This page is a compilation of life-affirming personal stories of men and women who were conceived in rape and/or incest.
Rebecca Kiessling from Michigan, Allison Hillaker from Michigan,Russell Saltzman from Missouri, Irene van der Wende from the Netherlands, Sharon Isley from Iowa, Carole Roy from Ontario, Canada, Bethaney Tessitore from Alabama, Jenni Maas with Human Life International, Tony Kiessling from Pennsylvania, Pam Stenzel with Enlighten Communications, Mary Payne from Oklahoma, Tim, Ed Mohs from Washington, Kristi Hofferber from Illinois, Brian T. from Minnesota, Patti Smith from California,Jaquese Gaskins from Michigan (attending college in California), "Godchaser" from Alabama, Ildiko Curtis from Texas (born in Hungary), Laura Tedders from Michigan, and Monica Kelseyfrom Indiana.
On the tabs below, you'll also find links to even more children born of rape stories.
"Except in Cases of Rape? 12 Stories of Survival"
$14.99 -- 65 Minutes Get the DVD
"Except in cases of rape?" These 12 survivors put faces, voices and stories to this issue and challenge the rape exception in a way only a survivor can. READ MORE HERE
65 minutes of video -- Includes an 11 minute Conceived in Rape group video, an 8 minute Pregnant by Rape group video, and 45 minutes of individual testimonies.
Pregnant by Rape: Liz Carl - Kentucky Shauna Prewitt - Illinois Ashley Boyer - Michigan Conceived in Rape: Rebecca Kiessling - Michigan Pam Stenzel - Minnesota Laura Tedder - Michigan Tony Kiessling- Pennsylvania James Sable - Illinois Carole Roy - Ontario Mark Taylor - Texas Kristi Hofferber - Illinois Shawn Spry - Michigan
filmed August, 2010 at St. Michael's Media Studios
I was adopted nearly from birth. At 18, I learned that I was conceived out of a brutal rape at knife-point by a serial rapist. Like most people, I'd never considered that abortion applied to my life, but once I received this information, all of a sudden I realized that, not only does it apply to my life, but it has to do with my very existence. It was as if I could hear the echoes of all those people who, with the most sympathetic of tones, would say, “Well, except in cases of rape. . . ," or who would rather fervently exclaim in disgust: “Especially in cases of rape!!!” All these people are out there who don‘t even know me, but are standing in judgment of my life, so quick to dismiss it just because of how I was conceived. I felt like I was now going to have to justify my own existence, that I would have to prove myself to the world that I shouldn’t have been aborted and that I was worthy of living. I also remember feeling like garbage because of people who would say that my life was like garbage -- that I was disposable.
Please understand that whenever you identify yourself as being “pro-choice,” or whenever you make that exception for rape, what that really translates into is you being able to stand before me, look me in the eye, and say to me, "I think your mother should have been able to abort you.” That’s a pretty powerful statement. I would never say anything like that to someone. I would say never to someone, “If I had my way, you’d be dead right now.” But that is the reality with which I live. I challenge anyone to describe for me how it’s not. It’s not like people say, “Oh well, I‘m pro-choice except for that little window of opportunity in 1968/69, so that you, Rebecca, could have been born.” No -- this is the ruthless reality of that position, and I can tell you that it hurts and it’s mean. But I know that most people don’t put a face to this issue. For them, it’s just a concept -- a quick cliche, and they sweep it under the rug and forget about it. I do hope that, as a child of rape, I can help to put a face, a voice, and a story to this issue.
I've often experienced those who would confront me and try to dismiss me with quick quips like, “Oh well, you were lucky!” Be sure that my survival has nothing to do with luck. The fact that I’m alive today has to do with choices that were made by our society at large, people who fought to ensure abortion was illegal in Michigan at the time -- even in cases of rape, people who argued to protect my life, and people who voted pro-life. I wasn’t lucky. I was protected. And would you really rationalize that our brothers and sisters who are being aborted every day are just somehow "unlucky"?!!
Although my birthmother was thrilled to meet me, she did tell me that she actually went to two back-alley abortionists and I was almost aborted. After the rape, the police referred her to a counselor who basically told her that abortion was the thing to do. She said there were no crisis pregnancy centers back then, but my birthmother assured me that if there had been, she would have gone if at least for a little more guidance. The rape counselor is the one who set her up with the back-alley abortionists. For the first, she said it was the typical back-alley conditions that you hear about as to why "she should have been able to safely and legally abort" me -- blood and dirt all over the table and floor. Those back-alley conditions and the fact that it was illegal caused her to back out, as with most women.
Then she got hooked up with a more expensive abortionist. This time she was to meet someone at night by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Someone would approach her, say her name, blindfold her, put her in the backseat of a car, take her and then abort me . . . , then blindfold her again and drop her back off. And do you know what I think is so pathetic? It’s that I know there are an awful lot of people out there who would hear me describe those conditions and their response would just be a pitiful shake of the head in disgust: “It’s just so awful that your birthmother should have had to have gone through that in order to have been able to abort you!” Like that’s compassionate?!! I fully realize that they think they are being compassionate, but that’s pretty cold-hearted from where I stand, don’t you think? That is my life that they are so callously talking about and there is nothing compassionate about that position. My birthmother is okay -- her life went on and in fact, she's doing great, but I would have been killed, my life would have been ended. I may not look the same as I did when I was four years old or four days old yet unborn in my mother’s womb, but that was still undeniably me and I would have been killed through a brutal abortion.
According to the research of Dr. David Reardon, director of the Elliot Institute, co-editor of the book Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions and Children Resulting From Sexual Assault, and author of the article "Rape, Incest and Abortion: Searching Beyond the Myths," most women who become pregnant out of sexual assault do not want an abortion and are in fact worse-off after an abortion. See http://www.afterabortion.org .
So most people's position on abortion in cases of rape is based upon faulty premises: 1) the rape victim would want an abortion, 2) she'd be better off with an abortion, and 3) that child's life just isn't worth having to put her through the pregnancy. I hope that my story, and the other stories posted on this site, will be able to help dispel that last myth.
I wish I could say that my birthmother was with the majority of victims and that she didn't want to abort me, but she had been convinced otherwise. However, the nasty disposition and foul mouth of this second back-alley abortionist, along with a fear for her own safety, caused her to back out. When she told him by phone that she wasn't interested in this risky arrangement, this abortion doctor insulted her and called her names. To her surprise, he called again the next day to try to talk her into aborting me once again, and again she declined and was hurled insults. So that was it -- after that she just couldn’t go through with it. My birthmother was then heading into her second trimester -- far more dangerous, far more expensive to have me aborted.
I’m so thankful my life was spared, but a lot of well-meaning Christians would say things to me like, ”Well you see, God really meant for you to be here!” Or others may say, "You were meant to be here." But I know that God intends for every unborn child to be given the same opportunity to be born, and I can’t sit contentedly saying, “Well, at least my life was spared.” Or, “I deserved it. Look what I’ve done with my life.” And millions of others didn’t? I can’t do that. Can you? Can you just sit there and say, “At least I was wanted . . . at least I’m alive” or just, “Whatever!”? Is that really the kind of person who you want to be? Cold-hearted? A facade of compassion on the exterior, but stone-cold and vacated from within? Do you claim to care about women but couldn't care less about me because I stand as a reminder of something you'd rather not face and that you'd hate for others to consider either? Do I not fit your agenda?
In law school, I’d also have classmates say things to me like, “Oh well! If you’d been aborted, you wouldn’t be here today, and you wouldn’t know the difference anyway, so what does it matter?” Believe it or not, some of the top pro-abortion philosophers use that same kind of argument: “The fetus never knows what hits him, so there’s no such fetus to miss his life.” So I guess as long as you stab someone in the back while he’s sleeping, then it’s okay, because he doesn’t know what hits him?! I’d explain to my classmates how their same logic would justify me killing you today, because you wouldn’t be here tomorrow, and you wouldn’t know the difference anyway, so what does it matter?" And they’d just stand there with their jaws dropped. It’s amazing what a little logic can do, when you really think this thing through -- like we were supposed to be doing in law school -- and consider what we’re really talking about: there are lives who are not here today because they were aborted. It’s like the old saying: “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a noise?” Well, yeah! And if a baby is aborted, and no one else is around to know about it, does it matter? The answer is, YES! Their lives matter. My life matters. Your life matters and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
The world is a different place because it was illegal for my birthmother to abort me back then. Your life is different because she could not legally abort me because you are sitting here reading my words today! But you don’t have to have an impact on audiences for your life to matter. There is something we are all missing here today because of the generations now who have been aborted and it matters.
One of the greatest things I’ve learned is that the rapist is NOT my creator, as some people would have me believe. My value and identity are not established as a “product of rape,” but as a child of God. Psalm 68:5,6 declares: “A father to the fatherless . . . is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.” And Psalm 27:10 tells us “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” I know that there is no stigma in being adopted. We are told in the New Testament that it is in the spirit of adoption that we are called to be God’s children through Christ our Lord. So He must have thought pretty highly of adoption to use that as a picture of His love for us!
Most importantly, I’ve learned, I’ll be able to teach my children, and I teach others that your value is not based on the circumstances of your conception, your parents, your siblings, your mate, your house, your clothes, your looks, your IQ, your grades, your scores, your money, your occupation, your successes or failures, or your abilities or disabilities -- these are the lies that are perpetuated in our society. In fact, most motivational speakers tell their audiences that if they could just make something of themselves and meet this certain societal standard, then they too could “be somebody.” But the fact is that no one could ever meet all of these ridiculous standards, and many people will fall incredibly short and so, does that mean that they ‘re not “somebody” or that they’re “nobody?” The truth is that you don't have to prove your worth to anyone, and if you really want to know what your value is, all you have to do is look to the Cross --because that’s the price that was paid for your life! That’s the infinite value that God placed on your life! He thinks you are pretty valuable, and so do I. Won't you join me in affirming others' value as well, in word and in action?
For those of you who would say, "Well, I don't believe in God and I don't believe in the Bible, so I'm pro-choice," please read my essay, "The Right of the Unborn Child Not to be Unjustly Killed -- a philosophy of rights approach" which is linked here. I assure you, it will be worth your time.
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Pam Stenzel's Story -- Pam is a professional pro-life/abstinence speaker and author of the book Sex Has A Price Tag. Her website is www.pamstenzel.com.
In 1964, a fifteen year old girl was raped, became pregnant, and decided to carry her unborn child to term. Five months after the baby girl was born, in an act of courage and love the young mother provided her child a better environment by giving her to an adoptive family. That child was Pam Stenzel. She is the oldest of 8 children…7 adopted…1 biological, and her extended family includes 38 adopted children in all.
Following her graduation from Liberty University with a degree in psychology, Pam moved to Minneapolis, MN where she began to work with New Life Family Services, and young girls who were planning to place their children for adoption.
Pam was approached by a group of concerned parents, to develop a two-hour program for the Rally for Life 1992, a conference on sexual abstinence. She developed the program mixing media and music, her own talk and the testimonies of young girls. The response of students, parents and the community was so overwhelming that Pam began to speaking full-time across the United States.
In 1993, Pam’s talk, “Sex has a Price Tag”, was produced as a video. No one was prepared for the explosive response. The video has since been translated into 11 languages, won the Charleston Film Festival Award in 1995 and is currently used in the US, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, Australia, Ireland, Europe, the Ukraine, Romania, Poland and throughout Africa.
In 1998 Vision Video and Gateway films produced the film series, “Sex, Love and Relationships” in Santa Monica, California. It won the Crown Award for Curriculum of the Year in November 1999.
Pam’s current videography includes: “Time to Wait for Sex”, “Sex Has a Price Tag 2000”, “Character Matters”, “Sex, Love and Relationships” and “Take a Look in the Mirror”.
