I read the following post on facebook today.
Shamefully, I did know when this woman was pregnant and can not think of a single thing I did to reach out or offer support. While I do believe the prayers I have offered up for her, and the precious girl she gave birth to have not returned void- I dare say that they count as reaching out or actual support.
Let me start by saying - I CHOSE LIFE. I lived it. The beautiful baby girl I had turned 6 this past year. My decision to go with adoption was the hardest decision I will hopefully ever have to make in my life, and I received virtually ZERO support from my "pro-life" Christian community.
With the anniversary of Roe vs Wade this past Friday, seeing all the CHOOSE LIFE posts really made my blood boil. It's easy to say choose life, - but much harder to actually back up your beliefs with actions. And it certainly requires much more than a status in all caps. Being Pro-life means much more than being anti-abortion.
My issues with the my church community did not start with my pregnancy - it started a few years before. I converted to Catholicism in high-school, and I was on fire for my faith. My 'cradle catholic" friends were inspired by my enthusiasm, and together our faith strengthened.
At the end of my junior year, I made the decision to drop out of high school. The pressures of weight and body image in my dance department were really affecting me in a negative way, and I was miserable. My mom fully supported (and encouraged!) me to make this decision - she could see I was not in a healthy environment. (ps - I ended up going to college on a scholarship). Then, to my shock, I was kicked out of my youth group. I was told that even though I was still high-school age, since I was not in high-school, I was not welcome to attend the youth group any longer. This was devastating to me, especially considering that I just recently converted. I was not old enough to be in a young adults group, but not welcome in the youth group. It was truly a blow, and it was the beginning of feeling like a mis-fit in my faith community. (for the record, I feel like any high-schooled aged kid should be welcome in a church program that preaches acceptance. just saying.)
All my life I had been raised Pro-life. My parents were a shelter home for years for women with unplanned pregnancies. We attended pro-life rallies when I was a child. It was something ingrained in me from a young age - Respect Life. When I found out I was pregnant (Christmas day, 2003 no less) I was terrified. But honestly, abortion never even crossed my mind. I was still attending mass at my church, but kept my pregnancy quiet for as long as I could. Once I started to show, it was clear that people were VERY uncomfortable with my condition. I have NEVER in my life felt so judged, or been so shunned. I dreaded going to mass, and eventually stopped, because the condemning stares were more than I could bear. The "support" that Christians purport to offer was not extended to me. I even attempted to find this support system myself, with no luck. I wasn't waiting around for people to help me - I went looking for it, and came up totally empty-handed. This was especially wounding from the women in my parish who were so adamantly "pro-life". I recently found out that my priest had been questioned for "allowing" me to take communion - apparently, some parishioners were upset that such a sinner as I would be allowed to receive the host. THANKFULLY his response was to fire back that "who could possibly need it more than this young mother and her child?" But to many, I was an eyesore and an embarrassment.
I went to Catholic Charities to try to get some information regarding adoption. I didn't decide until around my 5th month that this was the route I wanted to go. Unhelpful, full of mis-information, I felt like they were more interested in the money they were going to receive (a healthy, white baby is a pretty hot commodity in the adoption world) than in helping or counseling ME. (there is plenty of counseling available for the adoptive parents...ironic?) They also put quite a bit of pressure on me to hurry up and sign their contracts, considering I was so far along already.
Ultimately, I ended up meeting an amazing couple through a mutual friend. They are truly fantastic people. We did not use an agency for the process. I have NEVER regretted, or questioned, my decision. I miss that baby girl every day of my life. I know I made the right choice for me, but MUCH more importantly, for her. Before you tout "pro-life" opinions, consider what it would mean to support someone making a hard decision like I did. It's already difficult and scary and confusing to deal with an unplanned pregnancy - feeling shunned by your community is devastating on top of it. Instead of standing outside a clinic protesting, consider supporting and encouraging one of these young girls instead. Crisis pregnancy counseling is not available anywhere by anyone who does not have an agenda to push - take it from me, I know. It's easy to preach CHOOSE LIFE....it's harder to really live out that conviction by offering true support.My prayer is that the generations coming behind mine can get this right. That their conviction to "choose life" won't merely be posted on their facebook status, but truly LIVED through their actions. That their belief in a God who gave His life so that we might ALL live, will truly transform their ability to embrace those whose sins may be different than theirs.