In many ways, it’s still a mystery…how I came to be. During a visit to Ellis Island’s American Family Immigration History Center, I was delightfully surprised to be able to locate and obtain an authentic copy of the ship manifest page from the ship, Princess Irene, which brought my maternal birth grandparents, Olympio and Vincenza, from their home in Scontrone, Italy, through the port of departure in Naples to Ellis Island on August 30, 1906.

Just seeing their two names listed one underneath the other on the ship manifest page gave the mystery such a tangible basis in reality. She was only 16 years old, he was just 24, and they were on their way to live with cousins in Chicago. They married and had a daughter, Lydia, in 1911.

I met my birthmother, Lydia, in 1983, when I was 30 years old, and Lydia was 72. Lydia explained to me the circumstances of my conception, birth, and adoption. During a Memorial Day holiday weekend with a gentleman in 1952, Lydia, at age 41, became pregnant with me. When she realized she was pregnant, she told the gentleman with whom she had spent the weekend and he was unwilling to help her. Her mother, Vincenza, did not want her daughter, a single mother at age 41, to disgrace her family with an illegitimate child, so Lydia left Chicago to live with a relative in Miami, Florida.

In October, she went to a back-alley abortionist to abort me, but when the abortionist examined her and realized she was over four months pregnant, he told her the abortion might kill her, and he refused to do it. Lydia made arrangements with the Salvation Army hospital in Jacksonville to give me up for adoption. On Friday the 13th she gave birth to me, and signed the papers giving me up for adoption on Valentine’s Day 1953.

I was adopted by loving Christian parents. I grew up in church, active in Sunday School and missions organizations. I prayed to receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior at the age of 10, and was baptized by immersion following my salvation. I have a Master’s degree in Education, in curriculum, instruction, and supervision. I write articles on a variety of topics to inspire and encourage others. My expertise as a creative and critical thinking specialist is steeped in years of experience as a writer, presenter, educator and former Florida Department of Education State Consultant for Gifted Education. I am married with two adult children, and two adorable grandsons.

I grow closer to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ every day through prayer, worship, and the study of His Word. I rest and find comfort in these life verses:

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ Jeremiah 29:11

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

My daily relationship with our living Lord Jesus reinforces my belief in the sovereignty of God, that nothing comes into my life that is not filtered through God’s hands of love. I believe there are no “accidents.” I believe God planned who my birth parents would be and who my Mom and Dad would be, and both influences, plus His, are needed to help me become all that He created me to be.

I believe that God sees the end from the beginning. He knows me intimately, He knit me together in my mother’s womb, one day I will see Him face-to-face and I will know as I am known. I didn’t bring myself into this world, and I can’t take myself into heaven. I train my mind to acknowledge God’s hand in whatever it is I’m living with, because God is sovereign.

He is the beginning, He will be the ending, and in between, by His grace, He lets us be part of His perfect plan, for His glory and for our good. In the meantime, I will expect a mystery.

Beth Willis Miller, M.Ed.5-7-14 beth willis miller, is a contributing author of three books: Under His Wings: Truths to Heal Adopted, Orphaned, and Waiting Children’s Hearts; 21 Stories of Generosity: Real Stories to Inspire a Full Life (A Life of Generosity); A New Song: Glimpses of the Grace Journey (an anthology of essays, poems, stories and photos celebrating God’s grace on life’s journey); and member of AWSA, the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She writes articles on a variety of topics to inspire and encourage others. She is married with two adult children, and two adorable grandsons. Connect with Beth on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

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