Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Pregnant by Rape, I Refused Abortion Because I Knew God Had a Plan For My Baby, by Pat

It was the summer of 1957.  I was 17 years old and heading into my senior year.  I was at a dance hall with a bunch of friends.  My parents had a curfew for me, so I needed to get home, but my friends who drove me wanted to stay.  A young man who was a few years older than me and whose brother lived across the street from me offered me a ride home.  I didn't really know him, but his family was very nice and it seemed like a kind offer.

As we were driving home, he passed by the block I lived on and I told him right away, but he insisted he had another way to get there.  He went to a back road where there was no one around -- no houses or anything.  I knew something was wrong, even though he said he just wanted to talk to me.  I pleaded with him to take me home, but he forced himself on me.  I fought him and I thought I was okay.

I went home, washed myself off, but told no one what had happened.  I'd never experienced anything like that before and neither had any of my friends as far as I knew.  I was frightened and I couldn't figure out why anyone would ever want to hurt me.  Having an older brother, I'd always felt protected.

Since his brother lived across the street, he was still around, and he tried to come to my house to apologize, but I slammed the door on him.  Thankfully, we were moving and I wouldn't have to see him at all much longer.

At the end of the summer, I was in a car accident and was thrown from the car.  I ended up in a doctor's office, complaining that my stomach was hurting.  They had me examined and asked me if there was any chance I was pregnant and I just said that I don't know because I had no idea about these things.  When the results came back that I was pregnant, I was in shock.

At this point, I told my mother about the rape.  My mom offered to raise the baby, but I said, "No, this is my child."  The doctor asked if I wanted an abortion and I said, "Absolutely not! The baby is in my womb.  God has a reason and it's my baby too."  I knew what abortion was, and I knew that abortion kills a baby.  I'm thankful for  my Catholic upbringing which taught me about the value of life.

School was starting, but I was not able to attend my senior year because I was pregnant and that was not allowed.  After I had my baby, the rules were changed, but this was what I faced.  Even still, abortion would never have been a consideration.

During my pregnancy, I met my future husband and I told him I was expecting a child through rape.  He was very kind, gentle and compassionate.  Niel told me, nevertheless, he wanted to date me.  Before my baby was born, he proposed to me.  I told my mother, but she said to wait until after the baby was born to make sure Niel really wanted the baby.  Niel gave my son his name, Peter, and I married him after Peter was born and he raised him as his own son.

When my son was born, he was 8 lbs, 7 oz -- a big baby.  From the moment I first saw Peter, I loved him.  He was beautiful.  I never saw the rapist in him.  He was my baby.

I believe God brought my husband into my life when I needed a father for my baby.  I had prayed and asked God to bring one and He did.  We had six more children, but two died during my pregnancy.  I know what it's like to be laying on a gurney in a hospital losing your baby.  

It wasn't until my son was in his 40's that I told him the difficult story of his conception.  There was a family member who had insinuated that they were going to tell him, so I made sure that he heard it from me.  I told him, "I love you with my whole heart and soul, but I've kept something from you and I have something to tell you."  After I told him the story, he said, "You loved me that much and wouldn't abort me," and then he hugged me.

Today I have an agency that's 12 years old called Helping Hands Caring Heart -- a Christian-based agency.  I developed it through what I had endured myself and I help women who are having children.  So many of them have been raped.  I help them so they're not homeless and don't lose their babies.  I give them clothing and diapers and network them into jobs.  I help them find apartments.  It's a 501 c 3 nonprofit and it's located in New York.  

