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Still a teen, Marjorie found herself single, pregnant, and frightened. She knew that she didn’t have the means to provide for the child she carried, but she also knew that God loved this little one and that she deserved the best possible chance. Well before this child was conceived, God had been preparing the hearts of the parents He had chosen for her.

Tammy and Rich Spence spent years trudging through a fertility process that had only produced heartache. They didn’t have peace about the continued emotional and financial investment required for only a chance of having a child. Despite the trials, they remained faithful in prayer.

God’s answer became clear: adoption.

The couple had strongly considered international adoption, but soon learned that God had other plans. “On the drive to church, we would always drive past the Christian adoption agency Life for Kids,” says Tammy. They felt led to call.

Through the agency they created a portfolio to be considered by birth mothers looking for potential adoptive parents. Marjorie saw the couple’s portfolio and chose them as her child’s parents. Tammy and Rich walked with Marjorie every step of the way, from doctor appointments, to ultrasounds, to the hospital where a beautiful baby girl, Isabella Grace (Bella), was born.

Tammy expected that day to be one of the most exciting of her life. After living it, she describes it as incredibly moving, yet incredibly difficult—watching a mother’s heroic sacrifice—an experience Tammy and Rich will never take for granted. “Bella was given to us out of love,” says Tammy. “Marjorie loved her more than she loved herself.”

Tammy and Rich love inspiring others through Bella’s story. “We believe Bella has been our biggest blessing,” says Tammy. “People often say how lucky Bella is. That’s so ridiculous! We have been the lucky ones.”

For families who feel called to adopt, Tammy offers encouragement: “We feel that it is important to be surrounded by people who have walked the walk. There are thousands of wonderful, inspiring stories. Let those people surround you.”

Today, Bella is 11 years old. She knows her birth mother, Marjorie, and of the amazing gift she gave to Bella and to Bella’s parents.

Tammy and Rich are quick to make sure Marjorie is the focal point of their adoption story. They love her for having their child. They continue her legacy of service, ranging from Bella’s classmates participating in two meal packaging days with Children of the Nations, to sending eyeglasses to those in need in the Dominican Republic. What on the surface appears a short story of domestic adoption is now a boundless story of sacrificial service that reaches and blesses many.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Hunter is a volunteer writer and editor for SUMMIT MAGAZINE.