Jolina Petersheim | An Untold Story
June 20, 2014
One week before THE
MIDWIFE's book launch, I received an email from a woman who had been
given up for adoption by a Mennonite with a last name that is found in my own
The woman wanted to establish a connection with her biological mother, but her
mother was unwilling to meet her. It even seemed that her motherâ€™s family was
trying to prevent the meeting taking place.
At my book launch, I met this woman who had emailed, but the crowd prevented us
from speaking until after the event. Pulling me aside, the woman softly told me
more about her story.
She told me her friend had tracked down a high school picture of her biological
motherâ€”to see if she had red hair like she had growing upâ€”but the picture was in
black and white.
She told me that sheâ€™d found the medical records regarding her birth, and that
each page instructed the doctor and nurses not to allow the Mennonite woman to
see her own child.
The biological mother still lived in the same town where she had given birth;
she even had the same last name. Nothing had apparently changed in all those
yearsâ€”and yet it seemed, to me, that the stagnation of the biological motherâ€™s
life showed that she was unable to move on.
â€śThe part that got me in THE
MIDWIFEâ€”â€ť the woman paused to wipe tears beneath her glasses â€śâ€”was when
Rhoda said that one child cannot replace another.â€ť
I then began to understand why THE MIDWIFE, my sophomore
novel, had touched this womanâ€™s heart to such an extent, she had reached out to
me with her heartrending story.
Beth Winslow, in THE
MIDWIFE, loses one child, a son, to adoption when sheâ€™s in college. Later,
in graduate school, she becomes a gestational surrogate for her research
professor and his wife to pay for graduate school and because she believes this
sacrificial act will capture her professorâ€™s love.
When itâ€™s believed the child will be abnormal and the parents want to abort it,
Beth risks everything to save her by fleeing to a home for unwed mothers called
Hopen Haus, which is overseen by a Mennonite midwife who becomes the mother to
Beth that she never had.
However, when the biological parents are alerted to the fact that their child is
healthy and whole, they come and take her back. From there, THE MIDWIFE expounds on the
heights and depths a mother will go to protect her child, and what is the
definition of true motherhood: genetics or love.
â€śIâ€™m sorry to pour this all out on you,â€ť the woman said, drawing me back to the
present. â€śIâ€™m just trying to understand more of that Mennonite culture . . . to
understand more where my biological motherâ€™s coming from.â€ť
My eyes welling with compassion, I reached out and took the womanâ€™s hand. The
two of us were strangers one week ago, but I felt such kinship with her that it
did not feel strange to stand on that polished wood floor as the book launch
crowd continued to disperse around us.
â€śDonâ€™t be sorry,â€ť I said, gripping her fingers. â€śThis is the reason I write.
This right here.â€ť
For the woman thought that I had given something to her by sharing THE MIDWIFE's story that
ministered to her heart, but after listening to her own story, she was
the one who had ministered to mine.
Leave a comment below to be entered to win a copy of Jolina's bestselling
debut, THE OUTCAST.
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28 comments posted.
Re: Jolina Petersheim | An Untold Story
Thanks for sharing this very touching story.
(Bonnie H 9:57pm June 17, 2014)
Even though I haven't read The Midwife I knew it was a powerful story just
by everything I have read about it. This post proves that even more. I know
have a fabulous read ahead of me and would dearly love your book. Thank
you for the opportunity.
(Melanie Backus 6:48am June 20, 2014)
My heart ached when I read your posting today, and that
makes me want to read your book even more!! I've always
been drawn to these people for some reason, and this
particular story has peaked my interest. I pray that this
woman can find some closure in the near future - not only
for her sake, but for her Mother's!! Thank you for doing
such a great service for all the Women out there who are in
the same situation!! I'll also be looking forward to your
(Peggy Roberson 8:20am June 20, 2014)
i am sure this has happened in the most religious communities and it is touching.
(Mal Kaplan 8:24am June 20, 2014)
I can't wait to read this touching story. Sounds Great.
(Cathy Thomas 9:17am June 20, 2014)
Thank you, Bonnie; it is very, very dear to my heart.
Hello, Melanie, such an honor to see you here. I hope you enjoy The Midwife's story as much as I enjoyed writing it!
The amazing part is that this reader has no bitterness toward her mother, only longing for reconciliation. I also pray it can come about in due time!
