Marsha Stocker

Meeting my daughter

Marsha Stocker
By Marsha Stocker
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Editor’s note: Marsha and Jim discovered they were expecting a baby, unmarried, and still in college.  They gave her up for adoption. It was a secret they kept even from their own brothers and sisters. The couple later married and raised three children together. Then, over twenty years after giving up their baby girl for adoption, she called and wanted to meet them. How could they explain her to their families? And how would they tell their other children about the sister they did not know existed? This article was originally published eight years ago in Amazing Grace for Mothers.

Christmas break from college was always great, but it was especially enjoyable during my senior year. With graduation so close, I had much to look forward to. I basked in the holiday cheer with my parents and five siblings.  By January, however, there was something else on my mind; motherhood. My boyfriend, Jim and I had dated for four years. Only recently had we become serious. We had given in to temptation, just once. That was all it took. When the pregnancy test confirmed what I suspected, I immediately told Jim. He expressed his love and wanted to marry me. But we had never previously even talked of marriage. “No, ” I said,“This is no way to begin a marriage.”

I confided in my twin sister, Margot. We were roommates at the University of Kentucky and had always been close.  I knew she understood and felt my pain. “What are you going to do?” she asked.

“Jim and I discussed marriage, but I do not want to make a life commitment based on a pregnancy,” I explained. I could keep my baby, but what kind of a life could I give a child right now?  We decided to place our child for adoption. “

It was the seventies and abortion had recently been made legal. I could instantly and discretely change my situation. But as a committed Catholic, abortion was not an option. We knew it was not our place to interfere with God’s plan for our baby.

Telling my parents was extremely difficult. They were so very disappointed and asked that I not tell others about my situation. Out of respect for them, I agreed. During my visit home at spring break, I was still able to conceal my pregnancy. I did not return home again until after the baby’s birth on September 4, 1976.

For the nine months that I carried my developing child, the little kicks reminded me that there really was a little life growing within me. I prayed often for my baby and took care of myself knowing that the baby needed to be healthy to get a good start in life. Catholic Charities allowed me to select the parents; a couple with twin boys. Being a twin had always meant so much to me. Now, that experience would be a part of my child’s life too.

Margot was at my side during the miracle of my little girl’s birth. I named her Margot, after my twin sister. Although I never wavered in my decision, that did not prevent pain over separating from my own flesh and blood. Jim was in the waiting room because back then, only a husband had the right to be in the delivery room. It was an emotional time for him, too. He tearfully asked me to marry him again. Even in the throes of love for both my baby and Jim, I held firm to our decision. The sacrament of marriage was intended to last a lifetime. It was a commitment I was not ready to make.

I was not allowed to hold my daughter in my arms, but I held her in my heart. Margot and I peeked into the nursery at her; she was beautiful. Jim and I wrote our daughter a letter and also purchased a 14k gold necklace with a cross for her new parents to give her one day. Although my own mother wanted to keep her first grandchild’s birth a secret, she too felt the pain of separation. She wrote her own letter on the day the baby was born:  “...Be a very good girl now and I will see you one day in heaven. Always know that you will have a special place in my heart and in my prayers….’

I had already begun graduate school at the University of Kentucky and missed only a couple days for the delivery. I transferred to Arizona State University the following semester and earned a master’s in special education. Jim and I had a bond and love that survived several jobs, schooling and a long distance romance. We married in October of 1979 and had three more children together, Erica, Lindsay and Clay.

I experienced boundless joy at the births of our other children, but there was always a part of me that belonged to my first daughter. Yet, although I thought of her often, God gave me a great sense of peace knowing that we had chosen life for our child and placed her with a loving, Catholic family.

During the eighties, there was a growing movement for adopted children to seek out their birth parents. Jim and I fully expected that our daughter would one day find us. When her eighteenth birthday came and went, and then her nineteenth and on into the twenties, I sometimes wondered what happened. Why did she never contact us?

Then a year-and-a-half ago, I came home from youth group where I am a leader, to find Jim on the phone. He immediately motioned for me to pick up the other phone. Margot had finally called! My hand shook as I picked up the receiver. “Hello, this is little Margot,” she nervously said in a voice identical to my other daughters. She had decided it was time to contact her birth parents. First, she also had to overcome her fears of rejection and have the courage to trust that God would guide her.

