Nadine McTaggart sits curled in a cushy oversized chair, one that diminishes her size and gives her the illusion of being even tinier than she is. Her long brunette hair and big dark eyes might give one the notion that she’s a bit sad, but the circle of women who have surrounded her for the past months knows something very different about Nadine.
She is a strong, courageous and yes, a wiser woman than she was just a short year ago.
Nadine’s mom Lori sits at the table next to her daughter, her face alive and animated, her voice ripe with the passion that she feels for her daughter, and for her granddaughter, now just barely a month old. The road that led these two women to this place, to tell this story, has been paved with fear and uncertainty; it’s been washed with a thousand tears. Here both women sit, and no matter what else one might see in their faces, strength and courage overshadow all else.
Nadine gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in November, a child who already possesses her mother’s striking features. Lori held her daughter as Genevieve arrived in this world – “with just 11 minutes’ pushing,” according to a proud Nadine. The tiny little girl went home with Nadine, Lori and her husband Mike; she stayed there for two weeks until Abiding Love Adoption Agency came to take her to the adopting family from North Carolina. Many adoption stories might end right there, with emptiness and loss felt on one end, the boundless joy felt on the other, and nothing in between. But Genevieve’s journey is a different one.
A new kind of family.
“Today, birth moms have a lot of say in adoption. You can choose a closed adoption, but more women are choosing open,” said Nadine. And more adoptive parents are choosing open adoptions, as did Becky and Nate, who chose Nadine’s “birth mom” profile from several presented to them. Incidentally, Nadine had chosen Becky and Nate’s profiles out of several, when she was looking at prospective parents. “I saw them, read their profile, and I just knew,” Nadine said. Then the two families had dinner together, and there was no doubt that they were the right family. Smiling, Lori said, “At the dinner, Becky said ‘you’re Genevieve’s grandma, and always will be.’”
“Becky and Nate wanted to have an open adoption,” she continued. “They believe in the principles of it, and they believe that it’s for the best for all parties, especially the baby. On paper, it’s written that we get to see Genevieve three times a year, but Becky and Nate invited us up during Christmas, knowing we would have a hard time waiting a few months to see her again. They even invited us to stay in their home while we visited. It all just felt so right.”
“They told me that Genevieve could call me ‘mom’ or whatever she’s comfortable with, too,” said Nadine.
Nadine and Lori chose Abiding Love Adoption Agency for several reasons, including the fact that the agency represents and advocates for birth moms in adoptions. Many agencies work solely on behalf of the adopting parents. According to Lori, Abiding Love’s philosophy mattered very much, as the first prospective adoption (arranged by a different organization) was stopped. “They said it was an open adoption, but there were too many things that just didn’t sound right,” said Lori. In the hospital, when Genevieve was born, even the nurses saw that Nadine was being pressured. She had rights of which she wasn’t aware. Lori acted quickly to protect both her daughter and her granddaughter.
A long, loving journey
The mother and daughter sitting together in this coffee shop on this day had journeyed together too, long before Genevieve came along. This voyage of love and family began more than 20 years ago when Lori and husband Mike struggled with infertility. Nadine, born in Russia, is their adopted daughter. “We were always up front with her about it,” Lori said. “If Nadine would ask if she came out of Mommy’s tummy, we’d say, ‘No, but this is how God made our family.’”
When Nadine discovered she was pregnant in early 2017, her circumstances were different from her parents. She was in a self-described abusive relationship, and the baby’s father was pressuring her to abort the baby. Nadine, confused and unaware of her options, was planning to do just that. But when her parents learned of the pregnancy, Lori did what mothers do; she jumped to her daughter’s defense. “I didn’t want her making such a decision without having all the facts,” Lori said, so she sought help and counsel for Nadine. Eventually, Nadine came to understand that there was a life growing inside her, not just a problem to be eliminated.
Before Genevieve was born, Lori and Nadine learned about Obria Medical Clinics in Lawrenceville (formerly known as Pregnancy Resource Center of Gwinnett). “When I went there, they educated me. They didn’t pressure me. They talked to me about how my body was changing, what was happening now and what would happen after either birth or abortion. And then I had an ultrasound, and I saw (the baby) in there, like a little jumping bean, and I turned to my mom and asked, ‘OK. What do I do now?’”
