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Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion
 

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Obadiah
Theresa
Iowa, United States

I could give a thousand excuses as to why I had my abortion, but the bottom line is that when I look back at my “why”, it was just selfishness and fear. 

I had my abortion on August 31st, 1984. This was just thirteen days after my fifteenth birthday. I found out I was pregnant in June of 1984, coming off my freshman year of high school. The father of the baby was an eighteen-year-old boy who had just graduated that year. Our relationship was a complicated one. When I met him at the beginning of that year, I was already a very troubled young lady. My home life was difficult to say the least. Both of my parents were struggling with addictions. My father was becoming a violent, raging drunk. My mother was hardly ever around, because she was either busy spending what little money we had on playing Bingo or partying with friends. So, I met this boy at a very tumultuous time in my life. He was not the first boy that I had sex with at this time, either. I was constantly seeking someone to fill a void in me, and he was the one that showed up. I fell hard for him, too. When I met him, I had no idea the reputation that he had. Looking back, I think he had an addiction to sex. He was constantly moving from one girl to the next. Our dating relationship lasted only a month. But, at the time, I thought it was a lifetime. However, he would still come around from time to time after we broke up, just to have sex with me. I allowed him to use me, because I was desperate for any kind of affection. 

When I came to suspect that I was pregnant, I went to my mother for support. I was told that she thought I would disappoint her this way at some point. My parents had already gone through having a teenage daughter becoming pregnant. Because of her pregnancy, we were evicted from our duplex for having another occupant. My father also lost his job during that time, and he was very angry. He vowed that he would not allow something like that to happen again. My mom reminded me that my dad would not support me in any way and that I would definitely be out on the street. I was a scared, fourteen-year-old girl. There were many more reasons I gave myself for not wanting to have a baby. But I felt that carrying the child full-term and giving it up for adoption was not one of my options. 

I did not go to an abortion clinic. I made an appointment with an OB/GYN to get a pregnancy test to confirm my suspicion, and my mom went with me. I don't remember what was said in his office that day about my options, but I know he went over each one. The doctor told me that I did not have to make any decisions right away and to go home and think about each one carefully. We left the office that day, and I was feeling numb and afraid. My mom let me know that under no circumstances was I having an abortion or giving the baby up for adoption. She was so angry and disappointed in me that she wanted me to suffer the consequences for my actions. She made me call the doctor when I got home so I could tell him that I was keeping the baby, and that's what I did. The doctor asked me if my decision was based off what my mother wanted me to do, or if I had come to the conclusion on my own. I admitted to the doctor that keeping the baby was her decision. He told me that she could not "by law" tell me what I could or could not do with my own body, even though I was a teenager living under her roof. He also said that I could tell her anything I wanted if I decided abortion was my best option, and he would support anything I said. I was his patient, and I was protected under doctor/patient confidentiality. I hung up the phone and decided to think about my options some more. Several days later, I came up with a story to tell my mom in order to have the abortion. I told her that the doctor called and said that he found something wrong with my pregnancy and that the baby was not going to make it. I told her the doctor said it would be best for me to abort the pregnancy now and not have to suffer miscarriage. She believed my story and allowed me to have the abortion. However, she was afraid of what my father would do if he found out she was helping me to get the abortion. The doctor said not to worry; he would put it down as a D&C procedure on the bill. 

August 31st, 1984 is the day I will never forget. The doctor gave me some pills to take that morning before the abortion. These were to help me relax. I got to his office early that morning, before all other patients were scheduled to arrive. It's amazing, because this was 35 years ago, and I still remember it like it was yesterday. I remember what it felt like to walk into that office and see no other patients waiting; it was so eerie. I calmly walked in and lightheartedly joked like it was nothing, but I was really wondering if I should be going through this. He took me into one of the exam rooms and gave me a gown to change into and a blanket to cover me. They laid me back on the exam table. I put my feet up in the stirrups, and they gave me a local to numb the pain. I remember looking up and seeing that infamous "Hang in There Baby!" poster tacked to the ceiling. I was awake during the whole procedure, and I remember every sight, sound, and detail of what was going on. I kept thinking that pretty soon it would all be over, and I will be relieved and happy. At the time of the abortion, I was eleven weeks along. In Maine, at that time, the cut-off time was twelve weeks. I remember the doctor telling me that the reason for twelve weeks was that the baby was not really a baby at that time and that it was just a blob of tissue. After the doctor finished the abortion, he stood up and asked me how I was doing, and I assured him I was fine. He told me that I needed to lie there for a while before I was able to get up and be released. As he was leaving the room, he asked if I had any questions for him, and I did. I asked him if he could tell whether or not it was a boy or a girl. At the time, I had no idea how significant this question would be. He asked me if I really wanted to know, and I told him yes. He said, "It was a boy."  

