Miracle Monday: Letter from a Birth Mom

Today at The R House I came across this letter from a birthmother to her child, explaining the way she came to decide on adoption. Mrs.R’s post “Another Reason I Love Open Adoption” is a compelling one. And I wanted to pass it along in case you’re interested in reading about open adoption. (I believe Mrs. R is a foster-adoptive mother.)

Bottom line: The birth mom in this letter had a loving, supportive friend made it possible for her to weigh her options — all her options — completely and without judgment.  You can read the story here.

Like many young moms, she started out vascillating between motherhood and abortion. Only gradually, as she learned more about adoption and realized how unprepared she and the child’s father were for parenthood, did she find the courage to reconsider her original position.

It’s not often you find such selfless courage. May God bless her for it.

NYTimes: “Abortion Foes Tell Their Journey to the Streets”

Today I came across “Abortion Foes Tell Their Journey to the Streets,” a remarkable article in the New York Times by Damien Cave, which (though not entirely sympathetic to the pro-life cause, as the title suggests) nevertheless provided a truly useful and balanced account of those who consider themselves pro-life. Far more balanced than I would have thought possible in the New York Times, frankly.

The commentary is predictably negative: (a) denial (no such thing as absolute truth), (b) demonize (those with religious convictions just want to oppress women), (c) distraction (why aren’t pro-lifers doing more to help children already born?). However, there was one response that struck me as being one of the few that truly invited discussion and further reflection, and I wanted to post it here.

J. Eve, Florida
“I think it’s a shame that this discussion seems to have deteriorated into a question of choice vs. no-choice. I believe the real question is where life begins and ends and who controls it.

“When does life begin? Is it when biological processes are initiated? When consciousness is reached or is it a spark of the divine that creates a “living soul”? Is a comatose person on a ventilator truly alive? Are individuals that died and were resuscitated dead while their heart stopped beating; or when brain death occurred? With medical science pushing further and further out in it’s abilities to sustain life, even prenatal life, where do we as a culture decide life begins. Should abortions be stopped beyond the time of medical viability?

“When is medical viability? Could it be considered after the first trimester when the majority of spontaneous abortions cease or 28 weeks when a child may survive outside the womb with medical assistance? From the perspective of genetics a baby is separate and individual, though dependent, from the moment of conception. Some might say that yes, a fetus is genetically individual but then so is a tumor, so what separates a baby from a tumor? Is it merely someone stating that the baby is of benefit or desirable? How do you decide when science has not been able to define these answers? Religion and philosophy are left to fill the gaps.

“It is unfair to ask young women to make decisions about someone else’s life, without making them aware of the complexity and psycho-social ramifications of this issue. Some people would say that her choice was made when she chose to have sex, supposedly possessing the understanding, maturity and forethought to understand the consequences. I tend to believe that the typical teenager or young adult if woefully ill prepared to deal with the consequences or the choice of abortion. They may have been taught about birth control or STD’s, but has anyone introduced them to the differing philosophies on life; reality of the power and responsibility inherent in the ability to create more life?

“My public school education was woefully lacking in those areas and only when I became a health care professional did I begin to understand the complexity of the question, and the weight of having someone else’s life in my hands. Since we cannot define life or abortion in merely scientific terms it is reckless in the extreme to try and exclude philosophical viewpoints from individuals making adult decisions whether they are offensive or not. Instead I am in favor of an educational program that addresses all viewpoints on life secular and religious; with a foundation in scientific understanding as we know it, as well as experiences that expose women and men to the realities of birth, life, death, pregnancy, and parenthood. What a great alternative that would be to the shallow selfishness of “it’s my body and I can do what I want to” of which some people seem to be so fond.”

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

small-family1Today we celebrate the Feast of the Annunication, the day the angel appeared to Mary and announced that God had chosen her to be the mother of the Incarnate Christ. Her gesture of obedience — the “yes” to God’s plan for her to become a mother while she was still unmarried, and to raise His only Son to manhood — was an act of pure courage.

