In 1993, Melissa Coles was a scared teenager on the doctor’s table about to have an abortion. Elsewhere, Susan Scotten was a woman desperate to adopt a baby. Melissa’s 11th-hour decision to choose life for her baby set off a chain of amazing events, with ongoing blessings.
Susan recalls, “I got married – I married my high school sweetheart, and we easily got pregnant and were devastated when our first child was born with a disability. And he lived 12 days.”
It wouldn’t be the last time Susan would feel the sting of losing a child to a birth defect. Her second son died at two-and-a-half on December 22, 1986 – just three days before Christmas.
Susan shares, “I had a hard time having any faith, any, any hopes. I couldn’t have a healthy child. I was angry.”
Melissa says, “You think pregnancy, baby, you think happy. And I didn’t. I didn’t feel that way. And then I felt guilty because I felt the way I felt.”
Melissa was an unmarried, poor, and pregnant 18-year-old, who felt she only had two options.
She remembers, “I was scared out of my mind. And I was so conflicted. That I could keep him, it wasn’t too late. And the other, you know, do what…is easiest for everyone.”
Melissa says, “As I’m walking in, my heart’s racing. And the doctor came in and washed his hands, put on his gloves. And he didn’t speak to me. And he didn’t tell me what he was gonna do. He didn’t ask me how I was. He didn’t explain to me anything with the procedure. I think every negative emotion that someone could feel.”
At the same time, 800 miles away, another woman was holding onto the hope of adopting a newborn.
Susan says, “I just prayed for a healthy child. Uh, for the right thing to, to work out.”
After the death of her second son, Susan’s husband left, and she swore she’d never get pregnant again. Now remarried, she and her husband Jimmy had tried for two years to adopt.
Jimmy explains, “There were so many letdowns, and the process was difficult. But I kept saying, ‘We can do this. God’s helping us, and we just need to stick with it.'”
Back in Indiana, a doctor was mere seconds from aborting Melissa’s baby.
She remembers, “Right as his hands went in to touch me, his glove hit my left leg. I heard this voice say, ‘It’s not too late, get up.’ I know it’s the Lord, 100%. And I just said, ‘I can’t do this.’ The doctor gets up, rolls his eyes, rips his gloves off, and leaves the room, and left me.”
Having decided to save her baby’s life, Melissa still faced uncertainty. Then later a social worker gave her an alternative she hadn’t considered: adoption.
Melissa shares, “I wanted him… and I think if he was with someone that was more like me, then he would have been raised more like how I would have raised him.”
After finding an agency, Melissa received dozens of letters from potential parents. The one that grabbed her attention was from Susan and Jimmy.
Melissa says, “And then I just fell in love with Susan. She starts, you know, telling me her story. And she’d been through a lot of pain herself.”
But it was a phone conversation that sealed the deal.
Melissa remembers saying, “Susan, how do you bait your hook down there?”
To which Susan replied, “‘When we go fishing we use the cocahoe minnow and you have to put the hook through the eye of the minnow.’ I said, ‘And I always bait my own hook.'”
Melissa continues, “And I just said, ‘Congratulations, you’re a mom.’ Because I knew – I just, I knew at that point she was gonna be the mom that was gonna take him fishing, and teach him the kind of things I would teach him.”
In December 1993, Melissa gave birth to a healthy baby boy. She was given the choice to hold her son before she gave him up. Melissa shares, “I just knew that holding him would make it hard, uh – harder – to let go. But I’m glad I did. He didn’t cry. He was just peaceful.”
Meanwhile in Louisiana, Jimmy got the call.
He remembers, “I was excited and so much was going through my mind, I almost forgot to call Susan and tell her that the baby was born!”
It was December 22, 1993, seven years to the day that Susan lost her second son.
Susan says, “I get to the phone and he’s like, ‘It’s a boy!’ And I’m like ‘Okay, is it real? Is it – it’s really real?'”
They named him David James, after Susan’s father who had passed 9 months earlier. They held him for the first time on Christmas Eve.
Susan shares, “I am crying happy tears. They’re just flowing, flowing. It is – he’s beautiful. He’s just perfect. It’s so joyful! And we walk out the hospital, Jimmy and I together, and it starts to snow! Now, from Louisiana, that just is just like tears from heaven, just joy, just the ultimate, ultimate joy! It was ‘Wow!'”
Melissa later married and started her own family. In the coming years, not a day passed that she didn’t think about the son she gave up.
She shares, “Deep down I knew I did the right thing. I knew he was safe, and I knew that they were giving him everything I couldn’t.”
David grew up in a loving Christian home, and yes – spent lots of time fishing with his Mom and Dad. He always knew he was adopted, and in high school, he joined a pro-life group. At 18 he reached out to Melissa and the two agreed to meet. By then, a documentary team had picked up their story and was there to film their reunion.
Melissa remembers, “My heart was racing so fast. Man, I couldn’t get out the door fast enough. I wanted to get there and hug him no matter what. I just wanted to feel that hug and feel that connection. And it was a beautiful moment.”
There was something he wanted Melissa to know.
David says, “She made a brave decision and a courageous decision that wasn’t easy. That was the whole reason that we were coming there, was to thank her and reaffirm her that her decision was the right decision.”
Melissa says, “I felt a lot more freed in my spirit hearing that.”
Since then, David has finished law school, and he and Melissa have joined in a common goal. Through speaking engagements and the documentary, “I Lived on Parker Avenue,” they work to inform women about adoption and encourage them to choose life.
David explains, “Knowing that for every 100 abortions, there’s only two adoptions facilitated in this country, we really had a unique opportunity to share the adoption option. And I think that was God’s calling for us. God played a role in all of this. The chain of events is just too, too amazing for me not to think that.”
Melissa adds, “God has had His hand in this from the get-go. And He carried me through. He molded everything.”
LEARN MORE: I Lived on Parker Avenue
- National Council for Adoption: AdoptionCouncil.org
- Brave Love: BraveLove.org
- Heartbeat International: HeartbeatInternational.org
- The Adoption Network: AdoptionNetwork.com
Have you have had an abortion, are contemplating ending your pregnancy, or would like pregnancy-related resources, please click here.