My Journey to Joy

January 6, 2016

What’s It Like Raising a Child of Another Race?

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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One Sunday afternoon, I was chasing my one-year-old son around the foyer of our church building while services were taking place in the chapel. He was a bundle of energy, running in circles, climbing on and off the couches, and smiling with his beautiful smile at anyone who would look his way. As I chased him past a woman who was also waiting in the foyer, she suddenly asked, “So what’s it like, raising a child of another race?”

Her question caught me off-guard. While it’s true that my son is black and I am white, right at that moment, he wasn’t “a child of another race.” He was just my adorable child. I responded by telling her that, right then, it wasn’t any different than raising a child of the same race. He was just over a year old, so at that time in his life, “raising him” meant I changed his diapers, fed him Cheerios, cheese, apples, and milk. I tickled him, built block towers, sang songs, and, currently, chased him around the foyer at church.

Seeing past my own white privilege takes lots of patience, practice, and failures. Many times I’m so blinded by it, I don’t even know it’s there. But, don’t fool yourself. It absolutely IS there.

However, the reality is that raising a child of a different race is not the same as raising a child of your same race. Of course the basics are the same. You fiercely love them, as only a mother can. You feed them, clothe them, teach them manners, kindness, and how to look both ways before crossing the street. But, you can’t teach them what it means to be a race you don’t belong to. As a white woman, I can’t teach my son what it means to be a black man. I can read all the books, listen to all the speakers, and watch all the movies, but it won’t matter. I’ve never lived it. Seeing past my own white privilege takes lots of patience, practice, and failures. Many times I’m so blinded by it, I don’t even know it’s there. But, don’t fool yourself. It absolutely IS there.

Raising a child of another race means stepping outside of all my comfort zones: physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. It means being willing to attend activities, churches, schools, and fairs where I am the minority and my child’s race is the majority. Surrounding him with people who look like him is essential to helping him become comfortable and confident in himself.

Raising a child of another race means being willing to learn how to care for his skin and his hair in the proper way. It means researching products, styles, and methods. It means I can’t simply take him to any salon or barber shop for a haircut, because most people around my town are not familiar with how to cut his kind of hair.

Raising a child of another race means listening to the voices of the people who have lived similar experiences; whether they be transracial adoptees or simply grown men of the same race as my son. It’s realizing that their stories are hard to hear. It’s realizing that I can’t protect my son from many of the things the world will throw at him because of his race. It’s realizing that these things may make me feel uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean I can ignore them.

Raising a child of another race means being the “poster family” for adoption. It means we are looked at, recognized, and questioned about our child and our family every where we go. It means being willing to navigate those questions with respect to our child’s privacy. It means being okay with the fact that, according to the world, we don’t “match.”

Raising a child of another race means being the “poster family” for adoption. It means we are looked at, recognized, and questioned about our child and our family every where we go.

Raising a child of another race means having my eyes opened to the world around me; both the good and the bad. It means experiencing things in a way I never have before. It means that familiar sayings, jokes, songs, and stories that meant nothing to me previously suddenly become racist. It means being willing to stand up for my child in the face of ignorance and educate those around me. It means learning to be courageous.

Raising a child of another race means that some nights, I lie in bed and cry over what was reported in the news that day. It means I worry about the kinds of things that will happen to him as he gets older. It means I know I have to prepare him for the world he will go into. It means I feel excitement for the great things he will accomplish, and fear that he will be held back from accomplishing them.

If I ever get another chance to answer the question of “What’s it like to raise a child of another race?” I know what I’ll say:

“Raising a child of another race means that I have learned more about life, love, and the world around me than I ever anticipated. It means knowing, without a doubt, that God created each of his children in unique, yet equal beauty. It means feeling gratitude for the diversity in this world. It means learning to love a new culture: its food, its music, its traditions, and especially its people. It means adding a fullness to life that I didn’t know was missing. It’s beautiful, hard, amazing, and agonizing. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

author image

Rachel Galbraith

Rachel Galbraith is a busy mother of five children, one of whom was adopted at birth. She has a Bachelors Degree in social work, and has worked as a medical social worker, specializing in the field of women and children. She was privileged to play a small role in the adoptions that often took place on her hospital unit. Writing has become her own personal form of therapy, and she is excited to combine it with her love of adoption. In her free time, she has a love-hate relationship with distance running. She readily admits to doing it only so she can eat chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.