She is also the founder of Enlighten Communications, Inc. which is an organization focused and committed to the betterment of children and families in America and around the world. Enlighten offers a broad new model approach for those desiring to embrace strong character in today’s youth. Enlighten empower parents, youth leaders and educators to lead informed discussions on sexual abstinence and the benefits it produces.
Pam now travels both domestically and internationally, speaking to over 500,000 teens a year. Surprisingly many of her requests to speak come from teens themselves. She has been a guest on numerous national TV and radio programs, including: “Hannity and Combs”, “ABC Radio’s Sean Hannity Show”, “The Dr. Laura Show”, “700 Club” (CBN), “Politically Incorrect”.
Pam is a dynamic, charismatic and educated expert on Sex, Love and Relationships. She understands the perils that young people face as they make adult choices, and is dedicated to reviving the character and integrity of today’s youth.
Irene van der Wende's Story -- aborted her baby conceived in rape, and later learned she had herself been conceived in rape.
His strong arms gripping tightly around my neck, strangling me, choking me, left me gasping for breath. I realized death was imminent, so in a split second I chose to let him have his way with my body, so that I could stay alive. Afterwards, I clutched my coat tightly against me, so no one would see my ripped clothing underneath. . . .
Although my body started to change, and needing larger clothes, I believed I was not pregnant, as the initial pregnancy test came up negative (not enough hormones yet.) But after a 6-week roadshow, a visit to my family doctor informed me I was pregnant. “Oh no!” Shock, disbelief, fear and turmoil gripped me. London advised me to go a clinic halfway north in England for an abortion, mentioning that it had to be done quickly, as it was on the verge of the time it was allowed to be done legally. Numb, and only focusing on all the fears, I went ahead.
My abortion took place in a cold, sinister, old mansion. I felt very uncomfortable, waiting in the hall with black-white checkered tiles, watching the minutes on the clock tick by. It was as if death hung as a cloud in the air above me. I did my best to stuff my emotions, signed a paper, received my number, and joined some 8 women lying on beds in a room, waiting a long time after inserting something and changing into an operation garment that was to remain open. As they spoke of their pregnancies, morning sickness, and why they were killing their babies, I began to think. In the lift (elevator) later, when I was going upstairs, I placed a hand over my tummy, finally realizing I had a child inside of me, and said “I’m a mother. I have a baby inside of me!” The nurse accompanying me reassured me, saying “It’s okay – other women have that thought too at the last minute. You’re doing the right thing,” after which the doors opened, and I walked into a brightly lit operating room, where I was told to lie down, and place my legs up high in the stirrups. But I felt terrible and vulnerable due to the privacy, and even more so as the abortionist became very angry and agitated when the nurse discussed something with him, and he started to yell at me, saying I had already signed a consent form, hadn’t I? And that I was holding up the flow of things. He roughly grabbed my arms, which they strapped down, and forced a needle into my arm, after which I don´t remember much . . . . I passed out.
When I came to, I was loudly told to stand. In agony, I gripped my tummy with one hand, doubled with pain, while with the other, I fumbled my way along the dark corridor wall, back to my bed in the other room. The other women were now silent and groaning with pain. My stomach felt as if every inch had been scraped open with a sharp razor blade. We were left alone, and after a long time -- I believe the next day -- I was allowed to go home, but the pain was unbearable. They offered a wheelchair, but I grit my teeth, saying to myself: “I wanted this, so grin and bear it.” I bled profusely on the drive home, having to stop every now and then, dizzy, and was in absolute agony. The bleeding lasted half a year.
Looking back, I regret my abortion, and the morning after pills I took. If I had realized then, what I now know, I would never have been able to ask to have my baby killed. I came to this awareness after seeing videos of an abortion, seeing a 12 week old baby react to the instruments inside the womb, and seeing the aweful pictures of these little humans, where we pull off their arms, break their legs and pull them off, squash their skull, suction out (parts of their) bodies, brains, decapitate them, etc. How can we look at these pictures, with intestines, ribs, brains, heart, backbone, etc., and not call them a human being? Life starts at conception – all the genes, and sex are in the first cell, hair colour, skin colour, etc. which keeps on expanding to 2, 4, 8, 16 cells etc., on till adolescence, when our children are fully grown. I had immense guilt and remorse, after realizing what I had done. I also cut myself off from my emotions, as the guilt was too much to bear, causing problems in relationships later. Later, I read that of women like me, who abort after sexual abuse (=less that 1% of all abortions) that 80% of us regret our abortions. Whereas of the 70% who chose to let their baby live, none had regrets. I wish I hadn’t killed her.
Every mother’s day afterwards, I had to stand still at the fact that I was a mother, even though I had no living child – mother of a dead baby, through my own doing. Emotional trauma -- I carried this in silence, not talking about it. I froze when shortly afterwards someone placed their little baby in my arms – who was I to still hold a baby after killing mine? I joined the statistics of having a miscarriage later. I learned that scar tissue from the abortion can cause problems in later pregnancies, and premature births from the damage of the abortion, along with 50% more chance of breast cancer if you don’t carry your first baby to full term, but abruptly stop the milk production process developing by aborting. When my daughter was born later via c-section, my arms were strapped again, just like during the abortion, and all the fear and anxiety came flooding back, at what should have been just a joyous moment. I also find it heart-wrenching to not be able to say to my oldest living child, that she is my first born. And when one day she came home from school, asking if I had ever lost a baby, I was stuck for words – how do you tell a little girl that you ordered her (half-) sister to be killed? How emotionally traumatic for the family of the woman who chose to kill. How unsafe the brother/sister feel -- “Why them, and not me?”
When I was around 35, I found out I, myself, was conceived in rape. My whole family had known all along, except for me. My father and mother were married, but it was brutal rape. He was totally drunk at the time, and had violently slapped her, all around the room, threw her on the bed, and raped her at force. I was conceived. But my mother tried to commit suicide. When I had been growing in her womb about 6 months, she got on her bike, having premeditated to throw both her and me in front of a train at the railroad tracks a few miles away. She went there, and stood at the side of the rail, but just as the train was approaching, she couldn’t go through with it. I am so grateful she didn’t! Life growing up wasn’t always as nice as it could have been when you hear how some were raised in nice, warm, loving, friendly homes. But . . . , life is not about how we were conceived, or our upbringing, but about what we make of it. There is healing, and I am so glad my mother didn’t have me killed through suicide, when she had the chance. I am so glad that she gave birth to me, and raised me, despite how I was conceived, and that I am alive, and able to now do something for humanity. My value and right to life does not depend on how I was conceived.
I have had to come to terms with what I, myself, did. I chose to have someone paid to kill my innocent baby. There was a father (the rapist), a mother (me) and a baby. But I hired a murderer (the abortionist) to kill my baby. I stuffed it away as much as I could for 25 years, but like psychology says, eventually the cesspool of life needs to be opened, and become honest about things we have done in our life. I have named my babies, made a grave for them at the cemetery, and I have found healing with YHWH (God), and His son Yahshua (Jesus), whereby I am now able to testify of what I have done, and the effects it has brought me, my family and loved ones, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I deeply regret having put my innocent little baby through such torture and painful mutilation, letting her be cut up into pieces while still alive with a beating heart. Killing an innocent baby is never right, even after rape. Two wrongs don’t make a right. The father harmed me, but I harmed the baby. The baby didn’t do anything wrong. The baby is a 3rd person. I could have grown to love her, or have her adopted in a loving family. A baby should not carry the burden of the sin of the parent and be killed for it. In law, if a man kills a pregnant woman, he is punished for the death of two people. What are we doing killing our own children?
I wish people would have told me about the beautiful development of my little one (= foetus in Latin). That before we as mothers even know we are pregnant, 4 days missed cycle, that the baby already has a beating heart at 18-21 days. That at 18 days, their brains start developing, at 20 days with mid-, fore- and hindbrain, and that their brainwaves can be measured at 40 days. That they are sensitive to touch, heat, light, and noise. Pain receptors begin to grow with 4-5 weeks. At 6 weeks, they respond to touch. They have their own DNA, sex, blood type, and fingerprint, making them unique individuals. Beautiful little hands and feet, ribs, mouth, tongue. Sometimes the baby doesn’t die straight away when the killing starts, and the arms and legs are pulled off. An abortionist has testified that the babies heart then still throbs sometimes. Or that they are still alive as they are suctioned out, going through the tube, to die later in the jar. These are human beings, who are not brain dead, or without feeling.
If a woman is pregnant, she needs support, not abortion. Many of us (64%) are coerced into abortion (e.g. by boyfriend, mother, father, schoolteacher, doctor, nurse, girlfriend, social worker) whereby we can feel regret and shame and guilt later, when we fully realize the full extent of what we have done. A baby says: let me live. Take my hand, instead of my life. Love me, instead of kill me. Abortion kills a beating heart. With embryoselection for diseases, we are saying to brothers/sisters “you are only wanted and loved, because you don’t have a handicap.” To the handicapped people, we are actually saying “you are only tolerated, because the technology wasn’t there to eliminate you when you were an embryo” -- genocide inside our laboratories. Remember: God loves you, but also your baby. With abortion, one heart stops beating, but another heart breaks. We either become numb, like I did at first, or the remorse and guilt and shame hovers over us, till we come clean, and find healing. Like Mother Theresa said, “Abortion is the death of two: the baby, and the mother’s conscience.” Please don’t kill your baby. Your baby needs to be allowed to live. Find someone to help you.
Irene van der Wende
Tony Kiessling's Story, conceived by "acquaintance rape" (no relation to Rebecca Kiessling)
From an early age, I knew I was different from the other kids. I grew up fatherless, being raised by a single mom who lived with her older sister and mother. I have no brothers or sisters. These circumstances were not common in suburbia in the 1960's. All my friends had fathers. All my cousins too. I didn't have an explanation for it. I think most of my friends assumed my father had died somehow. I guess I came to believe that too. As I got into my teenage years, I knew some things didn't add up -- like why my mom still had her maiden name. Why she had never married?
Then one day, when I was 18, I found out the truth -- my mother had been raped. Raped by a man that she knew. The circumstances under which my mom told me the truth are vague to me today. I do remember that she told me the truth in a letter and that it was always very difficult for her to talk about. There were only about three times that we actually talked about it but never at length. One thing I know for sure is that I was about the most important person to her. She gave up a lot to raise me as her own. As for what happened to my mom well she had been working in a diner at the time and there was a regular customer that winter. She talked to him and even knew his name. And then one night in February, somehow he got her into his car, drove to a park, and raped her. He left her there in the park and my mom was found a couple hours later by the police. Nothing ever came of the police report.
Wow! That news hit me hard. So, I was one of "those people." I didn't know what to do, so I buried that information. I ignored the truth of my conception and hid it from my consciousness. I rebelled. I rebelled against family and against God. Suddenly, I wasn't too sure about God either. Oh, I knew about God. From my earliest years, I knew that there had to be a God. For two summers, I had attended vacation Bible school when I was about 10/11 years old. That second year, I remember reading the tract and saying the "sinners prayer" at the end, asking Jesus into my life. And when I was 18, right before I found out the truth of my conception, I had watched a Billy Graham Crusade on TV and became convinced again of the reality of the cross. But that news of my conception just didn't fit into my notion of things at the time, and I turned away from the cross and the church -- and my family to a lesser degree. I went on a journey to explore what I believed to be "the pleasurable side of life" in order to try to forget the rest.
That journey lasted about five years, and one day, I realized how miserable I was. I remember surfing the TV one night (this is back in the day when surfing the TV meant seeing what was on each of the 7 channels available) and stumbling upon a Billy Graham Crusade. He talked that night about Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son. I felt as though he was really talking straight to me. I had not gone off to a foreign land, but I was just as far away as I could be spiritually and mentally. And much like that son in the parable, I was worn out by all that riotous living I had been doing. And, the answer to my problem was the same -- repent, get up, and go home. I rediscovered my relationship with God that night through the death and resurrection of Christ. Since that time nearly 25 years ago, I came to know more about the relationship I have with God. One of the most important things I have learned is God's promise in Psalm 68 to be a father to the fatherless. I came to own this verse as God's personal promise to me. He cared enough about me to tell me he would be my father. I also see how God provided father-like men who taught me things at different times in my life. One of the most important was a man named Len who was an elder in the first church I joined. Len taught me a great deal about being a Christian man with flaws.
