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Focus on the Family Broadcast

The Surprising Blessings of an Unplanned Pregnancy

The Surprising Blessings of an Unplanned Pregnancy

If your family is dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, it can be a very difficult time, with lots of emotions and potential outcomes. In this Focus on the Family chapel message, a winsome mother-daughter team share how an unplanned pregnancy rocked their world, the confusion that resulted, and how the daughter found strength through biblical counseling at a local pregnancy resource center. Ultimately, the baby was adopted by an extended family member and is growing up delighted to have an ‘extra’ mom.
Original Air Date: April 15, 2024

John Fuller: Today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, a teenage mom reflects on her feelings during her unplanned pregnancy.

Lindsay Pepin Ophus: And I loved that baby. Every time I saw her on an ul- ultrasound, there was so much joy. All the pain and the confusion went away every time I felt her little kick, every time I knew that there was life inside of me, ’cause that was my baby and I was her mom.

John Fuller: You’ll hear how a tumultuous season brought unexpected joy today. And, uh, thanks for joining us. Your host is Focus president, Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: That’s right, John. Today we’re going to hear from a mother-daughter team, Scarlet Pepin and Lindsay Pepin Ophus. Plus, we’ll have a surprise guest toward the end. This is a heartwarming story that I know you’re gonna love. And I should mention that Scarlet and Lindsay have written a book together about their story called Joy Will Come: Exchange Shame for Redemption.

John: Yeah, it’s a much deeper dive into the family’s journey, and you can get a copy of that from us here where the proceeds go right back into ministry. Uh, just stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Let’s go ahead and start off with Scarlet Pepin as she spoke to our staff on today’s Focus on the Family with Jim Daly.

Scarlet Pepin: We are so excited to be here today. Thank you so much for having us back again. Uh, we came from Tulsa, Oklahoma and we’re just so happy to be here to share our story with you. It’s happy now. The beginning was not happy. And so I just want to talk to you just for a minute about what happens when the unexpected happens.

Um, I have a great privilege to be able to teach kids, um, at our church, and so I taught ’em, you know, about build your house on a rock. You guys remember that one? The foolish man built it on the sand, totally failed. So be build it on the rock ’cause those storms, they may come and go. And, you know, I was thinking, yeah, the storms, they come and go, but we’ll be okay, right?

But I wanna talk to you about a time w- and maybe you guys can relate where you just didn’t see it coming at all. And this story starts about eight years ago and I thought we had our ducks in a row. I had three girls at this point, my husband and I had been married, oh, about 25 years, and things were going great. And one Saturday morning, we were getting ready to go to Lowe’s, just my husband and I, and my daughter sat down at the kitchen table and she put her head down right by her cereal bowl and I heard a wail come out of her that sounded like a shriek and a wail at the same time. A sound you never wanna hear from your child. And, of course, our first thought was what’s wrong, what’s wrong?

And at that point, our senior in high school said two words that forever changed our family. She said words we never expected. She said, “I’m pregnant.”

Lindsay: And I’m the one who got to deliver those great words, that great news. If you want an exciting Saturday, start it out with those two words.

Um, immediately, my mom starts screaming and yelling all around the room. “I could’ve helped you. I could’ve helped you.” My dad’s pounding his fists on the table. “Who did this? When did this happen? How did this happen?” Playing 20 questions. And I’m sitting there watching myself slowly destroy the most important people in my entire life. And then softly I hear coming down the stairs, my 13-year-old sister who says, “Lindsay, how could you do this? We’re Pepin girls. Pepin girls don’t do this.” And she said our last name like it was a badge of honor, like we as the Pepin’s don’t do this.

And I know you parents are sitting here and you’re pulling out your phones and you’re texting your teenager going, “We have to talk tonight.” What is happening? How do we prevent this? You guys are going, okay, what is the answer? How do we make sure we don’t have your Saturday morning? And let me tell you guys, I get asked this all the time. What should I be saying to my teenagers? How can I help them?

And let me tell you the first thing. Your kids have free will. Parents, your kids are gonna make decisions and they’re make them. You’ve trained them up in the way to go an- and they’re gonna make mistakes and they’re gonna make decisions that wouldn’t necessarily be your decisions.

Second, your kids are fighting the same enemy that you’re fighting. They have the same temptations, they have the same challenges. They’re under attack every day.

