Lindsay Pepin Ophus: And I remember being at church and praying to God and saying, “I place my baby in Your strong arms, bring peace to my soul.” And God said back to me, “You know, I understand ’cause I had to give up my baby, too.” And when the god of the universe can come down and meet you right where you are and say, “I understand your pain, I get it because I had to give up My baby, too, and I gave up My baby for you,” How do you at that point – you just have to trust and you just know that he will work it out that your baby is going to be safe and in the right home because He gets it.
End of Excerpt
John Fuller: Hm. That’s Lindsay Pepin Ophus talking about giving up her baby for adoption. She’s back with us today. We’re also joined by her mom, Scarlet Pepin, and her aunt, Bethany Pepin, to tell the rest of their incredible story. I’m John Fuller and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly.
Jim Daly: Now, John, last time we heard an incredible story, as you said, from Lindsay and from her mother Scarlet. And I think – if you missed the program, first of all, get the download, go get the phone app – whatever you need to do. It was one of the boldest, most transparent conversations about parenting in this modern culture that I think I’ve had here at Focus. It’s that good. And, uh, the reason is – is that Lindsay was so transparent as a teenager and, uh, ending up her senior year becoming pregnant and how she was living this double life and trying to please Mom and Dad, a good Christian home, winning all the stickers for her high performance, yet having this secret that she and her boyfriend were, uh, physically intimate during that period of time as well, and she ended up pregnant. It’s a good, gripping story of how to manage these things well. And I said throughout the program last time, “If you have an experience – you might – this is the kind of instruction that you’re going to need.” And they’re in a much better place now; we heard that in their relationship last time. But today we’re gonna continue the discussion because last time we didn’t get to the decision – what are we gonna do now with this baby? And this is the most critical point. And as a pro-life organization, we wanted to make sure we covered this most important aspect of the story, and that is, frankly, life is the better choice.
John: And we referred, uh, last time to the book that Lindsay has written along with Scarlet and Bethany called Joy Will Come: Exchange Shame for Redemption. And, uh, we have that and a lot of helpful resources as well, including our counseling team, if you need to talk to somebody about a life situation – all of that at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: Scarlet, uh, let’s pick up last time. I’ve had a little while to think about what we discussed. And I’m thinking back to the day – you said – was that Saturday morning. And Lindsay, you knew from that following – and you knew from the previous Wednesday that you were pregnant; you just hadn’t told your parents yet – that loneliness, that grief, that guilt. You couldn’t sleep at night. You were having night terrors those few nights. And the Saturday morning you came down and told your parents, and it all exploded. Dad was pounding the table, saying “Who was it? Who did this?” And Scarlet, you were, “No, no, no,” and left the room. I – I appreciate that.
Scarlet Pepin: Mmm hmm.
Jim: Um, that’s how most of us will react if we go through something like this.
Lindsay: Yeah, definitely.
Jim: I wanna go back to that – that night, that Saturday night.
Jim: So that initial blow has come. You’ve done your best to comfort Lindsay, yet to try to figure out what we’re gonna do. What was that discussion like in the bedroom between you and your husband, Brad?
Scarlet: This was actually the first time we had been alone that day, he and I. And, um, we’re laying there in silence, just hearing the clicking of the fan above us. And you’re speechless. You’re just – like I said, it’s just like you’ve been punched in the gut. There’s – what do you say? How did we get here? And yes, we felt like it was “we.” How do “we” get here? And, um, I looked over, and I – I saw my husband laying there on his pillow and a tear was trickling down his square jaw as it hit his pillow. With his lip quivering, he said, “The formula, it doesn’t work.” And I knew exactly what he meant, but I – I decided to be quiet and let him go ahead and talk it through. And he said, “You – you feel like you do it just the right way. I mean, we did the programs. We took her to church. I did the father-daughter dances. We had a purity ring. It doesn’t work. The formula doesn’t work.” And at that point, when you’re only 24 hours into it, there’s – there’s no solving it. There’s no trying to patch it up real quickly. You just have raw emotions laying there.