February 18, 2015

Not Just a Baby, by Life as Two

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM

Not Just Baby

I am infertile. My body? It can’t do this thing that so many women around me do… conceive, swell, deliver, nurse, cradle, comfort. My body cannot feel a swift kick in the ribs; my ears can’t hear the gooey rush of a heartbeat on an ultra sound; my feet cannot swell with water retention; my hands can’t trace the tiny fingers of a fist pressed hard against my belly.

This is reality. This is grief. I am thankful that, over the past nine years, the Lord has shifted my longing to peace; brokenness to healing.

You must understand that what I am about to write is meant to be matter-of-fact… educational, perhaps. I want you to know that your pregnancy announcement or your Facebook photos are more to the infertile heart than just a baby.

Walk with me…

Earlier this week, I read this beautiful letter to daughters by Lisa-Jo Baker. Truly beautiful. Every daughter should have a mother willing to write these words… to carve this emotion into life. As I read through, tears welling and head nodding, knowing how blessed I am to know such mother-love in my life (and not just once), familiar grief pressed hard against a well-healed scar.

See, this thing called infertility isn’t just about the baby. It’s not just the cycle of cycle after hope and disappointment; it is more than the scent of newborn head or the long nights of rocking and pacing. Of the 3-5% of couples who do not go on to resolve their childlessness through birth or adoption, infertility is really a lifetime of hearing the word ‘No.’

‘No’ to: pregnancy, delivery, first booties, knit baby blankets, hospital visits, christening gowns, sleepless nights, first teeth, blow outs and stained sheets and vomit-duty and Cheerio-crusted curls.

‘No’ to: first steps, toddler tantrums, first words, open-mouthed kisses, grocery-store meltdowns, first trips to the beach, dentist, swimming pool, first broken bone, defiance and self-feeding and big-kid beds and endless days of potty training.

‘No’ to: first days of school, new teachers, good friends, mean kids, first sleep-overs and shoes that last barely a season; fussy eaters, homework fights, sports teams, graduations, discussions about drugs, sex, and rock & roll; questionable fashion trends, bad haircuts, experiments with vegetarianism, never leaving their room, learning to drive, enforcing curfew, first boyfriends/girlfriends and first break ups.

‘No’ to: first jobs and college and moving out and praying we taught them enough to let them stand on their own two feet; engagements and wedding plans and walking down the aisle and first homes and co-signing mortgages and figuring out the empty nest, wishing them home and to fly in the same breath.

‘No’ to: pregnancy announcements, grand babies, knitting blankets and booties and shopping and late night calls from exhausted, panicked mothers and babysitting and brag books and the fierce, quiet joy at the seemingly natural cycle of life.

This is reality. This is grief. This is the lifetime we live in the quiet moments after you announce a pregnancy, post pictures of first days of school, Easter outfits, Christmas morning, swimming lessons, mismatched outfits, or just the bright spots and moments of an everyday life.

Don’t stop posting. There is joy in watching your life unfold as ours will not. There will be days we will respond from a place of deep gratitude that we are part of your life… that you allow us to live vicariously in a way, years ago, we would not have thought possible. And there are days when we will sit quietly on the sidelines because that lifetime of ‘No’ is pressing hard against a permanent bruise.

Please understand this isn’t about guilt. Embrace the joy you’re given. God has lavished blessings on us both… blessings markedly different but beautiful in their own way. And each of our lives is sprinkled with hardship and struggle… perhaps I don’t know yours, but I’m not so naive as to believe that because you have the children I longed for your life is perfect. I know there are moments you cry out to God with fears and anxieties and disappointments and hidden grief.

