Three years ago, I walked through my darkest valley. I found myself muddling through the grief of a fresh divorce. My heart was bruised, and my hope marred. Yet deep within me, I had a fire to be strong for my two daughters and instill in them hope of better days to come.

I returned to my parents’ home and set forth to build a life for me and my girls, who were 5 and 2 years old. At the time, I was entering into post-baccalaureate coursework for speech and language pathology. Working late nights at a restaurant to make quick money, complete full-time courses online and nurture two young children took much of my strength.

The tricky thing about grief is that it demands attention. My heart was sick for love, and my mind and body ached for companionship while fearing commitment. After years of an unhealthy marriage, I felt defeated. In my quest for “love” and freedom, I abused both and fell into a more profound crisis.

I found myself pregnant with a child I had no means to provide for with a man I hardly knew. Although it was my passion to raise the next generation, I was keenly aware of what it would take to raise another child, given my circumstances. It was one mighty task to shepherd the mind, heart and physical wellness of another human being.

With my divorce, I had watched my dream of a family rip at the seams. The pregnancy caused me to take a rational, hard look at my life and I had to see it for what it was — fragmented, in need of significant repair.

But the fear was crippling; I made at least four appointments to get an abortion. Two were to get the abortion pill, and the other two were in-clinic abortions. But my financial situation was complicated, and I could not afford to follow through with any of these appointments. In retrospect, this was a blessing in disguise.

Then I considered adoption. I thought of one of my closest relationships, my cousin, who was a part of my life only because she had been adopted. I thought about the couples who ached to have a family: The men who hoped to leave a lasting legacy in a child and the women who yearned to be mothers experiencing tremendous grief because they could not.

Ultimately, however, I opted for adoption for two reasons. As a woman of deep faith, I knew God’s heart on the matter. His Scripture is clear. One of my favorite verses is, “As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything” (Ecclesiastes 11:5). I trusted His works were more significant than what I knew at the moment.

Two, I wanted my daughters to know that life holds immeasurable value, despite how I feel. I wanted to show them that I could put my pride aside, endure temporary discomfort and do what was good and beautiful. I wanted to set a good example for them with my faith, integrity and wisdom.

Gideon is the name of my birth son. Through Gideon’s life, a family was created, one which extends further than I could imagine. I see him through open adoption and testify to others of God’s grace.

My daughters, who are thriving, are not fully aware of what occurred, and they simply know that two years ago, “Mommy grew a baby for another mommy who couldn’t.” They have seen pictures of Gideon and know who he is. I hope to have them all meet soon and am letting the Lord guide me in this process.

As for me, I recently received my teaching credential. I will be working as an intervention teacher, guiding and assisting children with reading and writing.

I believe women reflect God’s compassion and ability to nourish and nurture. This belief was supported when Gideon was placed in the arms of his adoptive mother the night he was born.

These days, I speak with women facing unwanted pregnancies, sharing with them my story and listening to theirs. I am passionate about educating women holistically and lovingly, equipping them to make a fully informed decision.

With God’s grace, my birth son’s life helped lead me from my darkest valley into a life filled with redemptive light. Soli Deo gloria.

The above comes from a June 20 op-ed in the San Diego Union by Lauren Long of Ramona.