A couple of weekends ago a rather impressive number of men gathered to witness for life, for babies and the women who carry them. And that is a beautiful thing. This year’s Men’s March Against Abortion in Washington, D.C. was a first so we can hope that the word will spread and more men will make the trip to our nation’s capital to join in the march next year.
Many in our American culture tends to think in terms of women only when they consider the abortion issue. It’s a “personal choice” of the woman because she carries the baby (or clump of cells, depending on one’s outlook) so it is solely her decision whether to carry or extinguish the life within.
But men have a large role in the conception, birth, and subsequent care for this child outside the womb. If only we would just allow them to take up that role, indeed, if only we would expect them to take a part in the life of the woman carrying the child they created together and in that child’s nurturing and upbringing to adulthood.
When women have babies, deliver these tiny, unique, made-in-the-image-of-God, people, there is an expectation that the mothers will care for them. But fathers have an obligation and a right to help raise and care for those children, as well. It’s up to our society to encourage this way of thinking and to actually educate or raise awareness that it’s right and just for the fathers to be involved in all aspects of a baby’s life, beginning with conception but going well beyond that moment.
In the Old Testament, God instructs Moses to pass on the holy tradition of Passover after the Lord institutes the meal that commemorate His people’s deliverance from bondage. And how does that wise and obedient Moses do this? By teaching the story and all its ramifications for the Chosen People to the children!
Yes, Moses tells the adults who experienced the actual deliverance, all the plagues and all the wonders of God’s involvement in freeing the people, who prepare and eat this Passover supper, to make sure their children are involved and learn all about it so they will spend their whole lives not only doing the thing, but knowing why and passing it on to those who come after them. And still we find those who observe the Jewish faith, thousands of years later, celebrating the Passover meal and continuing to teach it to their children. That’s tradition and it only survives when we involve our children, the next generation, and tell them why we are doing things!
I bring up Moses’ Passover “plan” here, to suggest the reason why we have so many people walking around, especially men, who don’t know they are supposed to be good fathers, let alone what a good father is, or why it matters that they are part of their children’s lives, or why they have to cherish and protect the woman who is the mother of their children. Our western culture has really obfuscated the role of men in the family by ridiculing or criticizing the God given gifts that men possess. It’s old-fashioned, it’s sexist, it’s unnecessary for a man to be an important part of a woman’s life or a child’s life, many declare. And that is perhaps the biggest tragedy of our modern age.
The Men’s March Against Abortion could be called ‘The Men’s March: Taking Back Our Jobs in the Family.’ But that’s just my humble suggestion. This fight for the lives of our children has to include the women who carry them – their well-being and their desire for the father of their children to be involved in both their lives, mom and baby, no matter what.
It’s an idealized view, perhaps. But if we don’t have an ideal to aspire to, then we have confusion and resentment. If we don’t have a ‘why’ for the man’s involvement in the life of a child and the woman who is that child’s mother, we have our present prevailing attitude that it’s all up to the women who are in unplanned pregnancies and the men are no longer a factor. It is not surprise, then, that many women see abortion as their only choice…
Yes, that is a tragedy for humanity, because if the children who go on living don’t know their fathers or know the love and strength that can enhance their lives, we are ignoring the family as God intended it. And when we sweep away so many children’s lives as if they are nothing, women and men also suffer. Our society becomes more callous, less compassionate, weaker and more selfish.
So, kudos to the Men’s March Against Abortion for their first attempt and may God bless these men and all who will learn of it and join in next time. And may raising awareness of the crucial role men also play in the life of a child result in changed hearts in men and women so that babies who are conceived are brought to birth and loved and nurtured by both their moms and their dads. Amen.
I saw this very true statement on some social media post a while back. I’m sorry I can’t recall where it was, but that doesn’t negate the veracity of it.
This is where wisdom comes from: learning from the times we lose even though we tried with everything we had; learning from mistakes we wish we could undo; learning from pain that one day turns to joy.
Compassion is often born out of those times when we were denied kindness or mercy after we made a mistake, made a bad decision, wandered in the wrong direction. The wise are most likely battered, bruised, maybe even scarred, but they are still standing and grateful to be.
The wise, compassionate ones are moved to action, to heal, to forgive, to be merciful. If you’re lucky, or better yet, when grace moves in, when you don’t win, you learn!