I would like to say that my life has been a nice, easy, uphill walk, but it hasn't. I never had an easy time talking about my conception. For a long time the truth was something only my mom and I knew. I made every effort to avoid having to talk about my father's side of the family. Even when my wife was pregnant with our first child and the pediatrician' s assistant asked about family history, I avoided any information about my father. Of course, I really do not know very much about him anyway. The only thing I know about him for certain is that he had brown eyes. My mom told me once that she could see his face in mine, so I guess that's why I keep part of my face hidden behind a beard. Then one day shortly after my first child was born, I told my wife the truth. My wife never really pressed for any information about my father. She waited until I was ready to talk about it and then I told her everything I knew. My wife has been very supportive of my life in every way possible.
For 45 years, I had never met another person who was conceived in rape.
Then one day while driving, I had heard a radio broadcast of Dr. James Dobson -- Focus on the Family, with two women who each were accompanied by their adult children who had been conceived in rape. This was the very first time I ever heard of another person conceived in rape! I knew there had to be other people out there like me, but I had not met any. Then about a year ago, I was searching the internet for information regarding my maternal family's history, and I stumbled upon Rebecca's website (because of the Kiessling name.) As I read her story, I was shocked to find another person like me, and with the same last name! I had to find out more, so I contacted Rebecca. My wife and I went to meet her when she gave a talk an hour from where we live. It was oddly liberating to finally meet someone who had a history similar to mine. Since then, I have met a host of other people on the Stigma group who all share the same conception story as me!
Some wonder if I am pro-life. Absolutely! Some have wondered if my mom was prolife. Absolutely! I know from our few conversations on the subject that she would not change a thing regarding giving birth to me and raising me. She could not imagine a world that did not include me and, in time, her three grandchildren. She had no issue with adoption -- it just wasn't the path she wanted. But abortion? She often said, "Two wrongs do not make a right, and it is wrong to end one life because it inconveniences your own." And she also said that, for all the pain that was involved, it was worth it in the end. She died a few years ago at the end of a life-long battle with type 1 diabetes and its various complications. As for my mom's spiritual journey, I know that the rape caused her some real doubts that stayed with her. She believed in God and Christ, and for a very long time, she was Catholic. In fact, I bear a testimony to her Catholic faith as I am named after two saints.
For most of my life, I hid the truth of my conception from everyone -- even myself. It may seem strange now to put this testimony out on the web. But I have come to the place in my life where I know there are other people like me out there and other people like my mom as well. Now I want to join Rebecca and the others represented here and say that our lives have value and purpose. People conceived in rape do not have to hide and be ashamed. We were uniquely created by God, though the circumstances were extreme. And I personally want to say that God is indeed still fulfilling his promise to be a father to the fatherless.
-- Tony Kiessling, university chemistry professor
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This video is Part 3 of 3
Kristi Hofferber's Story (maiden name) -- conceived in rape/incest, Kristi is a pastor's wife from Illinois and is available for speaking. Her e-mail address is email@example.com and her web site address is speakupforlife.blogspot.com.
In May of 1978, God put forth the plans for my life. I was given up for adoption when I was only 3 days young. My adoptive parents were unable to have any children of their own, and were ecstatic that their dream of raising a child was about to come true. God placed me in the arms of two very loving people who took me in and provided me with unconditional love, support and opportunities that shaped the foundation of the person that I am today.
I was raised in a Christian home, and attended a Christian school up to the fourth grade, which set the foundation of my faith. Although I remained active in the youth group at church, I still struggled through school, both socially and emotionally. I was not the social butterfly, and often enjoyed my time to myself. I did not make friends easily. This pattern would continue through high school and even into college. I had a few close friends, but that too was difficult. If I began to feel like I was being left out, as I often did, it would put me into a state of depression and panic. I knew deep down what the real issue was, but I did not want to admit it, even to myself. I did not know how to handle the fact that I was adopted. I did not know anyone else who was adopted who I could turn to for advice, and going to the psychologist for my behavioral outbursts with my family did not seem to be much help either. I could not open up to anyone, let alone find someone who understood my frustrations.
For as long as I can remember, my parents have been open with me about being adopted. It was not something that I needed to be ashamed of, but in a way, I was. I was not ashamed of being adopted, I was ashamed of the way it made me feel. I was always angry. I felt like I did not belong in this world. As a matter of fact, I would often ask God “Why am I here?” and “Why did I have to feel like this?” My high school years were the toughest years of my life. I would cry myself to sleep almost every night, praying to God to take away the pain in my heart. Thank God that I had my faith to turn to, because I felt that I had nothing else. It was only when I was at church that I felt any semblance of peace. Something told me that I belonged there.
One particular person at church made an impression on me that will last throughout my life. She is someone I will always look up to. She was my first grade teacher, and she was the one person in this world that I wanted to ask for help and guidance. If only I had had the confidence. Ironically, I now interact with her often.
My husband is a minister, and is called to the same church where I grew up. God is a marvelous God! I know for a fact that God placed certain people in my life for his purpose, including my first grade teacher. I feel the same way about my husband. He and I have been married almost 10 years, and have one son. As a family, the three of us share something very special, we were all adopted. We are a family stitched together with God’s love and that was God’s plan from the very beginning. God has provided our family with unending blessings, even through the difficult times.
I had a low self worth, and would often question my very existence. I cannot pinpoint exactly what brought a change to that view. I believe it was a gradual change, beginning with a speaker that I saw while attending a youth gathering in 2004. Her story moved me to the point that I felt something telling me that we had something in common, I just had no idea what it was. She was survivor of an attempted late-term abortion who fought for her life, and now brings awareness of the effects of such procedures. No, I was not an abortion survivor, or an attempted abortion. However, as I would find later, I do indeed have a story to tell!
In April of 2008, I attended a mission trip to New Orleans to help rebuild homes from Hurricane Katrina. It was there that I made the decision in my life that the time had come for me to know exactly where I came from. I would be turning 30 in a little over a month, and I was going through the reality that I had dreams that were not fulfilled. The “what ifs” were weighing heavy on my mind, as well as many other unanswered questions. There was never a day in my life that went by without me thinking “Is that person related to me?” wherever I went. It was also on this trip that I met a new friend who would be a God sent support in my journey. I am eternally grateful to her for all of her support and the strength she helped me to find. I finally had the courage to face the unanswered questions that I had for a very long time. I knew my adoptive parents had always told me that they would support me if I wanted to research my adoption, but I have always told them I did not want to know. The last thing I have ever wanted was to hurt them. I did try first to get information through the legal system without telling anyone. I have always been told that I would have that option as long as I was 18 years old. However, the judge determined that the case was sealed, and would remain sealed. I was crushed, but at the same time, I knew that God wanted me to do things the right way, not my way. My parents are very important to me, and even though I thought it may bring them a bit of heartache, they deserved to know the truth that I did want the information I had denied numerous times.
By mid July of 2008, I was very interested in knowing what needed to be done to begin my search. I remember picking up the phone several times with the intention of telling my parents that I wanted to know about my adoption, but I could not follow through. Finally, after a few weeks of anxiety, I brought myself to ask my mom and dad for the information. It was almost as if, in an instant, I went from having no courage, to having more than I ever knew possible. My adoptive mother almost sounded relieved that I had finally asked. She invited me over, and she and my adoptive father were very honest with me. What I would find out was something that had never and would never in a million years cross my mind. After knowing only that my biological mother was 16 when she gave birth to me, I was told that she was also a victim of incest and rape by her father, and I was likely the result of these actions. I was speechless! It took all I had to keep my composure. I went from having about a dozen questions in my mind, to having hundreds.
The first question that I remember asking was, “How would you know that if my adoption records were sealed?” Ironically, my adoptive mother worked at the hospital where I was born. She is unable to remember exactly how she had my birthmother’s name, but having her name is also how she knew about the possible situation with my biological father. The incest was published in 1991 when my biological mother prosecuted her father, for not only the one pregnancy resulting in my birth and adoption, but also for six other pregnancies resulting in five abortions, and one forced miscarry by her father. Words could not begin to describe the emotions going on inside my mind at that moment. What kind of monster would do such a thing to his own daughter? Another thought going through my mind was, given the fate of the other six children, why was I spared?
As a teenager going through the struggle within my mind about being adopted, I had also wondered if my birthmother had thought about aborting me. I did not, however, imagine that my very existence would be so controversial. When I was told the circumstance, I kept asking myself, “Why wasn’t I aborted also?” I thank God for showing me where to turn in times of crisis because this question could only be answered through scripture. Romans 9:20, NLV states, "But who are you, O Man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it 'Why did you make me like this?'” I do not need to ask why. I already know why I survived -- I was created intentionally by God for his purpose. He chose me!
I did have heartache for the others who did not survive, but I had more concern for the true survivor, my biological mother. How could one person be put through such trauma? I also thank God that my faith was strong at the time that I asked to know about my adoption. If my relationship with Christ was not as mature, my view may have been very different. This just reinforces the fact that God’s timing is perfect!
I really stewed on the information I received for about a week, praying and asking God to guide me to do His will. I felt that I was being guided to continue my search for my biological mother and the truth of my existence. I also wanted to consult with my husband before continuing with my search. It did take me a few days to tell him what I had found out also. I did not fear his reaction, but at the time, I was not even sure of my own reaction. After sharing the information with him, he expressed that he was supportive of me continuing my search if that is what I felt led to do, and that where I came from was indeed God’s doing, not man's. I could not have asked for a better man by my side.
I had many things to consider as I decided how to begin a formal search. First of all, was my biological mother or father still alive? Second, would she want anything to do with me if the circumstances were in fact that I was a child of incest? Another consideration was facing the possibility that my biological father was present in his daughter’s life, and what his reaction to me would be. On the other hand, my strength lies with God and in my faith. No matter how I got here, I know I am his child. Matthew 10:30, NLV states, "And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." I knew I had to trust in Him, especially now. Ultimately, my thought was that if she has been through so much in her life, does she know that there is someone out there who loves her unconditionally and does she also know Jesus as her Savior?
After only 2 short days of searching the internet, I came across a popular website that reunites schoolmates, revealing a photo of my biological mother. At this point, I had so many emotions going on in my head that I did not know what to do. The moment that I had imagined for so long was no longer just a dream, it was finally a reality. I could not believe it! My first thought was, “Where do I go from here?” Would a picture and a small amount of information be enough to satisfy my desire to find her? Should I contact her? How do I contact her if I decide that is what I want? There were too many “what ifs” not to try to contact her, but was I really ready? After much prayer and a lot of support from my husband and a close friend, I decided to follow through with the journey I had started. I really felt that if God brought me this close, how could I stop now? I searched again on the internet in hopes of finding some way to contact her, but the only thing I found was a partial email address. At the bottom of the website where I originally found her picture, there was a note that she could be contacted at an email address, but it was only a partial email address. Now I was really confused. The address ended with ym.com. I was not familiar with this particular email, so I searched it online. After finding nothing matching ym.com, the only possibility I could think of is yahoo mail. Since this was the only information I had to go on, I had to try it. It was definitely a shot in the dark, but if I had no guts, I knew I would have no glory. I sent a blind email to a yahoo email address that I believed was the correct one with the intention of never hearing from the recipient. I simply asked if she was the correct person from the area where I grew up. What were the chances that it was really her? But that is just it, there are no chances in life.
