I knew I would be telling my son about my abortion at a younger age than I had told my girls when they were twelve and eleven. He was only eight, but ever since I began working at a crisis pregnancy center and explaining to him what abortion is and about my job of counseling people who were considering it or had already done it, he had some beyond-his-years understanding of it and questions about it. I have also come a long way since my daughter first asked me if she was the first baby in my belly, and I had instinctively lied to her. By the time my son was old enough to learn that he had a brother and a sister in heaven I realized that I could tell him the truth at all times, but that I could give it to him in parts, as he was ready for them. So he’s known about my babies in heaven for a long time, and he’s known about abortion for several years now. He just didn’t know the connection between the two.
We visited the Creation Museum last spring, and he and I had a brief but intense discussion about abortion as a result of one of their exhibits. “When is abortion ok?” he asked me. I wanted to explain so much to him in that moment, but I gave a short answer as people ambled by us. I knelt down to his level, and responded, “It’s never ok honey. There are a lot of reasons why people do it, but it’s never ok. I’ll tell you a lot more about this another day, ok?” And thankfully, with that, he was satisfied.
Just a few months later I took him to his fort in our back yard and connected the dots with him before his smart brain connected them on his own. I told him the reason why my first baby, his brother, was in heaven. When I said the words, “I had an abortion,” he had been looking forward (you know boys don’t like eye contact as much as we girls do), and he whipped his head toward me in shock and confusion. “YOU did abortion?” he asked in disbelief, followed by “WHY?” And I proceeded to explain my story to him as simply and honestly as possible. I answered all of his questions: would he be the oldest, would he be taller than me, would he be taller than you Mom? When he took it to another level asking how abortion works, I told him that he was not ready to learn that right now, that he can learn that part when he’s older.
I asked him if he was mad at me, and he thought for a moment and then answered, “I’m mad at the younger you.” Oh, wow, how is he so insightful? I marveled and just wholeheartedly received the grace of God reaching out and shining through my very young and innocent son.
“Do you forgive me?” I asked for the second time as he had ignored this question the first time. Now that he had more of his questions answered, he answered, “Yes I forgive you.”
I had a strong feeling that he understood my next question, based on his previous responses. But I wanted to make sure, so I asked, “Do you understand that Jesus died for all of our sins, the big ones and the little ones?” “Yes,” he answered confidently.
As I shared one final detail to set his heart at peace, my son demonstrated how fast the bonds of love can grow. “Do you know that your brother and sister are in heaven now?” Upon hearing this, he drew in a breath of overwhelming knowledge and couldn’t answer verbally, but just threw his arms around me for relieved support. “Does this make you happy to know that they’re in heaven?” He nodded his head yes in answer to keep from crying.
After we finished our talk I gave him a marker to write his brother’s name on the wall of the fort. While I watched him write the name and draw some hearts, I felt the relief of a burden I didn’t even realize I had still been carrying. My entire family knows the truth now, and I don’t have to be careful of what I say or watch for who is or is not in the room before I speak. I can be completely real and authentic now to my children, and I pray that they feel the same way toward me now and even more as they grow into their adulthood. My job is far from over, but I feel free to live with more joy in my heart now and with a greater connection to each one of my five children.
The simplicity of how my son ended his drawing of his brother’s name seems to say it all. Abortion affects future children, future siblings. My son was sad that day when he learned why his brother died. He was sad to learn the choice I had made. I’m so grateful that he has been able to forgive me and see a difference in the person that I am now, especially at his young but knowing age.
Several weeks later, I was able to close this chapter of telling my children my story. I had an opportunity with all three of them to spend some time with me in prayer and a brief sharing of thoughts to memorialize their brother and sister. Finally, all five of my children were now included, acknowledged, loved and belonged in our family.