I was doing a school project on identity. We were given an outline to fill out full of questions around where we were born, our family history, and so on.
My mom and I were going through my scrapbooks and folders, looking for items we could use in the project when I found a birthday card amongst others addressed to “Leslie” from my oldest sister. A sister I had never met.
My name is Kerry.
As I held up the card and asked my mom who Leslie was, I noticed a shadow fall over her face. I felt my stomach tighten as I realized something was about to change. My heart raced and I wished I could take back the question.
In that moment I discovered that Leslie was my real name, that my grandparents had adopted me and that my estranged sister was actually my birth mother.
Over the next few weeks, months, and years I slowly learnt the circumstances surrounding my birth and adoption.
Each of us has a story.
I was born two and a half months premature in an ambulance between two towns. I was very weak and not expected to last a more than a couple of weeks. My birth mom had been unable to pay the hospital bills and so she had removed all the tubes that I was hooked up to, left the hospital unseen and travelled 12 hours to a coastal city. In a building, in an area known for drugs and prostitution she and my father rented an apartment and went on a drug bender.
Miraculously, a superintendent of the building had grown suspicious when the baby in that apartment, whose cries grew weaker and weaker, eventually stopped crying. After knocking and calling out repeatedly she unlocked the door to find my parents unconscious and me, unclothed on the floor. I was dirty, weak, malnourished and lying in my own mess. She went through my parent’s belongings and found a telephone and address book. She took me and that address book and left.
It took two weeks for my parents to discover that I was gone. It took two weeks for them to come looking for me.
After learning of my adoption, my birth mom came back into our lives. The next couple of years would settle the unworthiness in my heart as she came and went multiple times, leaving me confused, hurt, and rejected.
Your story matters.
For years after hearing about my beginning I questioned my value and worth. I labeled myself unworthy, unloved, and unwanted. I believed the lies I told myself: that I was too much or not enough. I believed that I was a mistake, an accident, and an unpleasant surprise. These labels stopped me from believing the promises of God and held me back from pursuing the purpose and calling over my life. The beginning to my story could have easily been the end as well, and for a period of time it nearly was. The false identity I had created in my head disqualified me from living a full life as a wife, mother, friend, and woman in Christ. I discounted my words and actions as having any value and my world became very small and closed.
Slowly, through seeking God and reading His word, the Holy Spirit helped to heal those broken places in my heart. Through promises such as “being created in Christ for good works which God prepared beforehand” (Ephesians 2:10) and that “all the days ordained for me were written in his book before one came to be.” (Psalms 139:13-16) I slowly came to accept and believe that I was chosen, loved and called before I was born. That my life had meaning and value beyond what I could naturally see.
Your story holds hope.
This time though, I was rooted and grounded in God’s love and truth.
My earthly father may have disowned me, but the truth of who my heavenly father is sustained me. He chose me first (John 15:16), he promises to be a father to me (2 Corinthians 6:18), He promises to sustain me (Isaiah 40:31), and He has good plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11).
Hope in your testimony.
There is hope for your story.
Perhaps, like me you have felt your story has disqualified you from living the life God has called you to. Maybe you feel like God has lost control of your story. That he’s forgotten you in your pain and discomfort. I want to encourage you today; I was not an accident, and neither are you. God is deeply concerned and actively involved in each of our stories.
Friend, God is able to redeem our stories from stories of despair, isolation, regret, unworthiness, and shame into stories of hope, promise, and joy for his glory. His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-11) and He promises that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28).
Because of God’s love and pursuit of my heart I can boast in the Lord, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives”. (Genesis 50:20).
Submitted by: Kerry Duffield
What a beautiful story of redemption! When I was getting everything together for this story, I found myself hanging out on Kerry's website for long periods of time. She is such a talented writer and has so many wonderful things to share. If you liked this story and the message she shared within her story, I think you would love her website About These Things.
Thank you Kerry for being brave and sharing your story!
Love and lemons,