Friday, November 14, 2014

Roots and Your Family Tree

Ever think about your roots? As an adoptee, when I hear others talk about their genealogy or family reunions, it can cause mixed emotions. Many who are adopted eagerly desire to connect with their birth families and actively seek them out. In my case, though, my adoption was open. As I grew older, the more I learned of my birth parents, the more it caused me to reject the idea of being connected to them. The truth came at me in waves.

The first one hit when I was five-years-old, the night before my adoption became final. Up until that moment I was technically an orphan, being cared for by a wonderful couple. Even though I had been with my birth mother for periodic visits until the age of two, I didn’t remember who she was. “Who is my mother?” I asked and pleaded then was shocked to hear the truth. She was the odd, quiet woman that frightened me.

My birth mother has paranoid schizophrenia. As a young adult, I finally understood why this loving couple had agreed to care for me and had finally asked for permission to adopt me. My birth mother was unable to raise me. When people learned I was adopted and asked if I would search for my birth family, I quickly answered that I knew my birth mother and had no desire to reunite.

Soon after turning eighteen, another wave hit me as I received a letter from my maternal aunt in Texas who wanted me to know that I had nine aunts and uncles in Texas! One aunt led me to believe that the entire family was splintered; the hope and desire I had to connect with them was soon shattered. However, they did want to know, was their sister okay? It was hard telling them that I did not know, I did not visit her. I was left feeling confused about my responsibility to them and her.

As an adult, my childhood fears and misunderstandings of mental illness wracked me with guilt. I decided to visit my birth mother. Though her living situation was unlike anything I had ever experienced and her quiet, odd behavior left me feeling uncomfortable, I was satisfied that I had made the first step in connecting with my roots.

Sadly, a tidal wave came as the result: a few days after the visit, I received a phone call from my birth mother’s legal guardian chastising me for visiting her. Supposedly, the visit had caused her to have an “episode” resulting in disruptive--possibly even illegal--behavior towards others. I was told that I needed permission from the guardian before I ever visited her again. This left me drowning in a wave of emotions that affected me for more than ten years. 

In those ensuing years, I mailed letters and gifts. When he was in the hospital, I occasionally visited her husband, who was also mentally disabled. I considered this man my birth father. He was now my only connection to my birth mother. He would keep me updated about her. Sadly, his untimely death dealt the final blow to any hopes I had of staying connected to my birth mother.

I called his cousin to pass along the news that my father had died. The cousin quickly replied, “You know he is not your ‘real' dad, right?” Finally! Someone was willing to explain the mystery surrounding my paternity about which I had always been curious. I knew my adopted mother had heard rumors. My birth mother had made statements about it the one time I did visit. But now her husband’s relative was telling me the truth! The truth I had been afraid to seek out while my father was alive. I had been afraid to dishonor the man who was so proud of me, proud of my good grades as a girl, and later on as a grown woman, proud of my cute kids, his grandkids.

I learned the startling truth, a truth I was not prepared to hear. The man married to my mother was not my father. This cousin divulged the ugly news: my birth mother had been raped. Her husband knew, they had told relatives and had gone to the police. To preserve her honor, he had publicly claimed me as his own. I now realized that my birth parents consisted of a woman who is mentally ill and a violent criminal, the man that raped her.

Thankfully, at the time I learned this, my life was stable and my relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ was strong. Instead of experiencing an identity crisis, I simply embraced my identity in Christ. A daughter of the Most High King was the only identity I desired. Birth family roots seemed unimportant, and, instead, I would embrace the love of my adopted family. I also began to share my story, bringing light and truth to counter the dark lie of “pro-life except in cases of rape”.

Then my maternal aunt sent me a Facebook message, stating that she and one of my uncles wanted to come to Michigan to visit me. As plans materialized, I learned that she and THREE uncles planned to visit! My birth mother had not seen any of her family for almost forty years. Little did I know how disruptive this visit would be. Deep down I felt bewildered: what were these uncles’ intentions? I didn’t even know their names nor had I ever spoken with them. Could it possibly be that they simply wanted to meet me? Why?

The night they arrived in Michigan, I drove to the house at which they were staying and noticed a man standing outside the door. He quickly introduced himself as one of my uncles and then told me that he had wanted to come to Michigan to meet me more than 20 years ago, just to let me know that they loved me. Peace flooded over me. All my uncles had similar sentiments of love, affection and concern for me. For the first time in a very long time, I felt genuine fatherly love. While I know I did not need this to feel complete, it felt so good, so validating. While their trip was short, the aftershock has not been.

Soon, I was invited to and attended their family reunion in Texas. I know that if they had not first visited me, I likely would not have gone. But I was extremely blessed and surprised by my uncles’ desire to spend extra time with me during the visit. These men whom I had only met weeks before, valued me, accepted me, had true fatherly concern over my wellbeing, and enjoyed my company.

