BIO: Sherry Hensley and her husband Fred reside in Baltimore, Maryland. They attend Bethel Apostolic Church in Havre de Grace, Maryland where Buddy Flosser is Pastor. Sherry is a Pro-Life Speaker in Maryland and she enjoys inspiring others and sharing her faith.
How Does It Feel To Be Adopted?
Conceived In Rape, But I Am Loved
I was born April 16, 1973, and I grew up in a Strong Christian Home and I have an older Brother who is adopted and as I was old enough to understand My Wonderful Parents read to me in the form of a story about The Family that Grew by Florence Rondell. It was a story about being adopted. It was not kept as a secret from me. I was taught to Love the Lord and at the tender young age of 7. I always felt that it was special to be adopted twice: by God and also by my parents.
As I grew older like most adoptees, I began to think about who do I look like, where do I get some of my characteristics, why was I placed for adoption. I also felt that there was a little piece of my life that I wanted to know.
I struggled for many years with wanting to find my birthparents because I did not want to hurt my parents that God blessed me with.
Well for medical reasons, wanting to know more about myself and I wanted to thank my birthmother for choosing life. I told my Mom and Dad that I was going to get the Non-ID information regarding my “closed” adoption. The day finally came when the packet arrived in the mail. I was nervous and excited all at the same time. I waited until my husband got home from work to open it. That evening in January of 2008, I opened the package, and we read it together. I was amazed as to what I was reading. As I read about my birthmother having taught children who had cerebral palsy, I felt so proud of her!
The packet did not give very much information about my birthfather other than on one of the pages in big letters it said, “Alleged Father.” That is when I got the feeling that something bad had happened.
After my husband and I finished reading the information, he told me he wanted for us to get to know my birthmother more, inspiring me to search for her. I called my parents, and I told them that I was going to continue to search for my birthmother.
I wrote my birthmother an outreach statement without any names and emailed it to my caseworker. Several days went by and the days felt more like years. I continued to pray that God would work the situation out because I wanted to know who she was so I could thank her for choosing life.
The day finally came when I received a phone call from my caseworker. She said she had talked with my birthmother, and that she wanted to have contact with me! The caseworker told me that before she could give me all of the information, my birthmother wanted me to know the truth: my birthmother was raped.
The day I heard that I was conceived in rape, I chose not to become angry or bitter about my beginnings, and I chose to love my birthfather. Why did I choose to love my birthfather who is a rapist? Because Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins, as well as the sins of my birthfather. I chose to love him through the love of Jesus Christ. That day, God also gave to me a heart filled with so much love and compassion for my birthmother for what she’d endured!
It was several weeks later after my birthmother was raped that she discovered she was pregnant. When she told her mother that she was pregnant, her mother was not thrilled with the turn of events and gave my birthmother three weeks to get out of the house. Her father had passed away, and so no one else was there to protect and defend her.
She then went to live at a home for unwed mothers, and it was there that my birthmother started her healing process. The question went through her mind: what am I to do with this baby? My birthmother had to make a decision. She had no job, no permanent place to live, was not married, and no support from family. My birthfather, of course, was out of the picture. In fact, she didn’t even know my birthfather’s name.
Her aunt though had an idea: she could arrange for her to have an illegal abortion with a doctor in Michigan (this was before Roe V Wade.)
However, my birthmother knew that there was life growing inside of her womb –Life given by God and a gift from God. My birthmother said her favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” She did not want to disrupt the plans that God had for the tiny life who was growing inside of her. When she decided to place me for adoption, her one request to the social worker was that her baby be placed in a strong Christian home.
I am also truly thankful for the way that my birthmother loved me. What she did was an act of pure love, and I am so grateful that I was able to be a gift to my Mom and Dad.
When I was born, my birthmother had some complications. We both remained in the hospital for a week before she went home, and I was released to my foster parent’s house. God blessed my birthmother with one week to love, care for and hold her baby girl she’d named Rebecca Ann. My birthmother and I were released from the hospital on the same day, and she said she then placed me into the hands of God.
When I got in contact with my birthmother, she told me, “I have always loved you, and you were the beginning of my healing process.” She also said what a lot of people don’t realize – that the baby who is conceived out of rape becomes a strong healing force in the situation. Why? Because out of something horrific and traumatic comes a precious human being, and the Giver of Life brings healing to the one who suffered.
The day I received the information from my caseworker that my birthmother wanted to meet me, a feeling of completeness came over me, as well as a great love which I have for my birthmother.
I sent my birthmother an email the night of Feb 5th, 2008. In the morning, I checked my inbox and was excited to see that I had an email from her which included a picture of her and her family. I have a half-brother and a step-sister. We exchanged further emails, and I called her and we chatted for a bit. It was a relief to know we were on the same page. She said, “Okay we need to talk about when we can meet.” My parents and my husband know me well, and that is the exact way that I would have said it! So we worked it out, and we had the day set for May 21st & 22nd, 2008, as I was going to be home to spend some time with my parents for a vacation.
After almost 35 years, the day finally came that my mom, my dad, my husband and I got to meet my birthmother and half-brother. We met them at the hotel where we were staying, sat by the pool chatting, then went to a nice dinner. My birthmother had my half-brother pray over the food. Well, he prayed and he also thanked God for the reunion between his mom and her daughter. I about cried because of the immense joy I felt at that moment.
After dinner, we went to her house, and I got to see pictures of her when she was younger, and I looked so much like her! It was surreal. Genetics are wild.
The next day was pleasant as well, spending the afternoon with her, touring her hometown, looking at more photos. She gave me a picture to keep, as well as a copy of the family lineage, which is so precious to have! I felt so blessed to spend time with her like that. I told her I felt I have met an older sister. My birthmother is a special friend to me, and I thank God for allowing me to have contact with her; and also for allowing me learn more about myself.
Yes, my biological great aunt wanted me to be aborted, but my birthmother chose life, and I was protected by law from an illegal abortion. God was faithful to my birthmother’s prayer: I was raised in a wonderful Christian home where faith was taught, and it was real.
My husband was reading a book by TD Jakes titled “Reposition Yourself Living Life Without Limits”. One of the things that this book mentions is “We often meet someone who reveals a new piece of the puzzle of who we are.”
That is so true. The year before I met my birth mother, my husband met a half-sister he never knew about for the first time and a cousin for the first time.
I think if my story would have been different and I wouldn’t have met my wonderful husband and I wouldn’t have met the wonderful people that have been a part of my life down through the years.
I am grateful to God for the family he gave me, a loving husband who I adore so much, and the tight-knit church family that he gave me. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I was conceived in rape, but I am loved.
Sherry Hensley, Adult Adoptee