‘It doesn't matter who gave me birth. I am God's child.’
Noreen’s story | Adopted by God
“When I was 31, I found out that I was adopted. My birth mother had 12 children and I was her ninth. She kept all the others, but she gave me away to her younger sister. My aunt (who became my adoptive mother) had no children, so I became their only child. But I always assumed that my aunt and uncle were my parents.
I remember that when I found out (at 31) that I felt betrayed and lied to. I carried it around for a long time. It was as if I was walking around with a big sign on my back – I was adopted, unwanted. It took a really long time – maybe 30 years – till I had some healing.
Also, after I found out, I wondered … who was my real father? I didn’t look like my supposed biological dad. I looked like my adoptive dad. Did he have an affair with my biological mother? Or was there some form of orchestrated IVF? To this day, I don’t know the truth … and I can’t ask them now.
As well as being an only child, I had a strong sense of not belonging. I was different. Nowadays, I’d probably be diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. We lived in the bush near Newcastle and I mostly kept to myself.
But I also had a strong sense of right and wrong. I felt that there was something bigger in charge of the universe, although I didn’t know what it was, or who it was. I was taken to Sunday school as a child, on and off.
Then I got married to my first husband at 18 because I was pregnant with my first son. My husband didn’t want to have anything to do with the church, so we didn’t. We lived a very different (and dangerous) lifestyle, which I can’t tell you about. But in looking back, I think the Lord protected me. My husband left me for someone else when I was 46. At the same time, one of our sons had issues with alcohol. I remember saying to a Christian relative, “Well, I’ll think about your God only if things get better – if our son starts being sensible.”
The following year, I met my second husband. He was brought up in a church-going family, so in 1998, we went to a Christmas Eve service together in Manly.
I liked it! Afterwards, we met with the minister. He was heavily involved in ‘Evangelism Explosion’, so he asked us all the questions. “If you died tonight, would you be sure you were going to heaven?”
I said, “Yes, of course. I’m a good person!” My husband, on the other hand, trotted out all the religious answers.
We kept going to church after that. And on Good Friday, we were sitting in church and all of a sudden, the penny dropped. “That’s what this is all about!” I said. “Jesus died for me!” It made sense to me, even all the words in the Christmas carols and songs that I’d loved as a child.
After that, I started going to Bible study. I soaked it all up. I could read the Bible and understand it. I was 48 years old and it all made sense to me! Then, later, I went to Bible college and I got a Bachelor of Theology.
It was good, but I was still carrying the burden of feeling different and unwanted. It was still raw, especially every year on my birthday. So in 2013, I began attending monthly weekends at Ellel Ministries, for prayer and support. It’s been wonderful. The healing has been gradual, but I now know, deep in my heart, that God was with me from the beginning, even from my conception. He chose me and he loves me. He is my heavenly Father and I can trust in him. He reminds me all the time that it doesn’t matter who gave birth to me, or even who brought me up. I am his child.”
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:13)
Noreen’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.