I never expected to be so loved. I am the long-lost niece, found and now surprised by such lavish attention. Waves of joy have washed over me ever since, as I’ve relished the feeling of being so wanted. My conception may have been the result of violence, and my mother may endure a lifelong struggle with mental illness, but my life and purpose defy such confusion. I am wanted. Thank you, Mom, for choosing to labor and birth me.

Mary Rathke is a Board member and one of the national speakers for Savethe1 from Michigan.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Threatened with a Plastic Coat Hanger by Rebecca Kiessling

I recently spoke at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada, for a Students for Life event.  The leadership team explained to me that they'd arranged for a police officer and campus security to be present because at their last event, protesters disrupted their speaker.  The disturbances included witches trying to cast spells on the pro-life guest, Canadian Member of Parliament Stephen Woodworth.
Shortly before my event, I noticed some abortion advocates entering the room with signs.  Since I've seen YouTube videos of some of my pro-life colleagues being interrupted during their speeches on college campuses, just to be safe, I asked the police officer to stay inside the room during my speech, and I clarified with him that the protesters would be escorted out if they tried to interrupt at all.  Good.  Beyond that, I truly owe the abortion activists a debt of gratitude, because they provide me with an endless supply of great material!
For anyone who's ever heard my speech, you know that much of it includes all of the horrible things which abortion supporters say to me -- things like, "You must take after your rapist father," and "Okay, so what you're saying is that if abortion had been legal, you wouldn't be here today.  Well, if your birthmother hadn't been raped, you wouldn't be here today either, so doesn't that make youpro-rape?"  People really say that to me!
I explain to them that there's a huge moral difference because I did exist, and my life would have been ended because I would have been killed through a brutal abortion.  I may not look the same as I did when I was 4 years old, or 4 days old yet unborn in my mother's womb, but that was still undeniably me, and I would have been killed. 
The typical response is then:  "But that wouldn't have been you."  Well, who would it have been?!  "That just wouldn't have been you yet."  So I ask the crowd of students:  How many of you have ultrasound photos in your baby album?  (Most do.)  And what do your parents say to you?  "I don't really know what that is.  It's some kind of glob of tissue -- I don't even know what it's doing in there!"  (Laughter ensues.)  No, of course not!  Parents say, "That was -- "  and the students finish the sentence -- "you."  They understand that.  They get it.  That was me.  They comprehend the connection.  But somehow, when it comes to the issue of abortion, all of a sudden, some "don't know what that is," or, "that wouldn't have been you."  It's complete intellectual dishonesty.
Another cherished line they'll say is, "I have no problem looking you in the eyes and saying to you that I think that your mother should have been able to abort you, and I fully understand that it would mean that you'd be dead right now.  Yeah, I have no problem doing that."  Of course, this is out of their "care for women" that they would say such a thing to a woman like me!  Can you feel the love?  Cuz I'm not feelin' it!
That's the thing -- they always talk about how much they "care about women," so I challenge them:  "I'm a woman!  Now tell me, what good is my right to anything as a woman if I don't have my right to life?"  They can never answer that question, because all other rights are worthless if you don't have your right to life.
When I speak on college campuses, the Students for Life leadership often tell me how the Feminists For Life poster of me, "Did I Deserve the Death Penalty?" gets taken down or defaced.  Under that question, they often write in large letters, "YES!!!" -- that I did deserve the death penalty.  I understand that they'd prefer it if children like me hadn't survived to put faces, voices and stories to this issue.  But their utter inhumanity actually serves the cause of life because it awakens the average student in the middle who wasn't really sure how they felt about this issue.  They in fact lose people because of their lack of reason and their cruelty.
Last week's protesters were no exception.  First of all, they held their signs during my speech -- as they sat in the back rows so that I couldn't even read their signs.  If you really want the speaker to see your signs, you might want to try sitting in the front row.
Then, about half-way through my speech, they all began to raise up plastic coat hangers -- yes,plastic.  Because nothing is more terrifying than a plastic coat hanger -- especially the teal one which a guy kept waving as he was trying to stare me down.  It was as if he thought he was threatening me with it, like I deserved to have been killed by his teal-colored plastic coat hanger.  Yeah, that happened.  One has to wonder whether he has some sort of Mommie Dearest complex.
Then, during Q & A, he called us all hypocrites for not being vegans.  I explained that many of my pro-life colleagues actually are vegans, but then I asked him how he felt about puppy abortions.  As is typical, his response was disbelief that it occurs, but when many of us assured him that it in fact does, I asked again, and his response was that he doesn't know how he feels about puppy abortions -- the same reply I get every time.  You see, it cuts them to the core to hear about violence against animals and they just can't condone it.
Another abortion activist who says that she helps deliver babies and also helps assist in abortions, asked me if I'd ever been to a termination, because if I've never been to a termination, then she says I shouldn't have the right to stand up there and speak.
I told the crowd that many may be shocked to hear -- especially given my story -- that I actually terminated three of my pregnancies prematurely.  All three of my daughters are doing quite well now.  My doctor broke my water (using something that actually resembled a wire coat hanger,) and induced labor with all three, so they are alive and well, despite my having prematurely terminated those pregnancies.  Then I asked her, "But that's not what you're talking about, is it?  When you say 'termination,' you're not talking about ones resulting in live babies, right?  Just the dead ones, or do you include the termination of pregnancies with live babies too? -- because I've participated in those."
She looked a bit confused, but the room was full of laughter.  I explained to her that the words you use are significant, so say exactly what you mean.  I asked her whether she's talking about being present at an abortion, and if so, then define abortion.  What is an abortion?  She wouldn't answer that one, of course.  They never want to talk about what an abortion really is.
So some pro-life supporters hear about protesters, they see the photos with the cruel and unusual posters, and they wonder how so many of us endure it.  First of all, the protesters are actually helping our cause with their asinine antics.  Secondly, I'm secure in my identity as a child of God and firm in His calling on my life, that nothing could deter me.  I'm energized when I'm "in the zone," fulfilling  this purpose, and knowing that lives are saved along the way because someone remembered my story.  And lastly, I'm extremely grateful for them sitting through my speech, because these protesters are lost.  I shared stories with them of pro-life activists who were once abortion rights advocates, and I offered them all hope that it's never too late to change your mind!
BIO:  Rebecca Kiessling is an international pro-life speaker, attorney, President of Save The 1 --, and co-founder of Hope After Rape Conception --
Thursday, November 6, 2014

