It had been three years since our youngest daughter died from a rare genetic disorder at the age of seven and barely one since our oldest died of the same disorder at the age of 11. I had birthed, loved, and buried two children. I wasn’t looking to do it again.

Then God came calling. Literally. Technically, an acquaintance from church made the phone call, but God was working. “I have a young woman who is pregnant and looking to place her baby for adoption. I told her about you and your husband, and she would like to meet you. Are you interested?”

When I picked my jaw up off the ground, I promised to talk to my husband and get back with her soon. We had no plans for more children, but that evening I told him about the call. We talked and considered. We cried and shook our heads. We cried and prayed. We laughed over the absurdity of it all. And then I broke out in hives and nearly hyperventilated. We had zero information and no plans, so we were both taken aback by the sadness we felt when several days later we learned that the situation was uncertain.

We didn’t know when the baby was due, where the baby was located, if the baby was healthy, or even if the baby was a boy or a girl. We had no medical history or background information. We knew nothing. Even so, this baby had found us and if this baby needed us, we were all in. So, we waited and prayed.

I experienced the stress of anticipation and an uncertain future, but I had a peace within.

Through the trauma of loving and losing two children, I had come to find that, deep inside, God was still God and I was still me.

I had come to understand that while being their mother had been the absolute privilege of my life and that losing them had been indescribably painful, I was still me without them. I was an evolving version of me, but I was still me. I was undeniably and irrevocably changed, but I was still me. I was still the me God had created. I was still the me He had loved and grown and protected for 34 years. I was still His. Always had been. Always would be. I knew if we were given the opportunity to parent this child, I would still be His. If no other child ever called me Mommy, I would still be His. No matter what, I was complete.

I will never forget the Valentine’s Day when my phone rang and the voice on the other end said, “It’s a girl, she’s due in July, and she’s yours if you want her.”

Our daughter was born on the Fourth of July and from the moment she entered this world, there was a place in my heart for her.

Thanks to the overwhelming love of the woman who carried her, I became a mommy again.

This is a love letter to my now three-year-old little girl.

Dear daughter,

I choose you. I chose you before I met you. I chose you the moment you were born. I have chosen you every day since. I will continue choosing you every day for the rest of my life. As you grow, I pray you know that it is my absolute privilege to be your mom. I will do everything in my power to love you big, raise you well, and to point you to Him.

Every day you grow a bit taller, a bit older, and a bit more independent.

I pray that my love and example fosters the confidence to be who you are—to be who God created you to be. You are complete in Him.

Your daddy and I do not define you. Your birth mom does not define you. Your circumstances, possessions, and relationships do not define you. You are a child of God and in Him you are complete. So am I.

I need you to understand this—you do not complete me. I lived 35 years of beautiful, painful, wonderful, heart wrenching, joyful life before you were born. You did not fill a hole in my heart; God created new space just for you. My life is richer with you in it. I treasure the love that is uniquely ours, but you do not complete me. My identity is not your burden to carry.

Someday you will leave our home to start a life of your own. I hope that you will lead a full life, secure in the knowledge that you are complete simply because you are His. I have found joy in many of the roles of my life, some I clung to more desperately than others, but my identity is in Christ alone. As you grow, please know that I have strived every day to give you these most precious gifts.

I chose you and I will continue choosing you.

I didn’t choose you because I need you to complete me. I chose you because I love you.


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Mandy McCarty Harris

Mandy McCarty Harris lives in Northwest Arkansas with her husband, young daughter, three dogs, and eleven backyard chickens. She writes about living happily in the messy middle of life. She can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and at