Though I am infertile, my life is not barren. I am loved well by you, by family, by a God who cares about each of the tiny details of my life (Psalm 37:23). Grace has brought healing and joy and peace in a way that daily feels miraculous and overwhelming.

For those in the trenches, however, knee-deep in the boot-sucking mire of grief and disappointment, please think for a moment of this post. For many, this would-be life flashes before their eyes every month there is only one line on a home pregnancy test, every trip to the clinic, in every line filled out on the home study form. Will you pause for them? Just a quick pause in the crazy of your day with kids or grand kids or… not a full stop. Just a pause, because the wonder of that lifetime can truly slip through you in a moment.

Trust me. We know.

February 11, 2015

10 Ways You Can Help An Adoptive Family

Filed under: Adoption 101,Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM

The process of adopting a child can be long and difficult, but the real journey for an adoptive family begins after their new child comes home. It can be difficult to know how to appropriately offer support to families who welcome children home through adoption and even the best-intentioned friends and family members can do things that actually discourage adoptive parents.

So, if you want to help an adoptive family, try these 10 things instead.

1. Give them space. The parents need time to bond with their child, and too many adults in the child’s life may complicate the bonding process and confuse the child. The adoptive family may need breathing room to adjust to all the changes in their family, so call first and ask them when would be a good time to visit – and be patient if it isn’t right away!

2. Honor boundaries. Ask the parents about boundaries before engaging with a newly adopted child, and then respect those boundaries. Often adopted children should not be shown affection and care by anyone other than their new parents until they have had a chance to fully attach to their new family.

3. Share the love. Be careful not to ignore other children in the family. This can cause resentment with the new sibling(s) and leaves parents the difficult task of answering questions like, “Why am I not as special as my new brother?”

4. Word watch. Be thoughtful about what you say in front of children. It is not beneficial for children to hear questions about how difficult or expensive their adoption process was or to hear comments about how saintly their parents must be for letting them into the family.

5. Respect their privacy.  Do not ask prying questions or expect parents to share details of the child’s background and biological family history. Many families choose not to share their child’s history to respect the adoptee’s privacy.

6. Embrace honesty. Ask the parents how they are doing, and don’t be shocked or judgmental when they share struggles. This does not mean they regret adopting – it just means adoption is hard! Be their friend and encourager as they share struggles.

7. Bring community to them. The early months with a newly adopted child can feel very lonely and isolated as the parents often need to stay at home with the child while they attach and adjust. Get creative. Bring dessert to their house and sit and chat after the kids are in bed. Find a night when dad can be home with the child and you can take mom out for some adult conversation.

8. Find practical ways to serve. If they have other children, offer to take them out for a bit. Mow the yard. Bring meals. Clean their house. Offer to come over late after the kids are asleep and let the parents take a walk around the neighborhood or go out for ice cream together.

9. Respect their parenting methods. Parenting and disciplining children who have experienced loss, trauma, abuse, and/or neglect requires a completely different parenting approach.  Even if their parenting choices seem unconventional to you, respect their choices.

10. Rejoice with them. Point out and rejoice in all the sweet little victories along the way as little hearts heal. Celebrate with adoptive parents as their child learns to give and receive love and to be a part of their forever family.


© 2013 iMOM. All Rights Reserved. Family First, All Pro Dad, iMOM, and Family Minute with Mark Merrill are registered trademarks.

January 14, 2015


Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM

Deciding to have a baby is like planning a trip to Australia. You’ve heard it’s a wonderful place. You’ve read many guidebooks and feel certain you’re ready to go. Everyone you know has traveled there by plane. They say it can be a turbulent flight with occasional rough landings, but you can look forward to being pampered on the trip.

So you go to the airport and ask the ticket agent for a ticket to Australia. All around you, excited people are boarding planes for Australia. It seems there is no seat for you; you’ll have to wait for the next flight. Impatient, but anticipating a wonderful trip, you wait-and wait- and wait.

Flights to Australia continue to come and go. People say silly things like, “Relax. You’ll get on a flight soon.” Other people actually get on a plane and then cancel their trip, to which you cry, “It’s not fair”.