I use my testimony to help others realize that they're not alone and to thank God that He has a plan for them and their children, as I minister the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

BIO:  Pat's husband was killed by a truck as a pedestrian a few years ago, and Pat has been a widow since.  Pat is a mother to 5, grandmother and a foster mother, as well as executive director of Helping Hands Caring Heart, and now blogger for Save The 1.
Friday, August 10, 2018

I'm an Adopted Daughter Born of Rape and I Celebrate My Life! by Maria de la Paz Rodríguez Coronel Dudignac, Argentina

Let’s go back to the 1970's.  A young, newly married couple from Buenos Aires dreamed of starting a family.  But instead, they suffered several failed attempts to get pregnant.  Their desire increased as the months and years passed. Treatments, prayers, . . . nothing seemed to work, until they decided to start the adoption process.

They endured tough requirements, bureaucratic procedures and in-depth investigations in order to be  classified as good candidates.  Finally, they managed to match all the required parameters to be adoptive parents.  

However, as this couple began preparations to adopt, there was a tragedy transpiring.  It was 1978 in the province of Chaco.  A teenager suffered a sexual attack in which she became pregnant by her rapist.  Alone, helpless, humiliated and without any hope, she went to a house -- a hospice as we say. She lived through the pregnancy with great courage.  She had run away from home -- possibly because her family abandoned her, or possibly to avoid being shamed by others.

She had her baby daughter with a normal weight of  just under 8 lbs.  Afterward, she wandered everywhere with the baby in her arms, until she finally decided to place her for adoption.  She went to what we call a cradle house and with great sadness and hope, handed her baby over with the clothes she was wearing.

The staff of the cradle house gave the baby girl love and affection.  No more was heard of that young teenager. . . .

The baby lived among children, nurses and caregivers who struggled every day to keep the house decent and clean, given that the economic situation was unsustainable.

One day, that couple from Buenos Aires received the call of God -- the happiest news of their lives:  "There is a baby who was placed for adoption.  Can you travel as soon as possible to the Province of Chaco?”

The future parents were very excited. They cried and hugged for half an hour, thanking God for their prayers being answered.

Upon arriving in the province of Chaco, they went to the cradle house.  It was fresh.  When they got there, they were received by many children with the hope of leaving that hospice with their adoptive family.  Children were running everywhere.  The maintenance staff was pleading for money for the arrangements of the property.  

Then, the young future adoptive father went to the mall and bought them a new kitchen as a donation. When he returned, he went to one of the many cradles where a baby girl in diapers rested, thin and abandoned.  

Without knowing which crib her awaiting baby was in, the wife had moved forward past the row of cribs with great anxiety.  As she approached crib number 22, the baby girl opened her huge eyes and cried.  With compassion in her heart, the young woman picked her up, cradled her with a lot of love in her arms and the baby stopped crying; the young mother did not release her anymore.

That mother was Luz María and that baby was ME.

The caretakers and nurses of the home asked my mother how she knew this was the baby she was about to adopt and, merrily, she answered: "mother's intuition."

Then all the procedures corresponding to the birth certificate in the Civil Registry were carried out. They named me Maria de la Paz, consecrating me to the Virgin Queen of Peace.  We returned happily to Buenos Aires. There my great-grandmother, grandparents, uncles and cousins awaited us. They had a party and baptized me.

When I was two years old, I had curiously asked my mother if I had been in her tummy, and she said no.  I left it at that and we followed life normally.  I went to kindergarten, I played with my cousins and friends, and I received my First Communion and Confirmation.  I had a very happy childhood, enjoying many birthday parties and Christmas.

When I began adolescence, I started to wonder everything, including my origin.  There was a lot of secrecy about my pre-adoption history.  I was missing 8 months of my life which were empty -- I did not know anything about that time.

When finishing secondary education, I began to work.  I lived the normal life of a young girl going out to the world, to society.  But I never stopped thinking about those 8 empty months of my life.  Nobody told me anything.

Years passed, I got married and had two daughters.  I completed several specialization courses for my career.  I am a therapeutic caregiver, integrative teacher, geriatric assistant, community play director. I am also a catechist in the Diocese of San Miguel Arcángel in Buenos Aires.

It wasn't until 2007 when an aunt told me that my birthmother had been raped and, as a result of that attack, I was born.  I said nothing about this cruel truth.  I went on with my life, until one day, I could not take so much pain anymore.  