My little Margot had been renamed Susan.  She was home on break before returning to her teaching job in Ireland.  We talked for over two hours.  Susan expressed her desire to meet us.  As excited as we were to hear from our daughter, we knew accepting her into our lives would not be easy. Only my sister and parents knew about her.

My decision all those years ago was based on what I thought was best for my daughter. Now, if she wanted to be a part of our life, I wanted that too. It was a Wednesday night when she called.  The following Saturday, she made the one-hour drive to our house. Our two daughters were away at college and our son was out for the evening.

Butterflies filled my stomach when I saw the beautiful young lady stepping out of the car that had pulled up to our house. Jim and I nervously looked at each other. Susan walked to the door with a little green box full of baby photographs, report cards, school pictures and our letters. She smiled nervously as we opened the door. As she walked through the door the first words out of her mouth were, “Thank you for giving me life.”  We hugged our little girl, all grown up now. As I stood back and gazed at her, my heart fluttered. She was wearing the little gold cross we had bought for her so long ago. Her mother had told her to keep the necklace for a special occasion. This was it.

She had all the mannerisms of our other daughters and had features from both Jim and I. We spent six hours catching up on the life of our first-born. Tears streamed down my face as I gazed upon the pictures and report cards of my daughter. I was deeply touched to learn Susan had become a Special Education teacher just like me.

We all knew that this was the beginning of a new relationship for us. It was not an easy road, but we had to step beyond our own fears and again do what was best for our daughter. We broke the news to our children, family and friends. Everyone, especially our own children, readily welcomed Susan into our family.

The Monday following our meeting, Susan sent us an e-mail saying, “At church on Sunday, I could have knelt there and said thanks to God all day. God really does work wonders. It has been quite an amazing weekend.”

Not only did Susan become a treasured member of our own family, but our family became a part of hers. Carol, Susan’s adoptive mother, e-mailed us shortly after our first meeting. “I have always wanted to communicate with you spiritually over the years to let you know what a beautiful, sensitive and gifted child you gave us to love and cherish. Now I can tell you myself and thank you from the bottom of my heart. We know Susan is now complete with all of you in her life.”

That summer our families attended a summer conference at Catholic Family Land in Ohio. At one point Carol took me aside and said, “At a time in your life when you could not care for Susan you gave her to us when we really needed her. Now, at this time in Susan’s life, she really needs you and your family, and we want to share her with you.”

We have all become extended family to each other and often gather together for holidays. In the end, none of us has lost anything. We have all gained so much.
                                                             

Marsha Stocker was born in St. Charles,MO in 1953. She graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1975 and received a Master’s Degree from Arizona State University n 1976. In 1979 she married Jim Stocker, who was raised in Louisville, KY. Marsha is a special education teacher and Jim is a police officer. They live in Lexington, KY and have raised three children, Erica, Lindsay and Clay.

Posted on PattiMaguireArmstrong.com and originally published in Amazing Grace for Mothers (Ascension Press).

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Are you praying for the upcoming Synod on the Family? You should be, and here’s why

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By John-Henry Westen

Catholics, and all Christians who value family values, should be praying earnestly for the Catholic Church as a struggle over critical family issues is coming to a head in the run-up to the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, which takes place October 5-19. 

Augmenting the concerns is the fact that some of the cardinals closest to Pope Francis himself are increasingly in public disagreement over crucial matters related to faith and family. For some, the concerns reach right to the pope himself.

While Synod preparations have been going on for a year, Sunday’s weddings of 20 couples in St. Peter’s Basilica by Pope Francis presented a figurative, and perhaps foreboding launch.

In a press release prior to the ceremony, the Rome diocese inexplicably went out of its way to highlight the fact that some of couples the pope was going to marry were cohabiting. "Those who will get married Sunday are couples like many others,” it said. “There are those who are already cohabitating; who already have children.”

Unsurprisingly, the mainstream press took the bait and seized upon this statement to run headline after headline pushing the confusing notion that the event was a prelude to, or evidence of, a change in Church teaching on marriage.

Headlines like: 

All I can do is pray that the public fallout from these wedding ceremonies does not foreshadow the public outcome of the Synod. If so, we could be headed for a tragedy akin to the tragedy of the late sixties when, despite the proclamation of the truth of Humanae Vitae against contraception, the effect among ordinary Catholics was a near universal rejection of the teaching in practice.

