n the spring of 1962, “Jean” was eighteen years old, pregnant, unmarried, and scared. Her boyfriend wasn’t interested in marriage or raising a child. Her whole world was changing before her eyes, but she never considered abortion. In December 1962, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. On September 7, 2017 — almost fifty-five years later — I discovered that I am that child. From this discovery, I have reflected in new and deeper ways on three essential truths.
I Didn’t Deserve to Die, but My Life Required Her Courage
I always knew I was adopted, and this made me very thankful for the gift of life, assuming my mother might have been tempted to abort me. Now that I know more of her situation at the time, I am even more thankful that I received the gift of life.
My mother was just finishing her senior year of high school. For her and her classmates, the future was bright. They had their entire lives before them and many opportunities. But then she discovered she was pregnant. Oh, no – this wasn’t in the plan! It was not what she had dreamed about. It was not the future she had envisioned.
She faced a monumental choice – both for her future and mine. Abortion was not legal but was obtainable. If she aborted me, she could get her life back on track. She could stay in high school without the shame of being pregnant out of wedlock (a severe stigma in 1962). She could graduate and pursue any of many opportunities that would open back up to her. She could put this “mistake” behind her and move on with her life.
But she knew I wasn’t a “mistake.” I was a person. I was a tiny, not fully formed, incommunicative, innocent, needy person who happened to be living inside her for the time being. I was not a part of her body. I had my own DNA, my own bodily functions, and my own ability to grow and develop as a separate person.
And so she knew that I didn’t deserve to die. I was guilty of no crime worthy of the death penalty. Her and her boyfriend’s choice to have sex that spring night didn’t mean that I should be killed off. She intuitively knew that wasn’t right; she knew I deserved to live, no matter how hard that would be for her. And so, as she told me, “I never considered abortion, even for a second.”
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