Despite adoption’s often less-than-rosy reputation, it has remained a viable alternative for some mothers, and has meant that some extremely caring and responsible couples have been able to raise children as their own. The true story of one successful adoption has been made into a movie called Lifemark, which was released in Australia and New Zealand on October 13th. Lifemark has an intentionally pro-life focus, and its creators hope that the movie’s message will encourage adoption as an alternative to abortion.
Lifemark was produced by the Kendrick Brothers, famous for their other Christian movies such as War Room. Executive producer of Lifemark, Alex Kendrick, spoke to FLI by video link about the movie, in which he also played a role.
Alex, can you explain how you came to make Lifemark?
We heard about this story in 2019. Kirk Cameron gave us a phone-call and said “Alex you’ve got to look at this short documentary on Youtube. It’s called, I lived on Parker Avenue.”
So my brothers and I watched it and it just grabbed our hearts. It’s about an 18-year-old girl and she was lying on the abortion table about to have the procedure and she told the doctor, “Stop! I don’t want to do this!” And she gets off the table, walks out of the clinic and she ends up placing her child for adoption.
That baby was adopted by a Christian couple who could not have their own children. They named him David and then 19 years later, when he was 19 years old, David was able to meet his biological mother whose name was Melissa. Melissa thought he would hate her, but he wraps her up in a loving hug and says. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! For the hard decision you made. I am so grateful. I love my family!” And she wept, and she said, “I didn’t think you would feel this way.”
And so today, she speaks around our country sharing her story, speaking about the beauty of adoption. And David is now married – this was a few years ago. He is a lawyer, he just got out of law school and he and his wife help others adopt children. It is such a beautiful story.
What do you think your movie says about motherhood?
This movie does lift up the beauty of motherhood. Life is a gift from God. We want to defend those who cannot defend themselves. But we want to do that with compassion, grace and love, so the reason we made this movie was to share a loving, true story that acknowledges both sides of the issue but that encourages people to choose life. We think when people see it their hearts are going to be touched.
Do you know if anyone was praying outside the abortion business that day?
When Melissa was walking in, a woman called out to her and said, “You know your baby has ten fingers and ten toes. Please don’t kill it.” So when she walked into the room she kept thinking about that and thinking that this baby has ten fingers and ten toes. That was one of the deciding factors that made her get up off that table.
She never was able to meet that lady but she talks about how it was such a beautiful ministry for her to be there praying and she did it in a loving way. She didn’t scream at her, she didn’t bring any accusations, she just said…[“You know your baby has ten fingers and ten toes. Please don’t kill it.”]
That baby is David today. He is married and helping other people.
I’m told that according to the stats we’ve been given, when there are loving people praying and reaching out to her, a woman is 70% more likely to not have an abortion. So people being there in a loving way praying and reaching out is effective, so we encourage people to do that.
It seems that many women would prefer to abort rather than give up a child for adoption. Do you think seeing ‘Lifemark’ could make some women who found themselves in that position less hesitant to give their child to another couple?
There are scores of people who have seen it in America and they are flooding us with emails and letters and sharing how that movie impacted them. And there are some that watching the movie changed their mind on abortion. Because they see that this is a true story and they see how it turns out.
Not that it’s always going to turn out this way because adoption stories vary significantly, but it is a beautiful option. Scripture says that God is the author of life and that we should defend those who can’t defend themselves, but that we need to do so with love and grace. None of us are perfect, all of us have made mistakes in one way or another so we want to offer hope and healing and support to these young women who have an unexpected pregnancy.
There are scores of people hoping to adopt here in America and I’m sure the same is true in other countries as well. We were stunned at the number of people waiting to adopt. We were saying that there is hope, there are families who want to love a child, would they consider doing this?
When we do this with love and grace, more and more people are open to it. So we’re excited. Our church has gotten more and more involved ministering to these young ladies, offering them hope and counsel and support. We love seeing people go through this redemption, this forgiveness, even connecting with the Lord. So this is a ministry on many fronts and we hope that this movie inspires people all over the world.
Was your church already offering pregnancy support before your involvement with the movie?
The movie added more fuel to the fire, if you will. We had so many people responding with past abortions, going to The Lord with that, considering adoption where they had not considered that before.
There was a thirty-two-year-old man in one of the audiences when we first showed Lifemark here in the States. He had his arms folded in the back. His wife wanted to see the movie; he did not. They could not have children and his wife asked him if he would consider adoption. He initially said no. He’s watching this movie and he told me later that halfway through the movie the Lord touched his heart and said, “You can do this, I am with you.” So he turns to his wife at the end of the movie and says with tears in his eyes, “I’m ready.”
In Ephesians it says when we are in Christ, spiritually we are adopted into the family of God. So that’s not lost on us either. I’m so grateful that God takes someone like me and someone like all of us and says if you go through faith in Jesus Christ, you are adopted into the family of God. So we are mindful of that as well.
What do you say to those who believe adoption should not be considered because it causes too much grief and trauma?
Life itself is hard. This is a valid point that people bring up. What we’re seeing is that just like anything else: when your car breaks down, you look for options. When you’re running out of money, you look for options. Families are finding when they run into hurdles, as well, that life is worth preserving. So options present themselves.
Also there is a God in heaven who will support those who turn to Him and we’re seeing that over and over. It’s not for us to figure out every place to step and every answer to every problem. It is for us to love one another, offer hope and turn to the Lord. When the Lord is involved, incredible things happen.
That’s part of the movie’s witness: that there is a God Who loves us, Who wants a relationship with us, and who wants to help. When we love others the way Jesus loves us, good things happen. It is not always easy.
What do you say to those who feel a sense of entitlement to a child?
All major decisions should be given to the Lord first. He is the author of wisdom. He knows our path from beginning to end, he knows the future. He sees what’s coming. So every big decision should be presented to the Lord from the beginning. It’s like laying the groundwork for every decision in prayer.
When making the movie, we prayed through it first. And asked for his blessing, his guidance and he has done things we never imagined. Just as the movie came out in America, the law Roe vs Wade was overturned. We never imagined that happening! So many more people were interested in the movie because of the timing of it. We see the fingerprints of God in that regard.
Do you have any final comments, Alex?
Yes we acknowledge that decisions are hard and that this is a sensitive topic and yes, life can be difficult. But there is a God who wants to walk it with us and who wants to get glory from walking it with us and helping us. So we’re going to keep walking, keep sharing hope and guidance and keep sharing stories like this and we hope people are inspired to seek the Lord after watching them.
Melissa would say life is precious and valuable and worth preserving. So we’re very grateful for this story and it’s hard to argue with a true story.
If you would like to see Lifemark, click on this link to find a complete list of screenings in Australia and New Zealand.