And three, something that I really wish that, um, my parents were a little bit more on this front was more transparent. Everybody in this room has struggled, everybody in this room has been tempted or had challenges or, or issues, and I wish instead of my parents asking me every night, “Are you making good decisions? What are you and your boyfriend doing? What are you… What’s going on? Are you okay?” and instead of coming to me constantly on the defense, sitting down with me and having those conversations of, “You know, this is something that I’ve dealt with,” and having that transparency. And I think as parents and as a community, we need to continue to have transparency with our struggles and our battles and when we open up and we’re transparent, it really leaves room, um, for those positive conversations.

And I felt like I grew up in an environment where I always had to be perfect. Where my parents never made mistakes, they were the perfect Christian parents. If I were to even mention that I was struggling, that would’ve been the end of the world because, once again, we’re the Pepin girls, and Pepin girls don’t do that.

Scarlet: Now from the parent’s point of view. (laughs) I had no idea that she was really feeling that way, that there was a perfection thing going on at our house. Now, I remember in middle school one time she came and said, “You know what, Mom? I feel like it’s like I have a jar full of white, beautiful marbles and there’s, like, 997 in there, but there’s three maybe gray ones, and all you look at is those gray ones in there.” I thought, ugh, that sounds terrible. I don’t wanna parent that way. So the next day I went and bought her 100 marbles with three gray ones in there and a sign that said, “We love you just how you are. You don’t have to be perfect.” Well, that was in middle school.

So then we get to high school and later, after reading her part of the book, she felt that there was a pressure there to be perfect. And so that’s another thing that God does is He brings us through things, but while He’s bringing us through, He’s exposing stuff in our heart that we didn’t even know was there.

See, I remember the night that we found out, my husband and I when we finally got a chance to talk after the whirlwind of what went on that Saturday, and it was silent and we were laying there at night and all we could hear was the click of the fan the first time I heard him talk just to me, and my husband said, “The formula doesn’t work.” You see, we had started them at church. Y- He’d bought them a purity ring. We had talked about these things, or so we thought we had.

And that was a wakeup call for us as a family. That there is no formula. And I know sometimes people call and wanna talk to Focus on the Family, a parent saying, “Give us, give us the, the formula.” But kids are not a formula, just like we aren’t a formula. And so that really helped us to go, “Wow. We were wrong on that. We thought one plus one equals two.” You know, you do it just the right way. And so we’ve had to, um, adjust for that.

Lindsay: So at this point, it’s time to get some help. I’m in full on trauma mode. I don’t know what to do. I had plans of graduating high school, going to college, I had all these ambitions. And my parents being the great support that they were, they got me connected with an organization called Crisis Pregnancy Outreach in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At this outreach, they take women who are in crisis. They bring them in, they have free counseling, they have support groups, they have, um, rides if you need transportation to go to work, they’re there to truly support these women as they are walking through one of the most tough and shocking points of their lives, as they’re weighing through the different decisions that they can make.

And that is where I first learned about open adoption. I sat in this support group, probably only about three months pregnant, barely showing, and there’s this girl sitting there and she’s like, “I picked a family. We’re gonna place our baby for adoption. I picked a family. We’re talking about the baby’s middle name. This mom who’s gonna adopt this baby is letting me help decorate the nursery. I get to be a part of this.” And I’m like, “What? You can place your baby for adoption and still know your baby and get to meet the family who’s gonna have your baby?” And she’s like, “Me and the mom are figuring out when I can come and see the baby after the baby’s born. We’re working out a schedule.”

And I learned that with open adoption, it’s not this big secret, it’s not this big shame of you’re adopted. It’s, no, you get to, the kid knows their entire life that they’re adopted, they get to be a part of their story, and then the birth mother also, with the permission of the adoptive family, gets to be a part of their life. Whether that’s receiving a picture on Christmas or seeing them every other week, it’s up to, um, the adoptive parents to determine what is healthy for that child at that stage of life.

So it’s, I started getting these ideas that there were more options and there were more things that I could do, um, in my current situation. I started going to counseling and really weighing out these options, talking to someone and getting help. It’s so important when we go through different traumas in our life to get help, to seek wise counsel, to reach out to people who know what we’re going through.

Scarlet: And I got to go to counseling too. (laughs) So we sat there, my husband and I, and got to walk through some parenting things and how we saw things and how to help Lindsay walk this through every step of the way. And because she was 18 years old when she had the baby, it was up to her to make this decision ’cause the last thing we wanted was her to come back and say, “You made me do this,” or “You made me do that.” So we just learned that we had to be there to support and pray and know that she heard from God on what was best and what the best decision there was.

