Ronan’s Story: A story of love and adoption

December 22, 2014 1 Comments
*Updated 01/27/2017*

Today is my little monsters 5th birthday. Because of this, I want to share with you something personal; his story. This isn’t at all how I thought my life would turn out, but I couldn’t be happier or more blessed with how the Lord has worked all things together for His good. I never thought adoption, and life would be part of my life story.

I certainly never thought the adoption of my own child would be a huge part of my story. Much less the man who I am so lucky to call my husband.
I graduated from college in 2008 in Missouri. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with my life. I had a degree in ministry with a little business thrown in there. My last two years of college I worked full time at a clothing retail store, I was responsible for setting up the displays and putting out the new product. I loved my job actually. I got to work with some great people that still hold a very special place in my heart. Mostly because they put up with how immature I was at the time! I decided to stay with the business and move to Florida. I cannot tell you what possessed me to do this outside of this job, a guy (who I did not marry) and a lost sense of direction.
I spent a whopping 5 months in Florida. I hated it. The boss I had was young, snarky, rude and intimidated by how long I’d been with the company (she was an outside hire). Because of that she was so mean to me. I should have just sucked it up; we all have bosses like that at some points. What I didn’t expect, from that stint, was how lonely I would be. I’m a pretty social person. I like being around others, I like interacting with others, another reason why retail and I got along so well!
When I moved back I had some leads on a job, but nothing solid. Moving before securing a job was stupid on my part. I moved back using my credit card as if I wasn’t in debt enough as it was. I was barely making it and I decided to move, lose my deposit on my apartment in Florida, all without a concrete job waiting for me. Horrible decision. Stupid decision! I went back to my friends and my family and cried to my parents who weren’t even living in Missouri at that time! I went to probably 15 interviews and filled out roughly 50 applications over the next 6 weeks. Living on credit and what money my parents could spare. Nothing was going right. My life was a mess.
I finally landed an “almost full-time” job at another retail clothing store. My hours were capped at 30 which were barely enough to break even with my bills, not to mention what I now owed my parents. I was so lost. I had no idea what to do with myself. I found a roommate to move in with and split the costs of living with. To put it kindly and mildly, it was another disaster. Sure my rent was cheaper, but that might have been one of the few perks of that situation. With her came alcohol, with her came clubs with her came more frivolous spending. It was a nightmare. I felt like I was drowning in bad decisions. I didn’t feel like I had a path to follow and I didn’t feel like I could turn to anyone. I was trying to connect with my church, but on the outside I looked like I had my life together, so they didn’t give me a second look. I even went so far as to ask several ladies out for coffee, tea, or just to hang out and talk. I wanted direction, I wanted an older lady in the church to guide me and not one lady would give me even 10 minutes of their time.
This was on of the things that was possibly the more painful things about this situation. I felt like I was crying out for help and guidance and no lady wanted to step up and mentor a younger lady in the church (me), just like it says in Titus. That made my self-worth plummet even more. What really hardened my heart for a time was that so many women in my church came up to me after it came out that I was pregnant and said “oh I knew you were struggling, but I just didn’t know what to say/do/didn’t have time etc”. I realize that I am responsible for my own decisions, but I always wonder if one of them would have listened to God calling them to speak with me, or listened to my cries for connection that things would have turned out differently.
During this time, I reconnected with an acquaintance from college. We weren’t friends, we hung out a handful of times but he was there. I had just broken up with a guy and my acquaintance was a rebound. He was in the right place at the right time. One thing led to another and I find myself 23, pregnant, broke and scared out of my mind. When I told him I was pregnant his first question was “what are you going to do?” …um… I don’t KNOW!!!
I have never been a kid person; I still am not to be honest. I don’t like working with kids, I don’t like being around a bunch of them. That’s just not where I was meant to be in life. I never thought I would have a child, not ever. I didn’t want any of my own, I was content to have a dog and a spouse and call it good. Alas, my life decisions said differently. Hello Consequences. When I took that second and third pregnancy test I just cried. I curled up on my bathroom floor and cried, then in my shower and cried, then cried all the way to Planned Parenthood. Yep, you heard that right. The Pastor’s daughter went right to Planned Parenthood. I didn’t know where else to go. It was still early enough to make this situation “go- away”. My first thought was “my parents are going to disown me; they’re going to kill me”. I sat in the Planned Parenthood parking lot for 45 minutes before I had the nerve to go in. I was shaking so bad I looked like a meth addict. I sat in the lobby area for another 15 minutes before a nurse came to the counter and curtly asked what I needed.
Trigger Warning:
