Five Minute Friday – What’s in a Name?

I’m participating in this week’s Five Minute Friday writing challenge.  If you like to write or need some inspiration and encouragement be sure to check it out.

Today word prompt:  Name

For the first 3 months of my life I didn’t have a name because I was given up for adoption at birth.  On my original birth certificate, it only recorded my birth mother’s last name.  Legal paperwork recorded my name as Baby Girl Dawson.

Three months later, my parents Frank and Gayle Bunts adopted me and I was given the name Susan Harriett Bunts.  From that day on, I was someone’s daughter and sister to my brothers Michael and Patrick.

My first name was given by my brother Michael.  He had a girlfriend named Susan and later he had a cow that he named Suzy.  The name Susan means lily and is of Hebrew origins.  When I think of a lily, I think of Easter and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The name Harriett was the name of my father’s mother whom he loved greatly.  Harriett is French and means home ruler which is kind of appropriate because I love being home.  “There’s no place like home.”

At the age of 49, I was given a new last name when I married Christopher Wachtel and I was welcomed into the Wachtel family.  I wish I had the opportunity to meet my in-law Leo and Ruth Wachtel.  I look forward to meeting them in heaven.  In the mean time I am blessed to know the rest of the Wachtel family.

Even though I’ve lived with those names for many years, the name I value most is Christian.  At the age of 32, I finally recognized that I was a sinner and repented of my sin.  I recognized that there is a God to whom I will give an account and that He is the God of the Bible.  He made a way for me to be forgiven through His Son Jesus Christ and His sacrificial atoning death on the cross.  Christ’s death paid the penalty for my sin and for all who repent believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sin.

God assures believers that He has called us by name.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!”
Isaiah 43:1 c-d

Everyone who is called by My name,
And whom I have created for My glory,
Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.”

Isaiah 43:7

Though I didn’t have a name for the first three months of my life, God knew me and He called me by name.

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

Psalm 139:13-16

Before God laid the foundations of the world, He knew and called me.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

Ephesians 1:3-6

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

Romans 8:28-30

Though I did not have a name for the first three months of my life, God knew me, He knew my name and He called me to salvation through Jesus Christ.

Though I may have been considered an accident by my birth mother, God planned my life before He laid the foundations of the world.

When I think about who I am, first and foremost I think of myself as a Christian and that truth overshadows everything else in my life.


An Unexpected Journey

The day our family grew by one
So very unexpected, certainly not planned
Not pregnant, but it’s every bit as exciting

We thought we would welcome into our home
For a few weeks one summer
An orphan from a land far away

Little did we know
Our hearts would be knit together as one
Our children would embrace this precious child

This little one had a hard beginning
While still so young, was now alone
But LORD willing, not for long

Far too soon the day would come
When we had to send this young one back
This child whom we’ve come to love

What better way to celebrate and remember
Than a picnic, together as a family
On a beautiful warm summer day

Of course, we took pictures to remember
When we beheld the photos in our hands
We knew, this child was meant to become our own

Sadly, the day came for a tearful goodbye
We embraced, declared our love
Made promises to write and stay in touch

Thus, our unexpected journey began
Covered with prayer
Dependent upon the wisdom and guidance of God

We will rely on the support of family and friends
The loving care of our dear church family
As we walk the path of adoption, one step at a time

Seemingly endless paperwork to be completed
Funds to save and raise
To make what seems impossible happen

We will watch and pray
Delays may come
But our hearts will remain full of hope

Dependent upon God
Who goes before us
For His heart is close to the orphan

by Susan Bunts Wachtel
August 2, 2017

Have you ever heard a story and felt inspired and moved by what God was doing? This poem was inspired by a story I recently read. While I don’t know the all the details about what the family has experienced, I rejoice at the work the LORD is doing to give a precious orphan a family and change a life forever for good.














A 58-Year-Old Secret

I don’t think I will ever forget her voice.  She sounded so sweet and so kind.  She reminded me of some of the older ladies at church that we love so much.  Will I ever hear from her again?

It’s not quite as easy as it looks on Long Lost Family.  Back in March when I sent a request form to Colorado to get a copy of my original pre-adoption birth certificate, I had no idea how things would turn out.

I was expecting that it would take a month to get the birth certificate.  The check had been cashed.  Every day I would go to the mail box with the hope that it was finally here.  After two months, my patience was wearing thin so I decided to call Colorado’s Vital Check offices.

After a couple of phone calls, I finally talked to someone live, instead of a recording.  The person acknowledged receiving my request and could see that they had been paid, but couldn’t tell me where they were at in the process.  She took my name and number and said someone would call me back.

When the phone didn’t ring, I called again the next day.  Don’t ask me how come, but they couldn’t find my request form.  But at least I got a person who was able to help me.  She requested that I fill out a new form and email it to her, which I did right away.

