May 11, 2008


Below is a conversation between Lucy, a contemporary woman, and Jochebed, a woman from the Bible’s Old Testament. Both women “lost” infants they “gave up” for “adoption” due to the exceptional circumstances of their lives. Lucy’s story is based on a true story of a mother releasing her son for adoption.

     As Lucy strolled along the river’s edge, head down, pondering the birth of her six-year-old son and his placement for adoption three days after his birth, she came upon a teary-eyed woman sitting on the riverbank. Her peaceful expression belied the sorrow told by the tears washing her cheeks.

Lucy knelt beside the woman, rose on her heels and slowly, solemnly, reached her arms towards her.

     A soul-depth communication transpired between the women as one of the woman’s calloused, wrinkled hands reached for Lucy’s smoother extended hand. Lucy responded by wrapping an arm around her thin shoulder. Both seemed empowered by the water flowing by them.

     Lucy softly broke into their reverie. “I knew you’d be here, Jochebed.”

     “I come here often. The water…comforts me…it was the safest place to put Moses…it…it was a fate better than certain death.”

     “Knowing your story gave me a permission slip to let Robert go,” Lucy said. “Your story inspired and guided me. You let Moses go and God didn’t strike you dead. I felt if He had compassion for you, perhaps he’d have compassion for me.”

     Lucy told Jochebed about the short bedside service her pastor lead just before she relinquished Robert to the adoption agency director, when he retold her the story about Moses he’d shared with her during her pregnancy.

     “It wasn’t a bedspread I laid my baby on, but a river with reeds,” Lucy said. “I too placed my son in the water, throwing him back into God’s breath, back into the universe. It seemed the safest place for him.


     “Tell me about it,” Jochebed urged.

     “I was scared I’d hurt him,” Lucy began. “I didn’t want to teach Robert the wrong thing, to raise him to fit into my father’s…my brother’s…my ex-husband’s…violent mold. I couldn’t raise him because I didn’t have any good medicine to give him. All I had was fear.”

     Lucy paused before quietly continuing. She’d been molested at the hands of her father and others before she was old enough to attend school. And Robert was conceived during a rape episode.

     “Had he been Roberta, I would have raised her with two-year-old Amy. But I didn’t want to touch one of those things.” Her body shook uncontrollably. “It grossed me out.”

     The anger’s—no, the rage’s—depth reached deep into the creases of her soul. The very thought of dealing with a male child sent her into spasms of fear, even now.

     “The sexual abuse left my bones like shattered glass—the shards of glass grinding together with each movement become unbearable pain—yet I have to keep walking, because that’s what it’s like being a mom.”

     Lucy knew she’d been robbed of her ability to provide a male child with a healthy, loving, safe home. She also knew about healthy couples unable to conceive. Perhaps Robert could find safety and refuge with one of them.

     “Trust me, it wasn’t an easy thing to do,” she mused. “Someday he may return to me, but I’ll always grieve his growing up years I missed.”

     “I know,” Jochebed answered. “It wasn’t easy for me either, letting Moses go. It must be difficult not knowing Robert’s circumstances. Knowing where Moses was, caring for him, nursing him, comforted me. I could love and hug him even though I couldn’t claim him. He was no longer mine.” She smiled. “He was quite the little man.”

     “Wasn’t that worse than a clean break?” Lucy questioned, picturing      Jochebed’s daily despair in touching and hugging Moses while concealing and denying her maternity. “At least I don’t have my heartstrings tugged each day.”

     “I comforted myself by seeing Moses’ growth, even if I couldn’t acknowledge my motherhood,” Jochebed responded. “Sometimes when I rocked him to sleep in my arms I whispered inaudibly to him… ‘I love you, MY son.’ It was our little secret.”

     Jochebed suspected the Egyptian princess who rescued and “adopted” Moses knew her secret. The princess, unable to conceive children, considered Moses’ sudden appearance during her river-bath a gift of the gods. She called on Jochebed to wet-nurse the infant, and thereafter the two women formed a rare, strange, intimate bond while nurturing Moses.


     “I think of Robert every day,” Lucy said, unable to contain her tears. “I imagine his first steps, his first word, his first day of school. I wonder if he loves to draw,” she continued, studying her hands and recalling her own childhood love of drawing that had turned into a career as an artist.

     “You had to hide Moses so society wouldn’t harm him,” Lucy continued. “I had to hide Robert so his own mother wouldn’t hurt him!”

     “We are so blessed,” Jochebed replied. “God had his hand on both of us. He’s also with our boys. He is protecting Robert in a miraculous way, as He did Moses.”

     “I hope so,” Lucy sighed. “For so many generations we’ve hurt those people we should love. We’ve been doing the same thing since day one. We continue to do it. How can we speak and describe it? Why can’t we stop it?”

     Tears fell as the two women prayed for an end to the violence that separates mothers and children. As they departed to go their separate ways, they dreamt of the day when they could acknowledge their maternity to their sons.

COMMENTS: Carolyn – your story really touched me! I think it’s great to convey something powerful in a short piece – mainly cause most of mine are so long. I never gave up a child for adoption – but I’m presently struggling with circumstances concerning my own son – that are ripping me apart. Also, perhaps your piece will serve to inspire me to draw a similar comparison with another Biblical character. Thanks! This is great! Written by: Kathleen 03/05/2007

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