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Tuesday, October 29, 2013
The odds of finding a diamond at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas is less than 1% a year. This park is known for their motto "finders, keepers." More than 150,000 people a year try their luck at digging for diamonds and less than 600 diamonds are found each year. Some individuals spend their entire vacation and walk away with just wet clothes, dirty shoes, and some dusty memories. But it's the thought of "what if" that keeps people coming back year after year. Some people think it's just luck, but after my visit and amazing discovery of a sparkling jewel among the dirt and rocks, I believe it was truly a sign from above.
In March when my birthmother passed away unexpectedly at the age of 57, a part of my life was gone. This facet of my life was over, I thought, as if a part of me died with her. I was angry that God had taken her from me so soon. Even though I reconnected with her 3 years ago and loved every minute of our bittersweet reunion, three years wasn't enough time to get to know the woman who sacrificed so much to bring me into this world. As I sat by her hospital bed holding her hand and praying, she took her last breath. My heart was broken.
At the age of 17, my birthmother, much to her horror, was violently raped and became pregnant with me. She hid her pregnancy from the outside world and abandoned me at a hospital two hours after I was born. As I spoke at her funeral about the courage, hope, and sacrifice it took for her to give birth to me and place me up for adoption, many of the people in attendance were shocked. Some had no idea that I even existed. I quickly realized that I was this family's secret, my birthmothers "diamond in the rough," if you will.
After the funeral, I became good friends with a cousin of mine who almost became my sister. My cousins parents (my birth aunt and uncle) knew about the pregnancy and wanted to adopt me, but my birthmother's mother had other plans: First, abortion, and then if that didn't happen, adoption for sure. The adoption was a gift to my adoptive parents, who had been praying for a child for years. My mom and dad are my inspiration, and I couldn't imagine my life without them in it.
On October 20th, my birth cousin and I traveled to Arkansas, the home of my ancestors, to spend time with some of my birthmother's family. I went to see where my grandparents were buried, and to my shock, discovered my grandfather passed away when my birthmother was pregnant with me. Discovering this news and seeing his tombstone made me appreciate my birthmother's courage and strength even more. First, being raped and then finding out she is pregnant with me, followed by her father's passing would bring anyone to their knees. How strong she must have been!
During the visit, my birth cousin and I decided to try our luck at treasure hunting at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. This year only 399 people out of 60,000 visitors to the park have uncovered diamonds. After sifting through dirt for two hours, clothes wet and shoes dirty, we decided that my 82-year-old uncle, who tagged along, was tired of sifting through dirt, so we decided to call it a day. I took a short walk around the property, appreciating the gift God had given me. I had prayed for my birth family for years and here I am spending time with two people my birthmother cherished and loved unconditionally. It was the answer to so many of my prayers. As I was heading back up to get my bucket and join my family, I happened to look down and a shining sparkle in the gravel caught my eye. I bent over, brushed the top of the stone off, and picked it up. I knew what it was as soon as I held it up: a yellow diamond. The staff at the park verified it was a diamond and weighed it. Much to my surprise, it was over a half carat. My diamond is number 400 for the year 2013.
After arriving back home and gathering my thoughts, I realized that the week with my birth family had been about family, life, and the power of prayer. For so many years, I prayed for a relationship with my birth family. I had faith that when God knew it was time, he would let it shine and sparkle. I had faith that one day I would become my birthmother's "diamond in the rough". My birthmother loved life, the outdoors, and her family, me included. She loved me so much that she gave me what she knew she couldn't--the love and security of an amazing adoptive family. Maybe the visit to the park was a reminder that the light is still shining. That a diamond in the rough is always just a step away! God took my birthmother's deepest pain and turned it into the most precious of jewels--a future of faith and family for her baby. Then He took my pain from her death and turned it into an answered prayer. Thank you, Lord, for my birthmother, her family and her strength, and of course, for the gift of what I thought would be unanswered prayers.