When I was in college in 1974 I lived in an apartment with four friends. It was the year after the Roe vs. Wade decision, a Supreme Court ruling we all applauded. So we were shocked when the sister of one of my roommates, a girl from a liberal Jewish family, gave birth out of wedlock and placed the baby for adoption.
There were two parts of the story that were shocking to my liberal friends and me: The girl never told her parents or anyone she was pregnant until she went into labor, and she didn't have an abortion. Why would she do it? we wondered. How dumb can you be? we thought.
Over the past two decades, though, God has used lots of different women to teach me why choosing life is not stupid, but brave. This column, about three women who have chosen life, is dedicated to all the other women who have not taken the road more traveled, but have had courage to choose a better way.
First, let me tell you about M, a young woman who lived with my family in 1985. We met her in the late spring, about a month and a half after I had given birth to our third son. I was on the board of the local crisis pregnancy center and the director needed a place for one of the clients to live. She was a college freshman, daughter of hardworking immigrants to this country-and pregnant. Her boyfriend was older and still in school himself. When M's father told her not to come home for the summer, she had no place to go.
God gave us the grace to have her live with us. I don't remember all that much about those months. I do know our house was busy, and M became an immediate help. If she wasn't working at the convenience store down the highway, she was often in the kitchen with me, holding a fussy baby while I cooked or cleaned.
Sometimes M asked for advice and I gave it freely. But more often we found ourselves talking about babies or nutrition or God because the subject just came up. M saw the children when they were sweet, but also when they were not. She took part in our family Bible time and prayer.
We didn't hide the fact that we weren't happy with her boyfriend. There were nights when she sat inside her bedroom, crying, and we wanted to kill him. Providentially, his parents weren't at all impressed with his actions, either. I remember meeting his mother at the hospital when the baby was born-and seeing her grief at the circumstances of her granddaughter's birth and her son's failure to take responsibility.
M wanted to marry. At the time I thought she was dreaming, but within a year she and the baby's father had wed. She went back to school and became a nurse. They have persevered through hard times and two more kids.
The next woman came into our lives five years later. Although we never met her, C has changed our lives forever. She too was young and unmarried. She too rejected abortion, and for nearly half a year received counseling about her options. She decided to place her baby for adoption.
At the same time our family felt called to adopt. We found an agency willing to work with us, went through a homestudy, had ourselves fingerprinted, and added our file to those they already had on hand. It described our interests, goals, and beliefs, and it included a small photograph of the five of us in a garden.Who knows the mind of a teenaged girl? C looked through the files and the photos and chose us because she told her counselor that we seemed like the "all-American family."
But after the decision was made-and unbeknownst to us-she got cold feet. Her son was born and she fell in love. Suddenly she wavered and for three weeks she and the baby lived in limbo. And here is where her character shines through: She wanted to parent, but knew she didn't have the family support or the husband who could make it possible. She went through with her adoption plan. That's when we received the phone call that we had a son. We named him Benjamin.
About four months ago we met L. She is in her late 30s, pregnant and in need of help. We began meeting once a week to talk and take part in a Bible study. L recently graduated from law school. She is also a newlywed. Since it wasn't in her husband's career plan to have a child so soon after passing the bar, he made her an ultimatum: abortion or divorce. When she refused an abortion, he left-apparently for good.
Three women; three tales of courage. I admire them for Ben's sake-and the sake of all the children like him. Last year he wrote a prayer that his dad set to music: "Thank you God for the stars and moon. I like the house you gave me. I'll always love the world that you let me live in." Exactly.