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"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself." Joseph Campbell
I recently received a "story call-out" request from Chicken Soup for the Adopted Soul. I started to delete the email, thinking that the experience of adoption really hadn't touched my life. And then I remembered that it had, in a very profound way. If you have been touched by adoption, I would love to read your story and share it with our 2TheHeart family! Please email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, with story submission in the subject line. On another note, I have received several emails, asking why I haven't run the Letter Box lately. My little Ian is now almost two and keeps me so incredibly busy that I have had to cut out many things in my life just to keep chasing him! However, I have made it a goal to be sure to make time to share your letters, and began today's Letter Box with an important letter from last week's author, Dorothy Casper, so be sure to read it! Have a blessed weekend!
"Angel's Legacy" by Susan Farr Fahncke
He was a beautiful bundle of chubby arms and blue eyes and I only got to hold him once in his life. My sister was young and unmarried and her baby’s father had vanished, so she made the hardest, bravest decision a woman can ever make. And God must have guided her all the way in this decision, because no one on earth could have known what lie ahead for my sister.
Tanner’s parents were with us throughout her labor and delivery and she couldn’t have chosen better parents for this little angel. Friends of friends of our mothers, they had had a rough road with trying to adopt a child and one disappointment after another led them to ask if they could adopt my sister’s baby when they learned of her situation. Gentle and loving, I watched them with both a heavy heart and an inner calm as my sister worked to bring this gift into the world and into their lives. I was deeply saddened that we would never know Tanner, but truly happy he was going to such wonderful, kind parents. They glowed with the excitement of finally having a baby and I had no doubt my sister was not only giving them the greatest gift of their lives, but also giving Tanner the greatest gift in these two people.
Angel and Tanner’s parents had an “open adoption”, which meant that she could contact them throughout the course of his life and they would send her yearly pictures and updates. What a blessing this turned out to be!
A couple of years later, Angel got married and standing in the receiving line, I heard a gasp and hushed, excited voices and a name: Tanner. Tears filled my eyes as I saw the little family walk toward us and embrace my sister. Tanner was now a gorgeous tow-headed toddler and as his little arms encircled my sister’s neck, tears flowed down my cheeks and I froze the moment in my heart forever. I still have a little photo of Tanner and my sister in her wedding gown, with him sitting amid the enormous fluff of her train and her radiant face telling me what a purely joyous moment this was in her life.
We didn’t get to see Tanner again until six years later. My beautiful twenty-eight year old sister was fighting for her life. She had a brain tumor and only a few months left to live. It was September and we had contacted Tanner’s family and they had generously agreed to bring Tanner to spend the afternoon with Angel and our family.
We waited excitedly and I thought this must be how our loved ones feel who wait for us in Heaven. It was a reunion to be unequaled in joy. My sister covered her now bald and scarred head with a Disney baseball cap. Her silky blonde hair was completely gone. The steroids that she was taking to control the swelling in her brain caused her face to swell and her entire body to shake. But she was still so beautiful, so radiant. I helped her put on makeup and carefully applied lip gloss – she wanted her son to think she was pretty and tears burned my eyes as I fought to keep control over my emotions.
Finally the moment arrived and we all watched as Tanner and his parents got out of their van, Tanner carrying a gigantic teddy bear that was literally bigger than he was. My heart caught in my throat as I watched Angel’s face. She was just glowing and I could see the pride in her eyes as she watched this little miracle stride toward her.
Tanner’s parents brought video so we could see important events in his life and our two families gathered around the television as Angel and Tanner sat quietly at the table. I stood in the kitchen to videotape Angel and Tanner and save every single second for her to watch later. I knew in my heart of hearts that this would be the last reunion for the two of them. If she would have chosen to keep Tanner and raise him herself all those years ago, what would be happening to him now? We were so blessed that he wouldn’t be as deeply wounded by her passing because he was placed with the most gentle, loving parents possible for him. I knew that whatever happened, he would be alright. They would make sure he had a good life. If my sister wouldn’t have chosen to give him up for adoption, he would have his life ripped apart before he was even eight years old. She had listened to her heart and done the right thing. I know it was a heartbreaking decision, but she had always been confident that it was best for Tanner. I just let the tears pour down my face as I listened to their conversation and marveled at Life’s events that brought us to this moment.
“What happened to your hair?” he asked softly.
“I’m sick.” His birth mother answered simply. She removed her hat and let him feel her head.
“Are you going to get better?” he asked the question of the year. I could hear a falter in his voice, a fear that told him this was a serious kind of sickness to have. The room became silent and I held in the tears and waited for how on earth she would handle this question.
“Oh, yes, don’t you worry. I’ll be fine!” my valiant sister reassured him. Her voice soft and reassuring, her only thoughts were to shield him. If she hadn’t been before, she became my hero in that moment. I could no longer control the tears and left the room so I wouldn’t ruin this perfect day.
Tanner’s family ended up staying several hours and it was a golden day that we will all remember dearly. We took pictures of Tanner with my kids, his cousins who had never known him, and pictures of Angel and Tanner sitting close together, big smiles on both their beautiful faces.
Angel died the following spring. Lying in her casket with my sister was the single rose that Tanner had brought to her funeral. Angel left a legacy of many important lessons – she was so strong and so compassionate to others, even when her own life was ebbing away. But her greatest gift to the world was Tanner. He was truly Angel’s Legacy.
Susan Farr-Fahncke copyright 2007 email@example.com
I am the founder of 2TheHeart and the awesome volunteer group, Angels2TheHeart! You can read more about Angel in my book "Angel's Legacy". If you would like a personally signed copy, please email me or visit the Angel's Legacy page at 2theheart.com.
Tanner and Angel September 2000
The Letter Box:
Thanks so much for printing my story. I have already received letters expressing the help it gave to them. It felt good to think I might have made a contribution for good. I'm afraid I haven't been able to do that lately. As I reread the story I felt renewed for you see one year ago I was told I had a brain tumor. This has been the hardest trial yet, but just as I said in the story, God is with us.The surgeons tell me It will be another year before I will be completely over the 8 hour surgery and its affects on the body but I am up, driving and doing most of the things I have always done. Part of my daily therapy is tap dancing for 15 minutes every day and I'm not to shabby.
Life is good and I so appreciate you and 2theheart and the influence for good you continually do for everyone.
God Bless and again Many Thanks, Dorothy Casper
Mary Tyler Moore is so right, for without the pain we undergo in our lives, how can we be courageous knowing only the wonderful things. Yes, we do take our health for granted, especially for all the ugly things that pray upon us in our antiquity. I never knew I could be so brave until He showed me that we can endure and conquer more than we'll ever know. Your beautiful story says it all. You are one of my heroes in this world and I pray you continue to have well days to enjoy your garden and write your lovely words.
Blessings to you and yours, Kathe Campbell
I was so touched by your story in 2TheHeart today! You are a great example of faith and miracles. May God continue to bless your life!
Thank you for sharing the story "Blueprint for Living" by Dorothy Casper. I really needed to read this, as I am fighting cancer myself. At times it's hard to have faith, but this story really helped restore my faith and brought me hope. I have printed it out and have it on my fridge so I can re-read it often and remember that God can and does care.
Betsy in CA
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your story. We often forget how our words can either hurt or heal and your church leader remembered what a difference reaching out can make. In reading your story, I could feel how much he comforted you. Thank heaven for people like this! I will pray for continued good health for you. Please write again!
God bless you, Caroline F., NY
What a joyous story by Dorothy Casper! I have been a member of 2theheart for years and it was good to see a new story from her! Thanks for all the stories - you do make a difference!