Parenting from the Heart: A Lesson in Sacrifice (Part One)

Two years ago this month, my life changed with a single phone call, a call on a seemingly ordinary summer day that was anything but ordinary. I was outside near the garage throwing away trash. I remember the details of this day as vividly as if it just happened yesterday. I answered with a simple, “Hello?” The response I received was full of panic and desperation. The voice of a woman, whose request was barely audible as tears and sobs muffled her speech, cried out to me for help. As a mom, whenever I hear a cry for help, I am right there with a hand extended. But, this time was different. The risk was great and the sacrifice required was even more than I imagined.


In life, we are faced with trials and tribulations, and many times these challenges involve sacrifice. Sacrifice could be in the form of material possessions or money, or perhaps giving up a family outing or vacation because you’re needed elsewhere. I think we can all agree that this list could go on for quite a while from our own personal experiences.

On that life-changing summer day, the woman pleading for my help was Emma, the birth mother of my adopted daughter, Genna. What was her reason for sheer panic? Homelessness. She slowly shared, slowly because she could barely breathe between sobs, that she became homeless after having a falling out with her sister. So, here she was, in a crime-ridden city infamously known for violence and drug rings, sitting on a street corner with a mere few bags of possessions and her son, Genna’s biological brother, Rey. They had no place to go and no money in hand. She needed my help—they needed my help.

Now, just to back up a bit … the adoption was finalized 10 years prior as a closed adoption, meaning I was under no obligation to establish or maintain contact with Emma at any time. But, I did choose to communicate with her over the years for the occasional phone call or to mail her pictures of Genna. So, to hear her voice—a voice I recognized instantly—after many, many years filled me with uncertain fear. Thoughts of, can I trust her, should I help, should I say no, should I just hang up … swirled in my head. I didn’t know what to say to her other than to do my best to calm her down and encourage her. I told her I would pray for her. I also told her I would call Jason at work right away and call her back.

When I called Jason to fill him in on the news, he didn’t seem shocked. His response floored me. I was sure he’d say something like, “Well, she’s not coming here.” In a way, at the time, I was hoping that would be his response. But instead, he told me to put myself in their shoes of desperation and loneliness. He asked me what Yahshua would do. I replied, “He would take them in.” And so began a chapter in my life that would change me forever … opening my heart and home to Genna’s birth family.

They arrived within three days of the initial call for help. I was on pins and needles every second of every minute of every hour of those three days. Those three days felt like an eternity, but spun by so quickly I could hardly gather my thoughts or feelings. I can still see the minivan coming down the driveway; Jason went to pick them up in town, so he was driving the van. I told Genna to stay inside while I met them and made sure everything was okay.

Emma ran over to me, wrapped her arms around me and cried for several minutes. I remember hearing her say, “I love you,” amidst the shed tears. Then, out of the van appeared Rey. It was incredible. He looked just like Genna. I had never before seen him in person. He was sweet and shy. He came over to me and gave me a hesitant hug. I smiled and hugged him back. I sent Kaiti in the house to get Genna.

When Genna came outside, I turned on my camera and set it to movie mode. I hit record. I watched Genna and Emma reunite through the lens of my camera. I felt so removed from the situation… but so did my heart, so in a way it was fitting. I watched Emma run to Genna and hug her, hugging her with such emotion, unlike I had ever seen before. She was hugging “my” daughter in a way I never did. My heart sank, and at that moment I knew the coming months were going to be difficult.

That first night, I couldn’t sleep. We put Emma and Rey upstairs in a spare bedroom. Their bedroom was just down the hall from Genna’s room. My room was downstairs. The distance killed me, even though it was mere steps. Not knowing what was going on at every moment tormented me. I could hear laughter, laughter shared between Emma and Genna. I heard hugs. Before this day, I didn’t know a hug could be heard, but a mother’s heart can hear one. I heard many. I couldn’t help but feel jealous. I was jealous of what they shared. No matter how good of a mom I was, I could never be Genna’s birth mom. I cried. I was scared, scared of losing my little girl. My repeating thought, spinning in my head like a broken record, “What have I done?” I fell asleep praying, asking, “Yahweh … what is your plan? Help me to understand.”

To be continued ….

by: Amy Pletz

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