I am pleased to introduce author Shari Guess, whose children’s book “Once Upon a Baby: A Tale of Adoption” has been published.
I’m so excited to share a little about my adoption journey with The Gift of Giving Life!
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. It seems that Susan thought long and hard about this decision, and I doubt that it was an easy conclusion to come too. For other expectant parents, the decision is easier, and they don’t need help from the Lord to guide them. I know that it was hard for Susan to give her child up, but I’m forever grateful to her and the Lord for gracing me with my son.
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. I think that goes to show that he was destined to be part of our family. Like all families, we have had our good days and bad days, but we get through them. I just can’t believe how far we have come. It really is a magical thing. 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” go to Amazon. I also share about adoption with an LDS perspective.