I felt guilty about being born and decided to compensate my biological mother with my life.  I offered my whole being to God and after a terrible period of depression, I took pills to relieve myself of the pain.  I was hospitalized for several days as a result. 

My parents and family suffered a lot from this.  They were angry with me, as they did not understand the situation -- a typical reaction, I think.

I managed to recover, thanks to my prayer group, my daughters and family, my in-laws and my friends.  With the time going by, I accepted my reality.

I had two mothers -- one who courageously gave me life and another who gave me her life until her last breath.

It was the summer of 2015 as I was riding a bike through Bella Vista when I saw a sign with the image of an 8-week-old baby asking to be born.  I did not understand the claim.  Then I called the number that appeared and contacted those who organized that campaign "El Bebito" (the little baby). 

I joined their Facebook campaign and started a wonderful connection with Mariana Rodríguez Varela through her sister Helena. They provided me with material to publish and I became a pro-life warrior!

At that time, I knew a teenager who became pregnant, but she did not want that unborn baby.  I had enough information to teach that girl the truth that what she had in her tummy was not a bunch of cells, but a baby.  After long days of dialogue and contention, she decided to continue with the pregnancy!  That experience made me reflect and, immediately, I applied it to my own life.

I still was unable to tell publicly that I was an unwanted baby conceived during a rape . . . , until things became very difficult in my country, The Republic of Argentina, with the bill of "voluntary interruption of pregnancy" which would have legalized abortion for any reason through 14 weeks and up until birth in cases of rape.

One day commenting on Facebook in favor of life, I saw someone suggest that "in cases of rape" it would be good for the rape victim to decide "with her body" by getting rid of the fetus she carries in her womb.  Of course, I did not agree with that statement. Then I commented freely -- for the first time ever.  Their ignorance and cruelty liberated me!

But then I received frightening messages from a relative -- a close cousin -- who tried to make me feel guilty for being born, saying that all the abandoned children should have been aborted, that the adopted ones should not have existed.  Privately she told me that I was guilty of what had happened to my biological mother and that I should not have existed.  As perhaps you can imagine, I felt very badly reading all of these things from a family member.

That afternoon I fainted.  I could not get out of bed, and I cried all the time.  I had the signs of that depression again. Then I sent a message on WhatsApp to Mariana Rodríguez Varela crying and renouncing my participation in the "El Bebito" campaign.  I felt very badly for being born thanks to that insulting cousin.

Immediately, Mariana asked me: "Are you adopted?"  And I answered: "Yes."  It was at that moment that Mariana sustained me with a lot of love, and told me that I was a beautiful story of love.

From that moment, I celebrated my life.  I resurrected.  I had lived years of pain, but now I received the Grace of God through the respect, kindness and affection of Mariana.

I felt very proud of my adoptive parents (or parents of the heart as we say), and I proudly went out into the streets again with the banner of "ElBebito."

It was during an afternoon coffee break when I saw the speech of a young woman named Karina Estrella Etchepare in the Honorable Chamber of Deputies of the Congress of the Argentine Nation. Her words left me speechless as she shared her story of having been conceived in rape and placed for adoption.

Then, I said to myself: "I am also an adopted daughter who was born in rape" -- the world has to know my humble history.

I started posting on all the networks that I am happily adopted and the result of a violation.  I felt that I should honor my birthmother because of how brave she was to give me up for adoption, choosing life despite the pain she suffered.  Maybe it was not easy for her to surrender me in that cradle house, but that's what she could do, giving me the opportunity to live.

Karina Estrella Etchpare and I became friends, along with many others from Salvar El 1 who were conceived in rape or became pregnant by rape.  These are my sisters!

When they use the pretext of aborting the baby in cases of rape, I do not agree that the baby is condemned to death since she is an innocent being. The father should be condemned for the crime he committed -- not the baby.

