The best birthday present I ever received was the gift of being able to adopt my oldest daughter.
I’ll never forget sitting in the Historical Society parking lot, being hounded by busybodies who demanded to know why I was parked there. I explained that my wife was in the courthouse across the street, and I just needed a few more minutes to find out about the child support proceeding. My wife, Bethany, and I were praying and hoping for a God-sized miracle. Her biological daughter had only known me as her dad since she was a 1-year-old. Against our highly-paid attorneys’ opinion, we sought to ask the biological father if he’d be willing to relinquish his rights before the hearing.
We were told: “It's impossible … it’s the wrong venue … the judge will never allow it … you’ll have to share custody the rest of your lives … there’s no way this will happen.”
The God of the impossible made it happen.
While I was sitting in the empty parking lot (clearly needed for all the people desperately trying to get some history), my wife was in the middle of a miracle unfolding. She called me, weeping, telling me that the biological “father” shockingly agreed to end his parental rights. The judge approved it, and my baby girl officially became a Bomberger! The four-year battle to free my daughter from confusion and chaos finally ended.
That precious baby girl wasn’t exactly planned. Bethany, in her 20s, was a public-school teacher in Philly. Her life had spiraled downward as she painfully distanced herself from her faith. She got involved with a guy who was emotionally abusive. She finally walked away from the toxic relationship only to discover she was pregnant.
He didn’t want the responsibility. When he found out the baby was a girl, he pushed Bethany to have an abortion. He even offered to pay for the violence.
Bethany never considered abortion. She rejected it. The pressure on her, though, was rather intense. Fellow teachers questioned how she would remain in her profession if she chose to be a mother. So much of the rhetoric centered on the lie that an “unplanned” pregnancy is the end of your life.
When Bethany went, alone, to an ultrasound appointment, she felt God’s love in the coldness of the exam room. Seeing the flickering rice-sized heart beating helped shake the suffocating fear she had felt for so many weeks. When she went home that evening, she opened up a journal to write down all of her emotions and newfound hope. In the margin of one of the pages were the pre-printed words: “I sought the Lord, and he relieved me of all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant. Their faces will never be covered with shame" (Psalm 34:4-5).
That verse led her to name her unborn daughter, Radiance. She determined in her heart that, even if she had to be a single mom for the rest of her life, that baby girl would never know any shame about how she came to be. She would never know anything other than being someone God meant to be.
Though Radiance’s “father” didn’t want her, she was not unwanted. I’m the only dad she’s ever known. Bethany and I got married when Rai Rai was only one. I married the love of my life and became an instant dad at the same time.
Back at the Historical Society parking lot, still being hounded by the staff who were ushering me to the exit, I’m reeling from the course of events that would change our family’s life forever. As an adoptee, who was conceived in rape but adopted in love, I’ve lived a life that defies the myth of the “unwanted” child. And the day before my birthday, a God-sized miracle blessed me with the greatest birthday gift I could ever ask for.
Rai Rai would never know life without a loving father.
A few days ago, I watched my daughter speak with beautiful confidence at her graduation ceremony. Years of memories flooded my mind as tears raced down my face. She made people laugh and shout “Amen!”, effortlessly letting her radiant personality shine. Big Sister. Athlete. Actress. Choir member. Dancer. Teaching assistant. Artist. On-camera host. Leader. Child of God.
She exudes the strength and beauty of her mom. She knows who she is and whose she is. She thinks deeply and acts counter-culturally. Radiance is the tangible example of the beauty of possibility. When people insist “unplanned pregnancies” end in misery, I see nothing but victory.
Her mama shredded the lies of pro-abortion (fake) feminism as she balanced being a full-time teacher and a mother. Bethany became the homeschooling mama to four children (two of whom were adopted). She is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Radiance Foundation, a nationally acclaimed non-profit organization. She has modeled what it means to be a woman of God who will lay down her life for those she loves.
And now, the Class of 2023 has someone whose light shines brightly. Our college-bound Radiance aspires to be an elementary school teacher like her mother.
To those who face the fear of an unexpected pregnancy, you’re not alone. You deserve much better than a culture of exploitation and defeatism. (See www.pregnancycenters.org for help and hope.) You are stronger than your circumstances.
An unplanned pregnancy isn’t an obstacle. It’s an opportunity for you to become more than you ever thought you could be.
Ryan Bomberger is the Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of The Radiance Foundation. He is happily married to his best friend, Bethany, who is the Executive Director of Radiance. They are adoptive parents with four awesome kiddos. Ryan is an Emmy Award-winning creative professional, factivist, international public speaker and author of NOT EQUAL: CIVIL RIGHTS GONE WRONG. He loves illuminating that every human life has purpose.