Finding out you survived an abortion is not something you dream up or plan. It’s the kind of news that comes crashing into your life. Nothing can prepare your heart for realizing you were “that” unwanted, unplanned, and rejected.
Imagine surviving a “medical procedure” meant to end your life—on purpose. There’s no questioning the intent of the procedure and yet, somehow, you miraculously survive when 100% of the odds were against you. Imagine coming to the realization that you live in a society that doesn’t want you to exist, because your mere existence defeats their harmful narrative, and so they ignore you and write you off as crazy and self-serving. Unjustly, you are silenced for something you didn’t ask for. Imagine living this new reality and trying to navigate it in a culture that not only denies your existence and humanity, but also has zero resources for you and the injustice that happened to you.
Unfortunately, that’s the reality I live in every day. In those early years, no one asked if I was okay. Though I had survived, abortion had irrevocably scarred my life not only by taking the life of my twin but also by forever altering my very identity. Still, there was no support group for someone like me, an abortion survivor. I was navigating my new reality and the consequences of the injustice that happened to me all while sharing my life story in the spotlight and on stages across the country.
While navigating my new life as an abortion survivor, I met my (now) husband, and we became pregnant before we were married. We shared the news with our families and our closest friends. I remember thinking, This must be what my birth mother felt like—embarrassed and unsure of what to do. It didn’t take long to realize that what I had was what she had so desperately been searching for and needing in the moment she found out she was pregnant with me. When I shared the news of my pregnancy with my parents and close friends, I was met with reassurance and support, while my birth mother had been met with anger and told she had one choice: abortion.
While I heard the words, “God’s not done writing your story,” “Your pregnancy is not a sin but a blessing,” and “Be proud of the life inside you that God has planned uniquely and wonderfully,” my birth mother had heard, “You are not old enough or ready to be a mother,” “You are having this abortion whether you like it or not,” and “You are going to shut up about this and no one will ever know.”
In a woman’s moment of desperation, she looks to the people in her life. How they respond will determine how she responds. The reassurance from the closest people in my life as I faced my “unplanned pregnancy” is the reason I never thought of my daughter as an unplanned pregnancy. Instead, she was a blessing, even if it felt unexpected. I knew she was not unplanned by God.
During my pregnancy, I had two people on my mind often: my mom and my birth mom. Pregnancy had been a complicated thing for the women in my family and now it was complicated for me, too. Was this a new avenue God had given me that would help me relate to women like my mom and my birth mom?
I thought of the moments in which my mom had cried out to God, asking Him for a child. She didn’t know it then, but God was going to bless her with a miracle child. I empathized with her longing to have a child as I experienced the growth of my daughter in my womb. I tried to include her in my pregnancy so that she could experience some of what her heart had longed for: the ultrasounds, kicks, joys, and surprises that come with having children naturally. I wanted those things for her even though I knew she wouldn’t trade our family or our adoption for the world. It was a special season as we shared in all the moments of my pregnancy, and it made me appreciate her even more. She was the mother God knew I needed, and she made me the most wanted child imaginable without even knowing I had begun my life as an unwanted child. When God hand-picked me from my birth mother’s womb after I escaped death’s grip through the abortion instruments intended to end my life, He hand-picked her for me. Her longing would subside, but He was only beginning to write our incredible story.
My experience also led me to think about the ways my birth mother had been neglected during her pregnancy. She hadn’t been supported, given a choice, or even accompanied by her parents when she delivered me. The choice for abortion and then adoption had been made on her behalf, and her heart struggled to take it all in. I appreciated the support I had from the closest people in my life and recognized the gift I had in my parents as I navigated my pregnancy. My heart broke for Tonya a little more as I realized that I was experiencing a pregnancy and a support system my birth mother hadn’t even had a chance to consider.
As I empathized with and related to the experiences of my mother and my birth mother, my eyes were opened to the incredible miracle and gift that was in my womb. I didn’t deserve it, but God had given me another paragraph in the story he was writing—the birth and the life of my precious daughter Sadie-June. My world changed the day she was born and I held her for the first time. Her life is a testament that God will make himself known in unexpected and miraculous ways. He saved my life so that Sadie-June could be born and so that the hope we have in Him could become abundantly clear: He wants to bring good out of our mess. The birth of my daughter empowered me to trust that I can follow wherever He leads in my life and on this journey of sharing the truth about abortion—no matter how scary, unexpected, or uncertain it may feel.
Claire Culwell is an author, host of the “Called To Be Bold” podcast, and international speaker, represented by the Ambassador Speakers Bureau. She has been featured on Fox News, Focus on the Family, and in many other news outlets. She lives with her husband and their four children in Austin, Texas, where she serves on the communications and public policy committee for the Texas Alliance For Life.
You can read her book, Survivor, here!