I Grew In Her Tummy
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
~ Isaiah 55:8, 9
A story I once heard as a child seemed (to me) a mirror of my very own life. It told of a little girl who had been adopted. When another child asked her what “adopted” meant, she replied: “It means I grew in my mommy’s heart instead of her tummy.” That little girl’s answer has inspired me throughout the years, and this is my story.
It was a warm, sunny, August day in 1987 when Trudy met Russell at C.J. Barrymore’s. Some would call it “love at first sight”, some would call it “fate”, others perhaps might call it “luck”; but had you asked me, I would have called it “a mistake just waiting to happen.”
They hadn’t known each other that long, but it happened – Trudy got pregnant. When she told Russ that she was going to have a baby he did what any man who didn’t want a commitment would do. (Well, maybe his reaction was a little extreme…) He fled the country. He packed up all his belongings, including his trailer home, and he and his father moved back to Yugoslavia. Unsure what she should do, she hid her pregnancy from her mother. What could she say? How would her mother react? Would she kick her out of the house? Should she keep the baby? Like a gloomy storm cloud, questions seemed to hover over her life. When the time came that she could no longer conceal her protruding tummy, she broke the news to her mother. Again, the questions seemed unending – this time coming from her mother. After some time went by, Trudy made her decision. She simply couldn’t keep the baby. After all, she was a high school drop-out. She had no job. She still lived with her mother. She had no way to provide for her baby. She contacted Christian Family Services to inform them that she was going to have a baby, but wished to give it up for adoption. She then went to the adoption agency to fill out the proper paperwork. Not long afterwards her baby was born on May 24, 1988. Without ever having the chance to say hello to her baby girl, she said goodbye. She informed the adoption agency that she did not want her baby floating around from foster home to foster home and eventually end up in an orphanage somewhere. If a permanent home wasn’t found for her baby within 8 weeks, she wanted her baby back. The adoption agency agreed to these terms. However, almost 8 weeks to the day later, a home was found for “Baby Girl”. Overjoyed, like a child who had just received 4 pounds of candy, Larry and Nora Vires drove to the adoption agency to pick up their “new-born” 8-weeks-old baby girl. I am Baby Girl.
“Hurry, honey! Grab her and run before the agency changes their minds!” Larry joyfully said when he first saw me. I had a full, thick head of hair that was dark as night, and ‘precious moments’ baby blue eyes. My tiny, delicate, 5-pound figure was like that of a porcelain doll.
“Wait! Wait! We need to take pictures!” the agency workers called out to Larry.
After the pictures had been taken and the final paperwork had been filled out, Larry and Nora were able to take me to my new home where I met my big brother for the first time. He was so proud.
Years passed, and the fact that I was adopted was never hid from me. At first, I didn’t really care because I really didn’t understand; I told my friend that Nora was my “stepmom” because I knew she wasn’t my real mother. However, as the years went on I began to understand what it meant to be adopted. In my mind it meant that I wasn’t wanted. I wasn’t good enough. My “mother” didn’t love me enough to keep me. These feelings continued and grew as time passed. Until one day it became so unbearable that it broke my 15-year-old heart in pieces. No one seemed to understand why I felt this way. After all, I had a wonderful family. My mom and dad cared about me, and wanted the best for me. Somehow, though, that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted answers. I wanted reasons. I wanted the truth I thought I deserved. I didn’t get my answers, reasons, or truth that night, but I did find something so much greater than all those things. I found forgiveness. I found peace. I found love in my heart for the mother whom I thought didn’t want me. I determined then that I would set out to find her one day.
As a sailboat being slowly but steadily pushed through the sea, the years slowly but steadily moved on, and I became a confident, accomplished young women. I graduated high school with a 3.98, was a private piano teacher with 15 years of experience under my belt, carried a major part of the music ministry department of our church on my shoulders, was an avid athlete, and was even quite artistic and creative, as well as wrote music and poetry. Mom and Dad were proud of me, which, in turn, made me proud of myself. Fearing that I would hurt my parents, I never told them that I wanted to meet my biological mother. I feared they would think I wanted to leave them and go back to “the mother that didn’t want me in the first place.” So, I went on to college in Tennessee in August of 2006. After I completed my first year of college I felt it was time I had talked to my parents about the desire I had to find my biological mother. Surprisingly, they were more supportive than I thought they would be. In fact, my mom gave me a bundle of letters for me to read. As I read them I realized these were letters my birth mother had written my parents throughout the years. The adoption agency encouraged such correspondence, so long as the proper rules were followed. The letters must be written to the agency to then be forwarded on to the appropriate location. The letters couldn’t include any names, phone numbers, addresses, etc. Even pictures of the adopted child were allowed to be sent to the biological mother, so long as they were older pictures. As I read each of the heart-breaking, honest letters I realized that giving me up was no easy task for Trudy, but she did it for me. She sacrificed her own wants because she knew she could not provide for me and give me all the things a child needs. In a way, she became my hero that night.
