Oftentimes in our lives, we find ourselves at a crossroads and do not see until later how God was walking with us during a difficult time or decision. God prepares us and sometimes even brings us to “full-circle” moments in our lives. Karen shares how she found herself in this situation as a young teen:
I grew up in Oklahoma and came from a solid, middle class family where I was active in my church youth group. However, at 15 years old, I made a bad choice and discovered I was pregnant soon after. This was devastating news and I was ashamed, embarrassed and completely uncertain what to do or where to turn. At first, denial was the prevailing emotion. This ultimately settled my resolve to have an abortion. However, as the pregnancy progressed, I was not able to carry out the abortion.
When I told my family about the pregnancy, I was relieved when they were not condemning, but understanding, loving and supportive. My mother tried to find help, but this was the early 80s, before there were any pregnancy centers in the area. A lady from church recommended we go to Baptist Children’s Home (BCH) in Owasso to seek counsel. I visited there and met with a nice lady who talked about my options of parenting or adoption. I arranged a few more meetings with the caseworker and after several visits I knew adoption was the right decision for the baby and myself. During those days, all adoptions were closed, so I tried preparing myself for the emotions that would come. The caseworker and staff at BCH were very helpful and supportive, doing everything to help me through this experience.
On November 16, 1982, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. I saw him only briefly in the hospital nursery as I was leaving. The weeks and months afterward were a bit of a blur. I signed adoption papers and tried to get back to a normal life, but couldn’t. I returned to my high school, but did not fit in anymore. I was hurting, angry and bitter, having no idea how to deal with the emotional turmoil in my heart. I was angry at God and turned my back on Him. Even though I knew I made the right decision, it didn’t feel right. I was mourning and grieving the loss of my baby boy. This was the state I was in when I entered into adulthood. The next thirteen years were spent wandering through a dark and desperate world, chasing after worldly things in search of relief. Alcohol, drugs and toxic relationships were the only thing I knew to reach for to help ease the emptiness I felt. There seemed to be no way to cope. At the age of 29, I was a divorced, single mother of a two-year-old daughter and completely consumed with despair.
Somewhere in the midst of this, my heart began to search for the Lord. It was a slow process but eventually I began praying and asking for His forgiveness and guidance. In His faithfulness, He was there waiting for me. As I accepted His embrace, love and forgiveness, the healing began. After a few years of growing in the Lord, I met and married a wonderful godly man, Randy. The Lord used Randy in big ways to lead me into a growing spiritual maturity with God. During those years, my heart began to heal and joy replaced heartache. My son’s birthday became a time of celebration and happiness instead of mourning. As my relationship with God grew, I began to realize He had a plan for my life that somehow included my adoption story.
Five years ago, my best friend Darla told me about a job opening at Hope Pregnancy Center (HPC). The Lord had been preparing my heart for many years to work with women and children in crisis, but still I balked and made excuses for why I would not be qualified for the job. The Lord spoke softly to my heart, reminding me He had been training me many years for this position. So with cautious optimism I applied for the job and to my utter shock, was called to be the Director at HPC, Tulsa in February 2013. It was never lost on me the “coincidence” of going to work for the same ministry that helped me all those many years before. For years I had been open about my story and tried to use it for God’s glory, but now I would get the opportunity to share His amazing love with others who were walking a similar path. What an incredible honor and opportunity.
A little over a year ago I was having lunch with Dierdre McCool from Deaconess Pregnancy and Adoption Services. She asked me if I ever considered reuniting with my son. By now he was a grown man, but I knew nothing about him. He had been in my thoughts continuously since his birth 34 years earlier, but it was still somewhat difficult to hope or imagine ever meeting him. After some prayer and counsel, I decided to take the steps to try reaching out to him. It was very risky emotionally to open my heart to something that may not happen. After a few weeks, I received a call from Deaconess stating they located my son, reached out to him and had given him a letter I wrote to him
About a week later, on a Wednesday afternoon, I received an e-mail with only one thing written in the subject line -”November 16, 1982.” Blake Thomas Dean, my son, was reaching back to me. He was so kind and sensitive in that first e-mail. Reading about his life brought 34 years of relief and emotion that I had not anticipated.. He was raised by a wonderful family in the Moore-Norman area where he still lives with his wife and two little boys.
Shortly after the initial connection, I met Blake face-to-face and began developing a relationship. We visit every chance we have and communicate about once a week, getting to know each other little by little. Blake’s parents, Pam and Steve, provided a loving home for Blake and his two brothers. He always knew he was adopted, but states that he “hit the jackpot” for families. The grace Blake and his family have shown to me is a testament to how well he was raised.
Isn’t it amazing how God works? As Karen looks back on her journey, she sees how God was preparing her for something great. Karen feels privileged to walk with mothers and fathers as they face difficult decisions during an unplanned pregnancy and use her experience to walk in the shoes of those she comes in contact with. Her journey brought her back to OBHC and God allowed her to begin a new relationship with her son.