BY PAT SABISTON; PHOTOS BY CARRIE SMITH, SWAK PHOTOGRAPHY
Allison Husfelt MacLean didn’t intend to be a single mother. It was thrust upon her with a shattering swiftness that still leaves her stunned almost three years later. And yet, she endured like a reluctant skydiver pushed from an airplane; she had no choice but to soar.
Their love story is a Southern classic. After a four-year courtship, Allison Husfelt and Andrew MacLean got married in May 2010. “I could talk Drew into doing just about anything. He’d say, ‘Okay, Allison, whatever you want if it makes you happy.’ Drew was the sweetest husband, and the most caring, considerate man,” Allison says with a faint smile.
“Even as a young adult, Drew was very conservative with his money, and always thought about the future,” Allison said. Despite his wife’s objections, Drew bought extra life insurance, when Allison felt their budget was already stretched thin. But it was this careful planning that allows Allison to be a stay-at-home mom today. Drew and Allison were in a devastating automobile accident in June of 2012. Allison was seven months pregnant with baby Ruby. Mother and child survived the trauma . Drew did not.
When Allison went into labor, her sisters, mother, and mother-in-law were by her side. “During the birth process, I played a sort of mind game with myself, comparing my birth experience with that of military wives whose husbands could not be with them. Women have had to do this before me, I thought. I won’t be the first or the last. I was in a pure survival mode, and stayed that way for several months.
“I found it almost impossible to cope with a new baby along with the heavy loss and heartache I was feeling following Drew’s death, but God granted grace for each day. Now, I almost feel guilty saying I’m a single mom, because I’ve had so much help. Ruby was born on August 31, and in December I can remember, when the emotional fog began to lift, saying to myself—Okay, I think I’ve got this. Up until that time my parents, sisters, and in-laws had taken turns taking care of me and my little girl.”
It was at this point that Allison began her “new normal” life.
“Drew and I had our lives all planned out. I had a preconceived notion about what the next few years would be like. Drew and I even had the names picked out for our first three children. Drew and I had begun to budget our monies more carefully, and even designated an envelope entitled ‘Adoption Fund’ because Drew wanted to adopt children as much as I did.
“When Ruby was not even a year old, I told my in-laws and parents that I was going to adopt. My parents were totally supportive, because they knew that if I say I’m going to do something, I’ve already made up my mind. My in-laws were baffled, and rightly so, they had questions . ‘What? Why? You already have one child.’
“My reasoning was simple—I really felt as if Ruby needed a sibling, and there was the sadness of missing out on the joy at the beginning of her life because there was so much heartache attached to it. Plus, Drew and I were so fortunate to grow up with live-in best friends, who just happened to be our siblings. So, my original plan was to adopt a little girl from Ethiopia.”
The reality is that international adoptions are not easy and it is very time consuming with paperwork and waiting for a child who has been released by the parents. It took Allison four months to complete the necessary dossier and turn it in, only to be told the organization with which she was trying to adopt was under indictment by the U.S. government.
“Evidently, they were trying to get children out too quickly and not following all the procedures on the birth-parent end,” Allison said. After I got the news of the indictment, I had to start all over again.”
Domestic adoptions had not been an alternative for Allison, because she was afraid she didn’t want to get close to the parents and risk them wanting to take the baby back. Then a friend introduced her to Bethany Christian Services.
“I filed an application and my sister, Anna, and I went for adoption training, which was very hard for me. I was surrounded by couples. I was the only single mother in the group. When we were asked to introduce ourselves, I was the last one to talk. I explained to the group that my husband had been killed in a car accident and we’d always wanted to adopt, but now I really wanted our child to have a sibling. Everyone in the group was very understanding, but I was told to expect to wait at least a year before I could be considered.”
“There were several things working against me: 1) I was single, 2) I already had a child (who was 18 months at the time), and 3) People who have no children at all get what I call “sympathy points,” so I was afraid I’d be discounted as a potential parent. However, throughout the training, the social workers kept referencing ‘Open Adoptions,’ which mean there is a relationship between the adoptive parent and the birth parent(s). You write letters, send pictures and e-mails, and can have face-to
face visits with the child. In reality, the birth parent(s) become a sort of distant relative to the adopted child, rather than a stranger.”
“For birth parents, Open Adoptions are more secure if they know they are going to be able to stay in touch with the child they are giving up. Also, Open Adoptions help with healing and allowing the birth parents to move on.”
“We were asked to do profile books but, based on what I had been told, I was very discouraged. That’s when my friends and family reminded me if it were God’s will, it would work out. I firmly believed God had a child for me, it was just a matter of finding him or her. Then, in January, I got a call saying there was a young woman who had picked me out and wanted to meet me to confirm arrangements. She didn’t even request an interview, but rather chose me, specifically, from my profile.”
What is so unique about the adoptive mother is that she chose Allison for the very reasons Allison thought she’d be discounted!
“She chose me because I was, like her, a single mom, with a two-year-old child, just as the birth mother has, and she loved the fact that I’d be a stay-at-home mother. Plus, the birth mom found my Christian faith to be an important factor in the decision-making process as well.”
As we finalized the interview, baby Carter Craft (soon-to-be MacLean) was snoozing contentedly in his baby swing. I asked Allison two last questions: “What do you see in your future? And, what advice would you give people who are traveling the same sort of road you’ve traveled?”
“Whatever my future holds, I want that to be in God’s hands, because He’ll take care of it, and orchestrate it far better than I ever could. I’m so guilty of trying to arrange my life, but now I’m just enjoying being a very busy mother of two adored children. And, as to the second question, I’d say: Hold on and trust God for your future. I don’t think I reflect on that enough. I was in a very dark place for an extremely long time, but I know one day I’ll see Drew again. And when I think about things now, I’m different than when I was married to him, but I know he would be proud of the woman I’ve become and how much I’ve grown as a person. So, I’d advise others to just let God orchestrate life… don’t quit… and don’t let go of God’s promises. When you think things are at the darkest point, just hold on, because there is hope for tomorrow.”
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