The Sixth Street Bridge

The Sixth Street Bridge
At the tender age of 17, I walked across this bridge, alone, into Downtown Pittsburgh, with $300 in my pocket that my mother had given me to get an abortion. I went into the Fulton Building (in the picture) and did what I was told to do. I didn't have a choice - if I did, I wouldn't have chosen abortion.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A guest writer - A Father's Postabortion Journey...

A few days ago, I received an email regarding my post of August 22.  In the email, the writer expressed the following:

Hello,

I read your Aug. 22 post last night. I urged my fiance to get an abortion in 1986. I struggle with it to this day. I would like to write something from the father's point of view - something I haven't read in all my traipsing through the internet on this issue...[oh - I am going to fix that for you ASAP - keep checking your inbox!] I'm reaching out because your post of Aug 22 is one of the more honest and powerful I've read. Thanks for your time.

I immediately told my hubby about the email, first because it was a man who was reaching out to me and that's just how our marriage works, and second because I wasn't sure if I was even capable of doing what this wounded soul needed. After a little discussion, I decided that his story needed to be told, all of these stories need to be told, in whatever way they can.  Thank you, Lord, for considering me a worthy and, hopefully, effective messenger. 

So many, many of his words, feelings, and pain rang true for me as I read them.  Yes, abortion is and would be different for the mothers and fathers who suffer from the pain of having had one, but there is also so much in common - the guilt, the unworthiness, the searching for condemnation, the despair, the secrecy, the shame, the waiting for the other shoe to drop, the knowledge that the feelings will never be gone. You may learn to live your life with them, allowing the grief, without having it destroy you from the inside, but until you get to that point, the pain can be unbearable at times and all the time. 

So, a Father's Postabortion Journey...


I am a reasonably well-adjusted man in my upper 40’s, married (2nd marriage, recognized by the Church), with 4 children.  I consider myself lucky in that the three older ones (older than 16) have never rebelled, never had issues with drugs or alcohol or any kind of trouble.  I have a younger child who is 9.  They are the joys of my life.

But, in all of this is a nagging, inescapable cloud.  The cloud of abortion. 

As I’m sure it is with many people, I have never discussed it with anyone that I know.  My current wife knows about it.  IF someone else knows about it, they’ve never let on.  

I was raised Catholic, although there was no evidence of it in the home.  I went to CCD, then Catholic school, and even a couple of years for high school before finishing up and graduating from a public high school.  Mine was the typical mid-70’s Catholic education:  the Faith was composed of being kind to animals, recycling, and giving to the poor.  

As is the norm with everyone my age, once I got out of school, I had no time for Church.  I lived it up, partied, and ran around having a good time.  I eventually found myself engaged to be married.  I was 22, she was 20.  Neither of us had any use for the Church at the time (she wasn’t Catholic anyway).  

A month before the wedding, she called me to tell me the news.  She was pregnant.  I remember saying something to the effect of “We can’t do this,” meaning we “can’t” have a baby.  It was that cut and dry.  Within two weeks, I drove her to a place in Alexandria, VA to have “it” done.  I do not remember going in with her.  I don’t remember leaving. I don’t remember anything after driving up to the building.  It’s not something I can explain, I simply do not remember anything else about that day.  I don’t even remember what the date was.  I only know that it was late May in 1986.

I don’t remember being particularly bothered by it, though I know she was.  After we married, she didn’t like watching anything about babies on television.  I sympathized, but it wasn’t something I could grasp at the time.

The “cloud” didn’t really form until after the birth of our child in late 1987.  Then, and only then, did the reality of what I’d done begin to set in.  Although we never discussed it, I’m sure that if I’d have said “Let’s have the baby” in 1986, we would have had that baby.  I take full responsibility for what happened. 

The marriage didn’t last and we split in 1990.  

In the 90’s, I married again and had two more children.  In the middle of all that, the pull of the Faith started working on me.  It started slowly, originally being just a pull to “get back to Church”.  It didn’t even have to be a Catholic church, although anything other than a Baptist church was out of the question.

During that time, I listened to “Focus of the Family” radio programs with Dr. Dobson.  Over the course of a week, they aired the audio to the short film “Tilly.”  That had me pulling over before getting to work and crying my eyes out in a bank parking lot.  I’ve never told my wife about that week, and haven’t shared how I feel these days, mainly because things that are shared become weapons used against you.  So it’s best to remain quiet.

