I got pregnant at age 17. Roe v. Wade was not yet the law of the land. However, a lot of girls were sneaking off to get illegal abortions or going to states where abortion was legal. Who knows what I would have done if abortion had been legal, convenient, and presumed by all of society to be a “right.” But since it was not, abortion never really entered my mind. My choice was between keeping the baby or giving it away.
It was mostly family expectations and the sheer impracticality of raising a baby at my age that forced my decision to give it away. But with every week that passed I wanted just the opposite, to keep and raise my baby. I was extremely depressed for my whole pregnancy, an experience made much worse by the isolation and silence that surrounded my decision. In those days there was little counseling on how to work through our thoughts and emotions, or on how to evaluate decisions. The only counseling I received was to bury this reality of my depression deeper and deeper inside, to deny its very existence. I was sent away to a “home” where well-meaning Lutheran ladies tried to keep us busy (I hate crafts to this day) and gave us talks about how to keep our pregnancy secret from everyone, including our future husbands. After giving birth we were not allowed to see or hold our babies. They were trying to prevent bonding, but bonding actually starts during the pregnancy and in the delivery, so not being able to see or touch my baby only left me with an emptiness that I tried for years to fill with various addictions.
By the grace of God, however, I was freed from my addictions and brought into the Catholic Church.
More than 40 years after giving the baby away, I made a general confession and had many subsequent confessions with a wonderful priest. I was finally able to let go of that 17-year-old girl’s isolation and understand the whole experience as one of the mysterious ways God called me to Himself. A few weeks after my general confession (no coincidence I’m sure), I received a call from a social worker who had been looking for me for a long time on behalf of the son I had given up. Again, no coincidence I’m sure, the social worker had finally located me through my father’s obituary. I have this picture of my Mom and Dad finally meeting up in heaven, saying to each other, we have some unfinished business.
My son’s first letter to me began simply, “I’m so glad I found you.” We have now been in contact through letters for over a year. I can tell from his letters what a good and stable family life he has with his wife and children, and how much his adoptive Mom and Dad loved him. I could never have given him that kind of stability. He sent me a copy of the obituary he wrote for his Dad’s funeral recently and the closeness and intelligence and love of that family came through loud and clear.
We are making plans to meet as soon as possible. I am blessed.
submitted from Virginia