Thank you, Mal, for stopping by today!
(Jolina Petersheim 9:23am June 20, 2014)
Thank you, Cathy! My whole heart is in this book.
(Jolina Petersheim 9:24am June 20, 2014)
This storyline sounds amazing and I can see why it touched the lady that
you wrote about in this post. I read The Outcast and can't wait to read The
Midwife. Thanks for the chance at winning a copy!!
(Sheri Pruitt 9:45am June 20, 2014)
The Midwife and The Outcast sound like they are very touching stories. Thank you for writing books like this because these are the kind I like reading!
(Kathy Morrison 9:51am June 20, 2014)
The Midwife and The Outcast are memorable and emotional
novels. Your talent is wonderful. best wishes.
(Sharon Berger 10:03am June 20, 2014)
You're most welcome, Sheri; thank you for stopping by!
Thank you, Kathy; I appreciate it so much!
That means such a great deal, Sharon. Thank you for your kind words and precious support!
(Jolina Petersheim 10:38am June 20, 2014)
I love reading Mennonite stories. My sister is actually a
(Mary Hay 10:39am June 20, 2014)
How heartbreaking! Both the ladies story and the one in your book. Will have to get a copy to see how it all turns out!
(Patty Hamblin 12:16pm June 20, 2014)
What a bittersweet heart touching story. My heart goes out
to the precious young lady. Sometimes motherhood is not so
black and white. Hearts and emotions come into play. I hope
also the young lady you mentioned will find peace in her
life. Your book tells a very interesting story that I would
love to read.
(Maryann Skaritka 2:32pm June 20, 2014)
Very interesting, Mary! My father was raised Mennonite and my mother Brethren. My husband's family has Mennonite and Amish background. I find the heritage fascinating!
Thank you, Patty. Hope you enjoy!
(Jolina Petersheim 2:33pm June 20, 2014)
Love Mennonite and Amish stories. Looking forward to reading this one.
(Barbara Wells 4:07pm June 20, 2014)
Such a touching story. Thank you for sharing it. This book sounds like it would be a tough thing to write about and I look forward to reading it.
(Susan Johnson 6:00pm June 20, 2014)
I have always wonder about people adopting children from a different background including faith. I like to read this book to learn the complicity of such adoption.
(Kai Wong 1:46am June 21, 2014)
Ah! What an amazing story. I hope she is able to reunite
with her birth mother but maybe that won't happen. Sounds
like the Mother's needing it too. How that must have been for
you to have someone so profoundly touched by your book. What
a gift, for both of you! Congrats on the book. I can not wait
(Vicki Hancock 1:56am June 21, 2014)
PS. I just saw you wrote The Outcast. I LOVED that book!!!
(Vicki Hancock 1:58am June 21, 2014)
This is a very intriguing story. I have added it to my TBR list.
(Vennie Martinisi 11:16am June 21, 2014)
I hope the woman finds some closure.
(Maureen Emmons 11:49am June 21, 2014)
Thank you for sharing that heartwarming story!
(Denise Austin 5:40pm June 21, 2014)
So very sad. Although I deplore the number of single parent
homes we have now, I can't help but think in some ways it may
be healthier for both mother and child.
(Marcia Berbeza 8:11pm June 21, 2014)
until the day she dies, my grandmother never stopped mourning her baby who had died at 10 days of age, her first child - her child was very real to me, as oldest grand-daughter, even though no pictures existed, not even a headstone to mark where she was buried. My husband and I arranged to have the baby's name added to my grandmother's headstone, so long after their deaths. I think the same must be true for girls and women who give up a baby for adoption, that the choice is not easy and that they hold that child in their hearts, even if no one in their present lives might even know that someplace, somewhere....
(Beth Fuller 11:39pm June 21, 2014)
It was hard to write about, Susan Johnson, especially considering my daughter was twelve weeks old when I started, so I could imagine the midwife Rhoda's loss so keenly. I think this is what makes The Midwife such compelling story, though.
(Jolina Petersheim 6:16pm June 23, 2014)
It was indeed such a gift, Vicki Hancock; my readers bless me so much!
(Jolina Petersheim 6:16pm June 23, 2014)
Thank you for sharing that compelling story with me, Beth Fuller. Praying mother and child are reunited now...
(Jolina Petersheim 6:18pm June 23, 2014)
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