The Search is an intriguing semi-autobiographical story that chronicles the lives of three strong women and the effects a ‘closed’ adoption had on all their lives. At the time the birth mother decides to place her child with an adoptive family, “closed” adoptions almost always were the norm. In a closed adoption the birth mother did not have any contact with the family who was accepting the baby. And the child would never know who his or her birth parents were. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. (Open adoptions, with the adoptive parents and their child knowing the birth mother - and sometimes the father - are most common today.)
The stories of Maeve, Celia, and Nicole are shared with a candor that one could only expect from an author who has found herself after a long “journey to self-discovery,” the book’s subtitle. Each woman has her unique story to tell and the author, Dawn Nicoli, tells each woman’s tale with honesty and an understanding heart as a child of adoption herself.
These women are not idealized or judged. The narrative throughout is shared in an objective, though personal, manner. The women do not excuse their actions or try to hide any of their motivations or actions that are germane to the telling of their stories. Interestingly, none are looking for sympathy or approval from the reader. This is just what happened and what they experienced and felt along their journeys.
The lives of the three women entwine because of Nicole, the daughter who has the desire and the drive to find her birth mother. In the end, it is this meeting that leads to the youngest woman, the one who is searching, over most of her life really, to discover the part of her that is missing. “What is the rest of the story?” It’s a natural question to which any inquisitive mind wants an answer. It seems to give her the closure she needs.
Nicole is content and even grateful to find and meet her birth mother. But she is also thankful for her real mother, the woman who brought home that tiny baby and made a place for her in her home and, just as importantly or probably more so, in her heart.
The Search is a rare glimpse into the minds and hearts of the three main characters in any adoption story. Yes, there are fathers, too, but in this scenario, the birth father is not in the picture long enough to matter and the adoptive father arguably hurts as much as he helps.
This is a woman’s story, or rather three women’s stories, who are inextricably linked though they don’t know each other for most of their lives. But both mothers helped make Nicole who she is, and she takes us along on her journey of self-discovery as well as the journeys of the two most crucial women in her life. Each finds out a lot about themselves by story’s end.
Without both mothers, who would Nicole have been? Without Celia’s willingness to make her part of her family, she may have had a very different life without parents and a brother and may not have had the advantages she was given to make her way in the world. And without Maeve’s selfless decision to carry her baby place her in adoption, Nicole would not have been at all.
You can find the Kindle version of The Search on Amazon at
Sometimes, when I don't know what to say, a song shows up that says it for me. And that's today. So, listen to this song by Big Daddy Weave, but read the words, too. Use them as a prayer. Go on. It will do you good.
I couldn't help but think of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious when I wrote the opening words above. It's "something to say when you don't know what to say!" If you haven's seen the original Mary Poppins, where this amazing word originated, I highly recommend it. I always wanted to live on Cherry Tree Lane when I was a kid. That's the street the Banks family lives on in the movie. Probably in the book, too. I never read it, sad to say. But I've seen the movies so many times, I've lost count.
But life is not that much fun. One thing about the film: even amidst some pretty dour stuff, and some very unhappy, inattentive and sometimes even unloving people, Jane and Michael Banks find joy in life; they still love and are loved. That's what Mary P does for them. She shows them that there is much in life to be thankful for, and even ways to find joy in the seemingly darkest moments. I actually think we could learn a LOT from Mary Poppins and her charges, the children who never really give up hope because they know they are loved and that someone is always looking out for them. This is not unrelated to the "I Know" song, by the way. God is always with us. Even in our seemingly darkest hours. We can find joy in that. If we really believe. It's not 'magical' like it is with Mary Poppins, though. It's more like miraculous like it is with Mary the Mother of Jesus, who says to God, "Be it done to me according to Your word," and wondrous, life changing, world shaking, eternal joys result from her fiat.
Knowing Jesus is like that. So, anyway, pray along with Big Daddy Weave and "God bless us, every one," to quote another young man who saw joy even in the bleakest moments.*
*Tiny Tim; see A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
We should strive to see ourselves as God sees us, as God created us! We are fearfully and wonderfully made! Made in the image and likeness of God. Not in our physical appearance but in our ability to reason, to create, to forgive, to be merciful, to love.