Shelly Dirig, the owner of In Due Time 3D/4D Ultrasound, isn’t surprised that Nadine’s ultrasound marked a turning point in her pregnancy. “So often, once moms and dads see their baby in an ultrasound, they begin to bond with the baby,” Dirig said. Giving parents this first introduction is Dirig’s passion, for good reason. A graduate of Gwinnett Technical College’s Diagnostic Medical Sonography program, Dirig recalls her own life-changing experience with ultrasound.
“About twenty years ago, when I was pregnant with one of my children, I was told that it wasn’t likely that the baby could survive outside the womb. Doctors diagnosed Downs Syndrome and a host of other conditions. “Our baby was born perfectly normal, and in fact, even the gender we had been told based on several ultrasounds was incorrect.” That experience and the miraculous outcome led Dirig to vow that someday, she wanted to “give back,” and she wanted somehow for that giving to involve ultrasound.
Now, Dirig volunteers at Obria Medical Clinics in Lawrenceville, giving expectant moms their first glimpse of their baby. She volunteered her services while in school at Gwinnett Tech, and she simply never stopped. “There’s something about every woman you meet there (at Obria Medical Clinics). They are genuinely good people who are passionate about helping women.”
Dirig owns In Due Time 3D/4D Ultrasound in Snellville, a place for expectant parents and family members to get “entertainment ultrasounds.” With gender reveal parties now a part of the pregnancy experience and celebration, Dirig’s expertise and passion are definitely in vogue. With a relaxing, inviting atmosphere and family involvement, In Due Time has become as much a part of the pregnancy experience as Lamaze classes for many couples.
Robin Mauck, Executive Director of Obria Medical Clinics in Lawrenceville, smiles with understanding and compassion when she talks about the vast offerings the center gives to pregnant women, no matter whether they’re young, in school, married, single - decided or undecided - as to how to proceed. “We don’t push any agenda on a woman who walks through these doors,” said Mauck. “We simply tell them that they aren’t alone, we educate them about all of their options, and we provide community resources. Sometimes, all a woman needs to hear is, ‘You can do this.’ We show them that they can. They need to understand that everything doesn’t have to be decided right now, this minute. There is time. And the fact of the matter is, 82 percent of women who aborted would have chosen life (parenting or adoption) if just one person had encouraged them. We are here to be that One.
In addition to pregnancy education and parenting classes for both Mom and Dad, Obria provides well-woman care also, including PAP tests, breast exams and STD testing performed by a staff Nurse Practitioner.
Moms and dads who decide to parent are partnered with a Personal Development Advocate who walks the path of pregnancy and parenting with them every step of the way and assigns them an individualized education course including online prenatal classes, individualized DVD instruction, and group classes. Moms and Dads earn points throughout this education process that they can use to shop for their newest family member. This recently-implemented program is called THRIVE. “Our new location here has a boutique, and in it, we offer everything from baby care products, to blankets, to clothes. All of the items are brand new because every baby deserves that. They love it, and we love offering it,” said Mauck.
Obria Medical Clinics in Lawrenceville is located at 565 Old Norcross Road, Suite 200. To make a medical appointment go to https://www.obria.org/locations/lawrenceville-ga/. To learn more about volunteering or investment opportunities, visit www.supportomcg.org.
Obria Medical Clinics in Lawrenceville is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The Gwinnett Life Run supports Obria Medical Clinics of Gwinnett and Southern Gwinnett YoungLife. Both are local organizations dedicated to making an impact in our local community.
The Gwinnett Life Run is an AJC Peachtree Road Race Qualifying 5K and will be held on March 24, 2018. Be sure to mark your calendars for this popular community event. Go to https://gwinnettliferun.com/ to register to run. This year’s Gwinnett Life Run will kick off the Spring Green Festival.
In Due Time is located at 2092 Scenic Highway in Snellville, across from Old Navy (in the old Hamilton Financial building). Visit www.induetime3D.com for more information.