Abortion survivor Claire Culwell has shared her story of hope countless times since she learned that she was born alive after a failed abortion.
This winter, her birthmother, Tonya, opened up for the first time publicly and shared her perspective about her abortion, Claire’s adoption and her journey to healing. Tonya, Claire and Claire’s adoptive parents, Warren and Barbara, are all featured together in a touching new interview with John Hagee Ministries.
The family’s story began when Tonya was 13 years old and pregnant. Tonya’s mother pressured her to have an abortion and she gave in. At the abortion clinic, the abortionist managed to abort Claire’s twin, but she survived. Soon after Claire was born, she was adopted by her parents Warren and Barbara, who weren’t able to have biological children. As an adult, Claire began looking for her birthmother. When they met for the first time, Tonya told Claire the tragic story behind her birth.
“I asked her permission to share the story … because it was a miracle” to survive an abortion, Culwell told LifeNews. “But it was her deepest, darkest secret.”
With Tonya’s permission, Claire began telling her story all across the country through writing and public speaking, but the birthmother and daughter never met again.
“It was seven years since we met, and she never really healed,” Culwell told LifeNews. “We never spoke or had a relationship” after that meeting.
Last year, something changed when Tonya began watching videos of Claire’s talks and reading her writing.
“I spoke about her with forgiveness and love,” Culwell said. “And it was then that she was able to forgive herself.”
Later, Culwell said she took her family to meet her birthmother for the first time. During the visit, a team from the ministry came to interview them. Culwell said they did the interview and then went about their day, but later, Tonya pulled her aside.
“She looked over at me and said, ‘Thank you. Thank you for giving me a voice because now I feel free.’”
Tonya and Claire said they hope the new interview will encourage women to choose life for their babies and avoid the heartbreak that they experienced.
“If I could touch one girl to know that she has a choice to not have that abortion and to give that baby up, then everything would be worth it,” Tonya said.