After a long time the ticket agent tells you, “I’m sorry, we’re not going to be able to get you on a plane to Australia. Perhaps you should think about going by boat.”

“By Boat!” you say, “Going by boat will take a very long time and costs a great deal of money. I really had my heart set on going by plane.” So you go home and think about not going to Australia at all. You wonder if Australia will be as beautiful if you approach it by sea rather than air. But you have long dreamed of this wonderful place, and finally you decide to travel by boat.

It is a long trip, many months over many rough seas. No one pampers you. You wonder if you will ever see Australia. Meanwhile, your friends have flown back and forth to Australia two or three times, marveling about each trip.

Then one glorious day, the boat docks in Australia. It is more exquisite that you ever imagined, and the beauty is magnified by your long days at sea. You have made many wonderful friends during your voyage, and you find yourself comparing stories with others who also traveled by sea rather than by air.

People continue to fly to Australia as often as they like, but you are able to travel only once, perhaps twice. Some say things like, “Oh be glad you didn’t fly. My flight was horrible, traveling by sea is so easy.”

You will always wonder what it would have been like to fly to Australia. Still, you know God blessed you with a special appreciation of Australia, and the beauty of Australia is not in the way you get there, but in the place itself.
Author unknown

April 30, 2014

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“We stand on the edge of our cliff-like emotions looking into the deep cavern of our grief, and we’re sure that the jump will kill us.  For those of us who entrust our feeble selves to our faithful Creator, in way I can neither explain nor describe, it doesn’t.  In Jesus, when death of some kind comes and we are willing to take it to the cross, remain nearby, and suffer its grief, we will also experience the resurrection.
We say, ‘But part of me has died with it.’  And indeed it has.  Hear the words of Christ echo from the grave: ‘I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.’ (John 12:24)  As a child bearing the name of Christ, if a part of you has died, in time it was meant to produce many seeds…Oh, Beloved, don’t give up!”
The Beloved Disciple, Beth Moore

January 9, 2014


Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“How can I get upset about something that’s gonna’ make me like Jesus?”  -Dr. Ken Hutcherson

I was so moved by this amazing testimony!  You can hear the interview here:

Hutch on Suffering


November 20, 2013

The Gap: On the Courage to Choose by Thelma

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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This post is the sixth in a series called The Gap. Please click here to read from the beginning. I know I haven’t touched on this series for awhile, but this post has been a cautious work in progress.Something about grief we don’t often talk about: I choose when and how I step out of it.

I write a lot about grief here. I do what I can to validate and illustrate because when I was fifteen and my mom died there weren’t too many that wanted to talk honestly about grief. There was no one to tell me what I was feeling was okay or normal or temporary. That experience shaped me; that grief carved an empathy from my heart that carries forward motion: as long as it remains within my power to do so, I will speak honestly about it because you never know who needs to hear it. Maybe a fifteen year old, maybe a fifty year old.

My fifteen and sixteen year old self did the only thing that made sense: I got mad. Good and mad. I didn’t understand how a God who claimed to be good and faithful and merciful could snap a teenage girl’s life in half and rob her of her mother. All the platitudes that rained down on me during those first six months fueled my anger.

“She’s in a better place now.” – Great. I’m in hell.
“God needed her in heaven.” – Say what now?
“Her job on earth was done.” – No. No, it wasn’t. Sixteen!

And so, for a year and a half, I went to bed each night asking God to let me die and when I woke in the morning (still alive, obviously) I pulled my cloak of anger tightly around me and carried my way through another pointless day. When, in the summer of 1996, my brother broke his neck in a brutal car accident, I sat under a large tree in the back forty of the family home and God and I had a long talk about the rage that fueled me. I left my cloak there that day, though I had more learning to do, but He helped me step out of grief and allow healing to begin.

In retrospect, my brother’s accident should have left me furious. It should have been the jerry can of evidence that made my anger explode to a new level of hot rage. Instead, it broke me. It broke me enough to allow God to open my eyes to see a new perspective: gratitude. Deep, soul-shaking gratitude that my brother was still alive.

