Written by Shauna Occhipinti, November 1st, 2023 | The Landing, Issue 3
He makes all things new.
One of the first blessings and commands of God was to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). He established the ideal of family life in this beautiful garden. But then control was grasped for, sin entered and the world we now live in bears the scars of that sin and suffering. Family life, with its blessing and command to be fruitful, also carries with it the bruises of this broken world.
When my husband and I married at the young ages of 21 and 24, we knelt in front of the altar and prayed – “Heavenly Father, we now kneel before you as we begin our married life together. Although life seems so perfect now, we know that problems will arise, difficult decisions will need to be made…” We didn’t realize that the path to parenthood would be the beginning of the difficulties we would face. We thought, as most young couples do, that parenting could/would happen on our timeline and in the natural way. What we didn’t know then was just how close to Jesus we would grow through our journey to become parents – how the lessons of trust and surrender would find us clinging to the cross, bathed in His merciful love as He brought fruitfulness out of our marriage through adoption – and made all things new.
The tapestry God weaves with our lives is more beautiful than we could ever fashion on our own. When we turn that tapestry over, none of our life stitches will look like the glorious end product we hope to one day see in Heaven. Instead, the back of our tapestry – the journey of our lives – is tangled and messy.
And that is often the true story of adoption – the story that the platitude “oh they’re so lucky to have you” doesn’t begin to illuminate.
After 9 years of marriage, and 7 painful years of desperately trying to conceive, God called us to adoption. We were blessed with two beautiful twin sons through the miracle of adoption. I often call adoption a “miracle,” because that is truly what it is – a mystery – a work of the divine – a sign of God’s love. But miracles aren’t Hallmark movies. They involve dirt from the earth smeared on eyes, and the touch of a loving Father to show us how and where to wash it all away so we can see.
Adoption is a beautiful miracle – forging new families together, a taste of our own adoption by God our Father. But this new family – my new family – is forged by a pruning of biological connections. Both joy and suffering coexist in this beautiful miracle. It is never far from my heart and mind that my own gift of motherhood comes at the expense of another woman’s deep loss. She nurtured the life of my sons within her own body. Under her own heart they grew. Her dimples dance across their cheeks in splendor when they smile. It was her privilege to say yes to their lives and then to selflessly place them in our hands – to surrender them to us to love and nurture them from that point on.
Our boys were born extremely premature, so we first met them when they were a week-old within the loud and antiseptic walls of the NICU. We walked on holy ground in that NICU. So many moments – so many people who were involved in their care – whispered God’s love and faithfulness to us. The day after we met our sons, I was privileged to stand shoulder to shoulder with their birthmom beside each of their incubators. Two women stood – hands on the glass – each silently whispering her own prayers and dreams for these tiny babies and for each other. When I think back now, I realize what a sacred moment that was. It held the beginning of my new family and the quiet gift given from another – a gift of one woman’s womb to another woman’s heart and arms
My womb will never bear life, but our dear Lord has made my life fruitful in ways I never could have planned in and through the miracle of adoption. Our two blonde headed blessings have grown into incredible young men whom I can’t imagine my life without. They are the fruit of my barren womb, the fruit of so many prayers watered by my tears.
We often focus on the beautiful gift of adoption that created families like ours, and oh what a beautiful and privileged gift it is. Being “Mom” to our twin sons is the privilege of a lifetime. But we can’t forget the loss and sacrifice involved. I’ve grown over time to understand in some small way how adoption mirrors our fallen world and our Lord’s merciful love for us here and now.
As I watch the calendar pages turn to November, a month celebrated as National Adoption Month, I pray for my boys’ birthmom and every woman like her. May they know deep down in their souls just how precious and loved they are – just how marvelous the gift of life was that they gave their children and that they gave their children’s families through the gift of their lives. And I pray that every woman facing a choice of life or death – for the tiny baby she shelters – will know that life is always the right choice. Yes, this world is broken. Yes, there is pain and loss that ebbs and flows within every adoption story. But every yes to life begins to mend our broken world. It allows God to unravel the most tangled parts of that beautiful tapestry He is weaving. It shines a light within the darkness reminding us that broken can be beautiful one yes, one surrender, one heart at a time.
Jesus, I trust in you.
About the Author, Shauna Occhipinti
Shauna Occhipinti is a daughter of the King, wife of 28 years and mom. She is a writer reemerging and seeking God’s direction as she launches her boys into their next adventures after their homeschool years together. Shauna is passionate about holistic health and natural remedies and helping others walk hand in hand with the Divine Physician toward healing and wholeness. As a SoulCore leader, she welcomes others under Mary’s mantle through the contemplative prayers of the Rosary and functional movement.