Fonticulus Fides

Monday, August 25, 2003

Back around New Year's 1970, a fun-loving, unmarried, 20-year-old young woman named Linda realized she was pregnant.

From what I gather, she was pretty excited about the baby. She probably imagined getting married to Jim and setting up a cute little apartment halfway between his work and hers. She probably couldn't help breezing past the infant section of the downtown department stores, marvelling over all those sweet baby things.

But things didn't work out the way she thought they would. Jim dumped her, fast. Her elder sister, a nurse, scolded her and commanded her to have an abortion, which, of course, was still an illegal procedure. "I have connections," the sister said. "It can be a secret and nobody will ever have to know."

Linda didn't want a secret abortion. She wanted to have her baby. Part of her hoped that Jim would come around eventually. His own grandmother was pushing for a fast wedding. If he would just give her a chance, he'd see how happy she could make him, how wonderful their little baby would be.

Linda's mother preferred to heed her sister's advice. She wanted that baby aborted, the sooner, the better. The elder sister arranged for an appointment at a certain clinic; the mother got the money together and forced Linda to come along. Unable to stand up to her mother's strong personality, Linda obeyed, hoping and praying for a miracle.

The doctor with whom the sister had arranged the secret abortion was unexpectedly out of the office when Linda and her mother arrived. The mother told Linda to wait while she met with the replacement doctor, to make sure things were still understood.

In the waiting room, Linda could hear her mother shouting angrily at the doctor. Eventually, the discussion was over and Linda's mother stormed out and plunked herself down in a seat. The doctor smiled at Linda and motioned for her to come to the examination room, where he checked her over and made sure she was healthy and the pregnancy was progressing well.

Apparently, he had refused to do the abortion, despite Linda's mother's pleads, offers of money, threats and the like. He stood up to her, when Linda couldn't.

After the exam, Linda thanked him, noting his medical coat was embroidered, "Dr. Angel." An angel sent by God, she thought.

Back at home, Linda's mother furiously handed her a list of homes for unwed pregnant girls. "Pick one,"she seethed. "You can't stay here in that condition. And don't think your father and I are going to help you out of this jam once that child is born. You are on your own."

Linda picked one. There she lived with other young women in the same predictament, learning about nutrition, how to keep house, infant care, and more. Some of the girls planned on keeping their babies. Some planned on relinquishing their children for adoption. Linda intended to keep her baby. She was sure he was a boy, and she would name him after Jim.

A week before Linda delivered, her former roommate from the home returned with her own baby and relinquished him for adoption. "It's too hard on your own," the young mother told Linda after she signed her parental rights away. "If your parents won't help, and the guy is long gone, it's just too hard to do it. Bringing him back and giving him up is the best thing I can do for him."

Linda thought about that long and hard for the next few days. Her situation was identical to her roommate's. On Linda's brief visits home during the last six months, her mother had been cold and unloving, warning her that if she kept the baby, she'd be all on her own.

As Linda went into labor, she knew that she would have to give her baby up for adoption. Her labor wasn't terribly long or short, nor was it terribly painful or easy. She delivered a healthy 6 lb, 14 oz. son. At the hospital, she held him as much as they would let her, kissing him and crying over him and telling him she loved him, but she had to give him up. When he was two days old, she signed the relinquishment papers and asked that he be placed with a Christian couple who could not have children of their own, and made the innocent request that either the mother or the father be artistic. Linda was an artist herself, and she dreamed of her son having the same opportunities for artistic expression that she enjoyed.

The same day, a young wife who was working as a bank teller in a small town received a phone call from an adoption agency in Omaha. A baby boy had just been put up for adoption. Did she and her husband care to come up and see how they felt about him?

Did they ever! They raced to Omaha as fast as they could and immediately fell in love with the little boy wrapped in a blue blanket. The baby's attendent left them alone with him for an hour, and they took turns holding him, feeding him a bottle, and trying to master the all-important burp manuever. They knew he was theirs and they were his.

However, as a matter of policy, they were sent home to think about it overnight. They were miffed at the formality, but obeyed. The next day, they returned to Omaha in a Cadillac leant to them by the woman's father ("My first grandson is coming home in style," he had insisted), and after signing some papers and paying $500, they were a family.

And that is the story of my husband's salvation from abortion, and how he came to be adopted by my in-laws. He had what I consider an ideal childhood in many ways. They eventually adopted two more children, so he had siblings. He lived in small towns, played baseball and football, delivered newspapers, played in the school band. His parents taught him about Jesus and raised him to work hard and be responsible. It wasn't perfect, of course -- I don't know anybody who had a perfect childhood. But he turned out all right.

As for Linda, her story had a less-than-happy ending. When she was released from the hospital, she was not allowed even the smallest momento to remember her son by, not a lock of hair, a photo, anything. She went back to the home long enough to pack her bags and say goodbye to the other girls, and then she returned to her parents' house. Her mother greeted her with a pair of airline tickets to California. Linda was to take a month off with one of her best girlfriends and just lie on the beach and "forget about the whole thing."

After the "vacation," Linda was never allowed to speak of her lost child again. Consequently, she never grieved properly for the whole experience, and, judging from my husband's last correspondence from her, she contiues to suffer from the whole ordeal and seems unable to gauge her own need for healing. It seems to me that Linda has deteriorated to the point where only the power of God will rescue her, and I pray this will happen. Soon.

Linda is not alone. Many birth mothers were put through similiar experiences, stumbling through life without the support or wisdom they need to survive such a thing mentally and spiritually intact. On this week of my husband's birthday, I always pray specially for birth mothers everywhere. Such a difficult and noble thing they have done, and so many of them lost the ability to function properly when they relinquished their children. It's a hard, hard thing to live through.



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