Later that night, I had a message back from her stating “Yes, Who is this?” As I read this, my jaw dropped. It was really her! Now I had to figure out how to tell her who I was, and also ask myself if I was prepared should she tell me she wanted no contact. I knew it was time to face the reality that had bothered me for so long. I brainstormed for an hour trying to decide how I would word my response. Finally, I simply let her know that I thought we had a connection, and asked that she please visit my page on the same website where I found her picture. I also stated that I wanted to honor her wishes if she chose not to contact me again. Ironically, our internet went down that evening shortly after I sent the last email so I had no way to see if she responded back. It was like sitting on pins and needles. First thing the next morning, the internet was working and I immediately checked my email. Sure enough, she had responded. Not only was that a pleasant surprise, but she wanted me to call her right away. I can still remember the feeling I had in my stomach.
It is like having a hundred butterflies fluttering around uncontrollably. I quickly sent her another email letting her know our internet was not working, and that I had just gotten the message. I also told her that I was getting ready to go to work, but she was welcome to call me. She replied back that she would call me at 8:00 that morning which was in about half an hour. I was counting the seconds, as it seemed like the longest half hour of my life. At 8:10, I began to get worried because my phone still had not rung. All of the “what ifs” began to enter my mind, but I quickly reminded myself that God was in control. Patience has long been one of my weaknesses. When my phone did begin to ring at 8: 15, I was frantic. What would I say to her? What would she say to me? As I answered the phone, I could tell she was nervous, as she could tell I was also. After about the first 5 minutes of conversation, the awkwardness left, and it was smooth sailing. She and I spoke on the phone for well over an hour about some of the family’s history and my upbringing.
At one point, she told me that both she and my biological father thought I had not survived when I was born. The reason that this was assumed was because of a hospital bill that she had received by accident. I was born with an infection in my body, and was very sick. I was transferred to a bigger hospital that could provide me with the intense treatment needed to recover from the infection. My biological mother received a bill from the hospital for the services I received, and at that time was told by her mother that if a child is taken to this hospital, it is likely not to survive. Not only did I survive, I also completely recovered from the infection.
After our initial conversation, we both agreed that we wanted to meet, along with her younger daughter -- my half sister -- who I found out was expecting a child in a few days. My half sister was very excited, and asked if I would like to visit when she had the baby. I was thrilled! I made quick arrangements to drive there over the coming weekend, and we were all very excited. That same evening that we had talked, my half sister had her baby. What a day to remember! Three days later, I was on the road to visit. I decided it was a trip that I would take alone, even though my parents were concerned about the drive by myself. I knew that God would guide me and protect me.
The drive only took about 5 or 6 hours, which went very quickly. We all met for breakfast, including my new nephew. I could not believe that the day I thought about for so long was finally here! We talked briefly at breakfast, and spent the morning together looking at pictures and getting to know each other. I was literally in awe with the resemblance between my biological mother and myself. Later that afternoon, my biological mother wanted to spend time showing me around the area where she lived. She and I took a drive around the downtown area and eventually stopped at a park to sit and talk. I will never forget this day! We sat on a bench near a beautiful lake just talking about everything.
It was also at this time that she felt comfortable enough to tell me about my biological father and who he was. My half sister and biological mother’s fiancé suggested she wait to tell me because they feared I would turn and walk away from her. I had no intention of ending the relationship, and I told her that there was nothing she could tell me that would make me want to run away from her. My biological mother was unaware that I or my parents knew her name or about the prosecution of her father. As my biological mother began to explain to me who my biological father was, I let her know that I already had an idea about it. My biological mother was very surprised that I had chosen to find her even after knowing the truth about my biological father. This is when I let her know my faith and how I felt about who I was. He may share my DNA, but God created me. No matter the circumstance, it is of God’s will and purpose that I was conceived. I do not want anything from my biological father, nor will I ever.
It is very hard for me to describe the feelings towards my biological father. The sinner in me wants to see him punished for his actions, considering he only served less than 18 months in prison due to lack of evidence, (which would have been me.) However, my Christian upbringing taught me different. Don't get me wrong -- in no manner what-so-ever do I agree with what he has done. It is tough to explain exactly how I feel, and I do not even understand completely how I feel toward him. If I were given the opportunity to speak to my biological father, I really would simply tell him that I pray he has asked for forgiveness in his heart.
The second day of my visit with my birthmother, reality hit me. I woke up early in the morning and sat on the porch for several hours by myself, crying profusely. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not stop. It was 29 years of bottled emotions that were pouring out. All I could do besides cry at this point was pray prayers of thanksgiving that I finally got to meet the person who gave birth to me. It was truly a miracle!
That evening, we drove about an hour to visit with my biological mother's brother and his family. This was something that meant a lot to my biological mother. Growing up, her brother did not believe that his father had been raping his sister, as his father wanted him to believe she had made it all up. Finally showing her brother that there was relevance to the claims was a form of closure for her. For her brother, it was a shock! He now believed her after all of this time, and this was a good feeling for me to know the truth finally brought them closer again.
A few short weeks after my first visit with my biological family, my biological mother came to visit with me and my family. I was able to introduce her to my adoptive parents and to many of my close friends. Although this was a bit awkward for all of us, it was one of the most precious moments in my life! I also got to meet some of my biological mother's family who still lived within a 40 mile vicinity from where I live now, as her family is also from the area where I currently reside. It really is a small world! Her family here was also happy that the truth was finally revealed and the family was brought together again. My hope is that the family that was torn apart by secrets and lies can now be brought together and begin to heal by the truth.
There is no doubt in my mind that God was in control of it all. There is no other explanation! I was finally beginning to see the pieces of my life fitting together. He turned my feelings of being broken and unworthy to that of having unending value. Through Christ, I have gained the confidence necessary to fulfill my dreams after searching for so long on my own. I am not defined by my DNA, but by the calling I have received as a child of God. No one can take that away from me. My calling in Christ Jesus is my destiny! He is my foundation, and with Him I cannot crumble. Now I am able to share my faith with someone who has had many obstacles to overcome in life, and to help her to move on.
I have learned something very important in the last year. Life is about the Faith that we have in Christ, the Hope he gives us for tomorrow and spreading his Love to everyone around us! Look to Christ for strength in everything! Even in cases of rape and incest, each unborn child is created by God for a purpose. As my story reveals, God can take something bad and make it an opportunity to do something miraculous! The legalization of abortion is nothing short of playing God, and who are we to question God?
Sherrie Eldridge's Story -- conceived in rape and placed for adoption.
Sherrie is an acclaimed adoption author and adoption speaker from Indiana. This is an excerpt from her latest book, Twenty Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed, posted here with permission. Sherrie's website is www.sherrieeldridge.com
When I found my birth mother after a 15 year search, at first she refused to talk with me. However, she changed her mind, requesting that I never ask about the identity of my birth father. Why? She said she was raped. How did I react? Like an ice-skater who suddenly fell on the ice and had the wind knocked out of her. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that rape would be the reason she placed me for adoption.
This first conversation with my birthmother was when I was 47, and she informed me that she had been raped. When she said the words, it was as if a black cloud en-shrouded me. Any time I told my reunion story, which was often, I said, “I was conceived in rape.” I can’t tell you the depth of shame I felt. Without my spiritual perspective already in place, I would have concluded that my life was a mistake. I didn’t go down that path, but I did take responsibility. One day, I realized that I didn’t have anything to do with my birth mother’s rape. It happened to her, not me. I also learned a profound life lesson — that good can come from evil. The good was me. I also learned that my life began not at conception, not on my birthday, not on adoption day, but in eternity past — in the Heart of God the Father. My life is His idea!
For those of you with children whose birthmothers were raped, perhaps my experience may help. Parents, if your child’s birthmother experienced rape, the news won’t send your child to the psychiatric hospital. Remember, we adopted people are strong survivors. Give your child a chance to grow by hearing the truth. You’ll know the proper time to tell that part of his story, for you know your child better than anyone. Listen to your heart. You will do fine, and your child will grow stronger. Follow me on my blog and my YouTube videos on how to share painful birth history with your adopted child. Don’t be afraid, parents and adoptees! Yes, it’s hard to do, but you will all grow. I promise you! When truth is told, we are all set free to choose and grow.
(From Sherrie's blog and an excerpt from Sherrie’s latest book: Twenty Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed (Random House Publishing,
I first began to recognize that I had a story to tell when I was attending a public Junior High school in Forest Lake, MN. Frequently the abortion topic would come up with friends and on occasion teachers would talk about why abortion should remain legal. I would always cringe a little when they would say, "I don't like abortion. I think it is wrong . . . except in cases of rape and incest," or "We really have to keep abortion legal for cases of rape and incest."
My mom had slowly been revealing the circumstances of my conception to me over the years and by the time I was 13, I understood and had come to grips with the reality that my father was, essentially, a rapist. He was 18, as was my mother, at the time of my conception. Though he had most likely acted out of a dare by his friends, he had violated my mother against her will.
When my mom found out she was pregnant with me, the only advice she was given was to discard the "products of conception." She explains how she was never offered support to keep me, though this is where her heart was leading her. Needless to say, I am eternally grateful that she heeded that still, small voice in her heart that told her the life growing within her had a purpose and did not deserve death.
When the topic of rape and incest came up throughout junior high and high school, I would usually first try to appeal to reason saying: "Why don't you like abortion? What is wrong with it?" When they would answer "Because, it's a life" some would immediately recognize the double standard and relent. Most of the time, however, even when faced with their own illogical statements, they would still persist with emotional arguments: "You can't make a woman go through with a pregnancy like that." Though it is an unjust and heart wrenching scenario to consider, it must be dealt with, and so I would tell them our story. Only once in high school did a person who heard this story turn away cold-faced. Every other person who was confronted with "a face" allowed their heart to melt at the truth of the matter-God has a plan for everyone!
As my husband and I anticipate the birth of our own baby soon, I am continually discovering God's magnificent plan, not only for my life, but also for every life that he calls into existence. It is crucial that every citizen realize that a person's dignity is not founded in whether or not one is wanted, as abortion peddlers and legislators would like them to believe. A person's dignity is founded in the reality that persons are created in the image and likeness of God. The circumstance of my conception or yours does not determine the quality of our lives.
Young people across the nation and around the world are increasingly recognizing the double standards of abortion rhetoric. They see that all the promises of the so-called "sexual revolution" are coming up empty. Young people are renewing the pro-life movement with an enthusiastic determination to bring about a "Culture of Life."
By the grace of God, my mom (and I) were spared the life-long, direct agony that abortion brings. However, when you consider Planned Parenthood's grisly statistic that 40% of all women in the U.S. will have an abortion by the age of 40 (mothers, daughters, aunts, grandmothers, granddaughters, cousins, wives) every American citizen has been touched by the grief of abortion directly or indirectly. Therefore, every one of us has an obligation to stand up! I am thrilled to be a part of the generation that WILL turn the cultural tide so that following generations will be spared this unjust suffering.
For Life, Jenni Maas
Laura Tedder's Story -- Laura was conceived in rape and survived her birthmother’s numerous attempts to abort her. Laura is from Warren, MI, and is available for speaking -- firstname.lastname@example.org
"Every child a wanted child," so the Planned Parenthood slogan goes. My name is Laura Tedder and I know something about that. After all, I was conceived when my birthmother was raped at a bar. Abortion was illegal in Michigan in 1948, though that didn’t stop her from trying to abort me throughout pregnancy “every way possible.” I survived those multiple abortion attempts, and as a result, was born with cancer. She then abandoned me at my uncle and aunt’s home when I was only two days old. They subsequently adopted me.
To say my life has been difficult is an understatement. The complications from the cancer, i.e., the attempted abortions, have led to dozens and dozens of surgeries since. Despite all the hardships I have endured, I am a living argument against Planned Parenthood’s slogan. I'm a walking miracle. I'm lucky to be alive. I had a will to live and struggled my way into this world. God put me here for a reason and I love life!
