Recently I got a phone call from the college students who pray at our local Planned Parenthood most Saturdays of the year. I have come to know them through my own involvement in 40 Days for Life. Two years ago, Our Lord called me to share openly my own pain of pre-born baby loss shortly after my fourth miscarriage. I would stand week after week holding my sign sharing the deep pain of loss I have experienced and my desire to help those entering Planned Parenthood for abortions. God has asked me to unite my own deeply painful Cross to the agony that goes on in abortion centers. My hope was — and still is — to help these women and men avoid the devastation of killing their own child. I know what it is to lose a child, but I can’t imagine the unbelievable pain of killing your own child. I want to save them, by God’s grace, from that kind of horror and regret.
I carry the pain of losing four children and the reality that it does not appear to be God’s will for my life for me to have anymore biological children. Before people start emailing and commenting on their solutions to my very real and debilitating hormone issues, I have been through every test under the sun. I’ve been treated with Church-approved Natural Procreative Technologies (NaPro) bio-identical hormones. I had to stop because of the side effects in my particular case. I’ve done my due diligence. I lost my last child while on NaPro injections. It is now time to accept God’s will and learn to carry this very heavy Cross. I’ve been told this on three separate occasions in Confession by the same priest who is also a friend of mine. I believe this is from the Holy Spirit and He is trying to help me embrace this agonizing Cross.
Just because I cannot have any more biological children, does not mean that my husband and I have not sought other avenues for growing our family. We have an approved adoption home-study, and now that he appears to be in remission, we can begin to look at adoption as a very real possibility for our family, as long as it is in accordance with God’s will. This is why I received a phone call from a college student standing outside of Planned Parenthood.
Adoption and Abortion
This college student and dedicated sidewalk counselor spent quite a bit of time talking to a young couple about adoption. They had an appointment for a surgical abortion that morning and he was doing everything in his power to provide them with resources in order to help them make a choice of life for them and their baby. This woman had already given up a previous child for adoption, so she already knew the process. This sidewalk counselor told them about my husband, our daughter, and me and how we would be happy to adopt their child. He gave them his cell number so that he could connect us when they were ready. The couple left Planned Parenthood. There was great hope that maybe this couple would choose adoption, even if it wasn’t us as the parents. Unfortunately, they came back and went in. They didn’t come back out during the time my friend was there and we know that the baby is now dead at his or her own parents’ hands.
This is common. I know that it’s common. I’ve been praying at our local Planned Parenthood for years. I know that most people would rather abort their own child than give him or her up for adoption. I don’t fully understand it. It can be quite frustrating and even maddening at times. I understand the fear in unplanned pregnancies — that’s one of the reasons I am out there to help — but there’s more to it than that. The theologian in me knows that the very deadly and heavy sins of pride and envy also play a role. These sins tend to lead to heinous crimes in those whose consciences are not properly formed and who do not have the light of grace in their souls. This is not a judgment on this couple or any other woman seeking an abortion. It is a reality about our Fallen state. Even those of us in the Church must guard against soul-killing sins. We too are weak. For these women and men, it’s easier to kill one’s own child than it is to let someone else raise their child. People have told us that if they can’t raise their child, then no one will. Let that sink in and then pray for them.
This was the first time in a while that a couple seemed open to the idea of adoption. My friend was very hopeful and he knows that Phil and I would take any child in need in a heartbeat. He also knows how much agony I have suffered through my miscarriages and secondary infertility. Even though I’ve been out praying when countless abortions have taken place, this one hit me hard. I found myself sobbing in my parish bathroom shortly after I found out. I was there for, of all things, sidewalk counselor training to help me serve those seeking abortions even more.
Grieving another lost child
I am heartbroken that this little boy or girl is now dead, having been murdered by those entrusted with their care and love. I am grief-stricken that this child could have had a good life and that these parents had very real options, but they chose a violent death for their child instead. I am sad for the mother and the father because they have no idea the joy and love they have now missed out on. I hurt for them and their horrendous choice. I thought of the mother, groggy, cramping, numb at home and her partner who didn’t help her be brave and courageous. He did not protect her and she did not protect her child. I ache for them and grieve for those who do not have a life in Christ. Situations like these should enliven us to evangelize. What kind of life is it without Christ?
I took my grief to Our Lord in His Real Presence as I prayed before the Tabernacle for a couple of hours and then offered up Mass for them. I cried for this lost child and his or her parents. I prayed for the soul of this baby and for all of the others lost through this genocide. I prayed for the conversion and repentance of the parents. I offered my own grief — knowing at the deepest level what it is to lose a child — for their baby and for them. I allowed Our Lord to cut me open once again so that I could unite my own suffering in some way to help in this very real spiritual war we are embroiled in. I united the agony of my own losses to the loss of this child. I’ve been called to the front of this horrific battle against “powers and principalities” and this is how Our Lord has called me to fight: prayerful witness, redemptive suffering, and sacrifice. He is asking me to allow Him to cut my heart open in love of these precious souls in union with my love for Him and my miscarried babies: Victoria, Caleb, Marie-Therese, and Andrew.
The power of uniting our Crosses to Christ’s
I believe God has called me to grieve in a very specific way for these babies who are aborted and for their parents. A priest told me a couple of years ago that he believes this is a special mission God has given to me in particular. I was confused and hurting about why God would call me of all people to the front lines of a fight where millions of unborn babies are murdered. He pointed out that my grief at having lost four babies gives me a unique perspective on how great the loss of each child really is in reality.
In our culture, even miscarriage is treated in a manner that ignores the dignity of each human being. Pro-lifers can even dehumanize miscarried babies with ridiculous statements such as: “You can always have another baby” or “There was clearly something wrong with the baby.” So, they weren’t a unique human person worthy of love? We should be careful not to violate or contradict our own position. This contradicts our own understanding and also betrays an over-dependence on control over our fertility that only belongs to God. Our family size is up to God.
Do not become numb in the abortion fight
There is a danger as we fight to bring about the end of abortion to become numb to it all. It is difficult to contemplate what is going on inside these buildings as we pray outside. It is discouraging that more people go in than are willing to come to us for help. Seeing women stumble out after they’ve aborted their child is heart-wrenching and painful. They are vulnerable and for all intents-and-purposes, alone. They were abandoned in their hour of need and they gave into fear and despair. The reasons may be complicated, but the truth is these women have been let down and now another child is dead and these women are not any better off. They are worse off. We can’t lose sight of this truth. We cannot become numb because then we will become complacent or despair.
Whether it is an abortion or a miscarriage, a unique human being made imago Dei is lost. One is a moral evil and the other is largely mysterious, even when there are some medical answers. They are not the same, but there are similarities in the loss. God is using me to grieve these unique persons and to remind my fellow brothers and sisters on the front lines of this intense spiritual battle that we cannot become numb. We cannot constantly focus on the astronomical numbers—and they are horrifying—we must also remember each individual life that is lost and that it is a good thing to grieve. It teaches us to love more and Christ promises consolation to those who mourn. Who else will grieve for these children and their parents if we do not?