Jim: Lindsay – and I’m sure, Scarlet, um, you had to be feeling like, OK, the question to answer is, what now? And we don’t have to go into all those details. But at the rock bottom place – I mean, you did go to Planned Parenthood.
Jim: So, abortion must have been something that you may be thought of. Describe that place, where you were at at that point. Was that one of the options you were considering?
Lindsay: Abortion wasn’t necessarily, from the get-go, one of the options. When we did go to Planned Parenthood, I found out, um, later that they did present us with that as an option. They provided us material. They gave us the information and asked us for a decision right then, when I stated before, I was in complete and utter shock to where I couldn’t even hear her. So, to be asked to make a decision right, um, from the get-go, it was – we just need to leave. You know, we need to leave. And I – not to say that it never crossed my mind ’cause there was a really dark day where I did think about, I could have fixed this. I could have made this all go away. I could have removed all of this. I could have not told my parents. Um, I knew from the beginning – and it’s crazy how you feel this way – I immediately loved that baby. On the third day that I knew I was pregnant, um, I remember reading that the baby was the size of a sprinkle, and so I went to Walmart, and I found the biggest sprinkle I could find because I wanted the baby to be big. And I remember thinking, oh, my goodness, my baby’s a sprinkle.
Jim: So, you were connected?
Lindsay: Yes. I just – I mean, it’s something that you can never explain, is a mother’s love, and it was from the moment I knew that – I had to go see, well, what does my baby look like? I have to go see a sprinkle. And it was, um, I definitely had hose thoughts and definitely thought about the negative side of things. Um, but I just know for myself that I loved that baby so much. I knew I wanted to be the best mother I could be for that baby already. And I knew that baby was alive, and I knew that life had already started.
Lindsay: And I knew that there was there was a baby in me.
Jim: You know, this is one of the observations that has hit me in – especially in the last, uh, year, you know, with all the, um, activity at the government level, state level, to either increase or decrease abortion.
Jim: Of course, again, we’re a pro-life organization.
Jim: So, we applaud all those efforts to really, uh, reduce or eliminate abortion altogether.
Jim: We support that. Um, the thing that I’ve observed, though – think of Planned Parenthood and other, um, abortion organizations that have been able to convince a woman…
Jim: …To rob her of that natural instinct of a mother.
Jim: What you just described, I believe every woman actually has.
Jim: That instinct for protection and for nurture.
Jim: And it’s a powerful thing to think they have been able to separate women from that – that God-given natural instinct.
Jim: Does that make sense?
Lindsay: Definitely. Well, and especially when that conversation starts, when you’re in complete and utter shock, and you have no idea, you know, even where to find the door to get out of the room because you’re in so much shock that those conversations are already starting. And thankfully, I had a solid base in the way that I grew up, you know, that, you know, I knew that regardless of the situation that we could – my parents would be upset but we would figure it out. And I knew regardless that, you know, I had already been trained that life started in the womb. So, I already knew that there was availability. And I knew there was already options. And I think sometimes women don’t think that there’s any other option. They don’t know…
Jim: Right, they feel trapped.
Lindsay: …They feel trapped. They don’t know. They don’t have family.
Jim: Well, and that’s the other aspect of this part of your story and today’s program, that obviously there’s multiple options for a woman in this environment, where Roe v. Wade it’s legal to have an abortion. Um, adoption is definitely an option.
Lindsay: Mm hmm.
Jim: And keeping the child is an option.
Jim: And one thing that I’m told by Robyn Chambers, who heads up our Option Ultrasound project, which is where we place machines in pregnancy resource clinics. And we work with these clinics. And they’re in most communities. And we love these grassroots efforts to try to reach a – a teen girl like you to inform her, to show her an ultrasound of her baby so that she can make a better decision, which obviously we’re hoping it’s for life. But there is a stigma in our culture about adoption.
