My name is Renee, and I am the oldest of 5. Sadly, I’ve never met the youngest, a little boy (brother number 3) named Joseph Michael. He died by abortion when I was only 10, although I didn’t find out ‘til nearly 11 years later. My poor mom had to keep that secret for so long I’ve known for just over 6 years, and am really struggling with it. I’ve come to the point where I realize that a lot of the issues I have, are made much worse by what I went through regarding the abortion. While I have always been more of an internalizer, this is becoming harder, and I am starting to seek out healing. Easier said than done, I am discovering, as most post abortion support groups only have programs for the parents. It is sincerely my prayer that more awareness will be brought to the suffering of the siblings. My siblings and I have had to silently deal with the pain of hearing people speak ill of women choosing an abortion. We know firsthand that sometimes it is done in a desperate time, and to spare the baby from a life of suffering.
My mom was widowed in June of ’94, at the age of 30. I was 10, and the youngest, at the time (baby number 4), was only two. A few months later, she met a man, and became pregnant unexpectedly. I know very little about that time for her, as I was very young, and had no idea that my little brother was growing in her belly. But we were living with my grandparents, and I don’t know how they would’ve handled the news. Also, maybe my mom didn’t feel capable of caring for yet another baby, who the doctor said may have health issues (from what I believe). While she knew it was wrong, she believed that the baby would be better off in heaven, free from suffering. While I hate that my mom (and brother) went through that, I admire her greatly for all the strength she has shown. She now understands what some of these women are going through, when they consider abortion, and has used her experiences to help them choose life. She also has used the pain she feels over my brother, to help those mourning the loss of their own babies, aborted or miscarried. I pray for the strength to one day be able to reach out to other siblings like myself. I have actually tried to avoid the pro life movement, at times, mostly for two reasons: one, it makes me think more of my brother, and the horrible way he died, and two, I am very defensive of my mom, and am afraid that some of these people will judge her harshly. I also don’t want her to have to deal with any extra sadness or regrets. But as I said before, she is a very strong woman.
I have heard it said by quite a few people that my mom should keep the abortion secret. What about her reputation? In their view, it will make others decide to follow her, and do the same. Or turn against her, and stop trusting and/or respecting her. Well, I can speak for myself, my siblings and at least one very dear friend, that the exact opposite is true!! I hate that she had to bear that by herself for so long, and am so grateful that she told us. It has made her a more compassionate, sympathetic, less judgemental person. It made me listen more when she was talking about pro life things, or prayers and sympathy for the abortive ones, knowing that she’s actually been in their position. She has come so far. I am also thankful she told us, because although we ended up going through unexpected mourning, we as siblings are now more aware of the horror of abortion. All these years I never knew we were personally touched by it.
As I said, finding out caused such shock and grief. I remember the night that she told us, we were all talking in the living room, because she said she had something important to discuss. I remember my heart started pounding, more and more. We were shocked to discover that she had been pregnant after the fourth baby. Our dad had died, and there were only four of us children with her, so where was the last one? Did I have a sibling given up for adoption, that I could possibly reconnect with (as went through my head at times while watching or reading about it), or did she miscarry? Abortion never crossed my mind, because we knew she was so against it. But she admitted that that is what happened. I did not give into the tears that threatened, as I have always been very guarded with my emotions. Very quickly the four of us went up to her and hugged her. Comforting her and assuring her that we loved her. We found out a few things, such as the father, and the date. Apparently, the anniversary was only a few weeks away. In just a few weeks, valentine’s day to be exact, it would be 11 years since that horrible event. Apparently she chose that night, because going out, then, would not likely arouse suspicion. Years later it brought me such pain to think that that night before she left, when I gave her a hug, I also hugged my little brother inside, but the next time I hugged her, it was just her alone. How sad she must have been. And how innocent and unaware I was.
That Valentine’s Day was hard, but so refreshing in some ways. Between my dad’s death and then, I noticed that she made an extra effort to make it a pleasant day for us, AND THOUGHT SHE DID IT TO SOFTEN THE BLOW OF NOT HAVING OUR DAD AROUND. WHEN I REALIZED THE PAINFUL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE DAY, I STARTED TRYING TO MAKE IT A SPECIAL, PEACEFUL DAY FOR HER. What stands out the most from that night are two sweet memories. The first is that mom made us a yummy cake for dessert. And on it were 6 hearts. 1 big, and 5 small. A mama surrounded by her babies. For the first time ever, mom was able to admit that she was a mother of 5. She didn’t have to ignore my brother that night! And we were comfortable with it too. The other sweet memory associated with that night is that we decided to play the lottery, and being aware of a new heavenly intercessor, we asked Joey to pray for us, and we won $10!! The most money we’ve ever won in the lottery! Thanks, Joey! Now multiply that by a small million please!
For a while after finding out, I had such a deep sadness that I could not identify at first. I felt like I did when I lost one of my nursing home friends, but nobody had recently died. What was up? Then I realized it was my brother. I was grieving the loss of a little sibling, that up until then had not existed (that I was aware of). How strange.
How could I possibly feel so strongly for someone I never met, or even knew about? As I mentioned before, I am not an emotional person, so these feelings were extra unappreciated. I felt stupid for grieving 11 years later. He was long gone, I shouldn’t feel anything. But, that’s not how it works. Over time, I felt that sadness less frequently, but still, 6 years later I feel twinges at times. I have also, at times, felt completely at peace with our situation, and at other times, have seriously forgotten about him. That, I believe, is often a defense mechanism.
Whether I am thinking about him or not, I noticed that I am more sensitive to some things than I was before. For example, I feel pain/jealousy seeing others becoming big brothers and sisters. I experienced that three times, only, and never will again. I am also very sensitive to my youngest brother being complimented, etc by mom. Feeling like he is getting the bulk of the attention, because he is the last “baby” she’ll have. Deep down, I know it is false, but it is still a frequent struggle. Another struggle is forgiving/moving on. When I first found out about my brother, I can’t remember much about howI felt about his father. As I’ve gotten older, though, I have felt so betrayed by him. We loved him like a stepfather for quite a few years. How dare he try to take care of us, and help raise us, when he didn’t even keep his own flesh and blood alive. This was especially hard for me to come to terms with, because I, too, was conceived out of wedlock. But my dad did the right thing, and married my mom (before I was born). It just feels strange. Why was I okay to keep, but my brother wasn’t? I have made great progress in this area, but still have need of more healing.
This is only a small bit of my experiences as a sibling of an aborted baby, but I am sharing this in the hopes that others can be comforted knowing that they are not alone. Or perhaps a sibling like me will be in denial, and reading my story, they will realize their need for healing, and get it. My prayer is that we can feel at least some of the peace that our siblings do, as they await our arrival in heaven. What a nice meeting that will be, and while we had the misfortune of being separated on earth, we will have all eternity to catch up! To any parents reading this, please give your kids the benefit of the doubt, and tell them about their lost sibling(s). It may strengthen your relationship as it did ours. You shouldn’t have to keep your baby(ies) a secret. For those who are not directly affected, I thought I would give you a small idea what we are going through, in case you happen to connect with us. All who read this will be in my prayers. God bless and peace be with you. Thanks for letting me share my story.
*Since writing this I have joined up with the pro life movement, in an effort to speak up for siblings and others affected by abortion (grandparents, uncles/aunts, etc). It is mostly through the internet. Among others, I have a facebook page called: Abortion Hurts Siblings And Others, as well as a group exclusively for post abortive siblings. For more info, leave a comment here or message me at my facebook group. I am also on: twitter, prolifebook, shoutlife, awestruck and experience project.