Coincidence or Divine Intervention

by Michele Fried

Years ago, I wrote an article that stemmed from a family conversation about whether things are simply coincidence or fate. I interviewed several clients on the topic and ended up with so much more then I expected.

In my field of work, it is one where miracles “seem” to happen. I simply have witnessed some pretty extraordinary events. However, rather than sharing my own experiences or those I have seen, let me share the collection of experiences that clients shared with me on the debate between “coincidence or divine intervention” ~ which is it?

The Power of Prayer

An anonymous adoptive mom wrote, “I wanted to be a mother so badly that my brother-in-law, a very religious man, went to his spiritual leader to pray on my behalf. Though I was not religious, I was agreeable to this as I felt desperate wanting to be a mother so badly.  It did not matter to me if I became a mother by way of a pregnancy or adoption. The response from the clergy was shocking however, my brother-in-law was told, “Tell her to pray because she has not.” How bold. How painful. How true. I didn’t know how to pray. I got out a prayer book I had since childhood and just began to read.  Within two and one half years we had three children, two by adoption and one by birth.”

For Kim Venti, and her husband Bob, the process of becoming parents is one blessed by God. “Bob and I were hopeful that one day we would adopt a baby through Adoption STAR. A childless couple, we built a new house in anticipation for that special day of having a family to make it a home.  Shortly after we moved in, I contacted our priest to ask him if he would come over to bless our house. At our home, we showed Father Bob one of the spare bedrooms saying, “Father Bob, we are hoping to adopt a baby and this would be the baby’s room.” He took his holy water, splashed it throughout the room, and said a special blessing “for the room that will someday be home to a baby.” That was on a Sunday. On Tuesday, only two days later, our daughter Patricia was born and on Thursday, Adoption STAR handed her to us.” For this couple, their story continues, with Kim sharing, “Within one week from having our house blessed we not only had a beautiful daughter, but we learned that we were expecting another child! At the time this was all happening, I remember thinking to myself, Would we have said yes to adoption if I had known I was pregnant? Would we have eagerly accepted a baby knowing that I was pregnant too?  Would we have wanted to incur the expense of adoption knowing we had another child on the way? Would we have enough resources and support to raise two infant children? We didn’t have to make that decision and for that we are thankful. God had a plan for our family and it worked out beautifully.”

In the fall of 2006, JoAnne Miller had a feeling she could not explain. “All I knew is that our birth mother was constantly on my mind and, although I did not know her, I felt a strong attachment. I began praying for her. My prayers were not casual but deep, all consuming prayers. All I could ask is that God protect her, keep her safe and healthily, to help her to find His path.  During this same period, my husband and I started to talk about a second adoption. My husband was hoping we could adopt a boy. I’d wake up thinking about a baby boy. I surmised that my thoughts were directly related to our conversations about wanting a son.  On the morning of June 4, 2007 I sent an email to Adoption STAR requesting information on the Private Track Program. We decided to start pursuing our second adoption. At 2:00 pm on June 4, 2007 the telephone rang and it was Adoption STAR. I was amazed to receive a call in response to my email so quickly. But the call was about something else entirely. Something about Rhiannon’s birth mother, and a hospital. I was having difficulty hearing so I excused myself from the call. I turned off the washer, unplugged the vacuum and returned to the phone.  We started over again…Rhiannon’s birth mother called, she gave birth to a little baby boy this morning. She requested that Adoption STAR contact us to see if we were interested in adopting this baby. Thus Cameron Robert became a part of our family on June 6, 2007.”

Cheryl Misercola writes, “I find myself telling people that without question, Tony and I were meant to parent a child with special needs. We lost a pregnancy at about 22 weeks almost 9 years ago. Had our little son been miraculously able to overcome the severe prematurity, what level of special needs would we have had to deal with? I really feel that Joanna’s placement was meant to be and, for reasons I am not clear on yet, we were chosen to become parents in a way that most people aren’t. And though we/she will have challenges and potential limitations throughout life, I would not change places with anyone in the whole world. I tell her everyday that she is a dream come true and that our prayers where answered when she found her way to us.”