God’s act, one of pure mercy. Despite the fact that the world didn’t understand, didn’t recognize, and certainly didn’t want the sacrifice … He came and lived among us, first as a helpless infant, then as a young man, then as a teacher … and finally, a living embodiment of God’s eternal grace.

Today, God continues to live among us, though in many ways His Spirit is resisted even more than it was two millennia ago. Lives through the Church, both through the sacraments and in His people. The Spirit continues to speak, through the ongoing tradition and teaching authority of the Apostles and their successors, through the written Word of God, and through divine interventions — miracles — all around us.

Most of the time, we think of these “miracles” as positive outcomes. A healing here, a reconciliation there, a flash of inspiration or transformation that yields tremendous spiritual fruit. And yet, in the words of C.S. Lewis, “God shouts to us through our pain.” From this perspective, even tragedies like this can, from a certain perspective, rightly be seen as divine intervention. Our Good Shepherd knows what it will take to reach even the most stubborn sheep.

May God grant that even in this situation, the shout of His Spirit fall on ears ready and willing to listen.

Miracle Monday: A Daughter’s Story of Life


The other day “Mighty Mom” sent me this link to a moving story about a mother who chose life for her daughter, despite having every medical reason not to do so!

Thanks, Sarah, for being willing to share your story.  Your mom sounds like an amazing woman.

(At the author’s request, this story may not be reproduced without her permission. But please do follow the link and read it … you’ll be glad you did!)

Sent the President a Valentine…

missing-piece1This idea came from Alexa — for all of us who are praying for a change of heart in our president concerning his stance on abortion.

Get a red envelope. On the front, address it to:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

On the back of the envelope, write the following message.

This envelope represents one child who died in abortion.
It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world.
Responsibility begins with conception.

Put it in the mail, and send it. Then forward this to every one of your friends who you think would send one too. I wish we could send 50 million red envelopes, one for every child who died before having a chance to live. Maybe it will change the heart of the president.

If you’re looking for another way to celebrate the holiday, pick up a copy of Lee Ezell’s book The Missing Piece, a touching account of her only child, who was conceived after Lee was sexually assaulted. She made an adoption plan for her daughter … and years later was reunited with her.

A wonderful book for any woman, but a real Godsend for any woman in a crisis pregnancy. Pick up a copy today!

From OSV Daily: Baby Thrown Away

Today at the OSV Daily is a report from AP about an infant scheduled for abortion who was born alive … then place in a plastic bag for disposal.

In the first century AD in the Roman Empire, Christians were a hunted sect … yet they had many converts from among the Roman citizenry because of their loving care for the sick and imprisoned, and their practice of adopting infants who had been discarded by their parents. (Infanticide was legal up to the eighth day of the child’s life.)

We cannot count on our leaders to denounce this kind of horror. Indeed, President Obama has made this abundantly clear. And yet, history has taught us … no nation can remain strong, or continue for long, if this kind of moral cancer encroaches unchecked among our people.

How can we ask God to bless America, if we throw away His most precious gifts?

Special NCFA Report Recommends Teaching Adoption in Schools

With the rate of teenage pregnancy going up again for the first time in fifteen years, the recent release of this special report from the National Council for Adoption is especially timely. This NCFA report identifies a critical improvement needed in public school health and sex-ed classes: Educating teens about adoption as a positive outcome for crisis pregnancies.

Right now, just four states — Virginia, Utah, Michigan, and Louisiana — have legislation that mandates adoption awareness for public school “reproductive health/sexual education” programs (either mandated or voluntary). However, NCFA reports that studies have shown “four years after the birth of their children, those who had made adoption placements had higher levels of educational attainment, higher rates of employment, and lower rates of subsequent pregnancy relative to those who chose to parent” (NCFA “The Adoption Option,” pg 2).

Another good reason for the change: Studies have shown that “children born to teens are twice as likely to suffer abuse and neglect than those born to older mothers.”

