How do you thank a woman for making you possible? How do you thank someone who, despite the horror of rape, chose the gift of Life and adoption for you?
I am the one percent that is constantly used 100% percent of the time to justify abortion. But I didn’t end up as an aborted statistic. Instead, I was adopted and loved. I have a story that’s full of redemption that continues to unfold. Part of that journey is honoring my birthmom. Words seem so insufficient, though. The courage of my birthmom’s singular decision will have reverberations for generations. My four children are a beautiful reminder that she chose to be stronger than her circumstances.
I love to write. Most people, who hear me speak or visit The Radiance Foundation’s website, know of my passion for words. I credit my mom, an avid reader, for instilling in me such a love for reading and writing. As an adoptee, I found poetry to be a powerful way to express my soul—my joys, my anguish, my defeats and my victories. The outlet of poetry naturally led to songwriting. I crafted a lot of songs about faith, race, love, and loss. With my background in sound production, I enjoyed crafting the melodies and harmonies. I used to pull all-nighters laying down layers of vocal tracks, trying to get what I was feeling to come to life.
Could I, somehow, express my deep gratitude to my birthmom in a song? What would I say? How could I say it? My heart pounded with the thought of the possibility that maybe, one day, she might hear it.
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Do you have a creative space? Mine was my car (before I got married to my amazing wife, Bethany, and added four awesome kiddos to the Bomberger mix…now, it’s definitely a different kind of space). I used to write a lot of my songs while driving. I loved the quiet time to think, especially late at night. I’d capture whatever ideas would come to mind on a recorder or my phone, singing the lyrics and figuring out the melodies. One return trip from DC put all of those emotions for my birthmom into a song that would become my anthem. There were a lot of tears on that drive. By the end of that three-and-a-half-hour songwriting session, “Meant to Be” was born. I remember meeting with a friend of mine, Rob Sweitzer, to play piano to my melody and lyrics. A few hours later, “Meant to Be” was recorded and given a purpose that went beyond my expectations.
Every day you faced the questions
Torn by the lot you had received
Every tear was a reminder
Of how I was conceived
Yet in the middle of the confusion
You found the strength to make it through
And now I can love and be loved
All because of you
This is the second verse, and it sums up one powerful decision. Over the years, I’ve sung this song to thousands, bringing audiences to tears. It’s always hard for me to sing it, because I’ll never stop feeling overwhelmed by the miracle that I am even here. Victors over rape have told me how the song has brought them healing. Students have expressed how it has changed their minds about rape and abortion. Even post-abortive women have shared with me how the song breathed new life into them. I’ve received many emails, comments, voicemails and letters from people impacted by a song that I originally meant for one.
But today’s email about “Meant to Be” hit me like none other. A friend of mine, Rebecca Kiessling—who was also conceived in rape—sent me an email about someone using my song in a unique way. People have asked to sing or perform it in the past. I’ve always encouraged anyone to use it however they can. But this someone isn’t just anyone. Her name is Jennifer Christie. She was raped during a business trip, yet bravely chose life for her precious son. Her husband didn’t see him as the “rapist’s child”, but his son. I had just read her incredible story of strength and healing via Live Action’s website.
And here in my inbox, a woman who was brutally raped had created a video signing the song I had only envisioned using words. To see someone who still struggles to overcome the violence of rape conveying my song, with the artistry of sign language, brought me to tears. As a professional ASL translator, Jennifer brings a visual emotion to the song. She lived those words. Here is her email to me that moved my soul:
You don’t know me…but you’ve read my story. I don’t know you. I’ve read your story.
We are connected horribly and beautifully and eternally through our Creator who makes no mistakes, puts His Fingerprint on every soul; and by our passion to be a voice for the voiceless.
My son–a light if there ever was one–was conceived in my darkest nightmare. More than three years later I’m still coming to terms with the woman I am now. Finding beauty in the broken. I often look for testimonies of adult children of rape. I like to know how they heard about their beginning. The good, the bad…
I came across “Meant to be”. And I wept.
As I played it on a continuous loop, I Iet a tear fall for every person who said my son would grow up and hate me, or become a violent criminal, or would be otherwise irrevocably scarred by my decision to keep him.
I made this for my boy. One day. So he will see how much I love him… How much I have always loved him.
I wanted to share it with you. Thank you for opening your heart. This is me opening mine.
None of us can control the circumstances of our conception. None of us can control much of what happens in our lives, for that matter. But God turns tragedy into triumph all the time. How we rise when we’re faced with the seemingly insurmountable shows the true beauty and resilience of our humanity.