Local Parishes

A couple’s fiat, or the ‘ayes’ have it

by Marc and Julie Anderson
mjanderson@theleaven.org

Motherhood catches most women by surprise — but some more than others.

Consider the case of Cabrina Magee, a member of Holy Spirit Parish in Overland Park. She became a mother again by virtue of a single phone call — a call concerning a child being delivered by a partial-birth abortion already in progress.

It actually started in the fall of 2007. It had been a tough year for them, said Cabrina and her husband Mark. They had lost four children through miscarriage — three of them within that year.

But they had two happy, healthy daughters — nine-year-old Morgan and five-year-old Marianna — and they were content.

Still, they couldn’t help feel that “someone was missing,” said Cabrina, a feeling Mark shared with her.

The Magees were not the only ones who somehow sensed the Lord had something special in store for them.

A friend of the couple, Holy Cross parishioner LeAnn Barry, kept telling Cabrina and Mark of a recurring dream of hers — a dream about a future baby of theirs with dark hair.

Meanwhile, Cabrina’s sister Anna Rizzi, a member of the St. Philippine Duchesne Latin Mass community, picked up a pamphlet about the Sisters of St. Joseph and their adoption agency at a rosary group — a group she’d never attended before.

Anna told the couple she felt led by God to both the rosary group and to giving the pamphlet to them.

Finally, another friend, Anette Growney of Holy Spirit, said that while praying for Cabrina and Mark because of their recent losses, she saw a family of deer that included two young fawns. All of a sudden, another fawn came out of nowhere and joined them.

She believed, Anette told Cabrina and Mark, it was a sign that God had another baby in store for them.

When Cabrina began expressing interest in talking with the Sisters of St. Joseph about adoption, Mark was at first reluctant.

Still grieving, he would only agree to meet with the nuns at the adoption agency and listen to what they had to say.

But that was all it took.

“I’m in,” he said after the meeting. “Let’s do this.”

The couple completed their paperwork within three weeks. Just three days later, the phone rang.

The Sisters had learned of a child available for adoption, and they wanted to know if the Magees were interested in the child. They then shared how the birth mother had intended to place the baby for adoption, but had been admitted to the hospital with ruptured membranes. There health care officials had told her she needed to proceed with a partial-birth abortion. If not, both she and her unborn baby would die.

The nuns provided more details — ones that Cabrina and Mark said would dissuade many people from the potential adoption. The birth mother had already been given medication to start the abortion. When the birth mother’s court-appointed advocate learned of it, she counseled the birth mother not to proceed further and found a hospital willing to help both the birth mother and the baby. While the delivery had been successfully interrupted and the birth mother would remain on bed rest for the pregnancy’s duration, health care professionals could offer no guarantees.

The Magees did not hesitate.

Perhaps God had led the Sisters to call them, thought Cabrina. She and Mark were willing to adopt a high-risk infant. Even if the baby died, they were uniquely qualified to provide comfort and counsel to the birth mother, having experienced firsthand the loss of not one, but several, children.

For the next 10 weeks, health care professionals fought to keep the baby safe inside the birth mother’s womb. Ironically, the same baby had to be delivered at 32 weeks via C-section. Due to the ruptured membranes, which in turn, cause a lack of amniotic fluid, the risk of strangulation for babies born under these circumstances is high.

The birth mother allowed Cabrina to be in the delivery room on Nov. 27, 2007, when Mariella, Italian for Mary, made her appearance.

A few days later, the Magee family celebrated Thanksgiving with grateful hearts — with their new four-pound, six-ounce addition.

Now, said Mark, “I just cannot imagine life without her.”

Even now, said Cabrina, they are reminded of how Mariella was always part of God’s plan for them.

Before they even consented to an adoption, Cabrina recalls, she, too, had a recurring dream.

“I would dream I was in the nursery at home, rocking a baby dressed in a purple sleeper,” she said. “It didn’t dawn on me at first. I thought the baby [in my dream] was one of the children we had lost.

“It was only after Mariella was born and I was rocking her while she was wearing a purple sleeper that I got it!”

Health care professionals had warned the Magees when they agreed to the adoption that Mariella might be born missing some fingers and toes. Afterward, she could possibly suffer a whole host of other medical problems. More than likely, she would spend at least one month in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“Well, no one told Mariella that,” said Cabrina with a laugh. Mariella was born perfectly healthy and spent only about two weeks in intensive care before she was transferred to the regular nursery.

Within a month, Mariella joined her family at home. To this day, she is a strong, happy and healthy 2 1⁄2-year-old who loves to entertain the entire family.

“She is really the family clown,” said Cabrina and “so determined.”

Mariella’s strong will, Cabrina believes, helped pull her though — defying all the medical odds.

The Magees did not originally intend to share their story with anyone outside their circle of family and friends. But when approached about doing a newspaper article, they agreed, saying they would do it in order to give glory to God as a sign that he keeps his promises and that all life is sacred.

“If Mariella can help save even just one life or inspire just one person, then [sharing it] is worth it,” said Cabrina.

About the author

Marc & Julie Anderson

Marc & Julie Anderson

Freelancers Marc and Julie Anderson are long-time contributors to the Leaven. Married in 1996, for several years the high school sweethearts edited The Crown, the former newspaper of Christ the King Parish in Topeka which Julie has attended since its founding in 1977. In 2000, the Leaven offered the couple their first assignment. Since then, the Andersons’ work has also been featured in a variety of other Catholic and prolife media outlets. The couple has received numerous journalism awards from the Knights of Columbus, National Right to Life and the Catholic Press Association including three for their work on “Think It’s Not Happening Near You? Think Again,” a piece about human trafficking. A lifelong Catholic, Julie graduated from Most Pure Heart of Mary Grade School and Hayden Catholic High School in Topeka. Marc was received into the Catholic Church in 1993 at St. Paul Parish – Newman Center at Wichita State University. The two hold degrees from Washburn University in Topeka. Their only son, William James, was stillborn in 1997.

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