A week later, I was holding a copy of my original birth certificate in my hand.  On it, was the name of my birth mother and biological father.  Now, I had some solid information to go by and could start fleshing out a biological family tree.

On Ancestry, I started doing a search by her name, with very little other identifying information.  Perhaps it would be enough.  I had her name, her age, the state where she was born and the county and state where she resided when I was born.

It was just enough to help me narrow down to the person who might be my birth mother.  There were somethings in her life that made it seem like was the right person.

On Memorial Day, I received an email from Ancestry letting me know my DNA results were back.  So cool!  The results weren’t what I expected.  I had been told my birth parents background was English, German, Swedish and Norwegian, flip flopped from my parents who adopted me.

Instead, my family background included 78% Great Britain, 9% Irish (who knew), and 6% Europe West.  Kind of exciting and cool to learn that information.  Better than that was the DNA matches to people on Ancestry.  One of whom was a close family member to my birth mother.  So that confirmed the direction I was going with the family tree.

An internet searched showed an address where my birth mother lives.  I handwrote a brief letter to her.  I kept it vague and didn’t come right out and say, “Hi Mom, how are you doing?”  Since I didn’t know her current state and if her family might be caring for her, I gave some basic information and asked her to contact me if she knew anything about my birth.

Three weeks later I still hadn’t heard anything.  Not a phone call, email or letter.  I decided to put another letter in the mail.  This time I shared more details and included a copy of my birth certificate.  I explained how I determined she was likely my birth mother and the DNA test showed that I was close match to someone she was related to.

I sent that letter a week ago.  I think my husband, Chris has been more anxious than I have been.  I didn’t know if I would be contacted, but at least it was worth a try.

Today, when the phone rang and displayed the city and state where my birth mother lives I knew it might be her.  Or one of her children.  Wow!

I picked up the phone and it was my birth mother.  She sounded very sweet and caring.  We didn’t talk long, but it was enough.  Well…mostly.  She thanked me for being discrete in my communication with her.  She confirmed that she was my birth mother.  She said that my birth was a secret and that her family didn’t know about it.  She’s had a good life and a loving family and her health is good.

I had written a little bit about my life and family.  She asked a few questions and I asked about my biological father.  She didn’t have a lot of information about him.  So hopefully my DNA test result may help point me in the right direction.

In my letter and on the phone, I shared about my faith in Christ.  Praise God, she too is a Christian.  So, if I don’t hear from her again, I have the promise of seeing her and getting to know her in heaven.

When the phone call ended, I told her to feel free to call me any time.  I don’t know if she will do that.  Since my birth is 58-year-old secret, I may not hear from her again.  On the other hand, perhaps the Lord will be at work in her life and she may choose to share the news with her family and children.  That’s out of my control…but not outside the Lord’s control.

As I ended the phone call, I knew it might be the only time I get to speak with her.  But she sounded like sweet, loving and caring woman.  I wish I could get to know her.  But for now, I choose to be satisfied with what the Lord has provided.

Apart from getting my original birth certificate and the DNA tests…I don’t think I would have ever been able to find my birth mother.  I am so grateful for the support and encouragement from my husband Chris.  He didn’t hesitate and encouraged me to try.

Next, I will try to see if I can find out who my biological father is, but I’ll have to rely heavily on DNA information for that part of my search.

So, if any of you is curious on your family background, I encourage you to see what you can find.  Perhaps you just want to know the genetic background and the DNA test will help answer some of those questions.  Or maybe you are searching for your biological parents.  I was fortunate because the State of Colorado has recently opened up their adoption records.  Do what you can and have realistic expectations.

While I was hopeful, I would be able to make contact with my birth mother, I knew that might not happen.  I’m so grateful the Lord surprised me and I got to speak to her.  I hope I always remember her voice.


A Little of This, A Little of That

I’ve been checking our bank account almost daily to see if the check had cleared yet.  It’s been over four weeks now, but I figured that it would show up any day now.

On Monday, I saw the check had finally posted.  I knew that my original birth certificate was on its way.  I would soon see what I’ve wondered about for years.

I was adopted at three months old.  For as long as I could remember I’ve known that I was adopted.  As were my two brothers.  I know who my parents were…they were the mother and father who raised me.  They were there in good times and bad.  They encouraged me and discipline me.  They loved me even when I was unlovable.

After finishing my Bible study in Genesis this year, I came away with the knowledge and assurance that God gave me just the right family.  It won’t be until I get to heaven that I may know why God chose my mother and father and brothers.  But He did and God had a purpose and plan He was working out in all our lives.

Over the years, off and on, I’ve been curious about who my birth parents were.  What was their story?  And my beginning?  What’s happened in their lives?

