I hope you enjoy this article that Jason F. Wright wrote today. Since it is almost Mother's Day... I thought it would be perfect! Good night dear friends!
Dying Woman's plea leads to adoption, bittersweet Mother's Day! May 7, 2013
On Sunday, May 2, 2004, Gael and Steve Shaffer of Woodstock, Va., walked into
New Hope Church ready to worship. When they walked out an hour later, they'd
taken an unexpected call from God.
With permission from the pastor, a local woman named Carol stood that day and
announced to the congregation that she was suffering from chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease and had only a short time to live. The single mother didn't
ask for prayers, money or a healing miracle - she pled for someone to adopt and
raise her 7-year-old son.
The sickly, long-suffering woman had already made arrangements for her son
and daughter to be adopted after the mother's impending death. But plans for her
son, Max, had fallen through. His 12-year-old sister would move to Maine to live
with her biological father, but young Max had no such options.
Through the salty tears of a dying woman, Carol stood spiritually and
emotionally bare before the worshippers and asked, "Will a family please adopt
The Shaffers' eyes met and they exchanged more than just a quiet glance. They
shared the kind of moment that only comes when husbands and wives recognize that
God isn't just their perfect creator, he's also a partner in any healthy
The Shaffers had been married just two years, and the middle-aged couple had
already raised children in their first marriages. They'd considered and
investigated traditional adoption and the idea of raising a baby together was
attractive. But if the pieces couldn't fall into place, they'd take the time to
enjoy their new life together.
Over the next few days, Steve Shaffer says that friends, family and their
pastor encouraged them to consider adopting Peyton Maxwell "Max" Mahaney. But it
wasn't earthy voices that had the greatest impact. "All week long," Steve said,
"God worked on our hearts."
Six days after Max's mother stood in church, the Shaffers took the young
slugger to his Little League baseball game and to lunch. It seemed as though
they chose to try to behave as a family to determine whether they could
actually become one.
The next morning they all awoke to Mother's Day. As is custom in many
churches, each of the children at New Hope was given a flower to present to
their mother. When Max approached his mom sitting reverently on her pew, she
quietly suggested Max deliver the rose to someone else. "She told me to give it
to Gael," he recalled. "She was going to be my new momma."
Watching her son walk away and hand the rose to another woman must have been
among the difficult things for a mother to do. But when God called, Carol
He was also calling the Shaffers, and they answered with courage. On Monday
they began meeting with lawyers and social services. On Friday, Max came to
spend the weekend with them.
He never left.
Just 12 days after his mother stood up before God and the congregation to ask
for help from his children, Max had a new home.
As expected, Carol's health deteriorated, and within two weeks, she was gone.
A few days after her death, the couple had legal guardianship and the entire
journey had lasted less than one month.
Though the housing arrangements and other logistics took time - Max slept in
a hallway for some time - Steve noted how prepared they seemed in other ways.
"God prepared our hearts long before the physical things were ready. Though we
have no blood connection, there's been a matching of gifts and talents. Somehow,
it's all just worked."
That's what happens when you answer the call.
Nine Mother's Days have passed and Max is more grateful than ever for his
adoptive parents. "I feel so privileged and blessed to have them in my life," he
told me. "They've provided everything I need, and even some things that I want."
Max admits that he was, "worried, nervous and scared" in the early days of
their relationship because he was too young to appreciate the miracle of the
moment. "Today I know they want the best for me and they also help me to reach
my best. I appreciate that, even though I do not show it."
Spoken like a true teenage son.
Gael Shaffer, the woman who became guardian with a simple Mother's Day rose,
was quick to deflect praise to her husband. "I've learned what a tremendously
important thing a father is in a child's life. Max had never known a father
until Steve. Max was hungry for what a father could provide, both the shared
experiences and the discipline. I hadn't had the opportunity to observe the
change that occurs when a father appears in the life of a child who has never
Keen observations from a humble woman, but may she never forget that when God
called, she was on the other end, too. Families start with mothers.
To flavor my understanding of Max's unusual journey, I asked his first grade
teacher for her observations on this unique family saga. Melissa Dodge of W.W.
Robinson Elementary School was Max's teacher the year his mother succumbed to
After heaping praise on the Shaffers for opening their hearts and home, Dodge
offered that Max was her special challenge that year. "Max was defiant,
stubborn, contrary, bright, strong and loyal and he knew exactly how find my
last nerve - every single time. Max has grown from a defiant little sparkplug on
his own agenda to an amazing young man. He has become exactly what I knew he
could, what I hoped and prayed for. He always had that special spark but in his
early life it was diminished and overshadowed by his circumstances."
Dodge calls Max her greatest success story. "Not because of anything I did
for him, but for what he has accomplished. He has taught me that no child is a
lost cause and each one has potential for greatness. Sometimes you have to go
digging for it."
Most of us will never adopt a child, much less in such unusual fashion. Nor
will we likely be asked to grant a dying mother's risk or upend our lives in
some other dramatic way. No, our opportunities to serve probably won't include a
Mother's Day miracle.
But what if the call came? Could I have responded the way this family did?
Would you have recognized heaven's hand in putting that particular son of God in
your path? Shouldn't we all be ready to embrace one who might not share our
blood, but who shares our spiritual DNA with the same eternal father?
On a Sabbath Day in Virginia nine years ago, without knowing, a Christian
couple set an example for the rest of us. No matter the question, no matter the
service and no matter the sacrifice, we must be ready.
When God calls, will you have the courage to answer?
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