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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Julie Ralph

My 7-year-old son found porn on his iPod, even with a filter

Julie Ralph
By Julie Ralph

A few weeks ago an article went viral on my Facebook feed entitled “The Day My 10-Year-Old Discovered Hardcore Porn on his iPhone.”  As one Mom after another shared and commented about how frightening and horrible it was and wondered what do we do to prevent it, I commented on several of those shares (perhaps a little smugly and proudly) that WE had installed an excellent filtering program on all of our devices that even filters YouTube.  I most likely left the impression that WE have no worries in this house, that our kids can watch their iPods and kindles, even those annoying Minecraft how to videos on YouTube, and WE don’t have to worry about them seeing filth. 

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG.

I could have entitled this blog post “The Day My 7-Year-Old Discovered Porn on His iPod” but it might look like I’m trying to one-up that other Mom.  Which I’m not.  Because, trust me, this is one Mom competition I’d rather lose. 

This is no longer a battle friends, it’s an all-out war.  It’s a war we’re fighting for the minds and futures of our children.

So YES we have this supposedly great and awesome filter on all of our devices and we pay about $70 a year for it.   Look, I’ve been on my computer trying to shop for a swimsuit at Lands End and the filter blocked me.  Annoying, yes.  But assuring.  I remember thinking wow….if I can’t even get on here and see the tummy-sucking-miracle-fat-hiding-mawmaw-swimsuits, my boys will NEVER be able to discover Victoria or her Secret.   And I’ve been on YouTube trying to see how to quickly defrost CHICKEN breasts, and it blocked several videos AND ads that probably had nothing to do with fowl or a thawing method.  Again I remember thinking, good.  This is really good.  Nothing to worry about.

Then last night happened.

My youngest son was visibly shaken as he was getting ready for bed.  I knew something was wrong when I saw he was wearing his flannel pajamas with the mountain bears printed all over them on one of the hottest August nights this month.   He seemed almost disoriented and I asked him if he was sick as he was trying to quickly crawl into bed and pull the covers over his head.   He then reached over to the bedside table, grabbed his little iPod, and tossed it to me saying he doesn’t deserve it anymore because he is bad.  “I’m bad, so bad….I saw bad things.”  My heart started racing and I felt like I had been punched in the gut.  Because I knew where this was going.  Very calmly and quietly I assured him he was not bad and there was nothing in the world he could ever tell me that would make me think he was bad.  “What did you see, sweetheart?” I asked.  After about ten minutes of me coaxing it out of him, with a wobbly still-tiny-smidge-of-baby-left voice he told me he was searching for a word he had heard and he spelled it for me.  T-t-i-s.  (I quickly unscrambled and knew what he meant).  He went on to tell me he searched for this on YouTube (the app is not even on his iPod….he must go through the “filter” app to access it!).   He told me he saw pictures and videos.

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My stomach turned.  I ran through all the “How To” files I’d stored away in my mind.  You know those files….situations you’ve thought about as a Mom and how you’d handle…you file them away for another day.  Usually one you hope will never come.   Turns out I didn’t have a file for this.  Because I honestly thought we had done everything on the front end to keep it from happening. 

I ran my fingers through his hair and pulled him close and started talking to him from my broken heart.  I asked him if he knew what that word meant before he searched for it.  He said no.  I told him it is a very crude and ugly word for something that is not crude and ugly.  I told him what the proper word is and I asked him if he knew why God made them like that on women?  He said no.  I told him it was the miraculous and wonderful way that God made women able to feed their babies.  I told him how every woman who has those is made to feed a baby, and those women in those pictures and videos are either already someone’s Mommy or they will be one day.  And what God meant for a beautiful purpose is twisted and made into something very wrong and ugly by those pictures and videos.

Don’t trust some computer geek working for a software company to care a flip for or protect your kids.

We continued to talk and then we prayed together and I left him to sleep as I walked back to my room for a sleepless night.  I cried for the ugly, messed up, twisted, and sick world out there that I can’t protect my children from.  I cried for what he had seen that I couldn’t un-see for him.  I cried because I had abdicated MY parenting duties to some stupid computer software that I thought would protect my children.  I cried because I can never get back that bit of innocence he lost way, way too early.  I cried as I went onto YouTube, put in that same search and saw just the thumbnails of what he had to have seen.  I just can’t bring myself to actually click on the videos.  I cried because, when I went in to check on him later, he was curled up with Big Bear in one arm and his little blue and white checked blanket in the other.  He’s still a baby. 

I’m mad now.  And I really hope my anger continues to burn because I need it to fuel my diligence.   I need my guard to be up and to stay up.  This is no longer a battle friends, it’s an all-out war.  It’s a war we’re fighting for the minds and futures of our children.  I know there are those who would say I’m being overly dramatic, that I can’t put my children in a bubble, blah blah blah.  I don’t care.  I will do whatever it takes to protect my children until their minds, bodies and emotions are better prepared to grasp, filter, and sort through the warped and ugly parts of our world that are pulling on them.  I will continue to pull back and hold on for dear life.   Don’t do as I did, friends.  Don’t trust some computer geek working for a software company to care a flip for or protect your kids.  Do as I am doing now.  Uninstall any and all browsers or video apps on your kids’ personal devices and set the restrictions where they can’t install apps anymore without asking you first.   Have one central computer in a public area of your home that they may use, with permission, and still with filter software installed.  But remember that’s not the first line of defense in this war.

