Davis’ Story

We moved from Lexington, NC to Atlanta, GA in October of 2003. Smyth and Dawson were six-month-olds and we were not yet past the giddy stage of being new parents. Even with the discovery of infertility, our desire for a large family never diminished. So in the spring of 2005 we began pursuing another adoption.

This time we chose to use an adoption consultant. Normally, a couple works with a single agency and their adoptive family profile is shown to the birthmothers who also choose to work with that agency. An adoption consultant works with multiple agencies at a time. The consultant takes the adoptive family profiles and gives them to multiple adoption agencies simultaneously. There are inherent risks for the adoptive family going this route, but we were OK with them.

A beautiful and humble 40-year-old Ethiopian woman had been living in the U.S. for only a couple of years. Tadisse (NOT her real name) had made some mistakes, but in fairness some of those mistakes were due to a lack of understanding of U.S. versus Ethiopian culture.

She spent a few months incarcerated where she befriended a chaplain. That is also the time when her daughter entered foster care. Tadisse, like you and me, is flawed. She is a kind and gentle woman. She is an unselfish woman. She is a spiritual woman.

Not too long after her release she became pregnant and sought the counsel of the chaplain she had befriended. She (the chaplain) guided her to an adoption attorney in Atlanta.

Tadisse’s dilemma was a matter of love. There was no question of her love for the child inside of her or for her daughter in foster care. She was not married, and in her estimation, was not making enough money to provide for the needs of a newborn. She was working hard in a job and working hard to turn her life around so that she could bring home her daughter once again.

After much thought and prayer Tadisse determined the best thing she could do was to place her child into the arms of parents who would love her child as much as she did.

Our profile was sitting in the office of the adoption attorney she consulted. Tadisse began the process of looking though the stack of adoptive family profiles. Ours was the first one she came to. She told us later that as she turned the pages, saw pictures, and read our story she was, “filled with joy and peace.” When she finished our profile, she put it down and said, “I do not need to see any others, that’s the family.”

Our third son came to us in a matter of days. We received a phone call on September 20th that a little boy had been born to Tadisse without complication at DeKalb Hospital in Atlanta.

This would be a private adoption (meaning only the birthmother, the adoptive parents, and the adoption lawyer would be involved). The risk is always greater for the adoptive family in a private adoption, but it didn’t matter as much to us. All we knew at this point was this precious woman wanted us to be the ones to turn a little boy into a man through love, care, and training.

On the 21st we received another phone call from the attorney saying Tadisse asked to know what name we wanted on the birth certificate. In her mind this son was God’s son. She gave birth, Judith would mother, I would father, but God would take care of him just as He did with Moses in the book of Exodus from the Bible.

His name is Davis. He’s named for our longtime family friends. The relationship began with our parents while in college. Their youngest son and I picked up where they never really left off. The emotional journeys of the McNeelys and Davises have been shared journeys. The Davises will forever be carved into our hearts.

We arrived at the hospital on the 22nd. For 2 days Tadisse had nursed, held, sung to, prayed over, and in other ways loved Davis. We walked into the door and met Tadisse in person.

She was holding him and upon our arrival immediately placed Davis in Judith’s arms, smiled and said, “Here is your son.”

We talked about life, about Davis, about her journey, and ours. She asked if it would be okay to pray. Of course we said yes and I asked for her to sit by my bride while we prayed. Instead, she insisted on me sitting next to Judith while she prayed over us. So she knelt and laid her hands on our knees while praying. Part of it was in her native tongue. Most of it was in English. She prayed blessings over us, over the twins, and over Davis. I prayed through tears and an overwhelmed heart.

The time soon came for Tadisse to check out of the hospital. She held him one last time and for the first time we saw her weep as she said goodbye. She kissed him on the forehead, got in the chair and thanked us one final time.

In hindsight I wish we had let her be alone with him again, but I am so thankful to have witnessed the most gut wrenching sight of my life.

Tadisse is flawed. She is kind and gentle. She is unselfish. She is spiritual.

We watched her intentionally choose to act contrary to the way God made women. She said, “No,” to raise the child who grew inside of her for 9 months. She placed her child into the arms of another, not because she did not love him. She placed him into the arms of another because she did love him.

On her knees, she prayed thanks to God for his plans. She thanked God that Judith could not give birth, because if she could, then we may not have been a family she could have chosen. She said He was good to her because of the desire He placed into our hearts.

Her incredible sacrifice and gift to us led us to many tears in that hospital room. It has led to many tears in many different rooms.

Our eyes were opened in a new way on September 22, 2005. We are deeply humbled and eternally grateful for a woman who chose to make the ultimate sacrifice. Davis will forever be linked to a family who has loved the McNeelys well — and to his birthmother who has loved him well.