Who dares to tell me that my life is worth less than that of anyone who was born during an act of love?  I am not an abomination of nature for having been an unwanted baby!  I can love and be loved.  I am irrefutable proof that my life and my daughters lives are the result of God's triumph on earth.

With my humble story, I want to leave the following legacy to my daughters, to all of the daughters of Argentina, and to all the daughters of the world:  Abortion is not the solution, abortion doesn’t stop a woman from being a mother because, since the moment of conception, the woman will always be a mother.  The "choice" made is whether to be Mother to a living child or a dead child.

Sadly, here in Argentina, it has been legal since the 1920's to abort a child conceived in rape through 14 weeks.  But my birthmother, with a lot of pain, continued valiantly with her pregnancy giving me the possibility of life.  That's why I say yes to life, without exception!

Thanks to the love of my whole family, great-grandmother, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins (the good ones), instead of being an "unwanted baby" I became an "expected baby."

Biography: Maria Paz Rodríguez Coronel Dudignac lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is the mother of two girls, a therapist, and a blogger, pro-life speaker and Facebook contributor for Salvar El 1 -- the Spanish division of Save the 1.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Is My Life Worth Less Than One Conceived In Love? by Karina Estrella Etchepare, Argentina

I am a person like anyone else.  I am a lawyer, a National Public Accountant and an adult education teacher in a humble neighborhood of Buenos Aires, but I have a different story.  My right to life was questioned, and the continuation of my life depended on the strength and tenacity of a 14-year-old girl in order that I may now tell you my story.  Today in Argentina this challenging of lives is being repeated again.  This time, for all unborn children through 14 weeks, and for children conceived in rape right up until birth.

People like me today are considered disposable.  What was my fault so that my right to life is questioned?  I did not steal, I did not kill and yet I was about to be killed in utero just for having been gestated out of the rape of a poor girl.

My biological mother, Teresa delMilagro, lived in the Itatí de Bernal emergency village in the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina in a context of absolute poverty, violence and alcoholism.  She was raped and abused by her stepfather and from that terrible situation she became pregnant with me at 14 years old.

My biological grandmother, complicit in this situation, did the impossible for my birthmother to abort me.  I believe that if RU486 -- the abortion pill -- had existed at the time, today I am not here telling this story.  However, despite my maternal grandmother's actions, pregnancy continued and one day, my biological grandmother offered me -- before I had yet been born -- to a woman in the neighborhood who always helped the most needy.  For my biological grandmother, I was an abomination, but not for my birthmother.  For her, I was the only person in the world whom she really loved.

That is how 22 days after I was born I was handed over to that neighbor, who was my adoptive mother, or as we say, "heart mom," Alicia.  She lived with her husband Franklin and 21-year-old son Fran.  I arrived at my new home in a deplorable state with smoky, dirty clothing, hunger and third degree burns on my genitals.

My arrival in the neighborhood was a revolution.  That day, all the neighbors joined in looking for clothes, milk and a cradle.  My new mom immediately bathed me and I, who still did not even open my eyes, sighed with relief, as I must have felt the sense that I'd been saved.

The next day my heart mom started the adoption proceedings and, as required, a corresponding police report.

If I had to describe the relationship with my adoptive parents, the two words that would summarize our life together today would be infinite love.  When I arrived into their lives, my mother was 54 years old and my father was 49.  Even though they were older, they loved me deeply and shaped me into the woman I am today, with both defects and virtues, but always with the same values, impressing upon me the importance of helping the most defenseless and a profound respect for life.

The last time my heart mom saw my biological mother was when I was eight months old.  My birthmother came to know about me, but she was warned of the restraining order that the adoption judge had imposed.  Teresa delMilagro, embarrassed by the situation, took a baby cap from my mother, caressed it gently and gave it back to her.  My heart mom always waited for her to return, but Teresa delMilagro never came back.

