I must have felt your tears
But you had dreams for me
You gave life to me
When Mark Schultz wrote these lyrics, he wasn’t talking to an imaginary young woman in a hard situation – he was pouring out his heart to his birth mother.
As a third-grader, Mark was looking through old baby books with his sister and noticed that his baby book didn’t have as much information as hers. He asked his mom about it, and she told little Mark that his brother and sister had just come along. “With you,” his mother told him, “we went to the hospital and decided who we wanted. We chose you because we loved you the most and thought you were the most special child there.”
“That tells a kid right there that he’s got it going on!” Mark said in an interview for Christianity Today. “I felt great about being adopted. When my sister and I would get into a fight, instead of her saying, ‘You’re adopted’ as a way to make me feel bad, I’d say, ‘Mom didn’t have a choice when she got you, but she chose me!'”
Schultz’s adoptive parents cheered him on as he played football, basketball, baseball, ran track, sang and did theater in high school. “I’d score a touchdown or whatever, and my father would yell, ‘That’s my son!’ He loved us all the same. I got the best parents in the world.”
The inspiration for “Everything to Me” came much later in life, through a conversation with an adoption worker after a benefit concert he put on for Bethany Christian Services. She had heard he was adopted and asked him about his birth mother. He replied, half-jokingly, that it didn’t seem like his birth mother wanted him.
“The woman said that if my birth mother had chosen abortion, I wouldn’t even be having this conversation,” Mark said. “She reminded me that my birth mother carried me for nine months and made the hardest decision in her life, giving me to a family who could love me and give me the opportunities she couldn’t. She said my birth mother thought about me and not herself.”
This realization hit Mark “like a ton of bricks.” He told Growthtrac, “I thought about what I would say to my birth mom if I ever had a chance to meet her. Tears started running down my face and the only words I could come up with were, ‘Thank you for this life that you have given me.”
The process of fully comprehending his birth mother’s sacrifice deepened Mark’s love and maturity and prodded him to write the most deeply personal song he has ever recorded. Now Mark says, “I don’t take anything for granted. I wake up in the morning and thank God that I’m alive. Adoption is such a gift.”