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Happy birthday, Thomas; I wonder how you're doing

February 26, 2008 - LLee Janssen

Wednesday will mark 14 years since one of the most amazing chapters I've ever been privileged enough to witness. It's the 14th anniversary of the birth of a healthy infant boy whose mother named him Thomas, nursed him in his initial days on the planet, bonded with him, soaked up the beauty of his tiny features and cherished him, then loved him enough to turn the days-old lad over to another family to rename and raise as their own.

Thomas's mother was a coworker and remains a friend, though distant, now that she's living and settled in Maine. Her sacrifice, made through love, is one that touched me in a profound way. Certainly, those weeks leading up to the birth and the days that followed will remain burned in my memory forever.

Back then, Mary was single. By the time she discovered her pregnancy, she and the boy's father split, and she chose to carry the baby to term and deliver him into this world. Having two children whom I was raising alone, somehow Mary thought I would be a good birth coach. I, in turn, was in awe of her unselfish decision to go through with the birth and her plan to give the baby to another family, one that she sought out and picked herself. An open adoption is what she called it.

Like any new mother, Mary took good care of herself through the pregnancy. In the final trimester, I accompanied her to the prenatal classes and helped her prepare for the main event. And when it came, I did the best I could to help her focus and get through each painful moment, to comfort her as best I could, to just be there for her in a time of need. But it didn't end there.

Visiting her in her hospital room after, I was amazed that she spent those days with the infant child, even though she was planning to give him up. I could see how much she loved him and couldn't imagine the agony she must have gone through. Yet she remained true to her convictions. Within days, I helped her go home from the hospital, baby in tow, and then loaded up the vehicle with his stuff and accompanied her to the meeting place where she was to turn him over. Even though this may to this day still be the most difficult thing she's ever done, I doubt she's ever looked more beautiful or felt more bliss than in knowing that she was acting unselfishly and in the best interest of this new life. It certainly is something I could not have done; in fact, after it was all said and done and she was back home in her apartment, (and not until then) I cried all the way home. I could not imagine making such a sacrifice, and yet I respected her decision and strength of character.

Today Mary is living a healthy and happy life with a man she met while pregnant with Thomas and later married. They adopted a young boy from Russia, and I can only imagine the perfect family they've formed. She stays in touch with the family who adopted Thomas, and I hope he'll someday contact his birth mother and come to know just how very much he is loved.

Yes, is loved. Because surely the love behind a sacrifice of the heart that great does not ever fade.


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