Jim: You know, women would unfortunately choose to simply get the abortion, not have to deal with this – not have to deal with this rather than have a baby, have their baby adopted by others.
Scarlet: Yeah. Yes.
Jim: And we need to turn that around as a culture because that’s a far better solution than terminating the life of that child.
Jim: All right. That’s all, you know, that’s all the commercial I want to say there. But the point of this is, what decision are you making? How did that decision come about? When did you know we’re going to put this baby up for adoption?
Scarlet: There were months and months and months of not knowing where we had to keep…
Jim: OK, so your – the baby’s growing inside you, Lindsay. You’re not sure – other than you will have the baby – but you’re not sure what the next step is for months.
Lindsay: For months, and there was months of counseling. I mean I – I went through an organization called Crisis Pregnancy Outreach in Tulsa. And, um, through there we attended free counseling. I attended support groups, um, adoption support groups for women who were going to place their babies for adoption, as well as women who were going to parent at a young age. So, they provided those resources. And, um, it’s funny, it’s easy when you’re not in this situation to say what you would do. And whenever I – before I was this scenario, I would always see girls at high school and be like, “They should place that baby for adoption. That’s the best thing for that baby. They should place that baby for adoption.” But when it’s your baby and you have to think through, “I’m going to give this baby to somebody else, and this baby’s going to call somebody else Mom, this baby’s going to go home to somebody else and tell them about their first bad day, this baby on their wedding day is going to have some other woman zipping up their dress” – and you think it’s so easy to say, “You should place your baby for adoption,” but when you’re in this situation, it has to be something that God tells you to do, that God walks you through, that you see the right people, you get the right counseling, because ultimately, when you compare, um, what you’re going to go through, it’s gonna be tough. But it’s gonna be so much worth it than the option of killing your baby, where you’ll never know; you’ll have the what-if, you’ll have even the physical pain of what you go through of aborting a baby, versus the adoption process – you get to see your baby afterwards.
Jim: Which is very good. And ultimately choosing life is the goal there. Bethany, I wanna turn to you now. You are Scarlet’s sister-in-law and Lindsay’s aunt. You and your husband Jeff, you’re heroes in this story. And I’m so grateful to have you. Your part of this story was amazing to me as I read about it. Tell us about what happened when you were thirteen and how did that play into this situation?
Bethany Pepin: One of the many ways that God spoke to me, even as a child, was that I would have dreams or pictures, or I would see things. And, um, when I was very young, so even before thirteen, I would have this same dream of this little girl. And she sat on the second pew of a church. And I was standing on the stage. And I would look at this little girl with this beautiful brown hair flowing over her shoulders and this big bow on top of her head. And I saw this same dream over and over and over again. And I just remember in my very first journal entry at thirteen years old I wrote down I saw the little girl again. I said, “I don’t know who she is, but I know one day I’ll get to help her.”
Jim: OK, this is beautiful because God is weaving this story in all of your hearts.
Jim: So, you choose for open adoption. Jeff, brother of Brad, comes home and says, “Guess what?” And what did he say?
Bethany: Um, well, I had gotten up very early on a Saturday morning to nurse our nine-month-old who never slept ever…
Jim: Oh, my goodness.
Bethany: …Ever slept. And he crawled on the floor next to me. He had gotten home late from being with his brothers the night before. He crawled on the floor at six a.m. I knew something was wrong. And he said, “Lindsay’s pregnant.” And I couldn’t quite process that. I was like, there’s not a Lindsay that could be pregnant, you know? And then I was like, wait, wait, Lindsay, like, senior in high school Lindsay, she’s pregnant? And so much happened in the next hour that I’m not even sure how to even start explaining it. Um, I had always wanted to adopt. My whole life I felt so, so, so strongly. And I just felt over the last, like, five years leading up to that God would say, “Plant the seeds in Jeff,” um, because he’s one of 10 children, so it’s always, like, you have kids. Like, you don’t necessarily need to adopt kids. You have kids. And – and so every time that God would tell me, “Plant those seeds,” and Jeff and I would talk about it. And he would not really be that – it was just not something that…
Jim: He didn’t respond.
