“A person is a person no matter how small.” Dr, Seuss
It was Easter morning, 1991, in Memphis, Tennessee. An unusual snowfall had been forecast for the morning; the first one in seven years. I was waking up to a great sense of bewilderment. I couldn’t quite get my bearings. I felt weak. My head was pounding. My insides quivered as though some sort of trauma was settling in on me. Slowly the fog in my head began to clear as I glanced at the stranger I had acquainted the night before. He was face down fast asleep on the other side of the bed. And the events of the previous evening started to rush over me like a torrent of devastating reality: I had just been raped.
Carefully pushing the covers aside, I tried using my toes to shuffle off the torn pantyhose now gathered at my ankles. I remember staring at the tears in the nylon wondering what on earth has just happened to me? What has just happened to my life?
I remember saying no. I remember being puzzled at the loss of every bit of my strength. I remember the dizziness, the extreme lethargy, and the nausea. I remember pushing back his every advance and slowly becoming weighted down with an unidentifiable helplessness. I remember turning my face away from his and vomiting off to the side and thinking, “Surely he would stop now? Right?”
I remember returning to my hotel room that morning and feeling a deep grief over a new and ugly truth: I had just been raped of the virginity I had finally resolved to hold back for love. I remember feeling my heart wanting to harden. I also remember praying. Riding home, resting in the passenger seat of my dear friend’s car, with my pounding feverish head pressed onto the ice-cold car window, beneath my shallow breath I prayed one simple prayer over and over again. “Please God, don’t let me hate men.”
For the next few weeks I walked through my ordinary days in bewilderment. It was like a default mode for me to drift off into places of detachment. I would have to startle myself in order to check back in and be present again. I was hoping that if I kept acting like nothing happened, eventually it would feel that way too. Pieces of the puzzlement eventually came together and I was able to conclude I had been victimized with a date rape drug. It would be one month later when I would discover one of my faint and drifting concerns would soon become a demanding reality; I was pregnant. Not only had my virginity been stolen. It appeared as though my future was next.
Before I told my mom about the rape and the pregnancy, I had already made an appointment with an abortion clinic. Growing up within a Catholic tradition, I was never an advocate for abortion. However, like a frightened animal that gnaws its own leg off after being trapped, an abortion in the face of rape seemed the most justified choice.
The day that followed breaking the news to my mom, I came home from work to my dad standing on the front steps waiting for me with great anguish and tears staining his face. After fracturing my father’s heart further with the details, my mom and I told him we saw no other way out of this unjust consequence but to abort. With great clarity and conviction he spoke the one truth that, surprisingly, set me free: “Abortion is murder.” I had no idea what we would do next, but it was the first time in a month I felt free to be at peace with the consequences. That one single statement gave me a new freedom to make a different choice.
Needless to say, after such violation, I wanted nothing more than to just get my life back to the way it was. Together we figured the next best choice for me and this innocent little life was an adoption. With my newly-found freedom came a new determination to do what was right and to do my best with what I had been dealt. We worked the exhausting task of reviewing adoption profiles and interviewing potential parents. Every profile read like a Hallmark card, every couple appeared deserving, and every interview was terribly awkward. How exactly does one give away a life anyway? By the seventh month we chose a sweet yet childless couple from the north for my first baby to be their first baby.
After my nine months were up, I gave birth to the one of the most beautiful baby girls ever to grace this earth. Her pretty little face was framed by a full head of deep black hair that wisped into soft lil wings from every adorable angle. Her big, dark, doe-like eyes had no greater purpose than to enchant every onlooker. Her long delicate frame and long fingers sang of her great potential. She was perfectly cuddly, perfectly precious, and at one glance perfectly worth the choice.
She was clearly worth my first choice for life and my second choice for adoption. But she has been more than worth my third choice: to be my own. Yes, my final choice was to be her mother. I can’t say the circumstances of my life at that time were the ideal for parenthood, but I can say my life recovered in full the heart felt peace that had been shattered 400 miles back. It would be my mom who would offer up her own personal freedom to care for my daughter as I worked full-time to provide. My daughter was not her last grandchild but she was the only grandchild she got the chance to love on before cancer cut her life too short.