Eventually, and over the objections of my wife, I came back to the Church.  I got to a point where I knew that there was nothing the Protestants could offer me that wasn’t already provided by our Catholic Faith.  I returned, confessed all my sins, and was restored.  But still…

During my confession, I pretty much laid bare my sins.  But ask me today, and I cannot specifically remember confessing the abortion.  I can’t imagine that I hadn’t confessed it, but for some reason, can’t remember doing so specifically.  I often feel that I should go back and confess that, even if it’s something that’s already been covered.  You can’t be too safe.

As I stated, there remains to this day that “cloud.”  

It’s not something that I can discuss with my wife;  it’s not something I can confide to a friend; it’s not something I could bring myself to tell my father about.  

I am dedicated to my children, two of whom are adults now.  I miss terribly having a “little one” around, because, as any father knows, you’re the most perfect man in the world until your kids grow up a little and realize that you’re not.  I mentioned once that my kids are my “redemption,” meaning that each one of them represented for me a chance to “make up” for the abortion.  (Of course, I didn’t explain what I meant by “redemption.”)  The truth is that you can never “make up” for an abortion.  You never get over it, and for me, there’s the idea that I don’t deserve to get over it.  I deserve every feeling of discomfort and uneasiness.  There’s also the guilty feeling that there’s no way I deserve to have the 4 wonderful children I have.  How does a man who kills his baby deserve to have children who don’t rebel against him, or reject him, or butt heads with him?  How does God say, “Hey, I know you killed the first one I sent to you, but here are 4 more that will be the greatest blessing you’ll ever have.”  Thinking of how good they are to their old father makes me think that I have no business being happy or receiving their love and devotion.  I deserve nothing but pain and rejection due to the pain and rejection I inflicted on the person that would have been – was – my first child.  How do you reconcile the good father that I am, by everyone’s estimation, with what I know the truth to be?  Sure I’m a good father, but not because I’m a good person.  I believe that I’m a good father because each one of my kids has been a gift from God and an opportunity to “offset” the horror of the abortion.  

Do I deserve to “get over” it?  I don’t think so.  It’s almost like it’s my cross to carry around or my own thorn to suffer through.    Lay my sin at the foot of the Cross, you say?  What business do I have dropping my sin off on Him and walking away with peace of mind?  I know that many of us deal with this issue in different ways; some can find a bit of peace, although I know you don’t actually “get over” it.  I feel that in keeping my “thorn,”  it keeps me closer to Him.  Whatever “suffering” I have over this is what I can offer Him until my time on Earth is through. 

I am really and truly horrible at prayer, but I keep trying, but I will ask for my readers' help in prayers for this man, a beloved child of God, who so desperately needs to seek out and bask in His love and mercy.

I pray that he seek out good counsel to wade through all of his pain and sorrow to find what exists on the other side. I pray that counseling will allow him to chip away at the memories and bring to the surface anything that needs to be talked about and brought into the light from the darkness where it has resided for so long - too long. I pray that he be able to finally grieve for his lost child in a way that he hasn't ever been able to so that healing may begin.  I pray that he comes to understand and accept responsibility for what he is responsible for and not carry guilt for things that weren't and aren't his responsibility.  I pray that if he does come to share his pain with his wife that she be loving and understanding and fulfill her vows to love, honor, and cherish him. I pray that this beloved son of the Father comes to realize that he is so much more than this one thing, this abortion, and that You want so much more from him than sorrow and despair and that you have showered the blessings you have upon him because in Your eyes he is a precious creation made in Your image. I pray that he find his way to You in confession if that is Your Will and that the Good Father to whom he may appear speaks your words with patience and love. And finally, Lord, I pray that this wounded son of Yours finds your love and mercy so fulfilling, joyful, and awesome, that he abandons all of the self punishment and feelings of unworthiness and chooses, instead, to live joyfully and peacefully.

Finally, Dear Lord, I pray, that he come to know his child who now resides with You and that he come to know that neither You nor his child want to see him continue to suffer in pain.

I welcome any of my readers to comment here and speak to my guest writer or if you email me any messages, I will forward them on to him. Finally, I will be pestering my guest writer with any and all information and resources that I can find, the first being the link to Rachel's Vineyard who ministers to Fathers who have lost a child to abortion - The Rachel's Vineyard Men's Page. 

7 comments:

  1. Holy Communion this morning was received for the intentions of you and your guest writer. I know your stories too well....
    With gratitude for your witness -

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  2. I will pray for this father! It was a great thing for him to share his experience and the feelings he is carrying. He is far from alone!

    In reading your response to him, I couldn't help thinking how I might feel. I know he needs to come through his grief, but there must be a part of him that says, "If I reconcile my feelings, if I "come through" the grief, then I won't really care about my child anymore." It's almost like getting over the child's death - as if such a thing really is possible - would be another betrayal of the child.

