Hi, my name is Renee, though many know me as Susi O Fanabba. I am relatively new to the pro-life movement, as I only started speaking out in March of last year. It was quite a transition, considering that I had avoided this very thing for about six years, after finding out I lost my youngest brother (Joseph ‘Joey’ Michael) to abortion. That news was surprisingly painful. While I was never in favor of abortion, I admit I never gave it much thought—until I felt that pain.
You know, sad as it is to think about sometimes, I am so thankful we found out about Joey. Mom showed great strength in telling us, and it led to a whole new way of looking at abortion-minded and post-abortive people. Hearing her speak, it made me realize that it is not as easy a decision as it’s sometimes made out to be. There is great suffering before, during, and after. I hate that she and so many others know that pain. I became quite defensive of her, and any time I heard someone speak against abortion, I took it personally, as if they were speaking of Mom directly.
I also became more aware of the graphic images out there. Suddenly they were much worse for me, because I never knew if I was possibly looking at part of him. Such a horribly painful thought. And I worried about Mom and the others being reminded of their own abortions. For years, I did my best to avoid any abortion-related discussions. In additions to the reasons listed above, I really did not feel like going through the grieving process again (having lost my dad some years earlier).
Eventually I got to the point where I was ready to seek healing. I assumed that because there were so many options for post-abortive parents, naturally there would be lots of choices for me. What a shock I was in for! The only option I found was the Lumina retreat in New York, and I couldn’t make it there. I couldn’t even really find online support, so for awhile longer I dealt with my pain alone.
As the next anniversary of Joey’s death went by, I was again anxious to connect with others. My three younger siblings were the only other post-abortive siblings I knew, and we didn’t talk too much about Joey or what happened. One major barricade to getting support was the fact that I didn’t want to use my last name—I didn’t want people in our lives to find out about Mom’s abortion and start trashing her, so most of my searching was online. I opened a new email account with a pseudonym: Susi O Fanabba, an acronym for SUrviving SIbling OF AN ABorted BAby. I wrote to a number of pregnancy centers nationwide that offered post-abortive counseling, but with no luck.
I finally found a program for siblings in Rhode Island called Silent No More. I actually never connected with those siblings, but hearing about them inspired me to write and share a reflection on my pain. I shared it with Lumina, hoping it would in turn be shared at their upcoming retreat. To my surprise and great gratitude, Lumina helped me get to the retreat to share my reflections in person!
That retreat was a turning point. It was amazingly healing to be with other siblings who knew my pain. They did not judge me or my mom, and we all got along so well! Since that time I have become much braver about speaking out. I am determined to let people know about our pain, in the hopes of saving lives with our perspectives.
I am also sharing my stories about being apart from the pro-life movement, and how I feel about abortion-minded/post-abortive people and the graphic images. I hope there can be more peace between both the pro-life and pro-choice sides. I especially want to do my part to reach out to hurting siblings. I’ve created a Facebook page and blog for that purpose (Abortion Hurts Siblings And Others and www.survivingsibling.wordpress.com
It can bring such comfort to read about others who have been through the same losses and issues. My dream is that in the future siblings will have a much easier time finding help. I would love to see more retreats, secular or not, as well as casual meet and greets and so forth. It would be great if post-abortive siblings did not fear speaking up, as I once feared.
I am so fortunate that my mom supports me 100% in this, and is now sharing her story as well! While I felt horrible about not helping her before or right after the abortion, I think working alongside her has brought great healing to both of us. She is truly heroic. She grew so much from the abortion. She is a great, non-judgmental listener, and by openly sharing her pain, I believe she has saved lives. By sharing how she told her children about her abortion, Mom can hopefully inspire and help other families heal.
In closing, I thank Secular Pro Life and all of you for all you are doing for the pro-life movement! As a sibling, it excites me to see so many groups working together to help us, as abortion affects ALL of us, secular or religious. Keep up the good work!