Love big: the selfless act of a sixteen-year-old girl

baby, happy

The story of one girl who made the brave and courageous decision to place her baby up for adoption.

LOVE :: {luhv} noun, verb, loved, lov-ing

a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

I’m one of those people that can throw around that word a lot. LOVE. My husband. My kids. My girl friends. My Embrace Grace mommas. My grandmother. My housekeeper (she’s amazing). “I LOVE YOU!”

January of 2011 began a season that awakened my heart and opened my eyes to a profound level of LOVE that I had never encountered before. This stirring happened from the most unlikely of sources that eventually turned into a friendship that I will treasure forever. Her name was Jayd.

When I met Jayd, she was pregnant with a baby girl. Every time I saw her she would be talking about her baby nonstop with so much enthusiasm. She loved to proudly show off her sonogram photos to anyone that she could. She loved hearing her baby’s heartbeat and talking about her doctor appointments. She updated me on her baby’s growth in utero and how her baby was developing. She always would grab my hands to feel her belly when her baby would kick. She loved throwing out ideas for her baby’s first and middle name and see what her friend’s thoughts were. Her heart was filled with anticipation and excitement just like every momma does during her pregnancy … but her situation was a little different than what you would expect.

Jayd was only 16 years old.

I remember meeting her for the first time. She had long blonde hair swept up in a messy ponytail, sparkly green eyes and braces. She was a tiny girl that just had the cutest baby bump. She had her favorite jeans on with the top button open to relieve her growing belly. She was smiling so big and when she spoke, her ponytail bounced in a happy way. She was bubbly and always full of joy, even when she knew her life was about to completely change.

Jayd had made a brave and courageous decision to place her baby up for adoption.

Over the next five months, I had the privilege to mentor and be a friend to this young girl that ended up with me being the one that was inspired profoundly. During this season of rollercoaster emotions, her strength never wavered. She loved her child so much, and she wanted to give her baby the best life possible all while making big sacrifices in her own life to make that happen. She struggled with horrible morning sickness and acid reflux; even brushing her teeth would send her running to the toilet to be sick. Her pregnancy kept her so lethargic and sleepy but she pushed even harder in high school to graduate faster. She gave up her homecoming, prom and all the fun high school memories that could have been made so that she could take the time she needed to prepare for this baby girl that was on her way.

Jayd spent a lot of time, thoughts and prayers on finding the perfect family to raise her daughter. She wanted them to be in love with Jesus, have the same morals and values that she had, soft and sweet temperaments and in favor of an open adoption. After a lot of research, God brought her the perfect family. When she met them she immediately felt at peace that they were the ones to raise her baby girl. She knew God chose them out of all the families in the world to be baby Abby’s adoptive family.

Once she made her choice, she started collecting old baby pictures of herself and the father of baby. She placed them all in a beautiful scrapbook she spent hours making. She also added her sonogram pictures and monthly photos of her growing belly. She wanted her baby to have a keepsake that she could pass down to her so that she always knows who her birth parents were.

In May of 2011, baby Abby was born. Jayd cried when she laid eyes on her beautiful baby girl for the first time. She was overwhelmed with joy. She had never loved someone or something so much in her entire life. She told me that baby Abby was her everything, and how much she was in love with her. In Texas, there is a law that adoption papers can’t be signed any sooner than 48 hours after birth, so Jayd worked out a plan with the hospital. She had reserved a hospital room for the adoptive family to be right next door to her. Jayd got to spend the days with baby Abby, loving on her and kissing her sweet face; and then at night, she wheeled the baby next door so that the adoptive family could love and kiss on her too.

After 48 hours, Jayd and Abby were released from the hospital. They had a caravan of family members from both the birth and adoptive families following each other to a special ceremony. That memory is forever sealed on my heart and I was so blessed to be able to witness it.

We all met at our church. Jayd, Abby and baby’s father were in one room signing the papers to give this baby a better life, and in the next room was a room full of family members that were there to support both families. Once papers were signed, we had a special ceremony together. Jayd held baby Abby, weeping with overwhelming emotion as a pastor prayed and dedicated the baby to the Lord. When the prayer was finished, it was time to place this special treasure, this priceless jewel of Jayd’s, into God’s hands. I will never forget it. The changing of hands. That moment when you give everything to God. The room was overcome with emotion. It was the most beautiful act of love I had ever encountered. She then gave the adoptive family her sweet scrapbook that she had lovingly spent hours on making perfect. They loved every page of it.

