I am so privileged to work in the company of such godly examples and prayer warriors. It has been a great experience and the Lord has allowed me to make some truly great friendships in the work place. Below is the testimony of one of such prayer warriors and godly examples I get to talk to about the Lord daily. Enjoy!
By Janice Maxwell
On April 2, 2004 I received a phone call from someone I had wanted and waited to hear from for 34 years. I have to tell you the events that started this story in motion.
In 1967 we had moved to Georgia. I was an average kid, but my family was very dysfunctional. My father had been an alcoholic all my life, and most of his. My parents loved my older sister and me, but because my dad could not control his addiction it wreaked havoc in our lives. (My dad was delivered miraculously 10 years before his death; that’s another whole story.) We were constantly moving, either to find new work or to avoid the creditors. The only constant spiritual influence in my life was my Christian grandmother, who taught me about the love of God and how to pray.
We came to Georgia after a brief separation of my parents. They thought a new location and new start might change things, but it didn’t. By the time I was 16 I had been in 17 different schools, and four of those were high schools. The spring of 1969 found me looking for a part-time job for extra money. My mom got me a job at the fast-food restaurant where she was working. I thought I could buy my own things and that would take some of the pressure off of my parents. My parents were still not getting along. My dad was working out-of-town during the week, and my mom was lonely and frustrated. She began staying out late with friends during the week also. My sister had gotten married in February of 1969 and was happy to be out of the stress of dealing with it all. I was left to fend for myself most of the time.
I was very lonely and feeling quite unloved. So when one of the guys where I worked started paying me attention and telling me things every girl wants to hear, I thought things were going to be okay after all. But, I was wrong. I had been brought up to know right from wrong and when he wanted more than friendship and dating, my conscience bothered me and I told him I could not do these things, and that I knew it was wrong. I found myself pregnant at 16, and wondering how this could have happened to me.
I prayed, “Lord please let there just be something wrong with me.” I knew how disappointed my family would be, so I didn’t tell anyone for five months. It was making me a nervous wreck trying to pretend all was well, knowing that I could not keep a pregnancy secret. My parents suspected and took me to the doctor, who confirmed their fears. I was able to get through those difficult days by praying; “Lord help us get through tomorrow, ‘D’ day;” then my prayer was, “Lord help us get through this difficult first week.” Then I began to ask for His help everyday.
I was sent to Florence Crittenden Home for Unwed Mothers to have my baby. I didn’t actually move in, because they weren’t sure of my due date, and you had to be seven months pregnant to become a resident. I started school in the fall at the Home. The purpose of the Home was to take the problem out of the view of society, thereby protecting the identity of the family and the girl. My parents supported me, even though they were very hurt; they felt that this was the best solution. Social workers counseled me to put my baby up for adoption. They knew our family situation and kept encouraging me to consider it. They also provided financial assistance since my parents were not able to help.
I honestly felt like I would be bringing my baby home to a life of problems and unhappiness. I had no idea how I would be able to care for a baby, and I began to pray that God would provide a good home for him. I finally made the decision to allow my baby to be adopted. I felt that love alone was not enough to provide what he would need.
I turned 17 in October and my son was born on December 3. The rules were that it would be best to not see or hold your baby; not bonding would make it easier. Rules could not control the feelings though, and the fact that I had already bonded during my pregnancy. My son was small at birth and thinking he was premature, he was put in the neo-natal nursery, which provided additional care. So before I was released I was only allowed to see him through the window, once. I stood there for 45 minutes, crying, and watching him. I tried to memorize as much as possible, because I knew I might never see him again.
A month later, I signed the adoption papers. I named my son, Daniel James. I chose Daniel because it means, “God is my judge.” I prayed, “Lord I am not giving my son to the system, or to his adoptive parents, but to You.” My intent was to release him to God and pray for mercy on his life, and I truly believed that no matter what the world would say about my son or me, only God could judge us.