The subject of sex education in schools is a controversial one. Ultimately it is parents’ responsibility — not the school’s — to teach their children about sexuality. Sadly, too many parents — in a well-intentioned but ultimately misguided attempt to protect their children — abdicate this responsibility. The reality is that if we are not proactive in educating our children, we will lose an important opportunity — and run the risk of having our children get an education of a different (and far more painful) kind.

We need to be teaching our children more than “don’t.”  And I’m not talking about saying “Don’t, but if you do … be safe.” Contraception is not the answer; a woman’s fertility is not a disease to be treated but a gift to be embraced and respected. Rather, we need to be giving our youth — girls and boys — a vision for God’s plan for the family, and for their own bodies. We need to give them a sense of self-respect, empowerment, and confidence in themselves. We need to teach them that sex is not a game, but a gift … to be opened only in the context of marriage.

The NCFA report acknowledges that when teens do not embrace this message, they need information of a different kind. They need to be taught that if they are big enough to engage in sex, they must be willing to accept the consequences of their actions by putting their child’s needs ahead of their own desires. In many cases, this would include adoption, so that the child is not forced to pay for his parents’ mistakes, either with his life (through abortion) or abuse or neglect.

If you are looking for resources to help you give your teenager a spiritually sound perspective on human sexuality, I’d like to suggest “Theology of the Body for Teens” (Brian Butler, and Jason and Crystalina Evert, Ascension Press).

Time to Celebrate! … ?

Today I took my parents and kids to the Henry Ford Museum; Target was hosting free admission in honor of Martin Luther King Jr Day. The air was electric with excitement — so many people clearly believe this new administration is something to celebrate.

Oh, how I wish I could share their enthusiasm. If it had been Alan Keyes, say, I would have been singing right along. As it was, I could only breathe a prayer for a little less resentment, a little more grace.

On the news tonight, the anchor confirmed that the “Obama team” has been meeting regularly in order to get in place some crucial bits of legislation. Not surprisingly, one of the first will be signing FOCA into law.  I can’t help but think of the millions of children whose lives are going to be wiped out thanks to this particular “spirit of change.”

“The measure of a society is how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable members.” This video illustrates this better than I ever could …  CatholicVote.com

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A Mother’s Silent Grief: Abortion

trollinger-rosesAt “Behold Your Mother,”  Christine Trollinger recently published a story about the statue in her “Mary Garden” — and the woman who gave it to her.  She had aborted her child years before, and was still trying to come to terms with what had happened to her.

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patronness of the Americas. The Church celebrates the encounter between Mary, who appeared to a poor man named Juan Diego and gave him an impossible task: to persuade the bishop to build a chapel there.

Filling his cape with roses, which had miraculously appeared by the roadside, Juan Diego opened his cloak … and revealed a miraculous image imprinted upon it, which can be seen to this day.

On this feast day, we remember unborn children and their mothers. (The image is of a pregnant Aztec woman.) And so, I thought it would be a good day to respond to comments I’ve received recently from those who object to the idea that adoption should be represented as a pro-life alternative to abortion.

When we speak of adoption as a life-giving alternative to abortion, this in no way denies the grief and loss mothers who choose to relinquish their children exerience. In her book Because I Loved You, Patricia Dischler writes:

“Placing your child for adoption is an event that will affect the rest of your life. You won’t forget it. You will always remember the pain of the loss. But it is over. It is time to put it into your memories and not let it be the focus of your every day. In order to move ahead you may have questions you can’t answer that make you feel stuck. Voice those thoughts to your support network, and let them help you find the answers” (Dischler, 130).

There is no telling how many birth mothers also have a history of abortion (at least one commenter insisted that the birth mothers she has worked with never considered abortion for religious or other personal reasons), so that the two kinds of loss can be compared on more than an anecdotal level.

What we do know is that MANY more women have lost children through abortion than have endured the loss of relinquishment. Last year, 1.3 million women “terminated a pregnancy” and ended the life of her child.