At 26 choosing to parent as a single was a good choice for me, it saved my life and gave me a future I had yet to dream. Choosing to parent positioned me to cling to a Man who I would later learn had been waiting in the background a long time to love me as His very own. He was the only Man who actually wanted to take responsibility for us and never gave a thought to what it might cost Him. This Man brought us both into His family, healed my brokenness, restored my loss, provided for our home, made us believe we were worth love, and encouraged us to dream in the face of so many impossibilities.
This Man just happened to be the very Son of God Himself, Jesus the Christ. He looked upon our helplessness and without any merit to speak of considered us worthy of His unending love and attention. Parenthood made me cling to Him and clinging to Him proved to me He was a Man of His word and safe for us to love in return.
It is important for me to note here: for those of us who have made other choices I want to encourage you, He waits for you too. He waits to love on you in all of the deep and personal ways your heart needs to heal and to free you up in all the ways your life needs so you can live free of shame and instead live your life to the fullest in honor of your loss.
We are the 1%. We are the 1% that demands the right to have a choice to abort in the case of rape and incest. Yes, we are that 1%. I exercised my right to choose, and I chose life. Even more so, I chose life with my baby.
Fourteen years later a young man called to interview me for his high school term paper on abortion. He asked what I would tell a young girl today who was caught in the same situation? With so much to consider I managed to narrow it down to this one thing: Choosing life is hard, but choosing life is right. It’s not just hard to make the choice, it is equally hard to live with your choice–whether it be abortion, adoption, or parenthood. However, the two choices for life, adoption and parenthood, are the only choices that lead to more life for everyone involved. Bye the way God is pro-choice and in His great kindness His tests are always open book: “I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.” Duet 30:19
In cases of rape and incest there is flag of justice that rises to demand a right to self-preserve. It boasts: “I didn’t ask for this!” “I don’t deserve this!” “I shouldn’t have to suffer for this!” At the same time, there is another life even less deserving of the injustice than our own–it’s the new life thriving inside of you.
Although God does not plan the violations, He does foresee them along with our redemption in mind. The beautiful innocence growing in you is a dream God dreamed and intricately formed and fashioned a life around. This new life is the fulfillment of a desire God burns with and has destined to be an answer to a need in this world. The life growing in you is a life that has been planned to lead you to a reconciliation–first with God, second with your future, and finally, everywhere else it would be needed. When you resolve to choose to heal from the violation, you will be enabled by God to embrace the child independent of it. You will also be able to embrace the redemption already planned with the two of you in mind.
I am absolutely convinced it is impossible to heal from such a traumatic injustice without Jesus. I know first-hand that it is impossible to live out your choice without Jesus inspiring and empowering you over and over again. From the start, every troubling statistic stared me in the face as I dared parenthood as a single woman with a biracial daughter. I am humbled and grateful to say 20 years later she shows no lack, she has defied all the odds, and she proudly calls herself my trophy daughter.
She was never intended to be a burdensome consequence of that snowy morning in Memphis. She was always intended to be my joy.
We are the 1%, and we have to tell you that all things are possible for you with God. There is a longing in every human heart; it is the longing for greatness. Deep in the recesses of our hearts we really want to be someone’s hero even if it’s it for a minute. We want to be that certain someone who makes an unbelievable life defining sacrifice that ends up saving a nation, or a city, or a family, or at least one single person no matter how small. An unexpected pregnancy may not be your choice for heroism. But it is your chance.
Kimberly and her “trophy daughter” Andee currently reside in Decatur, IL. Kimberly is an aspiring writer and speaker. You can learn more about her and find contact information at Kimberlinez.com
This was a guest blog originally posted by Kimberly Cavanaugh for Britta Menzel at Career Mommy on 6/18/12