I prayed everyday for him. I prayed for his adoptive parents and hoped that they would raise him to know the Lord. As the years went by, I prayed for him to do well in school and to marry and be happy. I prayed for him every year on his birthday.
I wanted to be reunited with him all his life. In 1990, the State of Georgia passed a law allowing adult adoptees, 21 and older, the right to initiate a search for birthparents. My son was 21 that year and I put a Consent to Disclosure into our file, so if he chose to search, he would know I wanted to be found. In 2003, Georgia finally passed a bill allowing birthparents to initiate a search for adult adoptees. I also put my information on as many online reunion registries as I could find, in hopes that my son would look there and we would match.
On Friday, April 2, 2004, the phone rang and a guy asked to speak to Janice Maxwell. I told him, “This is she.” He said, “My name is Michael Tanner, and I have a couple of things I want to ask you.” I said, “Okay.” He said, “I have a document in my possession that is marked through with ink, but I can make out a name. Does the name ‘Daniel’ mean anything to you?”
My heart was racing, and I knew only one person who would ask me that question. I replied softly, “Mm-Hmm.” Then he said, “My birthday is 12/3/69, does this mean anything to you?”
I again replied, “Mm-Hmm.” Then he asked me, “Do you know how much I weighed?” I was finding it hard to believe I was actually hearing someone ask me these questions. When he asked if I knew how much he weighed, I almost hesitated to say it, for fear it would not be him. I actually thought, “What if I tell him, and it’s not right?” But I took a deep breath and said, “Yes, you weighed 4 lbs. 5 oz.” He then asked me “Why?” I told him “Because you were early.”
Then he said, “I think I’m your son.” I had been crying already since the first question, but I was on the floor sobbing now, and was saying, “Oh my God! Thank you God!” I was in shock. Was I really talking to my son? I couldn’t actually believe it yet. I had hoped for this phone call and had imagined that this is how it would be if it ever came, but was taken completely by surprise when I received it.
I asked him, “How did you find me?” He told me that he had looked at reunion registries online six or seven years ago, but did not find anything. His younger adopted brother had been actively searching for his birthmother and it made Michael think he might try again. He had looked online the Sunday before, and registered his information. It pulled up a match with my phone number and address. In two minutes he had my information in front of him. He discovered that we lived 2.7 miles from one another, right off the same road.
I asked him, “Did you have a good life?” He said, “Yes, I had a great life. Thank you.” I was crying non-stop and not sure now what to say. I couldn’t remember what he said his name was, so I asked him again, “What was your name?” He said, “Michael Tanner.” Then he said, “I’m on my way home from work, and I was wondering if it would be alright to stop and meet you? If you’re not ready and want to wait, that’s alright too.”
I said, “Yes, of course. I’d love to meet you.” Then I remembered about our Bible Study and told him other people would be coming by too. He said that he didn’t mind if I didn’t. I told him that I didn’t mind. He said, “I’ll be there in about 30 minutes.” I was about to tell him how to come, but he said, “I know where you live.” I didn’t realize why at the time; I didn’t know then that he had looked up our address online and got the map. He drove by our house several times that week before he called hoping to see me, and wondering how he was going to meet me.
So after 34 years of waiting and hoping that someday we would find each other; my prayers have all been answered. He was raised by a wonderful Christian couple. He had a great life. He is one of the worship leaders at his church. He’s married and has two wonderful children and one stepson. Michael has gained a whole new family who love him; my husband and me, three brothers, two sisters-in-law, two nephews and niece. We are discovering everyday how blessed we are.
He hoped that his birthmother would want to know him and would love him and love the Lord. That was one of the first questions he asked me. ‘Do you know Jesus?’ I asked him then too, and we were both thrilled to be able to say, “Yes!” As Michael said, “It is good to be astonished at the hand of God working in our lives.” We were so amazed how close we live and thankful, because we can visit whenever we want to. No more rules about bonding. We have had an awesome reunion. Welcome home, son!