    And then I thought, he does need to grieve, completely. He needs to cry and cry, and ask God's forgiveness (I would mention it in confession again, saying exactly what he did here - that he can't imagine he didn't confess it, but truly doesn't remember), and ask his child's forgiveness. He needs to pray for the mother, who may be suffering even more than he is. I think this prayer is an excellent one: "Lord, please make good come out of any evil I have done," and know that bringing good out of evil is God's specialty. It is an especially precious thing, because when God brings good out of our evil, we have nothing to boast of, and only a heart full of gratitude to give to Him. Finally, I pray that this man will be able to tell his child that he truly loves him or her, and that he is sorry, and that the father will know that his child truly forgives him. I pray that this man will be able to receive the love of his child.

    Will he be completely healed? Not this side of heaven. I have never lost a child, but everyone I know who has, looks forward to the day that they will be reunited with that child in heaven. My precious aunt died recently, many years after the death of her husband and decades after the death of their 8 year old son. In her eulogy, my cousin said that my aunt was looking forward to two things: "Hugging Brian (their son) and dancing with Dad again." Truly, heaven is the place where every tear will be washed away, where we will never again fear the loss of even a little bit of our happiness.

    In this father's suffering, I pray that he will offer up that suffering for a person who is considering abortion, that perhaps, a young man who would have remained silent when his girlfriend is considering an abortion, will instead respond to grace and say, "Let's have the baby." His suffering could be used to help another person avoid what he himself has gone through. God, bless this man for having the courage to share his experience on this blog. He is doing more good than he can know.

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  3. I think that sharing this will help towards your healing and forgiving yourself. The Lord has forgiven you. In your own time you will learn to forgive yourself. I will pray for you!! I can't say that I know what you are feeling but I can imagine. In 2009 I became pregnant with my third child. My husband was in a very bad state due to some personal happenings. He has always been a planner and was NOT happy with having another baby at the time. His depression clouded his thinking. I was scared that maybe I needed to obey his wishes so I went to visit an abortion clinic. Knowing full well that my Catholic Faith was weighing heavy on me I still went. The people there were so wonderful and non-judgemental. When I left there that day I sat in my car and cried. I knew I could never kill my baby. I went to my parents grave site when I got back into town and sat and cried some more. I then went home and decided to tell my husband that I couldn't bare to go through with this aboration. I also had several visits with my priest and phone calls. It took time for my husband due to his deep depression at the time but he eventually accepted that I was doing the right thing. The day our 3rd precious daughter was born my husband and I cried with joy but we also cried because we couldn't believe what we almost did. Not one day goes by that we don't feel sick about just thinking abortion! I know God has forgiven me but I still can't forgive myself. I am so greatful to God that my faith helped me find my way. I'm so sorry you have had to deal with this all these years.

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  4. To the father in this email: thanks so much for sharing! That took courage. God bless you.

    As a priest, I'll also say this: if you're not sure you've already confessed a serious sin, feel completely free to go and confess it. The priest on the other side of the screen completely understands sin and forgetfulness because he's a forgetful sinner himself. And he's not there to judge you, but to welcome you. So go ahead, return to the sacrament, hear those amazing words of absolution, and be assured of God's mercy & forgiveness for you!

    Praying for you,

    Fr. Darryl

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  5. This is amazing. As I read this story I saw myself. I too, some 30 years ago participated in the death of my pre-born child. In my case it was my girl friends idea, who I later married and divorced a year later, but I asked no questions and made now suggestion as to keeping the baby or placing her for adoption. I simply gave her half the money and took her to the hospital.
    Years later as I came to realize what we had done I too hung on to the guilt and the pain because having understand that she was a person with a soul, I wanted to keep her close to me. That suffering was all I thought I had of her. I later attended a Rachel's Vineyard Post-abortion healing retreat where I met and heard the stories of others whose children had been killed through abortion. I finally knew that I was not alone.
    As has been said the pain, the sense of loss does not go away, but as I came to accept this pain through healing and once forgiveness was acknowledged-forgiveness of myself, of the mother, of the abortionist, of my mother who said nothing to dissuade us, and most importantly once I accepted the forgiveness of God, who always offers us his mercy I began to heal. And the healing continues.
    God bless you my brother.

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  6. To all: thanks so much for the responses here. I've been strengthened by your prayers and kind words. Signed, the Dad.

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  7. Certainly everybody that reads your post prays for you, and we all love you too.
    May God bless you and your family

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