My aunt and uncle welcomed me into their loving home two days after my birth. While my birth mother was not able to raise me and the two of us do not share a close relationship, I was indeed wanted and loved by my aunt and uncle, who are, and always have been, my mom and dad.
While being adopted can have some negative consequences for a child, I have been forced to deal with a lot more. I was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye when I was two years old. Doctors had to remove my right eye before the cancer spread. I have had many surgeries since to correct the trauma left from the cancer. The treatment included radiation, which in turn caused a brain tumor and several more surgeries years later. At one point in 1998, I was given only two weeks to live because of the brain tumor. Despite my frequent visits to the operating room, my life can be described as a continuing trip through life, and hilariously funny at times. Some pro-choicers would say, “Well, you see, it probably would have been best that she would have been aborted.” But wait a second -- this is my life that you are talking about! It’s pretty rugged to say something like that to someone. It's unfeeling and unfair. I can’t see how they could say they “care” about women!
I was dealt a hand of bad cards, but I kept persevering. I currently live in Warren, Michigan with my husband John of nearly 45 years, and we’ve been blessed with one son and three wonderful grandchildren. My birth mother is still alive, and although we have not made peace with each other (despite my efforts), she has made peace with herself. I don't have any hatred for her -- I'm too old for that. When you get older, you just see everything differently. I have forgiven her and harbor no resentment.
After another brain surgery in 2006, I decided to write an autobiography dealing with my struggles in life and am currently working to have it published. I don’t know why I have had so many challenges, but I hope my life story will inspire others to believe they can overcome their own struggles through faith in God and believing that you are here for a purpose and in due time, you’ll see His light and know what you are here for. I wrote it for someone going through the same problems, to show him or her there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I know that part of my purpose is to be an inspiration to others.
Any people in similar circumstances with a parent should let go of their resentment sooner so they can reconcile before it is too late. I hope that any woman facing a crisis pregnancy like my mother would follow the advice of the slogan, and understand that every child is a wanted child!
Now matter how you get pregnant, it's a miracle baby. No matter what the circumstances, it's not the baby's fault. They were meant to live. Everyone needs a chance for life -- you don't get many shots at it. A "walking miracle" certainly knows something about that.
-- Laura Tedder, Warren, Michigan
Jim Sable's Story -- Jim is an adoptee, conceived in rape from Illinois and is available for speaking -- email@example.com
My story arrived in a neatly addressed, letter sized envelope from Catholic Charities in November 2005. Catholic Charities facilitated my adoption in 1958 and when I reached adulthood, provided the opportunity to receive non-identifying background information about my
biological family. I considered requesting information in 1995, but it took me 10 years to purge the anxiety and trepidation surrounding my desire to learn about my biological history. I hemmed and hawed and procrastinated and convinced myself I was okay.
The nagging curiosity became an urgency, so at long last, I completed and submitted the request for my background information in the fall of 2005.
The much anticipated letter arrived quietly enough. Little did I know as I opened it the explosiveness of the information inside. On that early November day when I read the letter, my life came to an abrupt halt. There was information I did not expect. My mother was raped. She said the attack occurred as she walked home from work. That is how I was conceived.
The news was not easy to take, it really shut me down.
For two years, only a therapist and my wife, Wendy, knew the story. Slowly, by the end of 2007, I was getting through the stigmatized feelings and began testing my ability to share and the ability of others to hear the story. I now realize the gift I have been given, not just the gift of life, but the gift of having this unique story and the perspective it gives me about the sanctity of all life. My story and the stories of this group, have the power to change the minds, soften the hearts and expand the conscious horizon of those limited to abstract concepts about rape conception. The pro abortion side declares all unwanted lives are expendable, and abortion is justified, even recommended. Rape and incest conceptions create lives that they define as unwanted. On their list of unwanted lives, we are Exhibit 1. Even if only one unwanted life is saved, the wanted vs. unwanted rationalization comes crashing to the ground. We all know the truth. There are no unwanted lives. There are millions of open arms waiting to accept any and all lives forsaken.
Adoption made me pro life since the time I first learned about abortion. I was a freshman in high school when Roe v. Wade was decided. Abortion, as a social issue, was gaining more and more prominence in the early '70's, so it was probably during that time when I made my connection to being an abortion survivor. I do not mean literally surviving the procedure attempting to take my unborn life. We know there are those who really did survive an abortion -- the miraculous lives. My survival was due to my mother's decision combined with the cultural climate of the 1950's, and also due to society protecting me through law. It was not long after abortion was legalized nationally when I began to hear comments justifying the killing. People would say, “These unwed mothers shouldn't be bringing these children into the world . . . .” Painful comments to hear, of course, but then I had an opportunity to rebut with, “My mother was single, and I think I am much better off here than in a garbage can.” It was then that I realized my birth was at least partially due to timing. Being rape-conceived, there are many people today who think I should have been killed. Our lives are repeatedly used as bargaining chips in the abortion debate and allowed to be called exceptions to anti-abortion laws.
My mother was 36 years old when I was born, probably a little older than the average rape conception. My adopted life was excellent and had many of the usual highs and lows of family life. God provided me with parents who were unable to have children because I was born to a mother who felt she was unable to parent me. My mom and dad were tremendous examples of God's grace and love. However, I yearned for some answers to help deal with some of the loneliness and feelings of rejection which were byproducts of the old, secretive, confidential adoption system. There was enough information in the Catholic Charities letter and my adoption decree to start a search for my birth mother, so I did. A close friend who researches genealogy helped me to search. We found my birth mother two years ago, but it was a year too late. Eleanor died in 2007. I was able to learn a lot about her though, because I also found and reunited with her sister. My aunt describes Eleanor as a slightly reserved, quiet woman, devout with a steady moral compass. Unfortunately, my aunt could not confirm or deny the Catholic Charities story. There was no police report. The rape was a secret. The baby growing inside her was a secret. She looked minimally pregnant, even near the end. She called her baby bump, a “tumor”. Eleanor did not tell anyone of her pregnancy until about two weeks before I was born prematurely by four to five weeks. I was actually born on the day Eleanor was scheduled to be admitted to the Catholic Charities mother and baby shelter in Chicago. After I was born and surrendered for adoption, I was never talked about again. Her family knew not to ask about or refer to the pregnancy and birth. The subject was covered up, taboo. As the years went by, the story was never retracted. So I am left to interpret, with help, what her reaction to the pregnancy means.
The story of her words, her silence, and her actions, all speak of a deep, acute trauma.
We have some reflexes to trauma – fight, flight or freeze and apparently Eleanor froze. My mother signed my surrender five months after my birth and was married nine months later. She married a protector, a veteran of two wars, who became her warrior. My birth cousins say he treated Eleanor like gold. He provided safety. He deflected some of the natural questions extended family asks about a couple's plan for starting a family. He talked about miscarriages. He defended her. She did not have any more children. My cousins speculate about a secret boyfriend who might be my father because they do not fully accept the attack story. But why would a 36 year old woman with two married sisters have to keep a boyfriend secret? If my father was someone Eleanor was emotionally close to, why didn't they get married? Many of these emotional clues indicate my father was likely someone Eleanor knew, and just as likely in a position of power over her, a boss or higher level coworker who forced the sex, the denial, the secrecy and most likely pushed for the adoption surrender. What is evident is that my mother was not a man chaser, was not someone willing to engage in adultery and was not looking to climb the corporate ladder on the rungs of sexual gratification.
Compounding the trauma was the humiliation caused by Eleanor's father imposing his will over his 36 year old daughter by removing her from the family and forcing the adoption.
So however it happened, in a dark alley or street, in the back recesses of a mail room or in the seclusion of a locked office – God gave me life then and through the news of the rape, renewed it now. For five years I've known how it feels to be conceived through rape. Even though I've known the bottom of that stigmatized pit, I now feel the power of the gift I have been given. Finding Rebecca and this group put an end to the sensation of being the only one on the planet with this story. The exhilaration of speaking out and defending life, of trying to give back to the system that saved me, the thrill of being part of this special group and meeting my heroes, has been a monumental healing force in my life. Through you, God has touched me with His love and my faith has been reinforced. My journey continues,
guided by His grace.
Every Life Matters
Carole Roy's Story -- an adoptee, conceived in rape, Carole is from Ontario and is available for speaking -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Before the moment of my conception, my life was already planned. Though I’ve taken some detours along the way to where I believe I was supposed to be, I know that I was always protected by the gentle Hand of a loving Father who I would come to embrace and hold on to in awe and adoration.
Psalm 139 touches my life in a significant way. Knowing that the Father’s hand was upon me, forming me in my mother’s womb, and planning my life before me, these words from God reveal a special meaning and purpose for my existence.
I was born to worship and glorify God. Even though it has taken me over 40 years to come to this realization, it is only through His mercy, His forgiveness and grace, and by the guidance of His Holy Spirit that I may say I am born again in spirit.
When I began fervently reading the Scriptures, I was drawn to the passages that referred to adoption. The thought of being an adopted child of God was a new concept that fascinated me. I began to connect with these words, letting them envelop my mind as I pondered the fact that God really did take me as His own, as Ephesians 1 confirms.
This new discovery of being adopted by God brought to me the identity my soul had been searching for all my life -- but adoption had already touched me from the moment of my birth. As a member of the adoption triangle, I would like to share some details of my life that might be helpful to other adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents.
When my birth mother was 16 years old she was raped by a 40 year old man while she was babysitting for her cousin. Even though I am the product of that incident, I have never felt ashamed of this knowledge because I knew deep inside that God wanted me here.
A short time after I was born, I was put into foster care in the loving arms of Albert and Jeannette Roy. Although remaining as their foster child for a few months, God had already chosen these special parents to adopt and nurture me, the tiny newborn infant who could only be fed with a dropper.
After a few months of caring for me, my mom became gravely ill with pneumonia, and I had developed Whopping Cough and needed extra care. Not being able to properly take care of me, my dad contacted the social worker to have me transferred to another foster home. I have often heard the story of how, once my mom was well again, she constantly contacted the social worker to bring me back to their home, because they wanted to adopt me. Although the social worker told her I had already been adopted, my mom was very persistent. It took many weeks of her constant calls and visits to the Children’s Aid Society, when finally on Christmas Eve in 1962, I was delivered back into their home, where I became a permanent member of their family.
In those first few months of my life, my mom carried me on a pillow, because I was very tiny and needed additional care. Even though I had been carried in the arms of love during those early years, I suffered from a fear of abandonment throughout my life — even into adulthood. Being initially separated from my birth mother, and then again from my adoptive mother in the first 6 months of my life, my infant soul panicked and I was left with a great fear of being left alone.
I can recall the numerous times in my childhood when I would not even let my mother go across the street to get the mail, that I would cry, terrified she would leave me. I emotionally grabbed a hold of her and would rarely want to be out of her sight.
A couple years ago while I was in the midst of writing poetry to the Lord, I asked Him, “Where did I go? What happened to me during those times when I was away from both my birth and adoptive mothers?” He replied, “I was holding you.” Even in these latter years of my life, it reassured me and comforted me to know that I was never alone without His Presence.
Despite these early traumatic moments, I grew up to becoming a curious young girl who grew to admire and respect the ones I called mom and dad. Though I knew it was biologically impossible, over the years, some people had commented on how I looked like my dad. But I would like to think that I inherited his quiet spirit and his love of nature. My dad enjoyed camping and fishing. He loved the outdoors. And he would sometimes take little tomboy Carole fishing with him. Those memories of catching my first fish with my dad are ones I hold dearly. Special moments like these are forever etched in my heart for I will always have a deep abiding love for the quiet man who raised me and gave me his name.
After he passed away 12 years ago, I wrote a poem which I had engraved on a plaque and given to my mom.
