyer miles, I arrived a few days later to meet H.  Excited and anxious, I met first with her social worker.  Then H. walked in bubbly and eager and hugged me! She animatedly shared the ultrasound pictures she’d just gotten. There he was—feet, head, all of him. The meeting could not have been warmer or friendlier. At lunch with the three of us, dozens of questions were asked. In that conversation H. said that she was from another state, and her mother had discovered this adoption agency, believing strongly that it was the right place for her to go, even though—or perhaps because—they had no association at all with Utah.  [What a blessing for us.] When asked why she’d picked us out of all the hopefuls, H. said that it was because we already had one adopted child (our first miracle, Jesse) and wanted her son to have an adopted brother and companion. H. talked about why she was giving up the baby for adoption and how clearly she felt that it was the right thing to do. This led, inevitably, to her description of the sadness she felt in doing so.  And so we spoke openly and tenderly and cried, as well.

Within three weeks at 9:30 a.m., H. called to say that the baby had been born—on the day she, not the doctor, had predicted. As hurriedly as able, I flew out that day.  In the evening my close friend picked me up at the airport and drove the hour to reach him. What we found at the hospital was a thin, little, blond, blue-eyed fellow whom I loved instantly.  It was real, but not real, that I could see, hear, smell, and touch him after all this time. Hello, Will. Thank you, kind and merciful God. Thank you, H.

The next morning I saw H. before we left the hospital.  She’d bought a blanket for him, and asked which name we’d chosen. Tender hugs were shared, and we said we’d meet again in 18 years.  In those moments was a mix of joy and sorrow, pain and relief, and, still, so much more I can neither fathom nor explain. But this I know: Prayers were answered many times and repeated mercies shown on our behalf.  As a result, an immeasurable gift of a beloved baby boy was bestowed upon us that day, for whom we will be grateful evermore.