The next day I went about trying to locate her. I called the agency, looked online, and even checked in phone books (though that didn’t do me much good since I didn’t even know her name). After about 4 months of searching, I found her. I wrote her a letter explaining who I was and that I hoped to meet her one day. About a week after sending out that letter my cell phone rang around 8:30 that night. I didn’t recognize the number.
“Hello?” I answered the ever-annoying device that was disrupting a very good romance novel. There was no answer.
“Hello??” I asked again, a little less tactful. Still nothing was said. My book awaited, and just as I was about to hang up the phone I heard a voice.
“Hello…” the voice said quietly, “I’m looking for Heather… Vrees? Virus?” She stumbled through the pronunciation of my ever-so-easy, yet difficult last name.
“I’m Heather Vires…” I answered.
“Oh… hello. I’m your… my name is… This is… your mother…” her shaky voice was hesitant and sounded almost unsure of who she really was. My book dropped to the floor, and my slouched back became as straight as a board.
“Are you serious? Are you really? Is it really you? Oh my gosh…” despite all that I said, I really was quite speechless. For 19 years I waited for this moment, and now I sounded like a rambling, babbling idiot.
After about a half-hour of conversation and I had found out that she had a little girl and a little boy, a date was set for us to meet face to face for the first time. My hands shaking with excitement, and tears (the happy kind) streaming down my face, I ran out into the living room.
“You will never guess who that was on the phone! It was HER… my birth mother!” I shouted to my parents. Though quiet, they were happy for me. This was what I wanted.
On October 13, 2007, I met the woman who had conceived and carried me in her tummy for 9 months. To say that I look like her is a major understatement. I am her spitting image from head to toe. My little sister, Chauntel, and my little brother, Steven, were so excited to meet big sister for the first time. It was never hid from them that somewhere out there in the world they had a big sister. The family included me in everything they did even though I was not physically present. My name was painted on the back of Grandpa’s semi-truck right along side the rest of the grandkids’ names. Only, mine read “Baby Girl” – the name my biological family called me for 19 years. My newborn picture hung on Grandma’s picture board right along with all the other grandkids’ pictures. My name was even tattooed on my biological mother’s back along with Chauntel’s and Steven’s names.
I was happy to finally meet my biological mother, but I found that I was even happier that she made the choice she did. She was a chain smoker, practically an alcoholic, had two shaky jobs that barely paid the bills, and was in the middle of a sticky divorce with a man that was an alcoholic, drug addict, and an abuser. To be honest, it wasn’t a pretty scene. The rose-colored glasses quickly came off, and I had never in all my life been more thankful for the family that had adopted me. They were my real family.
You know, I got my answers. I got my reasons. I even got the truth I thought I deserved. The truth was that I would have grown up without a father. The truth was that I would have been a drug addict. The truth was that I would have been a drunk. The truth was that I would have been a high school drop-out, and an unmarried, teenage mother. The truth was that God had mercy on me. God saw fit to hand-pick me out of the mud and give me a home that would raise me right, and in the light of His Word. That was my truth.
Everything happens for a reason; and though sometimes we have to wait 19 years to see that reason, I have found that it’s worth the wait. My biological family and I still keep in touch, and I go to their family gatherings. I call them by all the appropriate family titles, but it isn’t the same.
My mother, Trudy, carried me in her tummy for 9 months; but my mom, Nora, carried me in her heart from the moment she first saw me. I couldn’t ask for more; I won’t ask for more. I’ve been blessed beyond measure, and I’m so thankful.
“…But where sin abounded,
grace did much more abound.”
~ Romans 5:20b