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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

An Adopteeā€™s Journey to Her Roots

By Melissa Kamay Riggins
Jan. 22, 2012

Where to begin?

That’s the question running through my mind, because I’m not sure where God really began in my journey. We know He’s there and His hands are always moving in our lives, but there comes a point when you can see Him move.

I see my journey starting in 1966, long before I was even born. In May of that year my birth mother, Donna (or Dee, as I call her), was born to two loving parents — one of whom was an Assemblies of God missionary.

Then, in August 1966, two wonderful, God-loving people began preparations to marry and spend their lives together. Neither of these couples knew anything about the other; nor did they know that, 15 years later, each would make an impact on the others’ lives.

Fast-forward 15 years. Dan and Ruth had tried to have children of their own, only to find failure. Then, through the counsel of their pastor, they began proceedings to adopt through Highlands Child Placement Service of the Assemblies of God (now part of Assemblies of God Family Services Agency in Hot Springs, Ark.).

Meanwhile, Dee became pregnant at 15 and faced a big decision at a very young age. She decided to place me for adoption through Highlands — not because she didn’t care for me or love me, or couldn’t take care of me, but because she felt that this was what she needed to do, for me.

Subsequently, Highlands placed me in a loving home with loving parents, Dan and Ruth.

Later, when I was a young adult, Highlands helped me contact my birth mother. We wrote back and forth until we both made the decision to meet. At the age of 21, I met Dee for the very first time.

I met the woman who chose life. She could have taken my life from me, but she chose to bring me into this world and share me with the most loving parents a child could ever have.

 During our first phone conversation, I said to Dee, “If I never get to meet you or talk to you ever again, I just want you to know one thing: I have always loved you, I have always appreciated the fact that you chose life for me, and I have lived life to its fullest — if not for me, then as a thank you to you.”

Through that phone conversation and many more, as well as lots of emails and visits, I have built a lasting relationship with my birth mother and her family. They have, in fact, now become an extension of my own family.

The year after meeting Dee, I went to meet my birth father at his home. Dee was on pins and needles, as she did not have the fondest of memories or feelings toward this person. I was, however, able to form friendships with him as well as his family.

Later, in the summer of 2004, my parents and I took a family trip to meet Dee and her family. Although I had been there many times before, it was great to see them all together, my mother and birth mother elbow-to-elbow in the kitchen, laughing, sharing and cooking together.

My father and grandfather, Dee and husband Tim, Dee’s mother, Katherine, and the kids all joined me around the table, eating and joking merrily. There were times I just sat back, overwhelmed by the joy of having us all together in the same house.

My mother took my photo albums and scrapbooks with us to Dee’s home so everyone could see pictures of me growing up. We also shared life stories together. It was truly amazing, a blessing beyond compare, to finally see the magnitude of how the hand of God had moved in our lives.

Today I am married and have three children. I did move to where my birth mother lives, and it was very hard on my parents. But they have found peace in knowing that they will always be my parents; my birth parents will never take their place.

During Christmas 2010, my parents, my birth mother, her family and my family sat around a Christmas tree in my home sharing our favorite holiday together. My parents have now also moved close, and we all get together frequently. It is truly a blessing.

We recently dedicated my youngest son at church, and both my mother and birth mother stood with us during the dedication. God’s love is amazing, and I am truly grateful to be able to share my children with both grandmothers.

However, there have been struggles as well. During the spring and fall of 2007, I suffered two miscarriages, followed by another one in the spring of 2008. Amid the depression and hurt I felt the need to go back to the beginning, to my roots, to help work through such a difficult time in my life. AG Family Services Agency (formerly Highlands Child Placement Service) was there for me. I talked to them about my story and how I needed reassurance.

While family and friends were there for me, I was searching outside of the usual places for help. I hurt on a level that I have never experienced before. After speaking with Mary Michaels of AGFSA, she felt that I needed to give my testimony at the facility because there were others who needed to hear about my journey.

I traveled with my family to AGFSA in Hot Springs for the Fall Festival, where I gave my testimony. Recounting the anointing and blessing God placed on my life, even from the beginning, was very difficult. However, I relayed my story through tears.

Then I offered a word of thanks to everyone who works and donates his or her time, talents and money to this agency. It accomplishes wonderful things, and it develops wonderful adults and children.

AGFSA instills a sense of hope that can move mountains in a woman’s life. I know this so well because such a hope has filled my life, as well the life of the woman who gave me life and the woman who nurtured and mothered me.

As the mother of three boys, I find peace in knowing that God’s grace is sufficient. He will carry me through anything. And, once again AGFSA has helped me through.

MELISSA KAMAY RIGGINS attends Macomb (Ill.) Assembly of God.

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