What happened to these women? Did they simply “move on,” unscathed (as those who stand to profit most from the abortion industrysuggest)?

From the Planned Parenthood website:

You may have a wide range of feelings after your abortion. Most women ultimately feel relief after an abortion. Some women feel anger, regret, guilt, or sadness for a little while.    

Compare this to the information provided by the Elliot Institute:

Women who have undergone post-abortion counseling report over 100 major reactions to abortion. Among the most frequently reported are: depression, loss of self-esteem, self-destructive behavior, sleep disorders, memory loss, sexual dysfunction, chronic problems with relationships, dramatic personality changes, anxiety attacks, guilt and remorse, difficulty grieving, increased tendency toward violence, chronic crying, difficulty concentrating, flashbacks, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities and people, and difficulty bonding with later children.

Among the most worrisome of these reactions is the increase of self-destructive behavior among aborted women. In a survey of over 100 women who had suffered from post-abortion trauma, fully 80 percent expressed feelings of “self-hatred.” In the same study, 49 percent reported drug abuse and 39 percent began to use or increased their use of alcohol. Approximately 14 percent described themselves as having become “addicted” or “alcoholic” after their abortions. In addition, 60 percent reported suicidal ideation, with 28 percent actually attempting suicide, of which half attempted suicide two or more times.

What about these women? Do we simply shrug our shoulders and let them suffer — and turn a blind eye to the thousands of women who are poised, ready to make the same damaging choice? Or is the most humane and Christian thing to do to help these women understand the full impact of their choice before they make it … and to give those who do not feel able to parent, another option?

We live in a fallen world, and suffering is an inescapable part of the human condition. Our choices have real consequences: some that touch us, and some that touch other people. Some affect our lives here and now, and others affect our long-term spiritual health and relationship with God. 

 By acknowledging the seriousness of abortion, for example, the Church teaches that this act has long-reaching affects for all concerned:

The Church…  makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society. (CCC 2272)

 The “irreparable harm” done to the child is the focus of the pro-life movement — speaking on behalf of children who cannot speak for themselves.  However, we can never forget that great harm is also done to the mother — who may feel she has no “right” to name her pain, since it was largely self-inflicted.

So she remains silent. And in the silence, evil prevails. By its nature, sin is bondage — it affects the way we think (leading us away from truth and deeper into self-deception), the way we choose (hardening ourselves against God through our habitual choice of wrongdoing), the way we live (inflicting greater suffering on ourselves and others).  Unless we bring our sin to the light, it festers until it becomes larger than life  … large enough to overwhelm us.

On the other hand (CCC #1847), “To receive his mercy, we must admit our faults. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 8-9).

Thousands of women (and their families) have discovered the liberating power of God’s mercy and forgiveness through groups such as “Rachel’s Vineyard,” “Silent No More,” and “Abortion Changes You.”  

If you have had an abortion, and feel as though God could never forgive you … Or if you’ve pushed God out of the picture altogether, not wanting to think about the possibility that one day you will see your child again, know that there is hope for you.  God has not abandoned you, and knows that human weakness sometimes causes us to make choices out of fear, or shame, or ignorance. He is waiting for you, even now, to turn back to Him so the healing can begin.

You may feel as though you have lost your way, that there is no going back.  This is simply another lie from the evil one. In the words of concentration camp survivor Corrie ten Boom,  “Hell hath no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still” (“The Hiding Place.”) It was this assurance that allowed her — years later — to shake the hand of the prison guard from the camp that had killed her father, brother, and sister.

If you have lost a child … whether that child is in heaven, waiting for you; or your child is somewhere in the world, wondering about you … you have already suffered a great deal. Like many kinds of loss, the pain may never go away entirely.  And yet, God wants you to embrace life as a gift, and to offer Him your pain so He can begin to heal you.

You are God’s precious child. No matter how much you have messed up, the love of your Heavenly Father is something you can always count on. You need not remain silent in your grief. God is listening.