Editors note: I asked Unconditionally Her reader and Women Survivors Alliance supporter Jen Niederwerfer to share her story about adopting her precious son – from the perspective of a cancer survivor – as we celebrate children during the month of September. Her story is below.
It had been my lifelong dream to become a mom. My husband and I prayed about God’s timing as to when to have kids. The answer we kept getting was..WAIT. When I turned 40 we were tired of waiting, and my biological clock was ticking. We decided it was time to try and get pregnant. The very week we decided to try and get pregnant, is the very same week I was diagnosed with Stage II, aggressive, hormone-fed breast cancer. I was shocked to say the least. In a matter of moments, my life as I knew it, turned upside down. I had to put the idea of having kids to the side, and take measures to save my life. I had to have a double mastectomy (with reconstruction), chemo, and radiation. One of my first questions I had for my oncologist was, “Will I be able to get pregnant after my chemo treatment?” It was too overwhelming emotionally for me to ask, so my husband had to. She said, “sometimes you can, and sometimes you can’t.” At that moment I had to trust God with HIS plan, and not mine.
Then, as if I didn’t have enough to deal with, five weeks after chemo was done, and four days before I was to start radiation, I wrecked my motorcycle, and broke both of my legs. Still, I trusted God with my journey! It was starting to become more clear as to why God told us to WAIT to have kids. My amazing hubby, who stood by my side and took great care of me during all this, would have had a hard time also taking care of children too.
My oncologist told me I had to wait two years after chemo was finished to even think about trying to get pregnant. I went to the fertility clinic to get tests done to see if chemo had “zapped” my eggs. The results were, yes, chemo had “zapped” my eggs. I was devastated! It felt like my world was crashing in around me. All my life I had wanted to be a mom. It seemed as if that dream was completely crushed by chemo. Take my breasts, fine, take my hair, fine; but take away my ability to have kids, that made me very angry! I came home and stood in the room that was to be a nursery, and cried out to God! I didn’t understand! He had promised me I would be a mom. Now what?!?
I work for the Department of Children services, so being a foster parent has too much red tape. Adoption is too expensive. So I kept praying about my options, which seemed to be none. God told me to wait, and that He had a plan.
One month after finding out I couldn’t have children, I found a ministry called Jonah’s Journey. They are a ministry that is an alternative to state custody for children. Their main ministry is working with mom’s who are in prison and give birth. Instead of that baby coming into custody, Care Givers (trained foster parents) from Jonah’s Journey take that sweet baby in and take care of it, and love on the mama, with the goal of reunification! In reading up on the ministry, I immediately felt like this is what God had for me! To be the hands and feet of Jesus to a baby and its mama. To show the mama unconditional love like God has for us! This was God’s answer to my lifelong prayer of wanting to be a mommy! This was HIS PROMISE! My husband and I went to an interest meeting to find out more about this ministry. I cried all the way through it. This is it! God was clearly speaking to us, that this is the path He had chosen for us. We went through the application process, including a home study. We were ready to see what God had for us through this ministry.
We were matched up with a mama, met her on a Friday, and she gave birth to a sweet baby boy on Monday, Aug. 10, 2015. We picked him up from the hospital when he was four days old. He immediately stole our hearts! We decided to give him the nickname of “Lil T”. It was so surreal to bring him home from the hospital, and to become a mommy instantly! It felt so natural! I had waited my whole life for this moment. If I had not gone through my cancer journey, I would not be walking this journey with this sweet little boy and his mama. As God promised, He had a plan. A plan that was better than I could ever imagine! A plan that could also, along the way change two other people’s lives also.
This sweet little boy is now 13 months old. I had many sleepless nights, and have been very busy being a mommy. I have watched him meet all of his milestones, and documented them along the way with pictures and videos. He is walking, learning to talk, loves to play, loves to laugh, loves music, especially worship, and is very outgoing. I love him as if he was my own. I couldn’t have ever imagined the joy and elation I am feeling today, being a mama to this sweet baby boy.
I reflect back to that moment when I was devastated after finding out I couldn’t have kids, when I thought my lifelong dream of becoming a mama had been ripped from be because of cancer. Little did I know, God had a plan, better than I could ever imagine! I also absolutely love showing unconditional love to his mama. Something she has never had! She has told me over and over again, how thankful she is for what we are doing. How, when she met us, we immediately became family. It isn’t always the easiest journey, but it is well worth it!