Jim: Yeah, I get that as a guy.
Bethany: And so – but in that moment, those years of those seeds that had been planted, we decided in one hour to offer to adopt that baby.
Jim: That’s amazing. And also, though, it connected to the dream.
Bethany: Oh, one hundred percent. I didn’t realize it at the time.
Jim: When did that happen? When did you go, “Wow, she’s the girl?”
Bethany: I just remember I was praying, I was driving somewhere and all of a sudden, I saw the little girl again. Like, it just the – the memory popped in my mind. And I just started weeping. And I was like, I have to find the journal. Where’s the journal? I need the journal. So, I ran home as fast as I could. And I opened up my very first journal in that scribbly little kid handwriting…
Jim: Thirteen-year-old handwriting. I love it.
Bethany: …Thirteen-year-old handwriting. And it said, “I don’t know who she is, but I know one day I’ll get to help her.” And I just started weeping on the floor of my closet, which is where I had always spent my time with the Lord growing up. So, I had obviously written that on the floor of my childhood home in my closet. I found there and I sat there in my closet and cried.
Bethany: Because I knew in that moment that this was my little girl. And that God had told me – God had prepared me from childhood to be her mom, from childhood. God is preparing all of us for the things that He has called us to do long before we ever even know that they’re gonna be a part of our lives.
Jim: That is a wow story. I mean, that’s like the Book of Acts, you know, that God is giving you this passion for this person all those years earlier. And then, Lindsay, I mean, I’m hearing, you know, Bethany with that mom’s voice and I’m looking at your face because this is really unique.
Jim: I mean, she’s talking about your daughter.
Lindsay: I know, I know.
Jim: And how do you feel in that regard? I mean, my heart goes out to you a little bit because if you were just a little bit older.
Lindsay: Right, right.
Jim: And in a different position and maybe married that boyfriend, it would be different. But are you OK?
Lindsay: Yeah, I mean, as I tear up, um, yeah because at the end of the day um, God works all things out for the good. God knew from the moment that Kinley was conceived that Bethany was supposed to be her mom. God knew 20 years before Kinley was conceived…
Jim: How about at the formation of the universe?
Lindsay: …Yes, that that’s who Kinley’s mom was supposed to be. And God, through multiple confirmations and multiple discussions, shared that with me and brought me into that. And at the end of the day, I had to be the best mother I could, and that was to not be Kinley’s mom because I knew that the correct mother was Bethany. And I – being the best mother I could do, was releasing my child and choosing the best life for her. And I remember being at church and praying to God and saying, “I place my baby in Your strong arms, bring peace to my soul.” And God said back to me, “You know, I understand ’cause I had to give up My baby, too.” And when the God of the universe can come down and meet you right where you are and say, “I understand your pain, I get it because I had to give up My baby, too, and I gave up My baby for you.” How do you at that point – you just have to trust, and you just know that He will work it out that your baby is going to be safe and in the right home because He gets it. The God of the universe got my pain. The first – out of all that time, no one understood me, no one got me, nobody understood me, but the God of the universe did.
John: Well, this is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, and, uh, what a conversation we’re having with our guests today.
Jim: It’s one of those tissue days (laughter).
John: It is. And, uh, that’s OK. It’s connecting with hearts I know. Lindsay Pepin Ophus and her mom Scarlet Pepin and her aunt Bethany Pepin, uh, talking about some very difficult things. It may be that, as Jim has said before, that you are struggling. You’ve got this kind of a situation. And you don’t know where to turn. We’re here for you. Focus on the Family is a phone call away. And we’ve caring Christian counselors. It would be a privilege for us to talk with you, 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459.
Jim: Um, Lindsay and Bethany, let me direct this to you because there is that moment where the handoff occurs. You know, you’ve just given birth. Um, I’m sure there’s many things running through your mind, through your heart. Um, Bethany, you’re about to embrace this child that you’ve dreamt about, that you’ve journaled about as a thirteen-year-old. Describe it for me from both of your perspectives.