Your memory will always be
A treasure of your love for me;
Your smile, your laugh, your loving soul
Are always in my heart to hold.
I long to kiss your cheek goodnight
And hug you in the morning light.
To sit with you and hold your hand
For you were such a gentle man.
My tears fall in the night for you
I pray to God to see me through;
I miss you more than words can say It’s hard to live each passing day.
My love for you will never die
For yours will reach down from the sky;
And take me in your arms so sweet
To hold me tight when we both meet.
Although I give thanks and glory to my Heavenly Father for the creative talents He has given me, my mom has also had a creative influence on me through her various culinary, sewing and knitting, craft making and musical talents that I grew up to admire within her. But it was being together with her children for which my mom lived for, back then, as she does today. Her life has always revolved around her children. She is a true mother in the most important sense of the word.
My mom has often struggled with feelings of insecurity and fears that if my birth mother were to come back into my life, I would leave them to be with my, “real mom”. I believe that adoptive parents from the closed-adoption system often struggle with these fears. And I could somehow empathize with her worries.
Even though I grew up in a loving home, there were times in adolescence and adulthood when I would wonder why I didn’t seem to fit in with the world around me. Perhaps it was the normal teenage blues I was experiencing, or the young adult soul within me that was suddenly interested in finding out the answer to the question, “Why? But in my own search for autonomy mixed with wanting to reassure my mother that she would always be my mom, I wrote her a poem entitled,
Heart of An Adoptee
Why am I here? Why was I born? Questions that always, left me so torn. What did I do? What did I say? For “her” to reject, and throw me away.
A child of abandon, never to know.
A child that was chosen, love made me grow. Through year upon year, the mother I knew From your heart I came, from your love I grew.
Your child to adore, to love and to care. My mom that would nurture, and always be there. But then came the years, of worry and doubt, Should “she” reappear, and turn me about.
Afraid that my love, for you would just die, If “she” ever came, and I’d say goodbye. But mother it’s *you*, who gave me my life. Who carried me through, and gave me your light.
How could I abandon, a mother like you? And turn away from, a love that’s so true. So rest all your fears in my heart and believe, Your daughter is here, and I will never leave.
Through years upon searching, for answers unknown. Why am I here? Why was I born? To find you and love you, my mother, so dear. Our hearts joined together, with love through the years.
My parents never did have any biological children, but they opened their hearts to adopt 4. I suspect had they been able to have children of their own, they might have done like most other French Canadians of their era, and had a very large family. Little did they realize that someday they would have more children in their home than they could have ever imagined.
For over 50 years, my mom and dad were foster parents for the Children’s Aid Society. In those years, they fostered over 300 children of various ages, who came from abused homes (a lot of them returning to their parents), and newborns who were being given up for adoption. I saw many frightened children come through the doors of our home, sometimes in the middle of the night. Some of them had been neglected, others severally abused. They were all such precious children to us. In relinquishing so many foster children back to their parents, I believe we shared a commonality in what most birth parents have to go through — not knowing where the child will be, but trusting he will be well-taken care of.
Four years ago, I met my birth mother. In my particular case, it was not hard to find her since my birth mother’s sister was married to my adoptive mom’s brother. Although my birth mother and her family knew where I was, I did not find out this information until I was almost 18. But I knew from a very young age that I had been adopted, or so chosen as my mom always told me.
My birth mother has often tried to get in touch with me through the years, but I was not emotionally ready to open that door. I already had a mom, and because I was so terrified of losing her, I clung to her even more closely — even into adulthood. I have no doubt that the Lord softened my heart to welcome my birth mother back into my life, for I knew that I needed to make peace with this part of my past. But the Lord was patient with me and led me to reading adoption books and stories from other adoptees’ and birth parents’ reunions. I began to see birth parents and their circumstances in a new light, and felt a newfound compassion for them. I found myself wanting to finally reach out to my birth mother to let her know that I did not hate her. I wanted her to know that she made the right decision in giving me up for adoption.
When I welcomed my birth mother into my home a few years ago, it was more of a reality check for me than a teary reunion. As I sat on my bed that first night, I realized that the woman in the next room had carried me inside her body in a most intimate way — yet I didn’t even know her. A tremendous sense of grief overwhelmed me, as I was forced to face the fact that my adoptive mom had not given birth to me. And even though it was very brief, I found myself feeling angry towards my adoptive mother for not being my birth mother. But I now realize that I had to go through these feelings of loss and grief, to be able to give my birth mother a chance to get to know me, and for me to know her.
The next morning, she showed me several photo albums of all my birth relatives. But it was only when I saw a picture of her as a teenager that I truly began to connect with her. Although I had difficulties relating to her as an adult, the innocent, young girl that I saw in that picture reminded me of myself, and my heart softened to her innocent, childlike personality.
Two of my three children have met my birth mother, and they immediately picked up on the similarities of our personalities — that we both have the same sense of humour and like to tell lame jokes, and that we’re both rather impulsive — in a good way.
Even though I connect with her more as a distant aunt or cousin rather than as amother, I believe in the years to come, as we continue to learn more about one another, we might be able to attain that level. But one of the first things I said to her when I met her was, “Thank you for not aborting me.” I realize that, under the circumstances and in the eyes of the secular world, many believe she would have been justified had she chosen to do so.
Although I will never know who my birth father is, I ask the Lord to forgive him. And thanks be to God that He always brings good out of every bad situation. For He knew that someday I would willingly choose to give my life to Him and to follow His Son, Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. And that I would come to worship and glorify Him through the creative gifts and talents He has given me, with the creation of my Adopt-A-Wing Devotionals. These devotionals are distributed in various parts of Ontario, including prisons, to share my love for the Lord, and especially to reach out to those who don’t know God’s abundant love, His mercy and His forgiveness. To be a vessel for the Lord’s Light is a blessing I am deeply thankful for. The gentle Hands that have guided me each day, my spirit now recognizes as those having formed me in the womb of my birth mother so many years ago. The loving arms that have cradled me and protected me under God’s wing throughout my life, I have felt through the love and care of my adoptive parents—my mom and dad.
Adoption is the loving option. I also believe open adoption is the healthier alternative than to having permanently sealed records. It is an adult adoptee’s right, when they are ready to take that step, to be able to know the part of themselves that began at the beginning of their lives — if only for medical reasons.
Therefore, to birth parents, I would like to say that I admire your courage and your ability to trust in doing the right thing for your child. It takes a strong and steadfast person to give up and surrender one’s own child for a better quality of life. From the deepest part of my heart, I, along with many adoptive parents, say thank you for choosing life. As God gave up His only Son to redeem humanity with Himself, He understands what you are going through.
To adoptive parents, I would like to say that your devotion to taking in and loving children as your own, is a gift from God. You have been chosen by our Heavenly Father to receive these little ones and love them as He does. Do not be afraid to let them search for the part of themselves that has been hidden from them since their birth. But trust that they will always embrace and respect you as the mom and dad they have grown up to know and cherish. The birth parents of your child will always be forever grateful to you for raising that child with the love of real and true parents.
To other fellow adoptees, I would like to say that, first and foremost, God is your true Creator, and He created you for a purpose. You were not unwanted. You were designed by the Master Creator for His divine will and glory. And He has a plan for your life that is beyond your greatest imaginations. When God is at the center of your lives, the adoption triangle then becomes a pyramid, with God at the apex, bringing everyone together in harmony, and a divinely created and blessed union with one another.
In closing, as I was preparing for this meeting, and I re-read the poem “Heart of An Adoptee”, I suddenly realized that, even though I had written that poem for my mom several years ago, I had also subconsciously written it for my Heavenly Father, in my soul’s search for my true Love, who chose me before I was born.
But Father it’s *You*, who gave me my life. Who carried me through, and gave me Your light. How could I abandon, a Father like You? And turn away from, a love that’s so true.
Through years upon searching, for answers unknown. Why am I here? Why was I born? To find You and love You, my Father, so dear. Our hearts joined together, with love through the years.
Thank you, Carole Roy
Patti Smith’s Story – Patti is an adoptee who was conceived in rape. She is a worship leader from Huntington, California and is available for speaking -- email@example.com
I believe that God has called you here today -- you are meant to be here, and I would even go on to say that I believe God has created you and sent you into this world. He says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that before you were formed in your mother’s womb, He knew you! You and I are infinitely valuable to Him – and He paid the infinite price.
Even many in the pro-life movement may say that abortion is wrong, but in the case of rape, maybe abortion is even justified -- as if that child is of less value because of the way this precious child was conceived. But I’m here today to tell you that every child is of infinite value to the Father . . . every child. Every child is created and sent into this world to glorify the Father. Every child!
By the world’s standards, maybe I should not be here. I am 54 and adopted. When I searched and met my birthmother 20 years ago, she told about the circumstances of my conception and birth. I expected to hear a tragic love story, but instead I heard the shocking news that she had been raped and could not deal with keeping the child of a rapist, so she gave me up for adoption. She said that she knew that this man had also raped her roommate and two others. He never knew about me and she never saw him again. She didn’t go to the police -- it was the 50's and she was too ashamed.
My birthmother found herself pregnant and alone. This world would say that I was disposable, of little value. Even damaged goods – bad genes they might say. But my mother knew in her heart that I was precious in His sight and that I was of infinite value. She gave me up in adoption to two loving parents and I was raised in a loving Christian home. At the age of 18, I came to know Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.
I’m here today to declare to the world that I, you and every child are of infinite value and Jesus paid the infinite price on the cross for our salvation. I thank Him every day for the wonderful life I have had and that I was sent to tell others about how much He treasures every life, no matter what the circumstances of conception. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to say that even though the circumstances of my conception were in violence and hatred, I am not my father, nor am I my mother. I am me. I was created by a loving God and my life is so valuable. And so is the life of every baby conceived -- valuable and a gift from God.
Today, I am involved with His Nesting Place here where I live. It’s a Christian home for unwed mothers. I lead worship music from time to time as a guest, and have just begun sharing my story. At times, it has seemed like if I tell anyone -- they just get so shocked, and it was uncomfortable for me, but now I am sharing. I want to speak more about my story and the value of life, and I want to make a difference in this world.
Allison Hillaker's story, conceived in rape from a severely developmentally-disabled birthmother. Allison is from Michigan, is available for speaking, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Over and over I have heard the arguments on why abortion should be legal. Even those who do not count themselves in the 'women's rights' category often agree that in tragic cases a woman has the right to dispose of her unborn baby. Among the most popular of these 'justified' reasons for abortion are rape, the potential handicap of a child, and the financial burden that the child will bring. Each time I hear these arguments, I cringe. But, instead of merely telling them the blanket statement that "all life is important," I share with them the following true story and allow them to make their decision about whether a life should be taken because of another's mistake.
An older couple lived a long, hard life. Raising a daughter with a severe mental handicap brought both joys and trials. God helped them through it all, but this was just one more trial these elderly people had to bear. As they sat in the doctor's office, their worst nightmare came true; their daughter was pregnant.
To make matters worse, the baby's father didn't want anything to do with the baby. He was a Native American, living on a reservation. Alcohol had enslaved him, and he was too numb to care. He just wanted the woman to have an abortion and get rid of the child altogether. After all, the mother was so severely handicapped that she didn't even know she was pregnant, and her parents were too old to raise the baby. He cared only about his addiction—alcohol.
The parents were fully aware of this. They also were concerned that the child could end up with the same mental disability as their daughter. They could not bear to have the unborn child live a life like their daughter's. They also knew that there were few to no families willing to adopt a child who had or could develop a cognitive disability. Over and over, these things weighed on their minds.
Time passed. It had been a very long nine months, but God's grace sustained them through it. Despite all the odds, they knew that abortion was murder. They couldn't live knowing that they had taken an innocent life. They decided to place the baby for adoption and prayed that a loving couple would be willing to accept what could be a less-than-normal child. Being Christians, they requested that the child be put in a Christian home, and they knew that the caseworker would do her best to find a great family for their precious baby girl. Little did they know what was happening only miles from where the baby was born.