I also found myself reticent about finding them.  I mean, what if they never wanted to see me?  In some respect adoption is the greatest gift.  It’s the gift of life and chance to have what they may not have been able to provide at that time in their lives.  Not sure if other adoptees feel this way, but I’ve got to confess, sometimes it feels like the ultimate rejection.

But recently, I’ve felt a comfort and freedom in knowing that God has overseen all the details of my life and put me with the family He chose for me.  I think this is a good place to be in if I’m going to try and find my birth parents.

Some of you may have seen the TV show Long Lost Family.  It’s been on a couple of years now.  There’s just something about seeing these people find their birth families and make a connection with them.  Perhaps that’s stirred a longing in me.  I submitted my story and received a confirmation they got my application.  They get a lot of people applying for their help, so the chances of them choosing me may be small.  But, I thought I would give it a try.

I also realized that I could do some searching on my own.  In the past, I’ve put my information in on adoption websites to no avail.  In my new search, I found out Colorado had recently changed their laws and adoptees and birth parents can get information, including their original birth certificate.  I sent away for it four weeks ago and now it’s on its way.

That will be a beginning.  It will give me the names of my birth mother and possible biological father.  From there, I can do some searches on Ancestry’s website among others to see if I can find them.

It’s in the Lord’s hands and I need to trust Him with the outcome.  Whether I find them or not.  Or if I do locate them, if they don’t want to meet me or be in contact, I need to be okay with that too.

Along with sending away for my original birth certificate, I’ve been working on our family tree on Ancestry.  It’s pretty cool to flesh things out.  I’m finding some surprises along the way.

In putting information in on my grandparents, I’ve found that my grandmother had two siblings that I didn’t know about.  One was a baby sister, Marie, born about seven years before she was.  It appears that child died young, but I need to do more searching.  Also, she had a brother I had never heard about.  He died in the 1940’s.

I found a record that looks like one of my Uncles was married twice and was divorced once.  Also, I found that my dad had a second sister that I had never heard of before.  Her name was Mary.  She first appeared on census paperwork.

I’m sure there will be more surprises to come as I research and add more records.  It’s both exciting and kind of disorienting.  I wish I had done this when my mother still alive and I could ask questions and find out about our family.

I’m grateful for the support and encouragement of my husband, Chris.  I know that at the end of the day genetics and blood relations aren’t the be all and end all.  But something I’ve never really had is looking like my family members.  Or having similar abilities, talents and interests.  So, we shall see what tomorrow will bring and if I’m able to find my birth parents.

At 58 years old, I’m well aware the clock is ticking.  My chances of finding them dwindles with each passing day.  It’s in the Lord’s hands and I will trust Him.


Chosen for Greatness by Paul J Batura – Fascinating, Interesting & Heartening


As an adoptee, I’m always curious to read stories about people who are adopted or parents who adopt children. That’s why I was excited at the opportunity to read author Paul J. Batura’s book Chosen for Greatness – How Adoption Changes the World.

I found Chosen for Greatness fascinating, interesting and heartening. In this book, Paul tell about the lives of sixteen famous people who were adopted, including Steve Jobs, Babe Ruth, George Washington Carver, Scott Hamilton, Leo Tolstoy and more. They come from various walks of life and over hundreds of years. The chapters are short, but the reader learns about the adoptee, their pre-adoption circumstances, birth parents and adoptive parents. Most fascinating is to see God’s providential hand in the life of each of these people. In their lives, you can see how perfectly God brought these orphans to just the right parents.

It was sobering to read about the difficult circumstance these children were born into. It made me pause and give thanks for the times we live in. I also saw a resilience in the human spirit. Children and parents who could have easily given up, though perhaps wayward for a season, found a way to persevere and achieve greatness in this life. I found it encouraging to read about parents who adopted children, made a lifelong commitment and sowed into these young lives the seeds that God would use to make the children into the men and women He called and gifted them to be.

Since I’m adopted, I found it particularly interesting to read about what these adoptees felt about their adoption and birth parents. Though sometimes drawn to meet and know their birth parents, they knew their parents were the ones who adopted, cared for and raised them. Parenthood is less about blood and more love and commitment.

This book is written from a Christian perspective. Many of the people whose story is told were Christians or exposed to the Christian faith. I appreciated the reminder from Scripture and the life of the Lord Jesus Christ that adoption is part of God’s story. For His only begotten Son and for those whom He has chosen and adopted as His own.

I highly recommend Paul J. Batura’s book Chosen for Greatness – How Adoption Changes the World. This would be an ideal book for someone who is adopted, or those who have adopted children or know someone who is adopted. Or if you just want to read an interesting book and learn what shapes people’s lives, pick up Chosen for Greatness.

I would like to thank Regnery Publishing for the opportunity to read Chosen for Greatness by Paul J. Batura. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.