Lindsay: Um, I thought that the hospital was gonna be really sad. I was preparing myself for a very sad couple of days. And, um, kind of what the book is based off, the verse it’s based off is “Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” And I labored all night. And it was very painful. And it was very sad and very emotional. And when she came and she started crying, I mean, it was the happiest day of my entire life. It was such a joyful moment. And I thought, oh, I’m going to need time alone. I’m going to need to hold her and grieve. And it was, no, let’s have a party. Look what the Lord did. Everyone come in, come see her. I was so proud of her. I was so ecstatic. I was so happy. And it really – the hospital experience was so, so joyful. And, um, you know, I had some great moments with her where I got to just hold her and memorize her face and look at every little detail of what God had created and what He had done. And, um, then the next day it was time for her to go home. And she got to go home before I got to go home, which felt a little weird. And, um, you know, I will never forget the image of her in the carrier. So, she’s facing backwards as they left the hospital room, so I saw her little cute face. And, um, you know, that’s when it was another, OK, we’re going into a new season of grief. Um, it’s time to now go through new challenges of now how do you – how do you walk through losing the most precious thing you own, and you have. And how do you walk through that? Um, but…
Jim: And how did you walk through that?
Lindsay: Um, with a lot of Jesus, a lot of my mom, a lot of counseling, a lot of tears, even a point where I was on anti-depressants and had to get some medical help. But at the end of the day, the one thing that never changed was Jesus never left my side. My peace on my decision, I never wavered on my decision because I knew that I knew that I had heard the Lord. And I knew that I knew that I was doing the best thing for my baby. And so that never wavered. So, um, the physical and the emotions definitely happened. But my spirit was at rest. My spirit was at peace. And, I mean, the God of the universe never left my side. He embraced me, wrapped me in His arms, was there as I would bawl on my floor. He never left my side once and kept His promises throughout it all. And, um, the first year was the hardest year. But, I mean, it’s just – there’s still tough times. As you can tell, I still cry about it.
Jim: Well, sure, and that’s completely normal.
Lindsay: …You never fully heal. Yeah, but, I mean, at the end of the day, I have the most healthy, happy, beautiful daughter. And she has the best life I could have ever dreamt for her.
Lindsay: I’m so grateful to Bethany.
Jim: That says a lot to – about you and Jeff, Bethany, I mean, that you’ve been able to do this. What was your feeling of the handoff, sort of speak?
Bethany: I was so torn. I didn’t understand how somebody else’s brokenness could lead to my miracle. I mean, I – to try and wrap my head around, um, the fact that I got to take this perfect, amazing baby girl home. And while I understand that I could never understand what Lindsay was walking through, the dichotomy of that in my mind…
Bethany: I still can’t wrap my head around it.
Bethany: Um, you guys call me a hero, which is wonderful and all that, but since the very beginning, Lindsay has always been the hero.
Jim: Yeah, that’s true.
Bethany: That was never a question. Lindsay was always the hero. God told me before we even adopted Kinley, He said that, “You’re not doing anybody any favors.” He said, “This is My gift to you.”
Bethany: And so, um, we went home – and this is just crazy – we went home, and my daughter was supposed to have – my oldest daughter Reese was supposed to have a birthday party, um, the day that Kinley was born. So, of course, we just postponed it 24 hours. And…
Jim: Right. Kinley came a little early. So…
Bethany: She came a little early. But we brought home a 24-hour-old baby to a house full of 60 people…
Bethany: …Literally, three hours after she got home.
Jim: So, the party happened.