You are.

Julie Ralph blogs at Mommy, Esquire, where this piece was originally published.

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Sen. Ted Cruz's wife douses him with water as part of the Ice Bucket challenge for ALS research. Youtube
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Sen. Ted Cruz: Do the ALS challenge, donate to pro-life institute

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By Dustin Siggins

One of the nation's most prominent senators is doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge -- but encouraging donations to a pro-life ALS research institute.

In the last month, the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, sponsored by the ALS Association, has raised tens of millions of dollars for research for the disease, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. However, in mid-August pro-life leaders raised awareness that the Association supports embryonic stem-cell research.

Embryonic stem-cell research includes the destruction of a human embryo, and is thus condemned by pro-life advocates as an abortion. The Association has said it currently has one project that uses embryonic stem cells, funded by an outside donor.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Cruz -- who took the challenge last week -- said that he and his wife "are proud to personally support the John Paul II Medical Research Institute the Home of Give Cures (http://jp2mri.org), which conducts groundbreaking research into curing this terrible disease, without using embryonic stem cells."

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"The JPII Institute respects human life, and is working to improve the lives of all of us," said Cruz. 

The ALS Association has said donors may specify their dollars not be used to fund embryonic stem-cell research. However, critics note that donated funds are fungible, meaning they potentially free up funds the Association can then direct to illicit research.

At least two Catholic dioceses have encouraged Ice Bucket Challenge participants to donate to the JPII Medical Institute.

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7989 West Virginia Drive, Dallas, where Planned Parenthood is working on secretly opening up a new abortion facility. Google Streetview
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Pro-abortion study: Texas will be down to eight abortion clinics by fall

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By Dustin Siggins

A study by a pro-abortion research group shows that Texas will be down from 41 abortion clinics in July 2013 to eight by this fall.

In July, the Texas Policy Evaluation Project found that six abortion clinics matched the standards required in HB2, which was signed into law 13 months ago. Those standards include requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of clinics at which they work, a standard already in place, and a requirement that all abortion clinics must upgrade their facilities to the same standards as ambulatory surgery centers.

The study estimates that a total of eight clinics will be able to meet the ambulatory standards, including one that will open in the fall. The standards take effect on September 1. According to the study, this means there will be one abortion clinic for every one million Texans who could become pregnant. An infographic from the study shows that the existing clinics will be located on the eastern half of the state, largely near metropolitan areas.

The study's results, published in the peer-reviewed journal Contraception, have abortion supporters outraged. Andrea Grimes of RH Reality Check writes, "No legal abortion facilities will operate south or west of San Antonio," and that five of the clinics will be operated by Planned Parenthood.

However, the closure of so many clinics is good news to pro-life activists like Karen Garnett, who heads the Catholic Pro-Life Committee in the Diocese of Dallas.

"The closing of abortion facilities in Texas the last few years has been the result of the owners of the facilities themselves not being willing or able to comply with the higher standards of medical safety" required by the Texas legislature, Garnett told LifeSiteNews. "Pro-life activists and leaders in Dallas (and Texas) have been working vigilantly with the members of the Texas legislature the last few years to pass these sensible laws.  There is much to be said for the power of prayer, particularly through the powerful 40 Days for Life campaign and prayer vigils."

While abortion supporters claim Texas is abandoning pregnant women, Garnett said the Catholic Pro-Life Committee in Dallas has "helped more than 7,500 mothers choose life outside the abortion facilities," but "we don't stop there."

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"Our Project Gabriel Ministry takes the next step. For those mothers needing and desiring spiritual, emotional and material help, we offer Gabriel Angels, who are paired with them in a one-on-one mentoring and support relationship. We also have a Gabriel Resource Coordinator on staff to help them with practical needs as their situations stabilize." Life skills classes, adoption counseling, and partnerships with pregnancy centers are also part of the Diocese's work to help pregnant mothers.

Jor-El Godsey of Heartbeat International said that there are 326 pregnancy help organizations across the state, which outnumber abortion clinics by approximately 40 to 1. He estimated that approximately 120,000 pregnant women have come to care centers in 2014.

The Texas Policy Evaluation Project, which is funded by an anonymous donor, is a five-year effort to "analyze the impact of the measures affecting reproductive health passed by the 82nd and 83rd Texas Legislatures." The project's partners include the University of Texas at Austin’s Population Research Center, the pro-abortion Ibis Reproductive Health, and the University of Alabama-Birmingham. One of the project's investigators is Daniel Grossman, whose biography says that "his current research at Ibis includes both clinical and social science studies aimed at improving access to contraception and safe abortion."

The project has also published reports titled "The Public Health Threat of Anti-Abortion Legislation," and "Finding the Twitter Users that Stood With Wendy." The latter examined social media support for gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, who briefly became a national figure for her support of late-term abortions in 2013.

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