Julie Cheever grew up in a small south Alabama town where her dad was a pastor. At the age of 16, Julie dropped out of school and got married.
“I went against every bit of good advice everyone gave me because I knew everything there was in the world,” she said.
A year later, Julie and her husband had a daughter. To earn enough money to get by, Julie took three part-time jobs, and in the course of one year, her husband had 17 separate jobs. The young couple did the best they could to manage life.
“Not too much longer after that, I became pregnant again,” Julie said. “And when I told him that I was expecting again, he said, ‘I just can’t manage anymore of this dad kind of stuff,’ and he left.”
Julie moved in with her sister and went to night school to earn her high school diploma. She began thinking about how she would take care of two children on her own. A family friend, who was an attorney, suggested she put the baby up for adoption. The friend knew a Christian couple looking to adopt and made the arrangements.
It was not an easy decision for Julie.
“I said, ‘Lord, I know that I cannot support and be a parent to both my daughter and to this new child,’” Julie said. “I remember praying the night before [the baby] was born, ‘If it’s a girl, maybe I can do this myself. But if it’s a boy, Lord, I don’t know how I can be a father. Lord, I know this child needs a father.’”
I was able to pray over my boys and just had to give them over to the Lord.
The next day, Julie went to the hospital to deliver her baby. “I remember feeling very much alone,” she said. “The baby was born. And then everything got very quiet, and I was afraid that he had died. It was a boy. And then the second boy was delivered. [They] were twins.”
Everyone was surprised. “I had had all my prenatal care, and they had done a sonogram, and the doctor said the babies had to be directly on top of each other,” Julie said.
Before Julie agreed to sign the adoption papers, she wanted to make sure the twins would be able to stay together.
“I was able to see the boys,” she said. “I was able to pray over my boys and just had to give them over to the Lord. And know that they were a gift of the Lord…that I made the best decision that I could to give them life.”
Julie said that not only was the decision a hard one to make, but she continued to feel the weight of its repercussions long after she left the hospital. A Mother’s Day celebration at her church was particularly bittersweet.
“I thought to myself, ‘What do you do if you have given your children up for adoption?’ And that stayed with me,” Julie said.
“It was years before I could go back into a church because I knew my own situation. When I was pregnant with the boys, I went to church, and the church body didn’t speak to me.”
Julie hopes that the church body won’t shy away from embracing women in similar situations.
“I think that it’s really important that you’re not afraid to engage someone that’s obviously pregnant but maybe not with a spouse,” Julie said. “It’s a wonderful time to be the gospel to that birth mom.”
Julie recently shared her story with a couple who had just adopted. They reacted with excitement when she told them about being a birth mom, and Julie felt deeply encouraged.
“I had not ever considered myself a ‘birth mom,’” Julie said. “For the last month, it’s brought tears to my eyes that I realize that I maybe gave that family the same kind of joy that I was seeing in this family. Just being celebrated as a birth mom, it means a lot.”
Despite her past and its difficulties, Julie now sees why adoption is important and beautiful.
“I have seen other babies that have been adopted. I have seen other families that have been blessed by adoption. And I know that it was the right thing to do,” she said. “I pray for [my boys]. And I believe…I’ll see them…in heaven one day.”
Julie’s story has also helped her better understand adoption in Christ.
“I know that our loving Father has given us so many examples, not just His example [of adopting us through Christ]. But over and over, there’s stories in the Bible about people adopting and raising other people’s children—be it through Moses or another story,” Julie said.
Julie knows how much the Lord cares about His children and she believes He wants us, in turn, to help other children. Out of the overflow of our hearts, we give our love and lives for the sake of others—no matter the hardships that come along.