(I realize that there are many out there that are very pro-choice and pro-planned parenthood. I’m not here to argue with you, but I’m just sharing my thoughts and opinions. They may not match up with your opinions and that’s ok. I agree that Planned Parenthood gives many women services that they couldn’t get otherwise. My main issue with planned parenthood is [from what I understand]  uses federal funding to perform abortions. Having to pay out of your own pocket is one of the unintended consequences if your decisions. I believe that life begins at conception. The baby has a heartbeat at 21-28 days after fertilization. How can you tell me that a baby, with a heartbeat, is not a “real baby”? There are so many other families’s out there that would love to adopt a child.  ANYWAY! Moving on.)
So, What do I say to this nurse? “I’m thinking of killing my unborn baby?”… “I made some stupid decisions so I want to run from the consequences?”… “Help me, my parents are going to disown me if this gets out?”. There were literally a million and three different things that I could have said. I leaned in close and whispered that I wanted to talk to someone about the abortion pill. She said, “oh good, let me get some information from you. We don’t do that here, but our office in Columbia does. Here is their number.” I think she could tell that I was terrified. She placed her hand on top of mine and said: “it’s going to be OK; you’re doing the right thing.” I almost believed her.
I called the Columbia office and spoke to a lady to set up an appointment. I was barely 4 weeks along by now and the appointment was 5 weeks away. By that time, I would be close enough to 10 weeks along for the pill to work. Then a light bulb went off in my head. Columbia was close to Kansas City! I was due to fly out of Kansas City in 6 weeks to go back home for a few weeks. I could go to Columbia, get things “taken care of”, fake the flu and be on my way home to recover. It was the perfect plan, but a little too perfect.
One thing my parents had always taught me is that “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” I don’t think I slept for days. Actually I take that back. I slept all the time, I was pregnant for crying out loud, but I spent most of my nights staring at the ceiling.  Something just didn’t sit right with me, as well it shouldn’t have! Abortion is a horrendous thing. I truly believe that it is taking another humans life. I truly believe that it is murder. Again friends, you don’t have to agree with me. We can have a difference of opinion and still be friends.  However, you get any person, who is scared, with little money and few options they will consider anything. Trust me. How could I harm this baby? It’s not his fault I was an idiot. It’s not his fault that I made a bad decision. It wasn’t his fault that I wasn’t thinking clearly, or even on birth control. It was mine! The Bible is very straight forward that babies are a blessing. The Bible doesn’t lie! I couldn’t do that to this little person inside me. He didn’t deserve to die because of my pride, shame and bad decisions.
The same day I found out I was pregnant and went to Planned Parenthood, I went to see a friend and co-worker. I spent two hours in her living room bawling my eyes out. The thought of telling my parents and disappointing them was excruciating. With the emotional support of my sister and her husband, I made that phone call. It was just as painful as I thought it would be. It was days before I heard from them again. Although it was understandable, it was still painful. At this point, I started looking into adoption. Again, was giving up my child worth it to save my pride? I prayed long and hard for the right answers. I prayed for the Lord to give me answers as to what I should do. His still small voice just says, “Be still. Be quiet. Be a mom.” While adoption wasn’t for me, it can be a beautiful thing for other families.
My friend urged me to go to the pregnancy resource center in town. It was a non-profit organization that focused on empowering men and women to be better parents. They have emotional, medical and physical resources. I made an appointment with them soon after. What I found there was incredible. The emotional support of the staff was heartwarming. They didn’t judge me. They didn’t turn down their noses. They were helpful. The classes the offered sounded weird at first, but I figured if I’m going to do this “mom thing” I’d better start learning what to do with a child. Along with the educational classes, I found myself in a mentorship/counseling type class with a few different ladies. I wasn’t thrilled about this honestly, but it was kind of necessary. The love and compassion I got from those ladies were astounding. They kept telling me “God gave you this child for a reason and this child will be one of the biggest blessings you ever get in this life.” Boy were they right!
So what does a knocked up girl do with half a job, no money and no idea about what to do with a baby!? Those were my thoughts for weeks before my parents graciously offered to let me move back in with them. Talk about a tumultuous decision. I’m 23! I had a college degree and I was moving back in with my parents. I know that was really my only option. So I started planning the trip back to Alaska. I had way too much stuff so I started with garage sales to sell anything that I didn’t want to keep long term. I am so thankful that my parents opened their home to Ronan and I. I am scared to think of where we would be if they hadn’t or if I let my pride get in the way and didn’t move up there.
