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Life in the Spotlight

A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Carrie Bedwell

Carrie Bedwell can still remember the day she received the fateful phone call from the adoption agency she and her husband had been working with for over two years.

An English teacher of 24 years, Bedwell was in her classroom at Merrillville High School. She was gearing up for a day of grading and evaluations when she saw the agency’s number scroll across her cell phone’s screen.

“I kind of didn’t want to answer it,” Bedwell said, thinking at the time that their case worker was merely calling to request that they update their parent portfolio.

The couple had just renewed their license with the agency; updated information, polished parent letters, and fresh fingerprints were just the beginning of the renewal process, yet another ache in the arduous process of seeking to adopt a child. After two years of searching, and one painful withdrawal from birth parents who had initially chosen them, the Bedwells were feeling more than a little drained.

“I’d given up hope,” Bedwell said.

Thankfully, something told Bedwell to answer that phone call. When she did, it was their case worker telling her that a birth mom had chosen the Bedwells to be her child’s parents. That very day, the couple drove down to Indianapolis to meet their new son.

“What’s really weird is that when we went to renew for the last time at the agency, our case worker was telling us about a birth mother who wanted her child to be raised by a nurse, since she was in nursing,” Bedwell said. “I jokingly said, ‘Well, where’s my English teacher?’ My son’s birth mother had actually studied to be an English teacher—she attended the same college that my husband and I had.”

Bedwell knew that was one of many reasons she was led to this child.

“They tell, you know, that you will receive the child you are meant to raise,” Bedwell said. “It’s horrible when you go through it, but the minute you meet that child, all of that goes away, and you understand that you are meant to be together.”

Given the miraculous circumstances of her story, it’s no wonder that Bedwell has an investment in the many different voices of motherhood. Bedwell has leant her own voice to a theatrical production that celebrates mothers many times over.

“Listen to Your Mother” premiered in Madison, Wisconsin in 2010 and featured a series of live readings. Founder Ann Imig, along with 11 other writers, presented their original stories about all things motherhood—everything from having a mom to being a mom to finding a mom was fair game.

The production was so successful that it grabbed national interest online and across media outlets. With performances popping up in over 50 cities throughout the country in the following years, as well as over $140,000 raised for charitable causes, “LTYM” has become somewhat of a phenomenon. Rights to the show are now available through Miracle or 2 Theatrical Licensing, placing it alongside other oft-performed theatre pieces, such as Les Miserables and Cats.

When Bedwell first performed in “LTYM” in 2014, she knew she was taking part in something special. Bedwell read her original piece, “Trust Your Journey,” which detailed the path that led her to her son.

Bedwell’s experience with the show was so positive, that she decided to take the reins on the project herself.

“I’m very passionate about the show,” Bedwell said. “I had such an amazing time being a part of the cast, and I thought a lot about what this show stood for and decided I wanted to produce it this year.”

Bedwell is producing “LTYM” in her hometown of Hobart; performances will take place in The Art Theater on Main Street. Bedwell’s production of “LTYM” features a cast of 15 performers, three of whom are from Illinois and two of whom are males. Approximately 40 people came to audition.

“It was really amazing to hear all of the different stories of motherhood from all over Northwest Indiana and beyond,” Bedwell said. “It’s compelling—there are so many different facets and nuances to motherhood.”

Bedwell decided to bring some new elements to “LTYM,” helping it to grow along with its audiences.

“I wanted to put my own little thumbprint on the show,” Bedwell said. “So I’ve switched up the traditional formula a little bit by accepting some poetry, some standup comedy, and some songs.”

Bedwell is sure that the performers and their pieces will impact every viewer in some capacity.

“[‘LTYM’] will touch everyone in some way or another,” Bedwell said. “It kind of tells people that they’re not alone in this, whatever they’ve experienced. Whether happy or sad, it’s going to be an emotional journey. Some of the readings and performances are super humorous, while others are very emotional. There are lots of different stories that will resonate with a myriad of people.”

Bedwell is especially moved to be featuring some performers whose stories resonate with her own. She doesn’t want to give too much away, but suffice it to say that there are some cathartic moments to be had.

“Another important aspect of this show is that it brings the community together—many people have volunteered their time and services to make various aspects of the show happen,” Bedwell said.

Bedwell is also devoted to the philanthropic aspects of the production: a portion of the tickets’ proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society.

“That’s the charity that’s near and dear to my heart,” said Bedwell. “My mother has been living with lung cancer for the past 6 years, my two grandmothers overcame breast cancer, and I had an uncle who passed away from esophageal and throat cancer.”

With this charitable endeavor and the overall theme of the evening ever at heart, Bedwell was sure to include other fun elements. A scavenger hunt is currently going on in downtown Hobart. By attending local businesses, asking the owners fun questions, and taking the answers with them to the show, attendees have a chance to win prizes during the show. Or, one can simply visit a local business, snap a selfie with a famous “mom” (such as Mrs. Jetson, who is currently waiting at Toys in the Attic,) and tag both the show and the business on social media. This also qualifies for a potential prize.

“It’s a really fun way to support local businesses and get people excited for our production,” Bedwell said.

When Bedwell isn’t prepping for awesome shows or teaching, she’s often preparing for her next voyage. In the summers, she leads students and adults on European tours as part of an experiential learning tactic. This year, Italy is on the horizon.

Bedwell looks forward to sharing her love of travel with her son, who has already developed a fixation on the Eiffel Tower.

“He’s got his little suitcase,” Bedwell laughed. “He was just pulling it around a couple of weeks ago and he said, ‘Mom we need to go on a trip!’ And I said ‘Oh, yeah? Where should we go?’ And he said, ‘Let’s go to India!’ Where does that come from, out of a 4-year-old’s mouth? So I told him we’d put it on the bucket list.”

“Listen to Your Mother” was performed on May 12th at The Art Theater in Hobart. You can see coverage of this amazing event Here.

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