Near the end of January each year, I find myself reflecting with gratitude on the gift of life I have been given. Although my birthday is in September, January usually has the greater significance for me when it comes to reflecting on the fact that I have been alive for 47 years, for it is likely that my life began in my biological mother’s womb near the end of January 1965.
I can only speculate about the circumstances in which my biological mother found herself pregnant with me. Since I was born in Ann Arbor, near the campus of the University of Michigan, I have always thought that my birth mother was probably a university student. I assume that my biological father was also a student. I have always assumed my conception was an unplanned and likely an unwelcome surprise in the young lives of my biological parents. Certainly the cultural and social pressures of an unplanned pregnancy in the mid 1960s would have been very different and much harsher than what many young, unmarried women experience today. Because of her age at the time and the pressures she could well have felt, I assume my biological mother felt as though she had relatively few alternatives. One alternative would have been awful. Had she followed that path, I would not be here to write this. Another alternative would have meant being born into a set of circumstances in which she must have felt that she could not have provided for me as she would have wished. I am forever grateful that these were not the only possible outcomes at the beginning of my life.
Although what I have shared up to this point is based largely on speculation and intuition, what I do know is that my biological mother was eventually connected with a social worker named Mrs. Berry, who worked at Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County. It was through Mrs. Berry that a young couple named Jan and Gene Ezop, who had been exploring the possibility of adoption, were given the gift of their first son. Through an act of incredible generosity on the part of my birth mother, I was given the gift of life. By the dedicated work of a social worker, my life was connected with that of a young couple who wanted a child. Through the love and nurturing of that couple – my mom and dad – I have enjoyed the gift of life that my biological mother gave me. Through these combined gifts, I have enjoyed the gift of living a life which a young girl thought – perhaps quite rightly – she could never have provided for me.
Not only was my birth mother’s choice for my adoption life-saving, it was also life-giving and life-altering for me. It was a courageous decision on her part to experience pregnancy and childbirth with their joy, discomfort, pain and emotion. I hope and pray that she knows she did the right thing – her courage and love have made my life and living possible.
If I seem a little wistful at the end of January each year, you know why. And so, our journey in FAITH continues.
Father Dwight Ezop is editor of FAITH Magazine and pastor of the Catholic Community of St. Jude. E-mail: editor@FAITHmag.com.