The rest of my furniture that I didn’t want to or couldn’t sell went into a storage unit. I mailed a few of my must-have things (being my books) and packed the rest in my little 4-door Suzuki and hit the open road. By myself. 6 months pregnant. I gave my dog to some friends, said good bye to friends and family and took off. I had an atlas and beef jerky, ginger-ale, and some audio books to keep me company. It was the longest, loneliest ride I’ve ever taken. I laughed, I cried, I sobbed, I pulled off the road and slept when I needed too. Yes, I did have to stop and pee every hour just about. It’s hard to stay hydrated while you’re driving across the country. It’s even harder to get across the country when you have to stop and pee every hour.
I drove from Missouri to Oregon in 3 days, then to Oregon to Bellingham, Washington in one day to make it to the ferry. I would spend another two days on the ferry to make it to Ketchikan Alaska then another 90-minute ferry to make it to the Island that my parents lived on. What a culture change.
I’ve lived in Alaska for most of my life. It’s home! I will always consider it home. My heart hurts to be away and longs to be able to go back and settle into a comfortable life there. But this town was different. The island is considered an Indian Reserve and so life is extremely different than the outside world. It’s like living in a bubble where the rules of society and laws don’t apply. It was interesting, to say the least. I spent the next two years there working for my parents and the church in exchange for just enough money to break even on my bills. I cooked, cleaned, planned events at church, cleaned the church, did secretarial work and of course took care of Ronan etc. At first, it was just to keep busy so I wouldn’t be alone with my thoughts, but after a while, I began to really enjoy the work.
Fast forward to December 2009; I’d be living on the island since August. I was on state assistance and Medicaid because I didn’t have a job. No employer in their right mind was going to hire a girl who is 6+ months pregnant. Not that I looked it. I’m not flaunting my tiny bump, but I kid you not I didn’t even look pregnant until about 7 months. I hid it very well. Honestly, I think it was a psychosomatic thing. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was pregnant; the shame was overwhelming. So I wore baggy shirts, which thankfully, were in style at the time. If you know anything about Alaska, you know that Xtra-Tuffs and Hoodies are a stable among Alaskans. Hoodies also helped hide my bump until I was in Alaska and felt safe and excepted to let it show. No one I worked with knew I was pregnant until much later.
Because the island was so small I had to take the 90-minute ferry to a bigger city that had a hospital on it for all my OBGYN appointments. I had to line up with my car around 0630-0700, drive my car on the ferry and wait 90 minutes of craziness on the ocean until we docked in Ketchikan. Ketchikan had a good sized hospital, Wal-mart, grocery stores etc. We did a lot of our bulk shopping in Ketchikan before or after my appointments. I usually went alone as my mom worked and my dad worked with the church.A big part of me felt like the shame and loneliness were part of the consequences of my actions. I know the baby boy growing inside of me wasn’t a consequence. He was the blessing, the beautiful collateral damage in this mess I had created.
The day Ronan was born was a whirlwind. I had been in Ketchikan at a hotel for about 10 days. My insurance put me up there for free so I wouldn’t give birth on the island that we lived on. They only had a small clinic and nowhere near have the facilities that were needed for child delivery. It was a Monday and I had already been in the hospital the day before because I fell down some stairs and severely sprained my ankle. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, 9 months old pregnant person stumbling down literally 4 stairs. If it didn’t hurt so badly it would have been comical! We had been walking for 8+ hours every day trying to speed things along. My ankle wasn’t broken, but I had an air cast on there and a lovely set of crutches. I limped for months and still have issues to this day! I went into labor around 10:30 PM and had Ronan at 2:22 AM Tuesday morning. Ronan was born on 12/22/09 at 2:22 am. Pretty cool huh?
There were some minor complications with his birth and I ended up losing a lot of blood. A surgeon had to be called up to fix the problem. I kept going in and out of sleep after they handed me, Ronan. I assume that the loss of blood was to blame for that. It was a scary hour but the Lord provided the right people at the right time to fix the problem and get Ronan and I all settled in for the night.
You’re probably wondering about Ronan’s biological dad at this point. Well, there’s not much to say. The bare minimum contact was met when it was convenient for him, but there hasn’t been much contact, especially recently. I’m ok with that. Actually, I find it a blessing. It’s been a bit of a legal mess, to be honest, but I can see the Lord blessing through that also. He works all things for good to those that love HIM!
I moved back to Missouri when Ronan was 2. I got a good 8-5 job that kind of fell in my lap; another blessing from the Lord. It wasn’t retail like I was expecting to find, but an office job with normal hours. It allowed me to put Ronan in daycare during normal hours in a warm, Christian environment that taught him numbers, letters and colors. Yet another blessing from the Lord!! It was difficult to pay someone to raise my child because I had to work a normal job. I cried on my way to work, after dropping him off, for the first 8 weeks easily. I learned to run errands on my lunch break so I could spend as much time with Ronan after work and school (what Ronan called daycare). We took weekend trip to Kansas City to see my sister and lots of trips to Bass Pro! Seriously, it’s like a free zoo! Fantastic Saturday outing. I was living it pay check to pay check, but I was making it. I was exhausted all the time, but I was making it. The bills were paid and I had a happy child. What else could I possibly ask for?