The first few days after Jayd went home with empty arms were really hard. She had sacrificed her body for nine months to save this baby’s life. She loved her with all her heart. It had been what consumed her life, thoughts and actions for nine months, and Abby had been a part of her physically; but now they had been separated. As her body was healing from the childbirth, she worked through every doubt, fear and aching of her heart by clinging to God’s Word and to what she knew God had called her to do.

This is a BIG love. A DEEP love. A SACRIFICIAL love.

Walking this journey with Jayd, God showed me a story of adoption in the Bible. In Exodus 1 and 2, God had blessed the Israelites with many babies and their population was rapidly growing. The king of Egypt felt threatened by their numbers and worried that they could overtake his throne so he ordered all the baby boys that were born to be drowned in the Nile River. After the ruling was made, a woman that was pregnant gave birth to a baby boy. His name was Moses. She loved Moses, and knew he was special. She tried her best to hide him for three months; but eventually, she realized the time had come that she couldn’t get away with it any longer.

Can you imagine how she must have felt? In order to save her baby’s life, she had to let him go. As I am writing this, I have a three month old son. I can hardly imagine the strength, courage and LOVE that she had to finally release her baby and wholeheartedly trust God that He will take care of him. She gathered all the materials to hand-make a basket that was just the right size for her sweet baby, patching it with tar so that it would be water-proof. And then comes the moment when you actually have to DO it, release your priceless treasure, your everything … one more kiss, one more hug. LOVE. Place your baby in the basket and say one last prayer to God, protect my baby from harm. Save my baby. Release. Trust. Cry. Lean. Hope.

Most of us know the rest of the story. Pharoah’s daughter found the baby in the basket and loved him immediately. She needed a woman that could nurse the baby, and the birth mother of Moses ended up being able to care for her baby. God rewarded her for her obedience. When he was a little bigger he was adopted and went to live in the Pharoah’s mansion as part of their family. They all loved him as their own. Moses then grew up to perform great miracles through God’s Hand. He led the Israelites out of slavery and bondage and saved lives.

Moses’ life changed the world.

But what would have happened if his birth mom had not released and let God control? What if she just could not have let her baby go? What if she just continued to try and live a life in hiding, or maybe run away? What kind of life would Moses had lived? It would be a much different story than above.

It’s a BIG love.

Jayd’s heart healed more and more as time passed after releasing Abby to the adoptive family. She has an open adoption, so they have scheduled visits every few months and Jayd counts down the days til she gets to kiss her sweet baby every time. After the long awaited meetings, she always texts and emails a load of baby photos to me, proudly showing off her sweet baby girl and how big she is getting.

One of the ways we honor mommas in Embrace Grace that give their baby up for adoption is that we throw them a big “Celebration of Life” shower. A few weeks after they give birth and bless another family with their baby, we gather all the Embrace Grace classmates and alumni, her family and friends together and shower her with not only awesome gifts like new clothes, cute jewelry, lotions, gift cards, money and tons more, but we love to shower her with words of love.

My favorite part of the party is when every guest picks out a unique bead from a big glass bowl. They are all different sizes, shapes, colors and textures. Guests pick out a bead that reminds them of the momma in some way. Even if they haven’t met her, they choose a bead inspired by her story. We take a long string and pass it around the room; each person strings the bead while sharing what their bead means. My favorites: red heart for the sacrifice you made, a pearl for the beauty that has been refined and shines in you now through the waves you endured in life, blue diamond for Abby’s eyes, a rose bead for the aroma of God’s love that fills up a room when you enter it. And she got a whole necklace out of it!

Countless women come together that have been touched and inspired by the selfless act of a young 16-year-old girl. What she has been through in her short life can only be a story that God uses for His glory.

Jayd has found a new motivation and determination to make something of herself for her daughter and to walk alongside girls that are going through the same situation as hers, cheering them on and praying for them through this season. She is now a young leader in Embrace Grace, sharing her story with transparency–reflecting on who she was before, where she is now and how God was with her the entire journey.

This kind of love changed me just by having a front row seat to the miracles in Jayd’s life. It’s so big to me; yet it’s still so small compared to how much my God loves me and you, and what He sacrificed for us.

DREAM big. LIVE big. LOVE big.

Editor’s Note: This article was first published at Destiny in Bloom on February 17, 2012. It is reprinted with permission. You can read more about Embrace Grace here.

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