A Path Much Less Traveled
Our plans or God’s plans? How much do we all want to control life? We all have the need to feel in control to some degree, and the tendency is believe that our plans – because we know what’s best for us – are in close, if not perfect alignment with God’s. People who humble themselves before God and do the selfless thing always make for great stories. That’s what Jackie Gelardi did. This week I interviewed a woman who answered a call that few people get – adoption as a single mother. Rather than wax poetic on the greater meaning of her choice, we’ll let her tell it.DOWNLOAD THE BULLETIN
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The Rest of the Interview
Damian: So tell me what you do with your life.
Jackie: I work as a full time school counselor at St. Francis school, which is three years old to eighth grade. I also have a private practice where I do psychotherapy with people from the community.
DH: Ok, so tell me about this decision. You basically walked into adoption as a single mother. What motivated that decision?
JG: Well when I was married, I was pregnant and we lost the baby. We had tried for a couple years to get pregnant so when we finally did, it was it was just the happiest time – those few months I was pregnant. But we lost the baby and we got divorced shortly after that. I knew I wanted to be a mom. So I thought maybe I will meet somebody with children, and that’s the way I will get to be a mom or, adopt with them or…
DH: Or a hundred different scenarios other than this one.
JG: Right! But a couple years ago I thought, you know what? That special guy can come along and five years from now, ten years from now, I’m not getting any younger if I am going to do something about having a child of my own, I need to do it now. So with the help of Mary Nicks who, sadly, died of cancer last year, I was able to emotionally get the process started. She just kept telling me “Don’t give up! Don’t give up!”
DH: And how does someone even get this process started?
JG: Well, Russia had just closed their doors to adoption, and I’m a single person. I kept asking myself, why would somebody choose me rather than a couple? So I started to look into surrogacy. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure I could afford it. I looked into attorneys and just picked one out of the phone book. She was very up front and asked me why I wouldn’t just consider adoption.
DH: And so what were the reasons?
JG: Well, I’ll get to that. But this attorney, she’d just gotten a call from a young girl who was 6 months pregnant and looking for someone to adopt. She gave me the girl’s number and said, basically, I’m out of it until you’re ready to do something about it. Twenty minutes later the girl called and we spoke for two and a half hours. The three things she wanted for her child were the exact three things I wanted to give a child.
DH: Which were?
JG: She wanted him raised with God in his life. I still get emotional when I think about this conversation. She wanted him to have a big family, and luckily I already have one of those. My parents and my sister, who just had a baby, all live within 15 minutes of each other. And the third thing was for him to have a good education, and to be able to take his education as far as possible.
DH: So I guess working for a Catholic school you’ve killed two birds with one stone already. You had your bases covered it sounds like. So what was the next step?
JG: So we met in a park and just got to know each other. We wanted to see if the connection was there in person like it was over the phone. A few days passed and I called her and asked if she needed anything more from me, or if she had any other questions. She was like “I don’t know if you still feel this way, but I think you’re amazing and I want you to raise my baby.” I was so… I couldn’t believe she’d picked me! I hung up the phone and went running around the school yelling “She picked me! She picked me!”
DH: Ha! That sounds glorious.
JG: Everybody was so excited!
DH: Ok, so tell me about some of your fears, and some of your expectations, about adopting, and having a child that were either met, or unexpectedly unmet?
JG: I didn’t know my body was going to hurt every day. That’s probably the biggest negative. And you don’t get to sleep… now I know what everyone was talking about. If I were to give advice to young people without children, I would say, sleep now while you can. But these are small things compared to the gift I’ve been given.
DH: Did you ever question whether or not you’d be able to “do it”? Or did you just feel like this was God’s plan and it was just going to happen?
JG: I honestly felt like maybe it wasn’t in God’s plan for me to have a baby because nothing was opening up. For years I was just praying for clarity, for the direction that I’d be going. I thought maybe God wanted me to help everyone else’s children (as a counselor) and not have my own. I just wanted my path to be clear.
DH: Yes, uncertainty can be the worst kind of state in which to live.
JG: But from the moment I met his birth mom, it was so clear. I feel like he was created for me from the very start. People always ask if the whole process was stressful, and I know for the birth moms, having children is painful and tough, but from the start, this felt so right!
DH: Yes, and isn’t there a window where the birth mom can change her mind?
JG: In Florida, they have 48 hours after the birth of the baby to change their mind – and in some states it’s as much as 6 months – so that thought was there, but I just had to trust God and let what was going to happen, happen. And if she had changed her mind, I would have given him up without hesitation, because who could blame her? But she made it clear that she wasn’t in the position to raise him… She already had two children, she wasn’t married, and she’d just lost her job when she got pregnant. She waited the six months for the situation to change, but…
DH: So when you came along, you were like an answer to her prayer?
JG: She believes that he was created for me, and that she was the person chosen to carry him for me. I always refer to her as the angel that carried my baby when we’re praying together at night.
DH: That’s an interesting take on the pro-life mission. Right? Just because something (like a baby) isn’t in your plan, that life could be in someone else’s plan. So how has your outlook on life changed as you went from being… not a mother, to being a mother?
JG: It really has changed. I look at the world through his eyes now. Even though I’ve been helping children and working with children for over 20 years, it’s different when you have your own. No matter what comes up, I think about how it’s going to affect him. It’s all about him. now.