"Bless the Broken Road" is one of Rascal Flatts' many hits, known around the world. Now the band's bassist, Jay DeMarcus, is opening up about his behind-the-scenes road in Shotgun Angels: My Story of Broken Roads and Unshakeable Hope.
One of the most pivotal moments of his life was when his girlfriend of a month, Maggie, got pregnant after their first time together. “We’d had sex one time, but I knew it. I knew she was pregnant,” DeMarcus writes.
“[Maggie and I] discussed many options, including getting married and raising the child ourselves, but we quickly determined we’d be making that decision for the wrong reason,” DeMarcus, now 48, shares in the book. “Abortion was never an option, so we began to discuss adoption.”
DeMarcus explains: “It became evident that Maggie wanted nothing to do with me. There was no interest in the two of us somehow working things out so we might raise our child together.”
DeMarcus' mom even offered to raise the child, but Maggie was adamant about adoption. “From the very beginning, I wanted to be in [my baby’s] life,” DeMarcus writes in Shotgun Angels. “But her mother, Maggie, didn’t want either one of us in her life. That was a hard pill to swallow. I understand that sometimes life sends us reeling because of unexpected situations. But my heart in that moment, though scared, still desired to be in this beautiful child’s life.”
At the time, DeMarcus was in a Christian band with Neal Coomer called "East to West." After the news of the pregnancy broke, most in the Christian music world dismissed him. “I understand, I guess, but it does seem that many Christians all too often kills their wounded instead of taking time to be there to help pick someone up,” DeMarcus writes.
He went through a period of deep depression after the adoption of his daughter, but he clung to God and went on to form the Grammy award-winning band Rascal Flatts with bandmates Gary LeVox and Joe Don Rooney.
But because Tennessee favors the mother, Maggie's desire for anonymity overrode DeMarcus' desire to one day meet his daughter. To this day, he doesn't know if his daughter, now in her 20's, knows if he is her father. “My heart finds satisfaction in knowing that she ended up with a wonderful family, but I’ve had to live with this my entire life,” he writes. “The adoptive family was supposed to give her a letter when she turned 14, explaining that I loved her, did not abandon her, and have tried several ways to make it possible to be in her life.”
In 2004, Demarcus and former Miss Tennessee Allison Alderson married, and they now are raising their two children, daughter, Madeline, 8, and son, Dylan, 6, in Nashville, Tennessee.
“We live in the Bible belt. I was born and raised in church,” DeMarcus told PEOPLE about his parenting values. “That’s something that was really, really important to me, to build that foundation with our kids so they at least went to church.”
He explained: “It’s really important for me that [my kids are] ingrained in a good church and have that good foundation to build upon. I think that’s a core value system that you’ll find anywhere you go in the south.”
“I’m really looking forward to sharing a pretty personal look at my path so far, as that isn’t something I’ve done yet,” DeMarcus said in his book announcement. “In Shotgun Angels, readers will hear never-before-told stories and get a glimpse into what it was like for me coming from Columbus, Ohio, and my journey to Nashville. My ultimate goal is that the book will encourage people that no matter where they are in their lives, they can find hope, comfort and strength in their faith.”
What do you think of DeMarcus' personal pain in giving up his daughter for adoption and never being able to meet her? Share your thoughts in the comments! Thank you!