What to expect at the Synod

The official list of those taking part in the Synod includes 114 presidents of Bishops’ Conferences, 13 heads of Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, 25 heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, nine members of the Ordinary Council for the Secretariat, the Secretary General, the Undersecretary, three religious elected by the Union of Superiors General, 26 members appointed by the Pontiff, eight fraternal delegates, and 38 auditors, among whom are 13 married couples and 16 experts.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of Cardinal Kasper’s intervention at the Consistory of Cardinals earlier this year, in which he laid out a contentious proposal to allow Catholics who have been divorced and then ‘remarried’ outside the Church to receive Communion. 

Since then a bevy of heavy-hitter cardinals have fought that proposal, including:

Today, however, Cardinal Kasper said the “attacks” from these cardinals were not so much directed at him but at Pope Francis, since, claims Kasper, he discussed his intervention with the pope and gained his approval.

The claim has some basis, since the day after Kasper made the proposal, before it was made public, Pope Francis praised it publicly.  According to Vatican Information Service, the Holy Father said:

I read and reread Cardinal Walter Kasper's document and I would like to thank him, as I found it to be a work of profound theology, and also a serene theological reflection. It is pleasant to read serene theology. And I also found what St. Ignacius described as the 'sensus Ecclesiae', love for the Mother Church. ... It did me good, and an idea came to mind – please excuse me, Eminence, if I embarrass you – but my idea was that this is what we call ‘doing theology on one's knees’. Thank you, thank you.

Of note, Vatican correspondent Sébastien Maillard, writing for France’s La Croix, reports today that Pope Francis is “irritated” by the release of a book containing criticisms of the Kasper proposal by five cardinals.

As LifeSiteNews.com reported yesterday, one of those authors, Cardinal Raymond Burke, is being demoted from his headship of the Apostolic Signatura. The only post planned for the 66-year-old cardinal thus far is patron of the Order of Malta. 

Cardinal Burke’s pre-Synod interventions go beyond the divorce and remarriage question and into the matter of homosexuality.  In a recent interview Cardinal Burke gave a clear refutation of the misuse of Pope Francis’ famed ‘Who am I to judge’ quote to justify homosexuality.

While the issue of the Church’s teachings on homosexuality is seldom raised in reference to the Synod, with most of the emphasis being placed on the question of divorce and remarriage, it is mentioned in the working document, or ‘Instrumentum Laboris’, of the Synod.

As with the matter of divorce, no doctrine regarding homosexuality can be changed, but much confusion can still be sown under the auspices of adjustments to “pastoral” practice. Without a clear teaching from the Synod, the effects could be similar to the shift in “pastoral” practice among dissenting clergy after the promulgation of Humanae Vitae, which led to the use of artificial contraception by most Catholics.

Already and for many years there has been de facto broad acceptance of homosexual sexual practices in many Catholic schools, universities and many other institutions, with many staff being active homosexuals in open defiance of Catholic moral teaching.

Regarding the Synod’s deliberations on homosexuality, it does not bode well that one of Pope Francis’ personal appointees to the Synod is retired Cardinal Godfried Danneels.  The selection is remarkable because of Danneels was caught on tape in 2010 urging a victim who had been sexually abused by a bishop-friend of Danneels, to be silent.  Then, only last year Danneels praised as a “positive development” that states were opening up civil marriage to homosexuals.

Then, just this week, as reported on the Rorate Caeli blog, one of the three Synod presidents gave an interview with the leading Brazilian newspaper in which he said that while stable unions between homosexual persons cannot be equated to marriage, the Church has always tried to show respect for such unions.

The statement matches that of another prominent Synod participant, Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, who in 2010 spoke of giving more consideration to ‘the quality’ of homosexual relationships. “We should give more consideration to the quality of homosexual relationships. A stable relationship is certainly better than if someone chooses to be promiscuous,” Schönborn said.

In the end, while there is currently a public battle in the Vatican that is unprecedented in modern history, the faith will not and cannot change.  As faithful Catholics, and Christians, we must cling to the Truths of Christ regarding the family and live them out in our own lives first and foremost.  That is difficult, to be sure, especially in our sex-saturated culture, but with Christ (and only with Him) all things are possible. 

Plead with heaven for the pope and the bishops in the Synod.  LifeSiteNews will be there reporting from Rome, and, with your prayers and support, be of service to those defending truth.

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Poet: I ‘would’ve died’ for my aborted daughter’s ‘right to choose,’ just ‘like she died for mine’ (VIDEO)

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By Ben Johnson

What kind of mother asks her baby to die for her? And what kind of media outlet celebrates that?