Just Had a Feeling

Deidre and Nigel Marriner both share their story by prefacing, “It is so crazy it almost seems like a lie but is the dead honest truth. The day our placement with Norah occurred, we were out shopping. We will NEVER forget it. We lost the triplets in September, had an adoption match that fell through on Halloween and another that fell through in November.” This couple kept the Nursery door shut but for some reason one particular weekend they decided they felt ready to again plan for a child. Nigel shares, “We were driving from Baby’s R US to Wal-Mart and it was while we were driving by Adoption STAR’s old office on Niagara Falls Boulevard that I stated aloud, “You know, Adoption STAR is going to call us today to come and pick up our baby….” For whatever reason I guess I think it’s important to mention that we were driving by your office… Maybe there was some kind of link between being close to the place where we would meet Norah for the first time or something… Just one of those great mysteries in life!!! It’s Deidre’s turn and she responds, “I laughed and said, “Yes, honey because that is exactly how it works.” We didn’t say much else.  When we got home it was 3:00 pm and I walked in the house and looked at the answering machine. No messages! I said, “See, you were wrong.” He smiled, shrugged, and said, “Maybe tomorrow then.” Not kidding….at 3:15 the phone rang. I looked at caller ID and didn’t recognize the number and so I didn’t pick it up. All I heard in the background was, “Hi Deidre and Nigel, this is Melissa from Adoption STAR” and I think I nearly knocked everything over in my way to get to the phone. When I got to the phone, she told us the situation and asked if we were interested. I didn’t sleep that night as we were picking her up the next day. From that moment on she was ours and we hadn’t even met her yet – it was just so strange, and perfect that to think of it still brings me to tears. We cannot wait to share this story with her when she is old enough to fully comprehend it, but something tells me she’ll think we’re pulling her leg.”

Another adoptive mom remembers, “I had a dream that she picked us. Not wanting to get too hopeful I set this thought aside…. We were called later that morning and told we had indeed been selected.”

An adoptive father states, “I am not a believer in destiny or fate, or whatever you want to call it; all I know is that this adventure just feels right.

It Was Adoption STAR

One couple emailed, “Once Micaela’s birth mom selected us, quicker than any of us expected, Adoption STAR scrambled and made it all happen, we did massive amounts of paperwork in record time and 24 hours after that first phone call we had Micaela in our arms. The process isn’t supposed to work that way, but it did, and that always made us feel like it was meant to be.”

Another couple remembers…“Having talked about adoption even before trying to get pregnant, we decided that we were meant to adopt. We called and visited Adoption STAR and started classes a few months later.  We loved going to the classes and hearing other people’s stories. We knew 100% that we were making the right decision. Throughout our classes, we maintained an excitement knowing that we were going to be parents. We remember once, during the car ride home, talking about how right at that very moment our birth mother could be carrying our baby! Little did we know that this was the case!” Today Molly and Jason have two beautiful children, one by adoption and one by birth, and recently learned that they are expecting again.  Molly writes, “Although our babies may have arrived in our homes differently, the bond is just as strong for both. I could never imagine life without either one of them.”

One adoptive couple shared, “We wish to remain anonymous in submitting this because many people today seem offended by those who are non-believers in divine intervention, a god, etc. We believe that that we are responsible for ourselves and for being respectful of all people. We got married and made a plan to have a family. The first plan did not work out, but the second plan, ended up not being second best, but the right plan was to adopt.  We did so with an immense amount of thought, education and home work even before selecting our agency, Adoption STAR. We waited patiently, albeit as patiently as we could be, for the day we would become parents. That day happened and our children — all adopted – are together because of choices made by many. We do not feel that it was “written in the stars” and mean no disrespect to the many that do feel that fate played a role in their adoptions. We couldn’t love our children more, but we also know that every step in life involves us making decisions no matter how small, so perhaps what we think is fate is truly us, a birth family and/or an agency making important decisions.”

Astrology and Dates

One adoptive mom wrote, “I had astrological charts done for me and my husband. The charts determined specific time periods for the arrival of a child. Both of our charts said April or May would likely be the time frame for our child to arrive. That evening, Adoption STAR called us, saying that a birth Mother had selected us and that she was due in April or May.”

