Claire Culwell was thrilled when she met her birth mother for the first time.
Adopted as an infant, she learned that her birth mother, Tonya, was only 13 years old when she became pregnant. At their second meeting, Culwell thanked her birth mother for choosing life.
But those two words had an impact that she did not suspect. Tonya, with tears in her eyes, confessed that she had had an abortion but Claire survived.
Now, Claire Culwell is sharing her miraculous story in a new book, “Survivor: An abortion survivor’s surprising story of choosing forgiveness and finding redemption,” which will be available beginning April 27, the Catholic News Agency reports.
“My hope is that as people read this book, they will know what abortion is, they will know what it does, and they will act on being the hands and feet of Jesus, being that support system for women,” Culwell told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly.
Culwell explained that she was adopted as a baby by loving Christian parents. As a young adult, she said she watched her sister, who also was adopted, meet her birth mother and expressed a desire to do the same.
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In college at the time, Culwell said she and Tonya finally met, and they had a good reunion. It was during their second meeting, however, that Tonya told her daughter the traumatic and miraculous events that led up to her birth.
According to the report:
Culwell had presented her mother with a ring, a necklace, and a card thanking her for “choosing life.”
“And she said ‘Claire, there’s something I need to tell you,’” Culwell recounted to EWTN Pro-Life Weekly. “She said, ‘Your life is a miracle. Because I had an abortion when I was pregnant with you at 13 years old.”
Not her choice alone, Tonya said her mother pressured her to have the abortion and eventually she gave in. After the abortion, however, she said she began to suspect that she still was pregnant. Later, a doctor confirmed that she had been pregnant with twins and the abortionist had missed Claire.
When Claire Culwell heard this, “it felt like the room was spinning out of control, I couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of her mouth. But I saw her tears” and forgave her, she remembered.
Culwell said she could be plagued by survivor’s guilt, wondering why she lived and her twin died, but she came to the conclusion that she never will understand.
“I can grapple all day with the fact that my life was spared and my twin’s wasn’t, and what am I missing, and I’ll never understand,” she told EWTN. “The only person that understands is the God that wrote this story for me, and He wrote it perfectly, and I can trust in that.”
Since that meeting, Culwell, her adopted parents and her birth mother all have shared their family’s unique story publicly with the hope of helping other mothers choose life for their babies.
Culwell said their story has encouraged people to forgive each other, too.
“People come up to me all the time and they’re like ‘Claire, because of you, because of the way that you have been able to forgive, because of the way that you shared that God has forgiven you and has forgiven your birth mother, I believe now that my child forgives me, that my God forgives me,” she said.