After Dobbs: A Thanksgiving for the Brave Love of Adoption

Being asked to be the mother of another woman’s child is the greatest gift I have ever received.

Leigh and Carter Snead pose in a family photo with their four boys. (Photo: Courtesy photos)

We received the call this past March. After eight months of actively waiting, my husband and I had come to terms with the fact that maybe a fourth child just wasn’t God’s plan for us. We agreed that we had been blessed beyond all measure by our three adopted sons. 

But then the call came. A fourth adoption was very much possible. A birth mother had chosen us to be the parents of her child. Her little boy — our little boy — was born just three weeks later. And, so, almost exactly 11 years after the birth of our twin sons, we became a family of six, with four beautiful sons, ages 6 months to 17 years old. We are so thankful.

Snead boys playing at home together on a Saturday afternoon.(Photo: Courtesy photos)

It wasn’t long before something else, nearly as incredible, happened. The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs case. Exactly three months after the birth of our new, sweet baby boy — the wondrously made fruit of an unplanned and undesired pregnancy — the law would now permit the nation’s political branches to protect our tiniest, most vulnerable brothers and sisters.

The pro-life cause has always been dear to our hearts, as Catholics, as Americans, as human beings. In both our personal and professional lives, my husband and I have worked to protect the lives of the unborn — and to love and care for their mothers. We were overjoyed to see Roe’s unlimited abortion license overturned in the Dobbs case. 

We’re already seeing what this can mean on the ground. In Texas, for example, restrictive abortion legislation has led to fewer abortions and more babies born (and no reported spike in maternal deaths). How that will affect the numbers of babies placed for adoption remains to be seen. But if we can promote adoption as a good and empowering choice for mothers to make when they’re unable or unwilling to welcome a child, they will certainly rise.

Yes, there have been some disappointing setbacks at the polls in certain states since Dobbs, but we can still rejoice that some states have successfully restricted access to abortion and spared many women and babies the barbarism of Planned Parenthood’s “health care.” That’s something for which we can be thankful for this Thanksgiving. 

As I hold my youngest baby in my arms this November, which is National Adoption Month, I am grateful for the choices his birth mother made that led him to become a part of our family. I’m thankful for the radical hospitality she showed by carrying him for nine months and doing all she could to keep him healthy and safe. I’m thankful for the hours she spent poring over the profiles of waiting families and discerning which one she wanted her son to join. And I’m especially thankful she chose us.

Snead boys snuggling. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

I’m also thankful that she knew this was a choice she could make — a good choice — and an exercise of her own agency. I’m thankful for those around her who supported her and her choice to place her baby with us. I’m thankful for the emails and text messages we exchanged that eventually became phone calls that led her to change her hospital plan so that we could all meet in person and spend time together. And I’m so thankful she spent time with our baby. I’m thankful for the brave love shown by all my sons’ birth mothers and for all those women who choose life for their children. Being asked to be the mother of another woman’s child is the greatest gift I have ever received. 

A long time ago, but not too long into our marriage, having never discovered why we weren’t getting pregnant, we decided to pursue adoption. By God’s grace, that was not a hard decision for us, but there was still grief over things not going “according to plan.” There was still disbelief that the very thing that seemed so easy for everyone else might be impossible for us. While basking in the anticipation of a baby and enthusiastically completing the paperwork, interviews, fingerprinting and background checks required to become adoptive parents, we mourned the biological children it seemed we were not destined to have. The one thing my husband said is that he just wanted to see what or who we could make together. Over time, however, we have realized that we can see just that in our adoptive family. We often joke that our children are more like us than we are ourselves. And, if pregnancy and babies had come easy for us, we wouldn’t have these four boys and the life I cannot imagine without them. 

So this Thanksgiving I give thanks for my boys and their birth mothers’ brave love. I thank God for the love and support our family and friends have showered upon us and our boys through our adoption journey. I’m grateful for the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, and I pray that when faced with an unplanned, unwanted or crisis pregnancy, women will choose life for their babies and see adoption as an empowering choice. I pray, too, that a waiting mother’s empty arms will soon be holding a baby of her own. 

Leigh Fitzpatrick Snead is a fellow for The Catholic Association. She is a writer, editor, speaker and mother of four whose work engages questions of popular culture, motherhood, family, and the Church. She serves on the Executive Board of Human Life Action, a project of National Committee for a Human Life Amendment. Leigh lives with her husband, Carter, and four sons in Granger, Indiana.

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