Christy shared, “We received the first call from Adoption STAR (asking us if we wanted to be profiled) on Jim’s birthday.  Norma (our daughter’s birth mother) had an ultrasound on my birthday and found out she was having a girl. A repeat ultrasound on my sister’s birthday confirmed that she was a girl and Allyse was born on my mom’s birthday!”

Melissa Greeson stated, “When we were first called to profile for the birth mother, her due date was the same date as my best friend.  We also learned that the birth mother’s birthday is the same as my younger sister’s.”

Harvey and Helaine Sanders shared, “Benjamin’s date of birth is exactly 100 years to the day of Helaine’s grandmother.  Her name was Bessie and we chose the name Benjamin to honor her name.”

Molly Iten tells her story. “My Mom and I both became “Moms” for the first time on the same day. She in 1969 and me in 2006!  Jacob was born on October 3 and placed forever with us on October 5, which was my 37th birthday. My mother told us later that she kept having a feeling that our baby would find us on my birthday. This feeling first came to her in the early spring when we started our classes and again in mid August after we had had one of those “feeling sorry for ourselves” days.”

Connected by a Name

Amy B. shared, “During the adoption process we often discussed what we would name our child. Our daughter, Ashley, was 11 at the time and she was thrilled with the possibility of having a baby brother or sister. Ashley is my daughter from a previous relationship and has a different last name from my husband and I. She felt really left out when she realized that the new baby would have our last name. We told her that if we adopted a girl that the two girls could share the same middle name – Nicole.  When we got “the call” telling us we had a baby girl and her birth mother’s name was Nicole, we knew this was our baby!  Ava, now four, loves to hear the story of her very special name.”

When David G. asked the birth mother of his son, why she picked their profile, she stated, “We have so much in common.”  She listed all the reasons that they were alike, culminating with, “…and you even have a dog named Max. My cat is named Max and it just seemed like it was meant to be.”

One STAR couple emailed their story to me: “On the 14 hour drive to meet our daughter we were hesitant to talk “names” as we had an adoption fall through 8 months prior…but we spoke briefly giving into the excitement of the moment and debated the name “Charlie” – as it is a derivative of one of our father’s name’s – “Charles”. We quickly dropped the topic when we caught ourselves being “too” invested.  We finally arrived at the hospital.  While sitting in the waiting room (feeling anxious & awkward) the birth mother’s father entered and said, “It’s so nice to meet you, I just want to warn you that my daughter has named the baby and has been calling her “Charlie.” Our jaws dropped….we stared at each other in disbelief and shared our naming story with our daughter’s extended grandfather.  When we met our daughter’s birthmother we told her we would love to keep the name, and so our daughter’s name is Charlet-Jahn, but her nickname is Charlie!”

One adoptive mom shared how her daughter was named. “In planning for the birth of their child, the birth father had picked a name he liked which was his grandmother’s name, and the birth mother had picked a middle name she just happened to like, which happens to be the name of one of my grandmothers and of one of my husband’s grandmothers.”

In less than one year, Molly and Mike Iten became parents twice. Jacob’s younger brother was born in April 2007.  Many names had been tossed around for this baby. “I had told Mike that he could name the baby, I woke from my c-section to learn that our baby’s name was Elijah (not the name he had been saying for the past four months.) Mike said that the name just popped into his head. Six months later, we spoke to Jacob’s birth mother and learned that his biological brother’s name is Elijah.”  Now Jacob has a brother by birth and a brother by adoption with the same name.

Because The Birth Mother Just Knew

Rene wrote, “As an interracial and intercultural gay couple we did not expect to be matched very easily. However, the first presentation of our family was – what we later heard from the birth mother – a natural fit. Her expected child was bi-racial whom she wanted to grow up in a bi-racial family with a sibling who looked like him.  She had two moms herself, so she was delighted to find a family that represented many elements of her own life. Ethan has two fathers, speaks two languages, is part of two cultures, and one happy family.”

Wendy Graham shared, “After having the opportunity to be profiled about 10 times (and having been rejected by birth families at least 7 times), I have to admit that getting “the call”  was beginning to feel a bit routine. I’d dutifully take notes as the cases were described, and then usually tell the agency to go ahead and profile us. But one day in September, nine months after we’d first chosen Adoption STAR as our agency, I found myself connecting to one expectant parent’s story. I found myself getting a little excited about this one…

“Her favorite subjects in school are languages.”