To take the second question first, The Huffington Post is promoting a video featuring Scottish “poet” Leyla Josephine, celebrating her decision to abort her daughter. The video, “I Think She Was a She,” was uploaded to YouTube a month ago.

In the video Josephine, decked out in military camouflage, justifies herself in part by saying that she would have been willing to serve as a sacrifice to abortion just as she offered her daughter to the idol of “choice.”

“I would’ve supported her right to choose – to choose a life for herself, a path for herself. I would’ve died for that right like she died for mine,” she said.

In the next rhyming line, she addresses her unborn daughter: “I’m sorry, but you came at the wrong time.”

“I am not ashamed. I am not ashamed. I am not ashamed," she continues – a phrase she repeats a total of six times. She repeats the phrase "This is my body" three times. (She also takes the Lord's name in vain once.)

In the early part of the video, she describes her belief that her child was a girl and imagines a life where she had given birth to her daughter.

“I know she was a she,” she says. “I would have made sure that there was space on the walls to measure her height,” she adds. “I would have made sure I was a good mother.”

At one point she appears to describe the emotional aftermath of her choice as “a hollowness that feels full, a numbness that feels heavy.”

But she later calls the idea that her child was a girl or a boy “bull---t” and affirms, yet again, she is not ashamed.

This provokes a few observations:

1. If she knew her child's sex, she must have had a late-term abortion. Our gentle, healing restoration is needed in a world marred by so much aggression and anger in the name of political orthodoxy.

2. Fr. Frank Pavone has written, ”Did you ever realize that the same four words that were used by the Lord Jesus to save the world are also used by abortion advocates? 'This is My Body.'” To paraphrase him, he notes the difference. One, by surrendering His life on the Cross, gave life to the world. The abortion industry uses this phrase to impose its will on the bodies of separate, living human beings who have not harmed anyone.

3. The most chilling phrase in the video is her statement, “I would’ve supported her right to choose...I would’ve died for that right like she died for mine.”

First of all, her daughter did not die for the “right to choose.” Her daughter was not sacrificed for the inalienable “good” of keeping abortion-on-demand legal (and, in the UK, taxpayer-subsidized). Politicians are bribed to maintain it; no baby needs to die for it. Josephine's child died because HuffPo's hero of the moment chose not to carry the baby to term and place him/her in the hands of loving adoptive parents who would have cherished her baby – whether it was actually male, female, or intersex.

Josephine describes the emotions that actually led to the abortion only metaphorically – e.g., she compares the abortion to chopping down a cherry tree – but that angst is the root (so to speak) of the abortion, not the great and grand cause of assuring that other women have the right to go through the same soul-crushing grief.

That intimation that her daughter died for “choice” – that she offered her baby as a living sacrifice on the altar of abortion – confirms the darkest rhetoric of the pro-life movement: That for some in the movement, abortion is sometimes regarded as an idol.

And that raises one other, more universally held question: What kind of parent asks his son or daughter to die for the “right” to abortion? Parents are supposed to be the one who sacrificially care for their children, who forsake their own comfort, who do whatever is necessary – even die – to keep their children safe, healthy, and well. Josephine's blithe, “Sorry, but you came at the wrong time” sounds as hollow as a gangland assassin's apology to the family caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting. Abortion severs the love that God, or Mother Nature, or evolution, or whatever you choose to believe in placed within every pregnant woman to link the mother to her child.

The abortion lobby's rhetoric, which increasingly disregards the value of unborn life, is untethered by the bonds of human compassion, is fundamentally selfish and cold-blooded, and lacks a sense of humanity and brotherhood to the point of obliterating maternal love itself.

“Will a woman forget her child, so as not to have compassion upon the offspring of her womb?” God asks through the prophet Isaiah. “But if a woman should even forget these, yet I will not forget thee, saith the Lord.”

The pro-life movement exists precisely to set this upside-down order aright, to reinstate the natural love and compassion everyone should have for all of God's creation – most especially that between a mother and the innocent child she has helped create and fashion with her own DNA.

Cross-posted at TheRightsWriter.com.

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Cardinal Dolan greets worshipers and guests on the steps of Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan after Easter mass on April 8, 2012 in New York City. Lev Radin / Shutterstock.com
Lisa Bourne

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Catholic leaders criticize Cardinal Dolan’s defense of gay group at St. Patrick’s Parade

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By Lisa Bourne
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New York Cardinal John O'Connor on the cover of the New York Post on January 11, 1993. http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan defended his decision to serve as grand marshal for the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Wednesday, in the wake of widespread criticism from Catholics after he praised the organizing committee for allowing a homosexual activist group to march.