No other human being gets to tell you who you are or who you should be. Turn to the Lord, Creator of the Universe and Lover of your soul. Who you are, and what you should be doing, are between you and God. But do remember to talk with God about what His will is for you. It’s not an ‘anything goes’ proposition. We must seek Divine guidance. We have to have a conversation with God – and often – that’s prayer. And once we have established this relationship, based on love and fidelity in both directions, when we trust that God loves us with a limitless love, we must seek God’s grace, to lead us in ways pleasing to Him.
God is God and I am not. We are free to seek the good. We are free to turn from it. But we need a relationship with the Lord to know what’s right and just, beautiful, true, and good.
Follow Jesus, for He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. You can’t go wrong if you follow Him. That does not mean life or God’s will be a walk in the park. Part of following Christ means picking up your cross first. Jesus tells us that. He shows us that by carrying His own very real cross and then being nailed to it…But don’t let that deter you! Jesus promises to be with us always. He died so we might have life, abundant life and that’s forever! He will help you carry your burdens and make them light through His unfathomable love and compassion. Be brave, be bold. He’s got your back, spiritually speaking.
No one and nothing can separate us from God’s love.
There are approximately two million couples in the U.S. who would love to adopt a baby, yet less than 1% of those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy choose the adoption option. It’s too often never discussed or considered as a viable plan of action for birthmother and child.
Lamb of God Maternity Home is working to assist women who have chosen to place their babies for adoption with one of these couples who want a child in to be a part of their “forever family.” Lamb of God Maternity Home helps a pregnant woman in crisis with 24/7 support. The Home helps about one hundred women a year with resources, adoption education and support through their crisis line. Able to house 6 residents at a time, Lamb of God Maternity Home has housed over 80 women since opening in 2013. All services are free. These include shelter, food, counseling, financial literacy and life skills, spiritual direction, educational/vocational help, transportation, and one-on-one mentoring. Individualization of access to other needed services such as employment, schooling, and addiction programs are also available at no cost to the women. The program is designed to support the woman throughout the pregnancy and complete the journey to self-sufficiency and the appropriate integration of their role in the child’s life afterwards. The founder, Grace Dulaney, is a birth mother herself and obviously has a huge heart for pregnant women in crisis situations.
Adoption Advocate, Nicole Berrong, speaks of birth mothers as “absolute heroes.” She began as a mentor to birth mothers but after a year and a half applied for and was hired as the Adoption Advocate for Lamb of God. Her love for birth mothers began decades ago as she adopted two children, now 20 years and 18 years old.
Nicole explains that today, most adoptions are termed “open adoptions” where the children know their birth parents and even grandparents. Birth fathers can also be involved, if they so choose. There is no secrecy or shame involved with this very courageous decision made by birthmothers or with the forever families who adopt. The birth mother may choose the level of openness that feels comfortable for her. She is encouraged and guided to understand her feelings, so that she is prepared and supported during her decision and as the process continues with the adopting family.
Nicole also shares that Lamb of God is one of only 2 out of 400 maternity homes in the U.S. that houses women that are facing an unplanned pregnancy when exclusively choosing adoption as their parenting plan.
If you, or someone you know and love, is in this situation, prayerfully consider the adoption option for that unborn child and for the birthmother and the family who will accept and also love that child.
Below is an excerpt from a poem written anonymously by a birthmother about her baby that sums up what generosity and courageous love a woman must have for a child she places in an open adoption.
Please contact Lamb of God at this number for any questions you may have, if this could be an option for you or someone you love at 760-294-7969. The Crisis Line number is 760-715-6463 for anyone in an emergency situation.
“Their world is so much brighter
So I share my love for you
With lots of happy smiling faces
& they will let me love you too
I will always love you
I want you to know
You are in my heart forever
You are everywhere I go
Now we wait on your arrival
We can’t wait for you to see
How good it feels to share a love
That only through God can be
Our happy smiling faces
Stand together now as one
To love this life inside of me
Our precious little (one).”
(This entry first appeared on the San Diego Walk for Life website.)
Compassion is a wonderful quality in human beings. I would say that it’s an indispensable quality, a virtue even, in a civilized society. When an individual has compassion toward another human being, that can only be a good thing. Conversely, when compassion is warranted but not forthcoming, it often creates a tragic situation.