I look back on those years with regret. Those years informed (though not perfectly) the grief of walking through infertility. I didn’t make all the right choices. I still pulled away, sunk into anger and fiddled with the fringes of bitterness but my heart never forgot the mind-numbing grip of a grief that made no sense.

What’s all this got to do with infertility? With choosing to live a childless life if God is calling you there?

We can talk about calling and miracles and healing as things ethereal and unquantifiable. We can bandy them about and wait for that moment we feel something special that tells us we’re where we need to be. But ultimately? The thing about grief that we rarely talk about it is that I must choose when and how I step free of it.

Grief is real. Brutal. Raw. It carves deep wells of memory into our very being and leaves us changed. Sometimes we allow it the power to move in. We put on anger or bitterness or denial or bargaining on like a cloak each morning and we allow it to envelope not just our hearts but our lives.

At some point, however, we must trust that God gives us the courage to choose.

A few months ago, my father sent me this beautiful quote from Mike Mason’s book Champagne for the Soul:

Do you have a favourite chair, a place you feel most at home and comfortable? So does joy.

Joy’s favourite chair is your sadness, your weakness, your grief. Wherever your wounds are most tender, joy finds a soft place to settle. A lighthearted person may rejoice, but no one has greater capacity for joy than one who is like our Saviour, ‘a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering’. Joy loves our brokenness best.

Finally I saw that if joy does not arise out of the midst of tragedy, it will not arise at all. Christian joy is rooted in darkness, chaos, meaninglessness, sorrow.

Joy loves our brokenness best. Chew on that for a bit and remember this: joy is a choice. Stepping out of grief is a choice. The courage to make that choice comes from a God whose very character is goodness, faithfulness and mercy; a God whose grace is soul-shaking and gratitude-shaping.

I’ve written this series to shed light on the process of moving from the grief of infertility to the deep joy we have in living this life as a family of two. It’s not a guide book, it’s a story: our story. There may be similarities and shared sorrows to work through, but in the end, you must choose when and how you will step out of grief into life.

It’s not easy. Sometimes you need to make that choice many times in the space of a week, day or hour. It requires a personal honesty and a courage that, in the end, isn’t even your own. But God’s not in the business of leaving people buried in grief when their desire is to break free.

Grief may leave you broken, but joy must arise there. And grace? Well, grace cannot – will not – leave you there.

“For the LORD your God is living among you.
He is a mighty Savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

~ Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

November 6, 2013

Common Objections to Adoption

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“Do yourself a favor: revisit your list of objections to adoption.  Draw a line through each one that relates to your level of comfort or your fear about money.  What do you have left?  Is that all?  You might be closer to hearing God’s dream for you than ever before.”

September 4, 2013

Why the Worst Thing that Happens to You Could Wind Up Being the Best Thing

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Is it possible that the worst thing that happens to you this coming year could turn out to be the best thing that happens to you this year?

In 1939, J.R.R. Tolkien prepared an essay to be delivered as a lecture at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. It was titled “On Fairy-Stories,” and in the piece he explained and defended the use of fantasy as a literary form.

The entire work is worth reading, but one part in particular speaks to our current state of affairs—and in a most hopeful way.

According to Tolkien, we’re naturally drawn to stories, of course, but we’re especially drawn to drama and tales with a sudden, happy ending. In the reflection, though, Tolkien coined an interesting term:

eucatastrophe—the joyful (eu) catastrophe.

I find his insights fascinating and share in his own words the deeply theological motivation behind eucatastrophe:

I coined the word “eucatastrophe”: the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears (which I argued it is the highest function of fairy-stories to produce). And I was there led to the view that it produces its peculiar effect because it is a sudden glimpse of Truth, your whole nature chained in material cause and effect, the chain of death, feels a sudden relief as if a major limb out of joint had suddenly snapped back.

The Resurrection was the greatest “eucatastrophe” possible in the greatest Fairy Story—and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love.