“If the Parade Committee allowed a group to publicize its advocacy of any actions contrary to Church teaching, I’d object,” Dolan stated in his weekly column. On the contrary, he argued, “The committee’s decision allows a group to publicize its identity, not promote actions contrary to the values of the Church that are such an essential part of Irish culture.”

Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, was not impressed with the cardinal’s argument. This is precisely about publicizing advocacy contrary to Catholic teaching,” he said.

“As a Catholic father I find there is rapidly contracting space where this shameful agenda is not stuck in the faces of my children,” Ruse told LifeSiteNews. “The Church should be protecting our children rather than abetting those who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of innocent souls."

Pat Archbold, a popular blogger at the National Catholic Register and who runs the Creative Minority Report blog, lambasted Dolan for suggesting the embrace and promotion of “gay identity” can be separated from the sin of homosexuality.

“This identity is not a morally-neutral God-given attribute such as male or female, black or white,” he said. “The identity is with the immoral choice to engage in immoral behavior.”

“The best that can be said in this situation is that these people choose to proudly identify themselves with an intrinsic disorder.  But in reality, it is worse than that,” he continued. “The people find their identity and pride in sin.  Either the Cardinal knows this or he doesn't, either way Cardinal Dolan reveals himself unequal to his responsibility as a successor of the Apostles.”

The parade committee changed its longstanding policy on September 3 after decades of pressure from homosexual groups. Upon being announced as the parade’s grand marshal later the same day, Cardinal Dolan said he had no trouble with the decision at all, calling it “wise.”

The organizers had never prohibited any marchers, but did not ban issue-focused banners and signs, whether promoting homosexuality or the pro-life cause.

Cardinal Dolan stated in his column Wednesday that he did not oppose the previous policy.

“This was simply a reasonable policy about banners and public identification, not about the sexual inclinations of participants,” he explained.

“I have been assured that the new group marching is not promoting an agenda contrary to Church teaching,” he said as well, “but simply identifying themselves as ‘Gay people of Irish ancestry.’”

The homosexual activist group that will march is called OUT@NBCUniversal, which describes itself as the employee resource group for LGBT & Straight Ally employees at the media giant.

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The network held the broadcast contract for parade coverage. Reports indicated the contract was about to expire, and that NBC joined in pressuring on parade officials.

Cardinal Dolan conceded in his column there were many thoughtful reasons for criticizing the parade policy change, and noted that he shared some of them.

“While a handful have been less than charitable in their reactions, I must admit that many of you have rather thoughtful reasons for criticizing the committee’s decision,” he said. “You observe that the former policy was fair; you worry that this is but another example of a capitulation to an ‘aggressive Gay agenda,’ which still will not appease their demands; and you wonder if this could make people think the Church no longer has a clear teaching on the nature of human sexuality.” 

However, he said, the most important question he had to ask himself was whether the new policy violated Catholic faith or morals.

In stressing that homosexual actions are sinful while identity is not, Cardinal Dolan said, “Catholic teaching is clear: ‘being Gay’ is not a sin, nor contrary to God’s revealed morals.”

Making opinion paramount, the cardinal offered that the parade committee “tried to be admirably sensitive to Church teaching,” and even though the original policy was not at all unfair, the committee was “realistic in worrying that the public perception was the opposite, no matter how often they tried to explain its coherence and fairness.”

“They worried that the former policy was being interpreted as bias, exclusion, and discrimination against a group in our city,” Cardinal Dolan wrote. “Which, if true, would also be contrary to Church teaching.”

When the decision was announced and Cardinal Dolan named the parade’s grand marshal, Philip Lawler, director of Catholic Culture and editor for Catholic World News, called it a significant advance for homosexual activists, and a significant retreat for the Catholic Church.

Pointing out in his column that the media will be correct to concentrate on that narrative at next March’s event, Lawler identified what he said is almost certain to be the result of the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“Next year there will be only one story-line of interest to the reporters who cover the annual parade in the world’s media capital: the triumph of the gay activists,” Lawler wrote.

“Photographers will be competing for the one ‘money’ shot: the picture of the contingent from OUT@NBCUniversal marching past the reviewing stand at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, under the benign smile of Cardinal Timothy Dolan.”

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