My Thanksgiving Babies

My Thanksgiving Babies

From Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul

My Thanksgiving Babies

That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

Ps. 26:7

I was on my knees scrubbing my kitchen floor the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, 1977; we were expecting two other families to eat Thanksgiving dinner with us, one of which was coming from out of town. My five-year-old daughter was at school and my dog was taking a nap on the couch, so I grabbed the opportunity to scrub the floor.

Suddenly, my husband walked through the front door. I was shocked—it was only two in the afternoon, and I asked him what he was doing home. He told me he had to pack his bags because he was going on a trip.

How could this be? I needed his help getting ready for the big day—and I expressed these feelings to him.

“I need to go to Chicago,” he said, “and you need to come with me. They’ve got a little baby girl waiting there for us to pick up.”

I told him it wasn’t nice to tease me this way—but he insisted it was true. I then became hysterical—which is defined as a fit of uncontrollable laughter or crying, and I was doing both at the same time. My husband had gotten the call at work just a short time earlier: An eight-week-old girl in Chicago was to be placed in our home, and we needed to come and get her the next day.

Laughing and crying and jumping up and down, I called my mom and dad with the good news. We then called Richard’s mom and dad; I distinctly remember Richard’s mom screaming with delight when she heard the great news. I then called a good friend and neighbor— and she came running over with a plate of cookies, anxious to hear the whole story.

We got out our suitcases and quickly began packing. All our baby clothes were packed away in boxes, so I quickly tore through them looking for diapers, outfits and blankets that would work. When Cori Jo got home from school at three and we told her we were going to Chicago to pick up her new sister, she was so excited—and she quickly packed her own suitcase, grabbing her pillow and several of her favorite toys to share with her new sister.

We loaded up the car and started our exciting journey. Even our dog, Benji, went with us. The day was cold, but there wasn’t too much snow on the ground. We don’t really remember too much about the seven-hour drive; when we pulled into Chicago around midnight it was dark and cold, and Cori Jo was sick. She had suffered a stomachache for the last part of the drive, and when we checked into our dreary motel, she started throwing up. She threw up all night. After getting up with her a couple of times, I finally put on my clothes, because it was too cold to be out of bed.

None of us slept well that night. In addition to Cori Jo being sick, we were all so excited about meeting our new baby.

We got up early the next morning and ate a hurried breakfast, then drove to the Social Services office, where we met our social worker. We talked for a while and filled out some papers. Finally, the time we had been waiting for arrived: We went down the hall to meet our new baby.

There she was—lying on a table, smiling at us. We were so excited! We held her, kissed her, cried and laughed. We named her Mindy. It was a wonderful moment for all of us. We changed her clothes, told our social worker thanks for the millionth time, and then headed home. When we opened the car door, even the dog was happy to see the new baby. It was a wonderful seven-hour ride home.

I can honestly say that was the best Thanksgiving we ever had—or ever will have. Our families and friends were all so excited for us. Cori Jo took Mindy to school for show-and-tell. She lifted her out of the car seat and carried her right into the room to show her classmates. She was always such a loving and caring sister.

As I look back on it now, I think of the two little baby girls we lost between Cori Jo and Mindy. When our bishop, Alan Anderson, suggested that we put our papers in for adoption after we lost our two little girls, I wasn’t happy. I didn’t want to adopt a baby. How silly that was of me! I am so happy we filled out the papers and went through the strict process of getting ready for adoption. It was all so worth it. Because of that adoption, we have had many experiences we might not otherwise have enjoyed.

Many years later, a young woman came to visit me. I had known her for a long time. She remembered how happy we all were when we came to church—how everyone there surrounded us and supported us. Our ward members knew all about our sad times, and they were now enjoying our good times. Later, that young woman became pregnant out of wedlock, and she decided to place her baby for adoption because after seeing us, she knew how happy it would make another family.

I am now a volunteer for LDS Family Services, where I work with birth mothers and do presentations about adoptions. At one point, I had a young woman stay at my house while she was waiting to place her baby. It gave me the opportunity to see the other side of the picture. What a sacrifice that young girl made! It was the right decision for the couple who received the baby and the right decision for the birth mother. Her Heavenly Father has blessed her; she is now getting into school, has a job, has moved back home with her parents, and has turned her life around for the better.

My daughter Cori Jo has not been able to have children. After eight years of marriage, she and her husband were able to adopt a darling little boy who we all love so very much. Mindy has a particularly strong love for him, because the two of them share a special bond—and I know she will be able to help him if he encounters some rough times.

I know Cori had some of the same thoughts about adoption that I originally did—and I know those thoughts evaporated the second she held that newborn baby in her arms. We have all had such a good time with him. He is truly a wonderful gift for our family. In fact, we spent his first Thanksgiving with them, and it was our best Thanksgiving since the one when we brought Mindy home.

And what about Mindy? She is a beautiful woman. She served a mission for the Church and is now finishing up her college degree so she can be a teacher. She is a talented pianist and has a beautiful singing voice. She is a wonderful daughter, sister, aunt and friend—and we all love her very much.

Susan Watts Coon

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