“Mine were, too.”

“She particularly loves Spanish, and hopes to travel to Spain someday.”

“Me too. I hope she makes it. I’ve been four times.”

“She is the youngest in a Catholic family. Her siblings are much older.”

“My husband has siblings who moved out before he entered kindergarten and he attended Catholic school through eighth grade.”

“She played the piano as a child, but not seriously.”

“Just like my husband…”

Two nights later, we learned that this 16-year-old girl wanted to speak to us by telephone. My husband and I were so nervous! What could we possibly talk about when we were literally old enough to be her parents? But when she called, her sense of humor immediately captured us. She reminded me a lot of myself at her age. I told my husband later that if we’d been peers in high school, I could easily see myself being her friend. While I felt the connection it was this young woman who made the decision.”

Terri Sue Drennan remembers the day she met her daughter. “She was placed in my arms by her birth mom…I held her briefly to my chest and smelled her….her hair, her skin…her soul…  I sat down on a couch holding her and her birth mom sat down next to us. I laid her gently on my lap and as I gazed down into her perfect face….SHE SMILED RIGHT AT ME! I felt as if my heart would burst. As quickly as the smile came it was gone and she was looking all around…but I knew in her heart and soul that smile was meant for me…not a burp, not gas…but a moment frozen in time saying that we were forever joined as a family!”

What Is It That Connects Forever Families?

For those families still waiting, my message to you is that you will adopt. Will it be because you were connected because of a name, a date, a birth mother’s feeling, your own feeling, the agency’s doing, or the power of prayer? I do not know. But I do have one more story for you.

Now my own story. We had become parents twice already, first by adoption and once by birth; both healthy baby boys. My husband and I ran a very large adoption agency in Philadelphia specializing in the placements of African American infants. In one week there were six African American baby boys that needed adoption planning. Five of them were placed quickly and one of them needed to stay in the hospital a few days longer for observation due to a rapid heart beat.  When the baby was ready to leave the hospital, we were disappointed to realize that we still had no family profiles to share with his birth parents, so he entered what we called cradle care, a temporary placement until an adoptive family could be identified. I was frustrated that we did not have profiles so I asked the social worker to run the case by me so perhaps I can brainstorm the best way to help her identify families. She spoke about the birth mother and the child she was raising. As she spoke about the birth father, I couldn’t help thinking how similar he sounded to our oldest son’s birth father, Alvin, who we never met. So I asked the social worker the name of this baby’s birth father and she told me, Alvin. I just wondered how many Alvin’s there were in Philadelphia. How many 17 year old Alvin’s were there?  I told the social worker that was the name of Zack’s birth father and that he would be that age now too. The social worker stated that Alvin never shared that he had another child, placed for adoption or not.  One part of me kept thinking, “I can’t believe this is happening.” Another side of me was saying, “This is a giant city, how could this be?” The social worker telephoned the birth parents to ask them more questions.  They told her the story about a girl that Alvin once knew and the baby boy he learned he had a year after he was placed for adoption. When asked what he knew about that baby who was born 2 ½ years earlier, he said, “All I know is that he was adopted by a white couple, and they named him a “Z” name.” The social worker repeated all this to me. It was remarkable but it was still too unbelievable so we asked for even more information until it became undeniable. This baby that was sitting in our very own agency’s cradle care was our son’s biological brother.

Just in case you are wondering, we shared our identifying information with Alvin and his girlfriend, our son’s birth mother.  We told them that we were the directors of the adoption agency and the connection that we made. Had we thought this through?  It felt like the right thing to do. We needed them to make the ultimate decision where to place their child. In order to do so, they needed to know the facts. They didn’t need to think about it and this is how Jared became our son.

Perhaps it isn’t odd that this birth couple found their way to our adoption agency, as it was the largest in Philadelphia at that time. But I still wonder what if Jared wasn’t delayed in the hospital? He may have been one of the first babies placed that week. We may have never realized the connection.

All these stories… could they have been coincidences? Or divine intervention? You decide.