Probably my least favorite part of counseling was when the counselor looked at me and says, “You do realize you don’t own these children, right?” And it was a wakeup call. It was a wake up to the fact that when the doctor placed the baby in my hands, my girls, I took it on as the most important job I would ever do. I knew when I stood before God, it would be my family that mattered the most to me. How did my marriage turn out? How did my kids turn out? And I think I maybe just gripped it a little too tightly. We’re gonna get it just right. We want these kids to know who God is. We wanna do it just the right way. And so, again, it was another, another point where we had to release.

John: Well, we’re listening today to a presentation from a mom and daughter, uh, Scarlet Pepin and her daughter, Lindsay, on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. And you can read more of the story in their book, Joy Will Come: Exchange Shame for Redemption. We’ll send that to you for a gift of any amount to the ministry today, and we’ll also include a free audio download of the entire presentation. Uh, you can donate and request those resources at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459.

Let’s go ahead and hear more of the presentation to our staff as Lindsay chimes in.

Lindsay: So I started weighing out the options. At this point, it’s probably February, I’m gonna graduate in May, I’m due in August, so at this point I’m starting to weigh out the options. So I can keep my daughter, I can raise her, we’ll get an apartment, we’ll figure it out, um, we’ll struggle but we can figure this out. It’ll be challenging, but we can do it. Option number two, uh, my parents raise my baby and then that brings a fun dynamic of who’s the mom, who’s in charge, what’s that gonna look like, what, how are they gonna parent versus how am I gonna parent. And then the option three was adoption, and that was the option that was, like, this doesn’t’ sound like fun.

It doesn’t sound like fun to give your baby to somebody else after nine months of carrying your child. A child who I already loved so, so much. It wasn’t fun to know that her first word would be mama and that wouldn’t be to me. It wasn’t fun to know that she’s gonna have her first bad day of school and she’s gonna come home crying to her mom and I- wouldn’t be me. And it wasn’t fun to know that on her wedding day, someone would zip up her dress, and it would be her mom, and that wouldn’t be me. So who would pick that option?

But I knew at that exact minute as I was thinking through what to do that I was her mom. And when you’re a mom, you put your child first time and time again. You make sure that the cards are stacked in your child’s favor over and over again. You do what’s best for them, regardless what is best of you. And I loved that baby. Every time I saw her on a ul- ultrasound there was so much joy. All the pain and the confusion went away every time I felt her little kick, every time I knew that there was life inside of me ’cause that was my baby and I was her mom. And that’s when I knew I had to place my daughter for adoption and I had to make sure, regardless of how I felt at the time, and as you can even hear in my shaky voice, how I still feel at the time, I had to put my baby first.

And as I was walking through this decision, I realized I grew up in a Christian home, but ever since I found out I was pregnant I stopped praying ’cause how could I go to God? I was dirty. I was gross. I was pregnant. I was in high school. Why would I call out to God? Why would I be praying? How could He still love me? But I knew that I had to get some help and I knew that I had to call on Jesus to help me because there’s nothing like the name of Jesus to meet you right where you are.

At this point, I graduate from high school fairly unscathed. There was some rumors and some whispers, and we always joked that she would be in my belly like this so nobody at school knew. She w- she was a good little companion. She, she hid for me. Soon as I graduated, she popped right out an- and we were in full-on pregnancy mode in one of the hottest summers in Oklahoma history. And I started meetings with some families. I started weighing out the options, figuring out who would be the best people to raise my child.

And I was in church one Sunday and we’re doing a worship song, and I’m not gonna sing it. Don’t worry. You don’t wanna hear that. But, um, the song goes, “I place my whole life in your strong arms, bring peace to my soul.” And I changed the words to, “I place my baby in your strong arms, bring peace to my soul.” And I’m crying as I’m laying my baby at the foot of the cross, who I can feel so alive in my stomach at that time, and I’m giving my baby to Jesus, and He says, “You know what, Lindsay? I had to give up my baby too.” And the God of the universe came down, met me right where I was, parent to parent, and He knew what I was going through ’cause he had to give up his baby too.

And if you’re sitting here, and sometimes the sanctity of life is a tough topic. Maybe you’ve had an abortion. Maybe you’re trying to get pregnant and it’s been multiple years. Maybe you had a baby and you struggled as you had your first child. And I want you to know that God, he understands. He gets it. He’s seen every tear that you’ve cried. He loves you. He wants to meet you right where you are, parent to parent, regardless of what your situation is.