Bethany: The party happened. And as we moved out of that house where the party happened seven years later, an image is forever burned in my mind of Lindsay, having just given birth, sitting on my couch. She came to this birthday party, and she sat there holding Kinley, her one-day-old baby that she had handed off to us. She came from the hospital and sat on this couch and held this baby. And I said, “That is what a mother is. That is what a mother sacrifices. That is the true essence of a mother. Whether she ever calls her mom or not, that is what a mother is.” And that’s the last thing that I sat there and cried over as we moved out of that house, was the image of this mom sitting on this couch, holding her baby.
Jim: Yeah. Yeah. You got me.
Jim: Yeah. Lindsay and I are…
Lindsay: I’d never heard that before. So, I’m – thank you.
Jim: Oh, that is so sweet. OK. The, uh, the close.
Jim: Oh, my goodness. You know, you have all demonstrated amazing heart and the amazing heart of God. Mom and Dad, Lindsay – the courage you just heard described by Bethany – whew, awesome. You can take that for the rest of your life.
Jim: That’s a good thing. And you got your whole life in front of you. And, uh, for you, Bethany and Jeff, raising that gift that God’s given you – this is all so good. Let’s turn it to those that are listening that, you know, again, are either just going through this or will go through it and to those who might, you know, support abortion.
Jim: Because it’s a tough moment. Let’s do what we need to do to convince that person to rethink about where they’re at
Lindsay: Yeah. Yeah. No. I mean, the shock and the pain is real, and you’re validated in your shock and your pain, and that’s so real. But there’s joy that will come after that. There is a child, um, in the balance, and that it – God works all things out for the good. He turns with the enemy meant for harm and works it for the good. And take some time, exhale, let the shock wear off before you make decisions. Think it all through. Go here – all your options, everything that’s available. Have that ultrasound, see your baby. And just know that regardless of if you decide to parent or place your child for adoption, that God has your baby. And He’ll never leave you, and He will never leave your baby.
Jim: Wow. That’s good. Bethany, the adoptive mom?
Bethany: I just tell people all the time, “Put your yes on the table.”
Jim: (Laughter) Oh, that’s good.
Bethany: Sometimes God asks us to do crazy things. But look at what can come out of our obedience.
Bethany: And so, what is it that God is asking you to do, you know? Um, yeah, I just say put your yes on the table, and listen to God.
Jim: Yeah, I like that. I like that.
Jim: Well, there’s the challenge right there. Um, John, I’m not sure how I’m gonna wrap this up, other than to say I’m just so emotional right now. I feel it. And I’m so proud of each one of you for the role that you played in how God used you. It’s just – it’s touching my heart. But in that regard, here at Focus – I mean, the ultrasound machines that we place would be a machine that Lindsay may have gone to. Who knows?
Jim: But in these pregnancy resource clinics – and it’s $60 to save a baby’s life.
Scarlet: That’s crazy.
Jim: I mean, when I’m in front of donors who could, you know, write a big check for that…
Jim: …Man, I just want to send this ahead – say, “Listen to this before I come and visit you.”
Jim: “And then look me in the eye and say you can’t do this.”
Jim: $60 to save a baby’s life.
Jim: Can you help us? Do I gotta get down on my knees? Do I gotta beg? Let’s do it together.
Jim: It’s not me; it’s the Lord.
Jim: He’s just built an incredible capacity here at Focus to deliver on this.
Jim: Will you help us?
John: And that $60 gift can be a one-time contribution or, uh, a monthly gift. If you’d like to make an ongoing impact through Option Ultrasound, we’re gonna encourage you to contact us today and make that gift. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. Or online you can donate – and online you can donate at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. We do wanna make sure that you understand, uh, when you give a contribution of any amount today, uh, we’re gonna send a thank-you gift for, uh, joining the support team. We’ll send a copy of this excellent book, Joy Will Come, written by Lindsay, along with Scarlet and Bethany. It’s going to really, I think, help your heart understand God’s desire in this matter of life. And, uh, it’d be a privilege for us to send that to you. And as Jim has often said, if you’re in a spot where you just can’t afford to give anything at all, pray with us for the success of Option Ultrasound. Let us know you need the book. We’ll send it off to you. Again, our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks so much for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.