There was a young couple named Tim and Betty who had been married for 13 years but were unable to have children. They wanted children so badly that they applied for adoption. As they waited, they just couldn't understand why people would have abortions while knowing that there were couples out there that wanted children. It was so cruel, so unjust. They were about to give up and settle with the idea of never having children, but soon that all changed.
Tim loved running local road races that supported charities, and Betty always cheered him on as he raced to the finish. July 22, 1985, was no different. That day Tim was running the Toury Mott Run, a race to raise money for Hurley Hospital's Children's Center. As Tim crossed the finish line right in front of the hospital, he walked over to Betty. He knew that she had been very discouraged about not being able to have a baby. It had been two years since they had applied for adoption, yet they still hadn't heard anything. So he pulled her aside, pointed up to the hospital window and said, "You never know. Our baby might be up there right now."
Amazingly, he was right. The woman had given birth early that morning, and by that time the child was in the baby care unit. Fourteen months later, Tim and Betty brought that baby girl home to stay.
That little baby that could have been aborted—that little baby whose birth father had raped her mentally handicapped birth mother; that little baby whose mother thought she was a doll; that baby whose grandparents were too old to be able to take care of her; that little baby whom everyone thought could have had a severe handicap; that little baby whom God had given life. That little baby, who is alive and healthy, is the author of this story.
Let me ask you, "Was my life not worth saving? Should I have died merely because of all of these tragedies that led up to my birth?" Absolutely not! Just because a child may have a handicap or disability does not mean his or her life is worth less than anyone else's. According to the United States Declaration of Independence, "All men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." These rights rang through our country until January 22, 1973. In the case, Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court legalized abortion -- stripping innocent children of the very first right mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. It was a ruling that allowed a saline solution to be injected into the baby for the purpose of burning it to death, and it paved the way for doctors to stick a tube in the child's head and vacuum out its tiny brain. And all this is done because two adults don't want to have to deal with the inconvenience of having a child. Nevertheless, what about that child? Why should the baby have to pay with his or her life?
Many times I have heard pro-abortionists argue that abortion is the expression of a woman's rights -- to ban abortion would be to take away her rights. What about that baby girl that she is carrying inside of her? What happened to that little woman's rights? What about the little boy who never had the chance to grow up and make something of his life? Why should one person's rights be sacrificed because they are an 'inconvenience' to another?
If a couple feels that they cannot provide the life that their baby deserves, abortion is never the answer. Just like my parents, many couples want to have a child and would provide a wonderful home for that baby. Instead of selfishly killing another human life, why not do the most sacrificial act and give that innocent child the chance of a wonderful life that he or she deserves?
Many women have faced a tragic pregnancy. Perhaps they were raped and wish to get rid of the painful memories altogether. Sometimes women are afraid that their child will be abnormal and do not want to bring a less-than-perfect child into this brutal society. Many people are afraid that they will not be able to financially support a child. Thus, thousands of innocent children are murdered each year under the umbrella of 'freedom of choice.' However, it is time that we teach these adults that all life is equally important. Just because a couple may not want the child does not mean that child should be denied the right to 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'
-- Allison Hillaker
Helen Westover -- an adoptee, conceived in rape, Helen is from New York and is available for speaking.
I was at one time a "pro-choice" feminist. A liberal as well, I boycotted grapes and lettuce, spoke out against the war in Vietnam, and voted Democratic. This because my friends and I saw ourselves as compassionate, humane defenders of the underdog, the persecuted minorities. We agitated for civil rights for all. Being "pro-choice" was a part of this, a sort of "seamless garment" of the liberal dogma. Women were also disadvantaged, and to me, legal abortion was the linchpin of true liberation. But at the time, I was unaware that I was a member of the most persecuted minority of all.
I've always known I was adopted. Not only do I remember the couple who were to become my adoptive parents, I remember being in another place, with "another mother." Research has demonstrated that children who had chaotic, disrupted lives tend to have remarkable memories, very early memories, of what has happened to them. This is particularly true of children who have been in a succession of foster homes. The impression made upon the mind of a young child, or even that of a baby, who has experienced loss and abandonment inherent in being torn from "home" is an impression difficult to forget. When I arrived at my adoptive home at two and a half years old, I wondered about my "other mother" and all the other children. And from time to time, especially if I heard sad music, a feeling of utter desolation and grief would wash over me; another mystery about me to ponder, for there were so many puzzles to decipher.
Not knowing my background, my biological roots, posed many problems for me as I grew. Going to the doctor, and being constantly asked "Does this run in your family?", and being unable, over and over to answer; having the dreaded assignment of the Family Tree inflicted upon me at school . . . , which family?! If I name my adoptive relatives, I'd think it's not really true; then will I be lying? But my "real" family . . . , who are they, and who was I, really?
These preoccupations waxed and waned. But the questions became particularly acute after I married, and in 1970, much to my and everyone's surprise, I gave birth to identical twin girls (My son had been born 2 years earlier.) Naturally, as I strolled down the street with my three darlings, passersbys would marvel over the twins, and without exception I was asked, "Do twins run in your family?" Enough! I was determined to find out.
My first step was to look up the social worker who was in charge of my case twenty years earlier. Luckily, she was still in the area, though retired. She came to our home and gave me a great deal of information. She said that I had been in two foster homes. I lived in the first one from the age of two months, and this worker had me removed and placed in another when I was eighteen months old. The reason for the transfer was that I had been abused and severely neglected in the first home. At the age of 18 months, I was so developmentally delayed that I was unable to sit up unaided. I had been starved as well. It was generally thought that I was retarded. Though I made some gains in the second home (which I remember vividly), the consensus was that I would never make it through high school, much less get through it. So this was why I was so "old" when I was finally placed in a permanent home - the prognosis scared all of the other prospective adoptive parents away.
The social worker told me just a bit about my birth mother, but without any identifying information. She had been in her early twenties when she had me. Farther than this, the worker wouldn't go. She did say that she had been certain that the folks who did finally adopt me were wonderful people, since they didn't let the pessimistic prognosis of the "experts" dissuade them from adopting me. Doctrinaire environmentalists, my adoptive parents believed more in nurture than nature, believing that love and intellectual stimulation would prove the experts wrong. So it was. I was reading books by the age of four.
But my need to know my heritage, my roots, my need to know the whole truth drove me to dig deeper. I had to confront all of it. So with the help of an organization called ALMA - Adoptees Liberation Movement Association), I searched for and found my birth mother. She agreed to see me, and the reunion was awesome, in the truest sense of that trivialized word. For the first time in my life, I looked at the face of the woman who gave me birth. I spent much of the time gazing at her abdomen, finally truly knowing that I was "real", like the unadopted, since I dwelt within that body. Hers was that body. From my birth mother I learned that, yes, twins run in the family. My mother was herself a twin, though her sibling died at birth. I have identical twin half sisters. My musical ability (of which there was NONE in my adoptive family) comes from my maternal aunt -- another mystery solved, since I am a musician. Then I received information I hadn't thought to request.
Twenty-nine years before, my mother went on a date. At some point in the evening, she was raped by five men. One of them was my father, though I'll never know which one.
Reflecting on all this, I saw that I am, incarnate, almost all the "hard cases" which my liberal, feminist sisters and I spoke of with such passion -- unwanted, abused, neglected, owing my very existence to an act of brutal sexual assault. The "compassionate" of this age conclude that to head off such tragedy, the child in question is better off dead. Why can't I agree, now that I have a voice to register my choice? "Humanists" now decide who among us possess "meaningful life" and who do not qualify. They would certainly turn thumbs down on me, since by every one of their standards, my life was hardly "meaningful". My mother, in her panic and shame, had wanted an abortion, but at the time, the customary method of finding an abortionist was to go about turning over rocks -- lucky for me. And how fortunate was I that groups like Planned Parenthood were not yet in the anti-poverty line, helping underclass women like my mother to fight poverty by killing their children?
My "conversion" to pro-life was begun by this discovery, and completed by my study of the evidence, particularly the then relatively new science of fetology. My personal discovery wasn't enough to bring me into the pro-life movement, but what it did accomplish was to shock me into internal silence. It stilled the rhetoric we pro-choicers used as a substitute for thought. With the cessation of "choice-speak", I was finally able to face the facts. I found that prenatal people are demonstrably human, and very much alive. At issue in this controversy is the value we assign to this human life, the completely arbitrary value one segment of the population -- the born, the "wanted" -- gives to another -- the pre-born "unwanted". It is but another chapter in the ancient struggle of the empowered over the powerless. I was forced to look at the faces of those we as feminists had considered the enemy, into the eyes of dismembered, poisoned, butchered human beings. I found that this is not a "private" issue at all. It is, instead, the most important human rights struggle of our time.
Monica Kelsey is from Indiana and is available for speaking.
I was born and put up for adoption on April 19th 1973, three months after abortion became legal in the U.S.. My Mom and Dad adopted me six weeks later and I grew up in a small town in Ohio. I love my Mom and Dad and couldn’t imagine growing up with any other family. When I was old enough to understand, my parents told me that my biological parents were married and very young. They were also told that my birth parents had a daughter who was born before me and that they couldn't afford another child so they gave me up for adoption. My adoptive parents never hid the fact that I was adopted, and I never hid the fact that I was going to find my birth family one day. I knew that I wanted to meet them and find my full-blooded sister. I always wanted to know what she looked like. Did I look just like her? Does she know about me? Does she loving playing softball like me?
I grew up in a loving home with two parents and two sisters. My older sister was also adopted and my younger sister was my adoptive parents' biological child. My older sister never wanted to meet her birth parents and I was always the one who was going to find this "fairy tale family." I remember some days being angry at my parents growing up and thinking that I have this family out there just waiting for me to turn 18, who loves me so much.
I started searching for my birth mother really intensely at about the age of 18. My adoptive parents were very supportive with my search. I tried everything from petitioning the court to getting my non-identifying information to writing a letter to the editor in the town where I was born. The journey to find out who my birth family was was no easy task. I contacted the doctor who delivered me and talked to nurses at the hospital who had been there since before I was born. When I finally tracked down my birth mother, it was a wonderful reunion! I finally looked like someone else. I had her height (or lack of), her lips, her chin and her hands. She told me that my birth father was her ex-husband and danced around the subject quite a lot. But I didn’t think anything of it at the time. She said she got pregnant at 15 and had my sister and back in those days you married the man who got you pregnant. Then she got pregnant with me and knew that she couldn’t take care of both children, so she decided to give me up for adoption. That is also what my adoptive parents were told when they adopted me. So I never questioned the truth at this point. It was all falling into place for me.
A few weeks later, I contacted my birth mother's ex-husband and, to my surprise, he stated that he was not my birth father. He stated that they were separated at the time, but he told my birth mother that he would agree back then to tell people I was his child since she was giving me up for adoption. He then said that I needed to talk to Sandy regarding the truth about my birth father. I remember thinking “how weird is this?” After all this time, why does she feel that she has to lie to me? She also had a problem with alcohol, which I discovered when I met her. It seemed that almost every time I talked to her, she was slurring her words. At this point, I was wondering what I got myself into. I started talking more to my biological sister and she said that she was going to talk to my birth mother and try to get some answers on who my birth father was and get back to me. She indeed came back with a name. She gave me the name of my birth father and that was it. She didn’t offer an explanation or explain why my birth mother lied. So here I go again -- I call this man who she named to try to get information from him regarding my birth. He stated that he didn't know my birth mother and as he put it "sorry, you have the wrong guy." Now I'm mad and confused! My birth mother keeps lying to me and what did I ever do to her to deserve this? She wouldn’t discuss this with me -- only to my biological sister. I was hurt, so I limited my communication with her. That was 17 years ago.