I came to the conclusion a few years ago that one of the disconnects between the pro-life and the pro-choice movements is misplaced compassion. It is critical that the needs of a woman, and the baby in the mother’s womb, both be considered. It seems, for some in our culture, though, that unless that child is wanted, a baby is quite disposable. In that instance, when an unplanned pregnancy causes challenges for the woman, their compassion engulfs the pregnant woman who is viewed as a victim. But the baby is not considered at all, except as an obstacle that must be swept away as soon as possible so the woman can go back to her ‘normal’ life. That’s misplaced compassion.
Actually, there is plenty of compassion to be heaped upon the mother and the child. The vast majority of the pro-life movement do consider both and are moved with compassion for both. Indeed, there are a myriad of non-profit organizations that exist to accompany the birth mother through pregnancy, delivery, and beyond. And many of those organizations are right here in the San Diego area. I have a list of them. There are more pregnancy resource centers in this area now than abortion facilities. The workers in these centers are the 2020 San Diego Walk for Life theme – Live Serve Embrace Life – in action.
The erroneous belief some people have, that those who are pro-life only care about the baby, is simply not the case. Whether it’s finding a place for the mother-to-be to live, or helping her finish her education/getting training, or finding subsidized childcare so the mom can return to a job, there are pro-life advocates who stand at the ready to assist. They know any help they give to the mom will only positively affect her child and the quality of life for both. Additionally, for the woman who decides she is not able to care for the baby she’s carrying, there are other agencies that can help with placing the child in an adoptive home where a loving, overjoyed couple is waiting for the new member to make their family complete.
Pro-life women and men are about abundant life for moms and kids, (and even for dads, should the father of the baby choose to be engaged in the life of the new little one).
It’s important, I think, that those of us who stand for life make it clear that we love them both, the women who carry the babies and the babies who are counting on their mothers to bring them into a loving world where they are very much wanted and where there will be much rejoicing at their birth.
Misplaced compassion for one over the other in a pregnancy situation is not good for either; it’s not great for our culture, either. And any misunderstanding of the desire to take care of both mother and child must be rectified. #LoveThemBoth #LiveServeEmbraceLife
Lynda is the author of one book (so far!) and has a blog by the same name, Drowning in Lemonade. She lives in San Diego with her husband. The above post was previously published on the San Diego Walk For Life website.
I heard this statement today while listening to a short video about the 'shooting' of a pivotal scene in the app series, "The Chosen." I hope you've heard of it and, even better, been watching it! The series is not unlike a historic novel. Each episode sort of fills in the backstories on how, in the Gospels, various pericopes came to pass. A pericope is each individual story we read in the New Testament. Usually there is a heading above each one, like "the man born blind," or "Jesus feeds the 5,000." You get the idea.
Those backstories in "The Chosen" are all imagined, but beautifully so. Included are Old Testament vignettes to place the words and actions of Jesus and His followers in context. The two Testaments should always be considered together. Not just in the series. In our lives, too.
The scene that was featured in the video today was when Jesus tells Peter and his associates (some of the other soon-to-be apostles) to cast their nets off the sides of their boats, even though they have been fishing all night and caught nothing. "The miracle of the fishes," a nice pericope title, ends with Jesus telling the apostles to follow Him, and He will make them fishers of people. But not before Peter falls at the feet of Jesus and begs him to "depart from me, for I am a sinful man." It is done so naturally and dramatically in the show.
The director and creator of the series, and also one of the writers (such talent!) is Dallas Jenkins. He is the one who uttered the title of this entry today. And it is such a profound and a true statement. We can do nothing on our own. It is all gift from our Creator. But the more we get to know the Lord, the more we realize that we have no control. The more we come to love the Lord, the more control we want to give Him.
Whether you are a mother or not, our tendency is to want to protect and control the lives of our children so that we can protect them, keep them from harm. Why? Because we love them and want what's best for them. And that is just as true for the birth mother who places her child for adoption as every other mom. Let us all pray for the moms with enough courage and with that much love for their babies, to give up control. These birth moms trust God enough to let Him "make them what they're not."
May we all trust God enough, whatever our circumstances. Let us trust God that much.
Lamb of God Maternity Home in Escondido serves women from around the country who are choosing open adoption as their parenting choice. The home provides a full program of services including housing, counseling, mentorship, spiritual direction, addiction resources, educational and vocational guidance. Residents learn life skills necessary to transition to independent living such as time management, goal setting, financial literacy, cooking, and personal accountability. All this in a setting that uniquely supports the adoption decision.