So summer rolls in. Everybody’s starting to leave to go to college and I go to the doctor’s office and I find out, you know, that the doctor accidentally messed up her schedule and I’m gonna be induced that day. So I thought I had another week, but it was go time. It was time to have a baby. And it was a whirlwind of emotions and, um, I labor all through the night and it is something that is painful both emotionally and physically, and it just… The next morning she was born, bright and early, filled with joy, and her name was Kinley Joy. And it made me think of the verse, “The sorrow may last for the night, but the joy comes in the morning.” And that’s what it was.

And if anybody here has experienced a baby, there is nothing more joyful. There’s nothing more exciting. I was nervous that that day would be a sad day, but oh my gosh, was it such a joyful day. It was a day filled with God’s presence in the room. It was a day filled with laughter. It was a day filled with analyzing every ounce of her little, tiny face and her big, puffy cheeks. She was here. Kinley Joy was here. Our baby girl was here. And then the next day I did the hardest thing that I’ve ever done in my life and I gave her to another mom.

But I knew that God was there. And I knew that He would take care of my baby, and He would take care of me. And I knew I made the best decision for my daughter and that I gave her the best life I could give her because I was her mother and I took care of her and I did the right thing for her. Because she was alive the minute she was in my stomach. She was there, she had a purpose, she had a plan, she had a name, she had a destiny, and God was not surprised when I got pregnant because He already knew Kinley’s life, He knew her story, He knew her situation, and He was there every single second of the way.

So now I have a beautiful 7-year-old daughter who knows her story. She calls me Lala. She has the best life that she could have. She’s the middle girl of three daughters, which is what I was. I was the middle of three girls. And so she always say, “We match. We match. We’re the same.” And she has no questions. She celebrates her story because there’s no secrets, there’s no shame. There’s just life and there’s joy.

So do you guys wanna meet Kinley’s mom?

Audience: (Clapping)

Bethany Pepin: Oh, goodness. I’m not ever sure how to follow that. (laughs) My name is Bethany Pepin, and I am Kinley’s mom. I am actually Lindsay’s aunt. Um, uh, Scarlet is my sister-in-law. I wanna thank you guys for the ministry that you do because I am a part of a result of that ministry. I grew up t- trying to time my trips home from church in the evening so that I wouldn’t miss a second of Odyssey. And inevitably, we, we always got home too soon, so all four of us stayed in our carport and listened in the car because that was the only way you could it in then for us. We would sit in our car, and we would wait ’cause I had to know every second of what happened.

So about that same time, I was probably about 11 or 12 years old, and I would tell my mom, and my always thought I was a little bit crazy. My mom said I used to tell her that I would watch movies behind my eyes when I would go to sleep at night. And I came to her one day and I said, “Mom, there’s a little girl. I keep seeing a little girl.” I would dream at night of this little girl. I would stand on the stage, and she would sit right here. I saw this little girl in my dreams for years. And I remember I became an avid journaler about the same age, the same age I’m listening in the car to all of these things, and I sat there and my first journal I ever wrote, I said I saw the little girl again. I said, “And I don’t know who she is, but I know one day I’ll be able to help her.”

And so fast forward about 15 years, our transition into parenthood had not been easy. My husband, Jeff, and I had a nine-month-old who screamed bloody murder for the first nine months of her life. She never slept. She never napped. I, I would just sit there in tears because I was not sleeping. And so our transition had not been easy. And I just remember my husband coming in one morning, about 6:00 in the morning, and I’m nursing our baby and he lays next to me on the floor and I said, “What’s wrong?” He’s, he’s up at 6:00 in the morning with me and the nursing baby. And he said, “Lindsay’s pregnant.” And it didn’t really compute. I said, “Lindsay who?” Because that wasn’t an… I mean, it’s true. That kind of wasn’t an option. That really wasn’t a part of what we could do or what I could even fathom. And in a short hour long conversation, we went from a family, in my mind, we went from a family of three to a family of four.

So three months pass and we get this beautiful baby girl, this Kinley Joy. And if you don’t know, it’s Kinley Joy and it’s Lindsay Joy. So we named her… Because I said I can’t imagine giving her any better name ’cause that is exactly what a mother looks like. She might not hold that title in Kinley’s mind, but she is 1000% a mother. And I love being able to now have her a part of this open adoption where we can say come alongside us.