This kid. Any one that knows him knows what a character he is. His intelligence leaves me speechless more times than I care to admit. He keeps everyone laughing all the time. He is so sensitive and sweet! I can’t say enough good things about this kid. We’ve had our trials as all parents have, but his sweet spirit and love for learning and trying new things always amaze me. I couldn’t have been blessed with a better kid than Ronan. He walks right into your heart as soon as he walks in the door and leaves a Ronan size hole whenever he leaves. To say that he is precious just doesn’t cut it.
Then I reconnected with my now husband. Our story is odd, but I love it. I met him in Alaska ages ago, seriously like 10 years ago. We instantly made a connection over coffee and both being pastors kids. We kept in touch for a few years then I went to college and he deployed for the first time to Iraq and life got in the way and we lost touch. I had tried to find him a few times via Facebook (aka stalkbook) but to no avail; until December of 2012. He finally had created an account; about stinking time! I added him as a friend and left the ball in his court on if he wanted to initiate contact again. It’d been so long and so much had happened that it was a shot in the dark. Needless to say, he wrote me a long message and we’ve been talking ever since!
We got married November 8th, 2013. It was a truly magical day. His job allowed me to be the stay-at-home mother that I’d always wanted to be. Tim was the last piece of our family puzzle. He completed my little family in such a way that I could never have imagined. He has taken Ronan as his own and loved Ronan more than I ever thought a father could love a son. It’s hilarious to see them playing legos together and fighting imaginary dragons and pretend room clearing with a little plastic dollar store rifle. What else would you expect from a Firearms Instructor and his child!
I tell you this story because it’s such a special one. Ronan is special. Ronan was my rock for so long. He is what grounded me into adulthood. He forced me to mature in ways that I’d been avoiding. I’m so thankful for that! Tim has allowed me to share my load. Playing mom and dad is tough. Having someone to help me with Ronan and step into that father figure roll is possibly the greatest thing ever. I don’t have to be everything anymore. I just get to be a mom; the greatest job there is.
So my reason for telling you this crazy personal story is this. Children are special. Ronan is so special! The Lord has blessed Ronan’s life in a way that just amazes me on a day to day basis. I was petrified to have a child alone, I had the wonderful support of family and friends to help me in very practical ways. I thank God daily that he put those people in my life when he needed it. The Lord knew exactly what I needed and when. I cannot tell you why the Lord has blessed me with Ronan or my life, with Tim, since he came into it. I didn’t deserve it then and I still don’t now! The only thing that I know is that I am a Child of the King that ran from his laws and ways. I had some gnarly consequences but was ultimately blessed with the best little boy a mom could ask for.
*Update!* As of February 26th, 2016, my husband has officially adopted Ronan. Our adoption is complete! After 2+ years of a legal battle we are finally finished and able to move on with our lives. I think what meant the most about this day is that it meant nothing to Ronan. It was just another day with Dad, Mom, and little brother! I couldn’t have asked for a better example of a father to my son. As of August 2015, Ronan has a little brother named Killian that he loves more than anything in the world. My little family is complete thanks to God’s sweet mercy.
Last, but not least. I’m calling out the CHURCH OF GOD. It’s time to step up. It’s time to get off the pew and get your hands dirty. All people are responsible for their own actions, but I truly believe that if more people stepped up to disciple and INVEST in the lives of young people and young believers that there would be less unplanned pregnancy and pregnancy out of wedlock. I believe that drives so many women and men to Planned Parenthood is the lack of a better option in their area. If there isn’t a pregnancy resource center in your area maybe YOU should start one. I’ve seen it done. FAMILIES OF THE CHURCH OF GOD, we shouldn’t be pro-life, and anti-child. Just because a young woman chooses life doesn’t mean that your job is done! It doesn’t mean that they wont ever need help again. “Oh the woman had the baby, my work here is done.” NO! Step along side of her, guide her, teach her, HELP HER! Be Christ’s love in a practical way. Don’t just say, “Oh I’m praying for you!” and go about your day with your star bucks, fake nails, Lularoe Leggings, and MK purses. BE PRACTICAL! Bring her diapers, formula, watch the baby so she can take a nap! Help her make it to the well-child appointments. Bring her groceries! DISCIPLE HER! INVEST IN HER! You will not only change her life, but you will change the life of that little child.
Will you be put out? Yes. Will you be inconvenienced? Yes. Will it be eternally worth it? Absolutely. But it’s what the Bible tells us to do. I truly believe that if the church was doing what it was supposed to do that we wouldn’t have a need for Planned Parenthood, Public Housing Assistance, Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance etc. This is the Church’s job, not the governments.
I want to challenge you to get your hands dirty.

Nila Rhoades

1 Comment

  1. Reply

    Joyce Summers

    December 22, 2015

    We Love you.