Sarah Noelle had known the rule, no boys allowed in the house without a parent at home, but she let a guy she knew come over anyway.
He was just a friend, totally harmless – until he raped her.
Sarah blamed herself. How could she let this happen? Shame isolated her from friends and family. She wanted to tell someone, but the words wouldn’t – couldn’t – come out of her mouth.
By the time Sarah went off to college, she believed love and respect were for other people, not a Christian girl who allowed her innocence to get stolen – by a supposed friend. She found a relationship to support her self-loathing, with a guy who berated her, who made her feel less than human. She knew she deserved it.
Within two months, Sarah became pregnant. Desperate, she set up an appointment to get an abortion and cried all week. Then the Monday before her Friday appointment at the clinic, her phone rang.
“When I prayed for you just now, I got this overwhelming urge to call,” said her mother’s voice.
“Honey, are you pregnant?” came her dad’s voice next.
Sarah broke into racking sobs, and her parents promised they would face this dilemma together. Sarah began to rediscover her faith and reconnect with family. Still, she knew she couldn’t provide a stable home for her child. In seven months, she delivered a beautiful baby girl and did the most difficult thing a mother can do: she blessed a married couple with the miracle who was her daughter.
But self-loathing is insidious.
When Sarah returned to college, she got into another caustic relationship and found herself pregnant – again – less than a year later. Drowning in despair, Sarah finally faced the origin of her perceived disgrace. Through prayer, therapy, and support from her family, although she advises girls to avoid isolated encounters with boys, she came to realize the rape hadn’t been her fault, that she’d been a victim of a violent act.
Letting go of her shame gave her strength, so Sarah felt, this time, she might be able to be a good single mother to her child. But by the time her baby boy arrived, she knew what she had to do. The same loving couple who adopted her daughter, who had given her baby the kind of stability Sarah had no hope of providing, were overjoyed when she blessed them, again, with her son so that he, too, may have the life he deserved.
Today, Sarah works for an electrical company to pay the bills, but her passion is supporting other birthmoms. On her website, Sunshine in a Bottle, she shares her experience and insights. She also writes articles for “Big Tough Girls” (BTG), an organization that provides understanding, resources, and the strength of a community to women who have experienced difficult circumstances (See Sarah’s latest post: “Your Authentic Self”). Bethany Christian Services adoption agency just voted for Sarah to serve on the board for the Southern California chapter. She’s the first birthmom to join the board – ever. Sarah regularly accepts invitations to tell her story at conferences, galas, and fundraisers. Most recently, she’s been talking to clergy about giving presentations to youth groups and at church services.
Over Memorial Day weekend last May, Sarah got to see her daughter, Ryanne, now 13, and son, Riley, age 11, with their parents at her
brother’s wedding. The kids have known, for most of their lives, they were adopted, that their birth mother loved them enough to let them go, so they may have a life she couldn’t provide. Seeing her children after all these years, how happy and healthy they are, helped to heal Sarah’s heart. She’d made the right choice. Since then, the kids have kept in touch via Facebook and Twitter.
It’s been a long road, but Sarah Noelle has found a way to heal through faith, friends, forgiveness, and honesty – taking it a step at a time.