In his inimitable way, Tolkien assures us that in the end, despite every appearance to the contrary, all is well. Why else would we call even the worst day in all of time and space, the day Jesus of Nazareth died, “Good Friday”? Because in the end, the God of the universe has promised to make all things new.

“Write this down,” John wrote in Revelation, “for these words are trustworthy and true” (Revelation 21:5).

Do you find this as reassuring as I do?

In a generation in which hype has become habit and there is no shortage of bad news, the message of the gospel is “good news” indeed. For those who believe and place their trust in the Lord, they need not grow anxious or cower in fear about this coming age. Yes, we must prepare and brace ourselves for any host of troubles that infiltrate a broken world—but preparation is not the same thing as worry.

Dr. D. Martin-Lloyd Jones, a former physician familiar with the ways in which anxiety can ravage a person’s health, offered a practical fix for this bad habit:

Why do you allow yourself to be worried thus about the future? … Worry about the future is so utterly futile and useless; it achieves nothing at all. We are very slow to see that; yet how true it is. Indeed we can go further and say that worry is never of any value at all. This is seen with particular clarity as you come to face the future. Apart from anything else, it is a pure waste of energy because however much you worry you cannot do anything about it. In any case its threatened catastrophes are imaginary; they are not certain, they may never happen at all …

We must not go forward and tack tomorrow’s quota on to today’s, otherwise it may be too much for us.

We have to take it day by day …

If you want to go through life without crippling yourself and burdening yourself and perhaps losing your health and the control of your nerves, these are the cardinal rules.

Do not carry yesterday or tomorrow with you; live for today and for the twelve hours you are in.

~Jim Daly

August 21, 2013

My Parents Were at the Circus When I Was Born

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM

My parents were at the circus when I was born. I’m sure they were having a great time celebrating my brother’s sixth birthday, but I was at the hospital, being born.

I was adopted at birth.

Everything was arranged before I was born, and when I was just five days old, my brother, Jeremy, carried me out with the caseworker to present me to my parents and bring me home. I had spiky hair and I was delivered with forceps, which temporarily pinched a nerve and made my mouth hang down on one side so I had a crooked smile. But when my brother carried me out in his six year old arms, he presented me to my parents and said, “Isn’t she pretty? Doesn’t she look just like me?!”

There are times when God intervenes in our lives in nearly flagrant ways. He interrupts the logical order of things, and turns everything upside down in the best way possible. In my case, He took me from being an unplanned pregnancy, to a pined-after, “chosen child” in a family where I have been inordinately loved.

And there’s the Gospel – things were going along one way, but God intervened, and changed everything, not because of anything I deserved as a crooked faced baby with a dent in my head, but because He’s God and He’s good and He’s sovereign.

As I’ve grown up, I have come to bear a striking physical resemblance to my family, and once again, I see the Gospel on display. It’s exactly what God does when he adopts us into his family.  Christ came to save us and bring us to the Father, and when Jesus, our elder brother, presents us to His Father He says, “Isn’t she pretty, doesn’t she look just like me?”  Our Father who loves and accepts us because of what Christ has done on our behalf, begins to see to it that we grow in His grace to look just like our elder brother.

This theme of adoption has become a part of my daily professional life. Having been adopted, I’ve always assumed I survived a near-miss, in that my biological parents may have considered the choice not to continue with the pregnancy.

As I learned more about the circumstances surrounding many unplanned pregnancies, and the seemingly hopeless nature of many of those situations, I felt called to share with women about hopeful alternatives. God faithfully provided an outlet for me to do just that through my work at Heroic Media.

I was born out of what at times may have felt like a hopeless situation, but because of God’s providence in giving my biological parents the courage to give me life, I have had a life defined by hope. I want other people to have that, to see the picture of redemption and hope that is played out in all of our lives as we are adopted by God in Christ.

LifeNews Note: Marissa Cope is a pro-life advocate who blogs here. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her uber-talented husband and works in a nonprofit organization that uses mass media to connect women facing unexpected pregnancies with life-affirming pregnancy resource centers.

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