I went home and spent the day resting up away from the rest of my family. As I laid there in my bed, I kept expecting to feel relief and happiness. It never came! I kept this fact bottled up inside of me. The more I stuffed down the fact that I wasn't relieved, the angrier I felt inside. I started to become defensive toward anyone that spoke negatively about abortion. I defended my right with absolute aggression. I hated anyone that was involved in the right to life movement. 

As the years went by, I became more and more depressed. I thought of suicide and hated myself. I couldn't understand where this was coming from. I became the family babysitter for my two older sisters. I loved being an aunt and adored those children. I started to long to have a child of my own someday. But every relationship I found myself in was terribly dysfunctional. Then, one year, I noticed this pattern. Every year around my birthday, I would start to get into this depression. Suddenly, the date popped back in my mind, and I realized that it was because I regretted my abortion. This caused a deeper depression to settle in. 

In 1992, when I was 23 years old and still living at home with my parents, I noticed these new neighbors. Two of them were friends from high school. However, they had a roommate I did not recognize, and he was gorgeous. I got to know this man, and we started dating. Three months later, I was pregnant with his child. It was a complete shock, because I was taking birth control. I was not ready to be a mom, and he was not ready to be a dad. However, something inside of me would not let me go through with having another abortion. So, I decided that this time I was keeping the baby. The father of the baby was not happy, and we broke up. This was difficult, since he lived right next door. About a week later, I hear this knock on my door, and it's him. He handed me a card and walked away. He wrote in the card that he decided not to be the kind of dad that his was. His dad left him and his mom when he was three years old, and he never saw him again. He did not want that for his son. I thought that was weird, because I didn't even know if it was a boy or girl yet. It turns out, it was a boy. I felt that God was forgiving me for what I did so many years ago. 

Our son was born in 1993, on my birthday!  It was thirteen days before the anniversary of my abortion. My son's father was good on his word, and he stuck it out. We got married in 1999 and are still together to this day. 

My life was not always happy, though. I continued to struggle year after year on the anniversary date of the abortion. I would go into this dark hole of self-hatred and despair. I would become suicidal during this time. I tried getting help through secular counseling, but it didn't help. Our son would come to me and ask and my husband and I if he could have a brother. We would tell him no. We couldn't afford having another child. And he didn't know that he already had a brother, in Heaven. 

In January 2000, my husband and I were invited to go to church with some friends. I hadn't been inside a church since I was about 10 years old. Several weeks later we accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in that church. For eight years I attended that church and every August 31st I would get in that dark place. I kept this hidden from so many people. As I dove deeper into the Word of God, I discovered that my abortion was sin, and I felt terrible. I felt God could never forgive me and that I was going to hell. 

Then, in 2008, I came across this Christian television show called "Faces of Abortion." I was shocked to see a show like this on Christian television. Week after week I would watch this show and listen to the testimony of the women who were forgiven of this sin and who were now walking in freedom, without shame and condemnation. At the end of the show they spoke about the book Forgiven and Set Free. I looked it up on the internet, and I came across a website called ABBA for Women. This was a Christian center that ministered to pregnant women needing help and also to women who needed post-abortive counseling. I contacted them and joined the counseling group. I was shocked to find that a woman from my own church was one of the co-leaders of the group. It was so amazing to see that someone I had admired so much had gone through the same struggle I was going through and was delivered. It gave me such hope. During one of the sessions, our counselors brought in models of unborn children in different development stages. I thought of the question I asked to doctor so many years ago about the sex of my child. I held a model of an eleven-week-old unborn baby in the palm of my hand and wept as I realized that it was not just a blob of tissue. My baby had features such as fingers and toes and sex organs. This is how he was able to tell me it was a boy. He lied to me! I was so hurt and so angry, and then I had to forgive him. 

One week before the end of our Forgiven and Set Free sessions, we had to seek the Lord for the sex of the baby and a name. I already knew that I had a son. I prayed and God told me that I needed to let my living child know that he has a brother and that he should be the one to name him. I spoke to my son, who was 12 years old at the time. And, as I wept in confession, he said, "Mom it's ok. Don't feel bad. God forgives you and so do I." What an amazingly, beautiful moment. I didn't tell him at that time that God wanted me to have him name his brother. One morning, my son came to me and said, "God said He wants me to name my brother.  Is that ok with you?" I told him that God told me the same thing, and he said, "Good, his name is to be Obadiah." I thought, well, that's such a strange name. Not a typical Bible name that other people name their children. I have this special Joyce Meyer study Bible with lots of captions of her writing. So, I decided to get that Bible out, and I opened Obadiah and read what it said. Joyce wrote in her captions about Obadiah being a book of hope and forgiveness and restoration. I knew God was telling me that He forgave me and that I could now forgive myself and be free. This is what I named my son. My group had a memorial service for our aborted children, where we were to publicly name them and tell our stories of how we came up with the names. This ceremony brought dignity to our children. 

I know someday that I will be able to meet my son Obadiah and that he has no bitterness or animosity toward me for what I did. And, when August 31st comes every year, there is no more darkness. I think of my son without condemnation. This is why I am silent no more!

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