Kathy and I go way back. In fact, she was my best friend in elementary school. We had no idea while singing karaoke and staying up late at slumber parties the pain we would go through as adults. But we also had no idea how God would use our brokenness for His glory. I’ve been amazed at Kathy’s heart for Jesus, passion for her family, and vigor for empowering other women.
Recently, she sent me this message. As I sat weeping at my computer over her pain and loss, her sweet baby, and the goodness of a savior who will make all things new, I knew it needed to be shared. And Kathy, in her immense courage, is allowing me to share her story publicly for the first time in her own words…
I feel God pulling at my heart strings to tell the truth about abortion. I want to reach those who feel they have no other choice than their “right to choose.”
You are one of a few people that I have shared this story with. God is calling me to share it with more but I am nervous and scared. The truth is I have been carrying around a deep dark secret. Carrying it on my back, and dealing with it all alone because of what the consequences are if people were to hear the truth. The truth is I no longer care what others think. The truth is I know there are others out there like me, suffering alone when they don’t have to. The truth is…God is calling me to speak out.
The truth is when I was 19 years old I got pregnant. Upon telling my parents; they decided that I would get married. We began to plan a very quick wedding. The boy I was dating at the time turned out to be abusive. He was from an abusive home and had his father had brutally beaten his first wife in front of her two sons. The first time this boy threw me to the ground while I was pregnant I knew there was NO WAY I was going to allow this cycle to repeat. I broke off the engagement and began looking into adoption. I was only 19 and I knew I wasn’t ready to be a mom. When I told him I wanted to make an adoption plan, that I knew that was the best choice for us and the baby, he became very angry. Threatening, yelling, and screaming, he told me no one would EVER take the mother of his child or his child away from him. He wouldn’t allow it – that we WOULD be together. I became scared. Fear set in like I can’t even begin to explain. I realized that I could be a victim of abuse or I could save myself and my unborn child and choose to make this all disappear. I told him I had a miscarriage (which is what I told everyone else too).
Walking into Planned Parenthood the smell of depression and hopelessness lay thick in the room. Yes, I could actually smell it. None of the women looked thankful that they had the “choice” to be there. They all looked empty. Broken. I felt it too. I had always said I would NEVER have an abortion. I was wrong. In my mind I believed it was the only “choice” I had at the time to protect myself and my unborn child from a life of fear and abuse. My name was called and I headed in the back. I was scared and alone.
I hear people talking about the right to “choose.” I wish like HELL I didn’t have the right to choose that day.I wish there had been counseling. I wish there had been adoption agencies out there trying to reach the youth. I wish THOSE things were easy access; NOT Planned Parenthood. I wish more than anything, ANYTHING, I could have taken away MY right to choose and allow my baby to have their right to choose life. I wish there was support out there for girls like me. And maybe there was…but Planned Parenthood was easy to find. Abortion is easy. Walk in, walk out. Done. Pregnant. Not Pregnant. Simple. Except…it’s NOT that simple. They forget to tell you about the rest of the story.
The truth is they don’t tell you about the memory you live with for the rest of your life. For awhile I was able to forget. I had to suppress the memory in order to survive MY right to live. But slowly the memory began to resurface. Back to the room…back to the smells…back to the empty eyes of broken women. Back to the face of the man that literally sucked life out of my body.
Abortion is not about choice. It’s about selfishness. It’s about desperation. And I can say that because I have had one. I have walked a mile in those shoes…and it’s a mile that never ends.
Recently a friend asked me if I had ever named my baby. Immediately I thought, “No, because that would make it real!” Then the “fetus” would become human. Become a baby. But I knew in that moment I needed to acknowledge that my baby is real. I needed to mourn the loss of my child. I realized how deep the pain still ran from my right to “choose.” I began to pray that God would give me a name. A few weeks ago while driving in the car I heard God speak to me: “Her name is Joy.” Tears streamed down my face. It was a girl! I had had a daughter.
Before that precious moment in the car, I randomly heard an audible whisper of mom. I will wake up in the middle of the night to mom and there is no one in the room. Washing my face I hear mom and look up…no one there. It has happened a number of times where I hear mom and there is no one around. Shortly after hearing “Her name is Joy,” I was washing my face in the bathroom and I heard the whisper again; mom. Then it hit me: it’s her! It’s Joy. This incredible RUSH came over me and I knew in that moment she was telling me It’s okay. I forgive you. I am here with Jesus waiting for you. I love you. And it’s okay. Since that realization I haven’t heard the voice again. But God has placed on my heart to share this story because I know I am not alone. I KNOW I am not the only woman sitting at Church or in Bible Study carrying this same burden. It’s the ONE thing that Christians don’t talk about other than to point a finger at someone and telling them its murder. I am not sure what God’s plan is for me with sharing this story. But I know that SOMEONE needs to hear it. So I am sharing it.
If you have gone through the agony of abortion, you are not alone. And it’s OKAY to talk about it. We can’t heal unless we help each other carry our burdens. I have finally carried that baggage to the foot of the cross and left it there. I have been forgiven. Not only has God forgiven me but he has blessed me far beyond measure with four more beautiful children. And he’s placed it in my heart to help fight for moms and babies. For anyone out there that has suffered in silence, that has carried this burden on their back ashamed of the choice they made, please know you are NOT alone.
This is why I’m so passionate about adoption. For me, it’s not just about the babies. It’s so much about the birth mamas (and fathers as well), who need to be loved on and cared for and know that they have a hope and a future as well as their babies. THIS is what real adoption ministry is all about.
The truth is if you are pro-LIFE you are also pro-CHILD and pro-WOMAN.
I love you Kathy. You are one of my mama heroes. And I can’t wait for you to introduce me to Joy when we get to God’s kingdom and he makes all things new.
For more post abortive resources, check out:
LifeNews Note: Kathy’s story was originally posted at Susan VanSyckle’s blog at http://gracefilledmess.blogspot.com/2012/11/in-her-own-words-post-abortive-mama.html. Kathy Oakes works as a Doula, Childbirth Educator, Lactation Counselor, Holistic Health Educator at Serenity Health and Wellness.