Melissa experienced heartbreak in January 2020 when her younger sister died. At the time, her sister was in the process of adopting a 2-year-old girl who she’d fostered since birth. At 28-years-old, Melissa left a new job opportunity, her friends, and her life in Virginia to move to New Jersey to continue her sister’s legacy, making the decision to spend the rest of her life raising Zoey. In February 2022, the adoption became official. This is Melissa’s Life After Death Story.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE ABOUT YOUR SISTER?
My sister and I shared a bedroom growing up together and we were very close. She really loved kids and wanted them for herself so badly, but had fertility issues. That’s why she decided to foster. Zoey was just 7 days old when she was placed with my sister and mother. They had a beautiful relationship. It comforts me to know that my sister spent her last day on this earth with Zoey. We even have photos of them having lunch together from that day.
WHAT LED YOU TO STEP IN AND CARE FOR ZOEY?
Before my sister passed, I knew that if anything ever happened to her, I would step-in to care for Zoey. So, when my sister died, I just knew I had to go home and take on this responsibility. Zoey was just 8-months-old at the time. As much as I wanted to continue my sister’s legacy, I suffered so much anxiety in the process because I had to leave my life in Virginia behind and put my plans and dreams on hold. Looking back I can see the signs from God that this is what I was meant to do, but in the midst of grieving my sister and suddenly becoming a mom, it was a battle.
WHAT IS MOTHERHOOD LIKE?
What’s incredible is that my adoption of Zoey became official on the anniversary of my sister’s death. Two years after her passing, I was repeating vows to become Zoey’s mom.
Zoey will be 3-years-old and we have a lot of fun together. She looks to me for protection, comfort, and entertainment. I want her to understand that she’s loved, even when she makes mistakes. We love to read together and we sing together - she has perfect pitch!
But, being a single mom has had its challenges. Zoey has a suspected diagnosis of sensory processing disorder and she must go to physical therapy and speech therapy. We continue to assess her development and hope this diagnosis might be reversed. But, I have to juggle a lot of doctor appointments along with her care and my full time job. I am grateful for my mother, who is helping me to raise Zoey.
YOU ARE VISUALLY IMPAIRED. WHAT IMPACT DOES THAT HAVE ON PARENTING?
I have been blind since birth. I was born with Glaucoma and 5 other genetic eye diseases. My grandparents, mother, aunt, and two sisters all have the same condition. While I move through life confidently using my cane, my memory, and even echolocation, having Zoey makes me more leery of other people. I have to make sure to keep her near me. I have a string attached to her backpack so that I’m always holding onto her. As she develops more language, navigating life together will be easier, but for now I need to be particularly protective of her.
HOW DO YOU SEE GOD OFFERING HOPE IN THE HEARTACHE?
I felt from a very young age that I wanted to adopt. Giving birth has never been a priority for me, because there are so many kids who don’t have families to live in. But, of course, I never planned to adopt like this. I thought I’d be married, that I’d have my master’s degree and be settled in my career. Clearly, God had other plans. I’ve prayed more in these past two years than ever before and God really helped me to overcome some of the anger I was feeling about my sister’s death and the fact that my own life was turned upside down. In this journey, I’ve been going to God and trying to truly give Him control over my life and to not just accept, but embrace the path he has laid before me.
If you were inspired by Melissa's story of life after death, we encourage you to check out this additional content from Liquid Church:
- Easter At Liquid: Are you hungry for hope? God promises there is hope after the heartache. This Easter, we invite you to join us for one of our 3 ways to worship - learn more & view service times at LiquidChurch.com/Easter.
- ARTICLE: Life After Loss - Joel lost his father at a young age and experienced a resurgence of grief during the pandemic. Click here to read Joel's story of Life After Loss.
- ARTICLE: Life After Addiction - Life After Addiction - Nick shares about his 18 year battle with marijuana and the freedom God gave him. Click here to read Nick’s story of Life After Addiction.