One evening. I was online on Facebook and I found the daughter of my so-called birth father. I wasn’t ready to start my search up again, but after looking at her picture, I couldn’t believe the resemblance to me and decided to contact her. She immediately was very upset and wanted nothing to do with me. “You already have a family . . . this one is mine” she said, “I don't mean to come off being rude, but I think it was very inappropriate for you to find me on Facebook and bring this up to me.” After realizing the impact of my confession to her, I apologized and gave her my cell phone number so that her father could call me and we could talk. I'm not sure why I felt like I had to pursue this again, but it seemed like a new door opening for me and the right time in my life to open it. I wasn’t trying to ruin someone else’s life, I just wanted to know the truth about my own. The very next night, I received a call from my birth father telling me that I had no right coming back into his life and that I was ruining his life. After all, “You were only given my name from your birth mother,” he said. He spoke very condescending to me and indicated that he wanted a DNA test so he could get me out of his life for good and I agreed to the test. I kept apologizing to him and I explained that this was all I had to go on. He told me that he would get all the info for the DNA test and call me back. I never wanted a DNA test. All I wanted was admission from him that he could be my biological father.
At this point, I felt the need to talk to my birth mother so that I can be sure that I am not turning this man's life upside down for no reason at all. She never personally gave me his name -- my biological sister did. With as angry as my birth father was at me for bringing this up, I didn’t want to look like a fool if the results came back that I wasn’t his biological child. That night, I prayed that God would lead me to the truth and would point me in the direction that He wanted me to go. So the next morning, I got up and felt the need to drive to Michigan to speak with my birth mother. I hadn't visited her in 17 years. She really had changed. She has been sober for 6 years now and she just looked great! We had been visiting for about three hours when I told her that I needed to talk to her. I had to laugh inside when she said, "Oh God, do I need my checkbook or my memory?" I smiled when I realized we had the same type of wit and humor and said, “only your memory.“ I told her that I had been in contact with the man she named as my birth father to my birth sister 17 years ago and he wanted a DNA test. I asked, "Is there any way that it could be someone else? I just don't want to uproot this man's life." She very firmly said “No, it could be no one else,“ then proceeded to tell me what happened. Her first words were, “I never wanted to have to tell you this,“ but she knew the day would come that I would ask her. She then went into detail about the circumstances of her rape. She listed specific places that don’t exist anymore, but through research, I confirmed that they did back in 1972. Since she knew of specific people and places involved, I realized that she was telling me the truth and not keeping anything from me. This was my moment of realization that I was conceived in rape. I now understand why she didn’t want to tell me the truth 17 years ago. She understood how devastating this would be for me to know the truth and did everything in her power to protect me from it all these years, starting with the story she told on the day I was born. Charges were never pressed against him. As my birth mother put it, “your birth father's family was a well respected family and I had a child already. I was living with your grandmother while going through a divorce and who is going to believe me?” She was so upset and decided not press charges.
You can imagine all the emotions that were running through me at this point. My birth father called me three days after my meeting with my birth mother and said that he wants to hold off on the DNA test until he talks to an attorney. He kept saying "you understand right?" At this point, I did now! However, I didn't lead on that I knew the truth. He told me that he would be in contact with me after he met with his attorney to make sure there would be no “legal ramifications” from this. Two weeks later, I got another call from him and he said that his attorney advised him to just walk away from this and that this needed to end. I confronted him, "I know the truth regarding you raping my birth mother! Only the three of us, you, me, and my birth mother know the truth and this story is going to be told," I said, “I know you raped her!” His response was, "Whatever happened 38 years ago, happened 38 years ago." I was shocked when he didn’t deny anything I said. He was very smug on the phone. I advised him that I am writing a book and although his name will never be published, the story, however, will be. He hung up on me. I felt like this huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders when I told him that I knew the truth.
I have always been pro-life, except in circumstances of rape or incest. Now that I know that this is the very reason for my own existence, my feelings have changed. I feel that others need to hear this from me. I have been reading a lot of Rebecca Kiessling's writings and she says that people tell her all the time that if her mother would have aborted her, then she wouldn’t be here today and what would it matter? Hearing this now makes me angry. I am a medic and I love saving lives! The man whose life that I saved the other day might think differently if he knew that I was almost aborted because he might not be here either if I wasn’t in the right place at the right time. God has put me here for a reason and I need to make sure that my story gets out. If abortion would have been legal just a few months earlier, I might not be here to tell this story, and this rapist would have totally gotten away with it. But my life stands as a reminder to him, that he did not get away with anything! Whether it's rape or incest, I am against abortion. I didn’t ask for my mother to be raped, but I thank God she carried me to term and gave me the life that I was intended to live, and I thank God abortion was still illegal.
From this point, I knew that telling my story was a very powerful way for me to put a face to an unborn child whose mother was raped. My birth mother went through all the emotions regarding this horrible crime, and when I was born, she said she didn’t even want to look at me. She didn’t want to see his face ever again, even though this was not my fault. She said that she decided to give me up for adoption because she knew that she couldn’t look at me everyday and love me the way I needed to be loved. So she made the ultimate sacrifice and handed me over to my adoptive parents who could and did provide that for me. Now she says, it's so amazing that something so beautiful came out of such a horrible situation.
It was 1962. Abortion wasn't legal but it was still dangerously available in back alleys and dim rooms where women risked their lives to end the life within.
Nineteen year old Faye was on what she planned to be her final date with her controlling and intimidating boyfriend. When she told him it was over, things got violent. Rejection wasn't something he was willing to accept and so his rage turned into a brutal rape.
Faye's hopes to end a terribly bad relationship turned into the beginning of something much worse.
For nine months she carried the constant reminder of that horrific event within her.
It was me. I was the reminder. Not just an unplanned pregnancy but a woman's worst nightmare.
My birth-mom was faced with the pressure to end the life that was conceived so violently. But she understood that a life is a life, regardless of how it began...that while there may be accidental parents there are no accidental people.
She started looking into adoption. How it worked. What she needed to do. And then it happened...It was one of those situations in which a friend knew someone who worked with a woman whose daughter was pregnant and wanted to give the baby up for adoption.
I entered the world with no first name. Just "Baby Salvatore". But four days later I left the hospital as Stephanie Tyler in the arms of two wonderful parents who would forever more be known to me as Mom and Dad.
I was blessed with two wonderful parents who loved me as their own, but from the age of 3 until about the age of 12 my concept of love became skewed and shattered as I was repeatedly molested and raped by two different people in my family. Beaten, abused and broken by those who I should have been able to trust. I was a messed up little girl who never really knew what it was like to be a little girl.
My teen years were lived on the wild side. Sexual abuse has a tendency to give a girl a skewed view of life and love...and so, I was pregnant at 17. Then married and divorced and a single mom by the age of 19. Another quick marriage and divorce became part of my story as I spent the next five years looking for love in all the wrong places.
It was in 'all the wrong places' that I met my husband, Donald. He was the drummer in the band and our lifestyle was a reflection of the whole rock and roll band scene.
Not a pretty picture. But then again, no picture is pretty without God in the middle of it.
Sitting in my apartment one afternoon, I watched a tel-evangelist share a message I had never really heard before. Or maybe I had, but this time it began to make sense. I wanted what he talked about. Salvation. Eternal life. A real relationship with Jesus. But I also wanted my life to remain mine. And so it did. Even though the tears were real, my surrender to the Lord was not. I cried, prayed and thought I was saved but my life remained my own and I remained unchanged.
About two years later, at the age of 24 I was ready. Ready to surrender all I was for all Jesus is. I knew He was the only one who could save my wretched self, and this time, I was not only ready – but I was willing.
Everything changed that sweet October day in 1987.
My heart, my life, my passions and my pursuits. For the first time in my life I didn't have to prove my love to someone else - I just had to receive God's love for me. He loved. Dirty. Broken. Unloveable. Insignificant. And nothing would ever be the same.
It's been such a wild ride serving my amazing Savior. Time after time, year after year, He's called me to do what I'm incapable of. He has given me the privilege of ministering to women of all ages from a variety of backgrounds. He's taken me from classrooms to conferences, from small group meetings to the mission field, from women's ministry events to founding The M.O.M. Initiative.
I'm more amazed than anyone that He has called me to serve women in the Word and that He invites me to participate with what He is doing on this planet! As one who has been forgiven much...as one who knows what broken is and what unloveable feels like, my heart echoes the words of Corrie Ten Boom, "There is no pit so deep, that God is not deeper still!"
When I was 27, I met my birth-mom. It was like one of those Oprah Winfrey reunions. Emotional and beautiful. What I didn't expect was how much she loved me. She never talked about how brutal the rape was, she only reflected on how hard it was to place me in the arms of another woman.
I've been blessed beyond measure to have two mothers. One who loved me past the pain of rape and chose life for me instead, and who not only gave me a home, but loved me as her own.
Today, I have the privilege of sharing my story at conferences, pro-life events and on television and radio interviews. Unfortunately, one out of six women have a similar story to tell. Some are still looking for healing and hope. I'm so thankful that God gives me the privilege of sharing that He truly does make beauty of ashes. He has taken this girl with a bad past and a bleak future and redeemed my life from the pit.
I don't know what your pit looks like. I don't know what your ashes may be. But I know He came to heal your broken heart and to set you free. He did that for me and I know He longs to do the same for you.
I believe that every human being is inherently valuable. My mom taught me that through her actions and instructions. I was conceived in a date-rape scenario. She professes to never once having thought of terminating/aborting me. The phrasing of that mindset has been, “It is not my right to stop a beating heart.” I have heard it differently when one person said, “The child did nothing wrong, it is not he who should be punished.” I feel truly blessed to be alive from the decision for life my mom made 22+ years ago. She decided to sacrifice future potential relationships, social comfort, financial security and any personal plans all for me. I live a life truly blessed and wish to share my story with anyone who will hear it. My mom always made sure that I had proper male role models and a solid friend group through my church youth program. I have many friends, a well-adjusted social life, no baggage from hazardous romantic relationships, no hatred towards my birth father and a genuinely positive outlook on life. Where she is weak, I have been made strong and where I struggle; she offers wisdom. A better partnership, I have not seen. There are some things that cannot be a coincidence and I wish there was space to share it all.
I have been trained to put others first and act as a gentleman, showing the utmost respect for women. This lesson is owed entirely to my mom who took an unfortunate circumstance and decided to craft a family where love was shown in selfless action and everyone is given the respect inherently owed to them and more. I have been blessed to be a part of 14 short-term mission’s trips. Locations include: Rochester NY (6 times), Joplin Missouri, Jamaica, St Vincent, Florida twice, Queens NY and Louisville Kentucky. While funds may not have been present for traditional vacations, my mom always made sure I participated in these missions, stressing the importance of a generous heart.
Many arguments for abortion I’ve heard center around the rate of un-adopted teens, deficiency of proper foster houses and a general inability to rise above their situation and surpass expectations. I vehemently disagree with that reasoning. I was instilled with a spirit of hard working and owning your decisions and consequences. I will be graduating Summa Cum Laude in May 2013 from the University at Buffalo with a B.S. in Business Administration with a triple concentration in: Supply Chain+Operations, Marketing, and Human Resources. I only say to this to assert the reality that every child deserves a chance to live and achieve what they choose. The crux of the arguments for racial, gender, age and sexual orientation rights lies in the inherent value of human life and equal opportunities owed therein. I believe all of these issues point toward the simple fact; every child, regardless of perceived social inconvenience, is owed a chance at life.
My name is Nicholas Charles D’Angelo, and my mother chose life for me. I wish to use my voice for all those who never got a chance; every life is precious and deserving of respect. Save the one, save everyone, they deserve it.
The award-winning show Facing Life Head-On devoted an episode to conception by rape. The musician Jason Lovins was interviewed. Liz Carl, whose story can be found on the Pregnant By Rape Stories page, was also featured. See the link below.