Finally Pregnant, Now Abort?!

My husband, Peter, and I had tried for almost 7 years to have a child. 
After a specialist found and removed my endometriosis, I was able to conceive.  The elation we felt was indescribable.  We began telling people immediately after I found out I was pregnant.  The specialist released me into the care of a practice that was known to be one of the best.  My husband and I never thought to question the referral, as we never realized that not all doctors value life.

My pregnancy started off fine, but before the end of the first trimester I began to get horribly sick.  The doctor said everything was normal.  My mother felt I needed to get an IV right away, but every time I consulted my ob/gyn, he assured me that I was fine.  During a visit, he told me that my protein test indicated there was a chance that my baby had Downs Syndrome and he wanted to do an amniocentesis test.  I assured him that even if the baby did in fact have Downs that we loved him or her and would not risk harming the baby with the test. 

I went in for the ultrasound in week 22 even though my husband was out of town on business.  Not long after the ultrasound began, the technician asked to leave for a moment.  I was not prepared for what was about to happen.  A doctor from the practice, not my primary doctor, came in and very frantically started to tell me my baby must not have any kidneys and must have a chromosomal abnormality not compatible with life. She wanted me to have an abortion since half my amniotic fluid was gone.  I immediately told this doctor that I would never have an abortion.  The doctor insisted the baby would never live and I might die, too. 

I immediately called my husband.  He said that he would try and reach my primary doctor and be back in touch with me.  My primary doctor told him it was nothing to worry about and for me to just drink more water.   This absolutely stunned me and I immediately called my mother, a great lover of Jesus and a prayer warrior, and she began to pray.

Two weeks later on March 24, 1998, my husband and I went back for the follow up ultrasound at 24 weeks.  The same doctor I had seen at the last ultrasound came back in and this time said NOW I HAD NO AMNIOTIC fluid.  The doctor was more frantic as she said there must be a chromosomal abnormality incompatible with life.  Again, we refused to even consider abortion.  This doctor said there was no way the baby would live and if for some reason the baby did, that the lungs would be so premature that there would be nothing they could do.  We were devastated and shocked.  Our primary doctor was still unavailable so we went upstairs to another doctor.  

We were about to have one of the most shocking conversations of our lives. For at least 20 minutes we sat across from this doctor who kept telling us we needed to abort.  Another doctor said that the only test offered would be an autopsy. Over and over AND OVER my husband and I refused.  This doctor said that our child would have no quality of life.  We explained that yes this child would because this child would be loved unconditionally. No matter what I said, this doctor refused to listen.  This doctor's words were grieving to our hearts as he said, "In seven years of practice, no one in your position has ever not aborted."  We were sick at the thought of all those babies that were aborted because of a poor in utero diagnosis!  It was clear at that point that our family had been written off by this doctor and his practice. 

We went home and called my mom who said the most powerful words straight from Jesus, "As long as there is a heartbeat, there is hope. We pray!" That put our focus back on Jesus and the great hope that there was still a life to be fought for.  A friend of ours from church, also a doctor, found a doctor to help us.  He used words like "reasonable hope," and did not think there was a chromosomal abnormality. He was committed to honor our request to fight for life.  He valiantly
fought for our Rachel, as did his colleague, and Rachel was born via C section at week 26, at one pound two ounces and was in the hospital for 5 and 1/2 months.  

Today at 16 years old she is the picture of health and a joy to our hearts and many others.

Suzanne Guy lives with her husband and daughter, Rachel in Georgia. She and Rachel tell their story to the glory of God.