The home, open since 2013, was founded by Grace Dulaney who had placed her son in an open adoption over 27 years ago and cherishes the relationship preserved all these years. This inspired her to start a maternity home that specializes in the 24/7 support of women in crisis pregnancies who for many reasons are not able to parent. We are proud to have housed over 100 women as well as helped many others through our crisis phone line. Watching the transformation of our birth mothers from homelessness, addiction or abuse embrace a future secure in the knowledge that they gave their child life and also chose to provide a secure two parent home in which to be raised is a constant source of joy.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Lamb of God Maternity Home and all the residents who have passed through our doors since 2013.
My name is Laura, and I am the Program Director at the home. I also respond to all the crisis phone calls that come into our office or on the crisis hotline which is monitored 24/7.
I don’t know if you can imagine (even those of you who have stood for life all these years) just how desperate are the circumstances our callers and residents find themselves in. Our home, for this reason, is adoption centric. We receive women whose issues with homelessness, joblessness, poverty, addiction, mental and physical abuse are so consuming that it impacts greatly their ability to parent their child. Some have already lost other children to the horrors of the foster care system. It is truly unbelievable but over 50% of single mothers will lose their children to this ever-burgeoning system before the child is 5 years old. Even more startling is that there are over two million infertile couples that wait for years to adopt, nurture, and provide a home for a child who needs one. Adoption is, and should be seriously considered, a solution to these jaw dropping statistics.
The problems which place a woman in a ‘crisis’ pregnancy in no way means that the love a mother has for her baby is not paramount to her. Even dealing concretely with all the issues a culture of death says a society could “solve” with abortion, these women courageously choose life. The women we care for are honest, true and believers in not only giving life to their child but also affording them a more than fair shake at an incredibly good life. At our home they are given a warm bed, home-made nutritious food, relaxation in a tranquil environment, time, and support to make decisions about their life and future and that of their unborn child. During this time, they are given the opportunity to choose parents for their children among carefully selected married couples (meaning a man and a woman) who have long awaited an opportunity to raise and love a child. Relationship with the chosen adoptive couple is created from the beginning, bonding happens throughout the pregnancy with the sharing of each other’s lives, attending doctor’s appointments together and witnessing the delivery and birth of the child. Through Open Adoption, the birth mothers can continue to build upon this relationship with the adoptive couple and remain in touch with the child through pictures or visits as they wish.
After the birth, we continue to house and support the birth mothers toward goals established from the beginning of their stay with us. These could include HS or college degrees, job skills and employment, reconciliation with their families, cleaning up driving, credit, and sometimes criminal records so that they can step into their future with a fresh start.
While women are at our home, we care for all their physical needs, promoting faith-based hope and dependence on our God who loves them immensely. In addition, we support them in all their individual and personal social needs. Some of our activities include doctor’s appointments, dental care, eyeglasses, AA/NA support groups, therapy, visitations with other children in foster care, meeting court dates and requirements, academic preparation, vocational classes, bible study, prayer, Sunday mass and other church activities. We also encourage participation in outings to the beach, park, shopping, concerts, and festivals when possible. Our van never stops!
As importantly, we help them learn basic life skills such as cooking, home care, financial literacy, time management, organization, and communication. Most of all, we create a warm, loving, non-judgmental, welcoming atmosphere where each woman is made to feel supported and special.
Lamb of God is a religious, non-profit, privately funded maternity home. All staff and board members as well as volunteers and mentors who work with our residents in the home take a pledge that the essential part of this ministry is first, to proclaim and defend respect for human life in practice and in prayer, to uphold each birthmother and support her decision fully and finally, to cooperate with the Agnus Dei Foundation programs and projects in being a champion for adoption as a viable and positive alternative to abortion.
Our home - like yours - has those pesky monthly bills, weekly maintenance, and ongoing necessary repair work. Please let us know if you would like to visit us at the home individually or as a group. We would be pleased to welcome you and introduce you to our wonderful birth mothers and staff. May God bless you.
My name is Lynda. I am an author and blogger who volunteers at Lamb of God Maternity Home. I hope to share some thoughts with you here, as well as some of my other entries from my personal blog, Drowning in Lemonade.
My name is Laura, and I am the Program Director at the home. I also respond to all the crisis phone calls that come into our office or on the crisis hotline which is monitored 24/7.