When I was eight years old, I learned my origin and it was hard to know, but it was always clear to me that despite the pain, I wanted to help the weakest.  There were years of internal healing and I am grateful to have gone through all that, because I know now that the only way to heal the pain is with love, understanding and forgiveness.

At age 28, with my original birth certificate in hand, I decided to look for Teresa del Milagro. I needed to close my story but above all, I wanted to tell her, "THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING ME TO LIVE FULLY."

Disappointed, I found out through a governmental search page of people, that my birthmother had died at age of 25, when I was just 11 years old.

However, I found the family that my birthmother had formed.  In spite of everything, her continuous great act of love for me made her betting for life again.  I talked to them and learned that my biological mother was sadly returned to her abuser, that he attempted to traffic her sexually to other men, and, as she refused, she was admitted to a school until she was 18 years old.  

I learned that she had looked for me intensely, but my biological grandmother denied her any information and then, without hope, Teresa committed suicide.  I'm sure it was an impulse, as her family had said she was not like that, but that she was a fighter.   In a moment of weakness, she took her own life.  It hurts me to know that the lack of protection and abandonment of the State killed her.  I know that if we'd met, I would have been a part of her healing.
My adoptive parents did not change my original names, the names which Teresa delMilagro had given me.  I have a half-brother and a half-sister who she had with her partner.  The surprise was that my sister is also called Karina, like me.  I knew this was a sign from my birthmother that she had never forgotten me. 

Although I could not meet her, I appreciate the strong convictions she had when she was so young. According to her partner and other children, she never saw me as a trauma from rape or an aberration,  but it was always the love of a mother for all of her children, to the point that she did not differentiate which of her children was gestated out of love or rape.

Teresa delMilagro did, as her name says, achieve a miracle in me because she allowed me to live and she saved me by placing me for adoption, by changing my destiny.  I would not be what I am if I had not been given to my adoptive family, the best I had.

Today my parents are gone but their love for my life transcended theirs -- the proof of which are my sons, Manuel and Martín.  They are here today because my three saviors said Yes to my life!  And now, I fight to say Yes for others who are just as deserving of love and life.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 was not just any day in my life, but it was the day I shouted to the four winds: ALL LIFE IS GOOD! in the Chamber of Deputies of the Nation.  All the pieces of my puzzle called "Life" were perfectly embedded.  My sad origin and my experiences over the years would serve to defend the lives of the purest beings in the world -- unborn children, those who have no voice and cannot defend themselves.  I related my story to the legislators, then showed them the purpose of it.

"My story comes to an end, but not before asking you:  Could you dare to tell me that your life is worth more than mine because I am the result of a rape? I hope you are clear that the mother and child are victims of the rapist and that is why you have to protect them.  No one has the right to say that one life is worth less than the other, much less that of the fruit of a rape, because that baby did NOT CHOOSE HOW TO BE GESTATED.  If the rapist, with luck, is sentenced to 15 years in prison, why is the innocent baby sentenced to death?  Without life there is no freedom. Value ​​life and defend the unprotected, sow love, sow peace, sow life, honor life!"

I will not stop fighting to prevent abortion from being legalized in my country. I will not stop because I have a debt to life.  Teresa fought for me and gave me an opportunity to live, and now it's my turn to fight back to ensure that every human being is guaranteed his or her first and most precious of rights: the right to live.

BIO:  Karina Estrella Etchepare is a wife, mother of two beautiful children, and a family law attorney
and accountant.  She combines her professional work with intense pro-life activism, speaking publicly at every opportunity.  Karina is a blogger, page editor and pro-life speaker for Save The 1's Spanish team, Salvar El 1.

For more stories from Argentina, please read:

10 Argentine Women Conceived in Rape and Mothers From Rape Speak Up! by Rebecca Kiessling

Maria de la Paz Rodriguez Coronel Dudignac and
Karina Estrella Etchpare, both from Argentina,
both conceived in rape and pro-life speakers
and bloggers for Salvar El 1.