By Julie Cordodor
I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant. While I was shocked, I wasn’t necessarily surprised. Raised in a Christian home, I attended church and youth group faithfully throughout high school. However, by my early twenties I found adult independence exhilarating, and spent more time drinking and attending parties than reading my Bible and going to church. Despite the occasional feelings of my faith tugging me back toward a more fulfilling life, I’d inevitably return to the lifestyle that was immediately gratifying. Then I learned I was pregnant.
Almost instantly, I knew that adoption was the answer to my unplanned pregnancy. I wanted to give my child a better life, filled with family vacations and sporting games, and most importantly, two parents who loved Jesus. Through a local pregnancy resource center, I was led to Hope’s Promise. Seven months later my son was born. I nicknamed him Peanut. Throughout my journey to an open-adoption, God revealed how Peanut held altars of remembrance in my heart.
A Memorial for Peanut
As I entered the final stages of my pregnancy, a counselor brought up the idea of choosing a memorial for my child. The idea came from the Old Testament, when God’s people built altars not only to atone for their sin, but of remembrance. They built altars to rejoice in what God had done and remember how He changed their lives. Intrigued, I considered what kind of memorial I’d like to use to recognize my journey of adoption. A few weeks later, my mother handed me a gift. It was a necklace pendant in the shape of a peanut. It was perfect. Her gift became my memorial.
The Adoptive Parents Choose a Name
Although there were sad and painful times during my pregnancy, there were also clear signs that making an adoption plan was the right choice. I watched how God brought Jill and Kevin, my son’s adoptive parents, into my life. Jill worked alongside my mother and had previously adopted a daughter through Hope’s Promise. When Jill heard about my situation, she and her husband, Kevin, offered to meet with me and share their story. Their extreme kindness, and (seeming) coincidence of circumstances that led to our meeting, were one of the first little altars of remembrance that was built in my heart. I knew God was at work in my life.
Unbeknownst to me, Jill and Kevin were hoping to adopt again. When I learned sometime later about their desire to adopt, I knew Jill and Kevin would be wonderful parents for Peanut. In fact, I never considered anyone else. They’d lovingly prayed for Peanut and me before knowing that my son would become their adopted child. When it was announced that Jill and Kevin would become the adoptive parents to my son, we rejoiced together. More altars, more remembrance. I rejoiced in what God had done.
A few weeks later, Kevin called to tell me they’d picked a name for my son. Not only did they select the middle name that I’d shared with them, they’d also unknowingly given Peanut a first name I would’ve chosen as well. It reaffirmed my decision that Jill and Kevin were hand-picked by God to be the adoptive parents for my son. By God granting a name for my son, chosen by all three of us, another sweet altar was built in my heart.
Another altar appeared, although it was not one of remembrance, but of sacrifice. After my son was born, I spent two precious days with him in the hospital before it was time to say good-bye. Our time together was sweet, as I sang to him and cuddled my baby boy. I wished for time to slow down or stop altogether. After my family said their good-byes, I placed Peanut in his bassinet. My sister brought him to Jill and Kevin, and my son was gone. The sacrifice of entrusting my child with another couple became an altar built in my heart.
Love is a Choice
When I arrived home, I was grief-stricken without my son. Sometimes the pain felt unbearable. While I never doubted my decision to make an adoption plan, there were times I truly hated that it was the right one. Several days after coming home from the hospital, my feelings of attachment to Peanut started to fade and I panicked. I thought it meant I was losing my love for him. During my time of desperation, a voice spoke to my heart saying, “Love is not a feeling. It is a choice.” I was given a new understanding of an old truth. Real love is never born of feelings, but of choice. My feelings were unreliable, but my decision was not, and neither was my love. This realization of love was another altar of remembrance in my heart.
My Symbol as a Powerful Vessel
My Peanut is a beautiful part of my altars of remembrance and sacrifice. The pain of adoption was deep, but the joy has been deeper still. This summer, my son will turn eight years old. We video chat, and Jill and Kevin have been generous in sending school photos, DVD’s of performances, and texts of funny and meaningful stories. There is beauty in having memorials of God’s work in our lives. It is impossible to live meaningful lives while immersed in the past, but a symbol can help us move on from an experience without leaving it behind. It allows us to revisit our need of God’s provision, comfort and joy. Memorials do not need to be tangible, but in my case, having something I could hold became a powerful vessel for my story. My peanut-shaped pendant was infused with heartbreak, wonder, and gratitude which has become the perfect symbol of my adoption journey.
Julie lives in Everett, Washington with her husband of four years and beautiful infant daughter. She enjoys reading, crafting and spending time with her family.