“I’m so sorry I wanted you to terminate Emeri’s life.” These words spoken by a father to his daughter at a banquet for the Hope Pregnancy Center of Boone, North Carolina, last week were so heartfelt and so brutally honest that they resonated within the hearts of everyone present, including me.
As I listened to David’s (Emeri’s grandfather and Leslee’s father) and Leslee’s powerful testimonies, I couldn’t help but think about how many fathers and mothers could relate.
How many men and women, as the parents of those facing an unplanned pregnancy, have been in those same shoes? How many men and women haven’t had the opportunity to stand in those shoes, the shoes in which they have the chance to share with their child that they’re sorry for what they initially demanded or even coerced them to do, until it was too late and the abortion was already completed?
How many have yet to stand in those shoes, the apologetic ones, unaware of the need to say they’re sorry for their actions or inactions, words or lack of words, when their child faced an unplanned pregnancy?
If we’ve lost 56 million lives to abortion in the past 40 years, then there are in upwards of hundreds of millions of parents like David, parents of women and men who have been affected by unplanned pregnancy and abortion and grandparents of children who have been aborted or targeted for abortion. Is it any wonder that we are a nation that is hurting when so many of us have been impacted?
Yet it wasn’t just David’s words to Leslee, who stood by his side that night, as they openly and tearfully shared their journey through her unplanned pregnancy as a college student, that echoed the power of coercion at the hands of parents and struck at my heart.
It was looking at their family—David and his wife, Leslee and her sister, and realizing that despite their difficulties in facing Leslee’s unplanned pregnancy, they were forever changed and brought together in a powerful and beautiful way. Looking at them, crying both tears of sorrow over how David initially responded to Leslee’s pregnancy and how it almost ripped their family apart, and tears of joy over Emeri’s life and how they are now stronger as individuals and as a family, I realized that they were a family on one side of the abortion/unplanned pregnancy spectrum, while my biological family, forever changed in devastating ways, (although we are working on being brought together by God in a powerful and beautiful way, too) is on the complete other end of it.
Whether it’s talked about or not, abortion changes families. Yes, having a child changes families, too. Any parent, grandparent, or sibling will tell you that, and nine times out of ten, they will tell you how blessed they are by that child.
Yet where Leslee’s family has found an increase of love, strength and purpose from facing her unplanned pregnancy together and embracing Emeri, my birthfamily has been wrought with suffering, secrets, and lies after my maternal grandmother forced my birthmother to abort me and then my survival was kept a secret from her.
Yes, you read that correctly. My survival was kept a secret. I have only recently found that out, and it is incredibly painful and difficult to deal with and even mention, as you can imagine. I share this not to point blame at anyone, but to reflect the magnitude of suffering, secrets and lies that have plagued my birthfamily for decades.
Looking at Leslee and her family that night, I couldn’t help but think about how different my life, my biological mother and father’s lives, my maternal and paternal grandparent’s lives, my aunts’ and uncles’, my cousins’, my half-siblings’ lives all could have been if only my maternal grandparents would have tried on David’s shoes—the shoes that were uncomfortable and unsure of what the future held for Leslee, for Emeri, for all of them, but trusting that in the end, it was all going to work out.
CLICK LIKE IF YOU’RE PRO-LIFE!
If only they would have let my paternal grandparents know that they could try on those shoes, as uncomfortable as they appeared to be on first glance, instead of keeping the abortion, my survival and my adoption a secret. I know my life story is off the charts in terms of intensity, but I wonder how many people like me, affected by unplanned pregnancy and abortion wish that their parents or their grandparents had tried on those shoes, too, instead of pushing them aside?
I’ve learned to accept and embrace the mismatched shoes that I wear in the world as an abortion survivor and an adoptee. I have learned to appreciate that although my maternal grandparents refused to step into those shoes of understanding and left me with my mismatched shoes, these are the shoes God has given me to fill, and God-willing, I can help other families, other parents like David, the opportunity to try on a different pair of shoes—shoes of understanding, respect for life, trust in the unexpected and support and empowerment of the woman and man experiencing an unplanned pregnancy.
David, thank you for wearing your shoes of support, your shoes of humility and grace, so beautifully. I have no doubt that your courage in sharing your family’s story will further encourage other parents to do likewise. Thank you to all parents and grandparents who are willing to try on those shoes in the face of an unplanned pregnancy in their families.
Thank you to the Hope Pregnancy Center and pregnancy centers around the world who aid parents and others in wearing shoes like David’s. And last but certainly not least, thanks be to God for my mismatched shoes and for allowing my birthfamily the opportunity to try on a new pair, themselves, after decades of ill-fitting ones.