Kinley was about 18 months. Now, Kinley was a child who didn’t wanna walk because everyone would carry her. So 15 months old and she finally starts scooting around the house. And 18 months old, I see a picture in her room of Lindsay and I, and Lindsay is very pregnant. And I just pick her up at 18 months old and I said, “Do you know how Reese came out of mommy’s belly?” I said, “You came out of Lala’s belly.” And this was the first time I’d ever introduced the concept. She’s 18 months old, you guys. I had very, very few expectations for what this would be. But their way, this way there would be no questions.

And so she looks at me and she looks at this picture of Lindsay, this big ole belly, and she looks at me and she pauses for a second and she goes, “Lala’s belly!” And she ran around clapping and yelling, “Lala’s belly!” And anytime anybody would ask her where she came from she would say, “Lala’s belly. I came from Lala’s belly.” And do you know how proud she was of where she came from? And I just started crying ’cause that’s all I had ever wanted for her was to know where she came from and to be proud of it. Because God wasn’t going to use her in spite of her story. God was going to use this little warrior, which Kinley means warrior, because of her story.

God was never surprised about Kinley. When I had that dream and that vision, God was preparing me from childhood for my own child. So obviously, Kinley was never a surprise. He had prepared me. He had prepared all of us. And how much comfort I had when he reminded me of that vision, when he reminded me of that dream, when in the middle of that adoption process I woke up one second and said, “She’s the little girl. The little girl I dreamed of when I was 10, 11 years old.” So we have this bubbly seven-year-old little girl who is the light of our life. She is hysterical. She cracks herself up all the time.

At three years old I told her, I said, “You know what tomorrow is, Kinley? Tomorrow’s your adoption day.” Some people call it a gotcha day. I said, “Tomorrow’s your adoption day.” And she looks and she goes, “What? I’m adopted?” And then she proceeds to fall on the floor and laugh. Because that’s what she is and that’s who she is, and she goes in every year when they ask for the pictures of your family and she said, “I can’t just bring one picture.” And she brings a whole host of pictures of her and Lindsay, of her and our family, of her with… And she just, and she explains to her class every single year, this is who I am, this is where I came from, my parents adopted me, but I have a Lala and I have a Mimi and I have… And people… And there’s just so much love.

And for us, that’s what o- open adoption has meant. It has just meant more love. And so I just wanna say right now, what is God asking you to do? What is God asking you? What yes is He asking you to put on the table? What crazy, seemingly crazy thing has He called you to do? Because I can’t imagine my life now without Kinley Joy Pepin. And even though it, it seemed hard, and was hard, to have two babies one and under, but to look now and go, “I cannot imagine my life without her.”

Thank you guys so much.

Audience: (Clapping)

John: What a great way to wrap up this presentation about the importance of choosing life on today’s episode of Focus on the Family with Jim Daly.

Jim: What a tremendous example of how the Lord can use all things for good if we turn our hearts over to him. I’m so glad that this story, uh, has that happy ending.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And if this presentation has tugged at your heart, let me invite you to join us in making a difference for life today. Our Option Ultrasound program has saved over 500,000 babies since 2004, and your donation of $60 can save a baby’s life and provide support for a young mom. We’ve discovered that over 50% of abortion-minded women choose life after seeing an ultrasound and we wanna make this technology available to more and more pregnancy centers throughout the United States. And when you donate, we’ll say thanks by sending you a copy of the book written by our guests, called Joy Will Come: Exchange Shame for Redemption. So get in touch with us today.

And speaking of life, uh, we wanna invite you to participate in our See Life 2024 event coming up Saturday, June 15th. So join us as we celebrate the value of every pre-born child with guest speakers Amy Ford of Embrace Grace, NFL football star, Benjamin Watson, and his wife, Kirsten, and John Stonestreet of the Colson Center. You can attend here at our Focus on the Family campus, find a simulcast at a local church, or even livestream the event from the comfort of your living room.

John: Well, call us today or visit our website to learn more about See Life 2024 and to get your copy of the book Joy Will Come. Our number, 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459. Or find all the details at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Next time, we’ll hear from Debra Fileta as she shares how to successfully negotiate the different seasons you experience in marriage.

Preview:

Debra Fileta: It’s the season of planting good seeds and uprooting weeds. The things that we don’t want to see in our relationship. So in nature and in relationships, the season of spring is really important.

End of Preview

Today's Guests

Help Save a Baby's Life!

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