That life altering day, Joseph Michael died, and Susi O Fanabba was born. As many of you know, Susi O Fanabba is not my birth name, but rather an acronym for ‘surviving sibling of an aborted baby’. For years, I had no idea I would ever be using it. I gave virtually no thought to the siblings of the aborted. The babies were really the only victims in my book, and I couldn’t understand why any woman would/could abort.
That all changed one night, just a few weeks before the 11th anniversary. Mom called us into the living room and gave us the shocking news that in addition to losing my dad, we lost our youngest brother. This made no sense to me! How could I have missed her growing belly? Would we be like the ones I’ve seen in movies/read about, who years later meet their sibling, given up for adoption? Did she miscarry? Before hearing it, abortion did not come to mind. After all, she was very much against it, and had helped at least one girl change her view about it. I never imagined that she was so knowledgeable because she had actually been through it. When we found out in fact it was an abortion, we were all upset (more sad than angry) and went to hug her.
I’ve often bragged of my mom’s strength, but in my opinion some of her strongest moments were that night. She had the strength to tell us the truth about the abortion, rather than keeping it to herself any longer. She also allowed us to ask as many questions as we needed without making us feel guilty for it. For me, I think the most important thing to know was the date. Partly, because I was worried it was on one of our birthdays, but also, because I wanted to help her in a special way on that day, as I had been trying to do for the anniversary of my dad’s death. We found out it was on Valentine’s in ’95. My heart broke for her 😦 Before finding out about it, I prayed for her, worried she was missing my dad. And now I knew she was also thinking about my brother. Amazingly, she never let on, always trying to make it a special day for us. Since finding out, our Valentine’s day celebrations have been more about remembering him and making sure mom is okay. Though she still manages to make it special somehow 😀 One of my most powerful Valentine’s memories is of the first anniversary we were aware. 2/14/06. She had baked a cake and decorated it with six hearts!! One big one, and 5 little ones. Representing my mom and ALL her babies! It was so touching to see Joey so freely acknowledged! He was no longer a secret 🙂
Another fact that that she told us, that was extremely helpful, was that she gave the baby a name. It made it much easier to form a connection with him, and made the news more real. It took a few days for me to register that the pain I was now feeling, was from Joey’s death. On occasion it seems it would be much nicer to have never found out about him, but I never feel that way for long. Very often, I am able to see the blessings. That may seem an odd choice of words, but it was completely sincere. One of the things I am most grateful for, is that it opened my eyes to why some women choose abortion, and just as I couldn’t hate my mom for the news, and actually wanted to help her, I suddenly wanted to reach out to these women as well. I became very defensive hearing comments against abortion, or the women who consider/have them, and felt they were all attacking my mom directly. For awhile that kept me away from the pro life movement but around 2 years ago, I started to get the courage to speak up! Not just about my pain as a sibling, but also about the pain I felt many times at the comments I had heard against the women. Thankfully, some have actually apologized and started softening their approach 🙂
As unpleasant as those feelings were, and sometimes still are, I think it’s helped me connect more with the pro choicers, some of who I know have been hurt as well. I know some are like mom once was, feeling like abortion is the only option, and I want to be there for them, as I wish I could’ve been for her. I’ve also been blessed to be able to share my testimony as a post abortive sibling, knowing that some women believe they are doing us a favor by having the abortion. Whether or not they change their mind, I stay with them, if they allow. And the other night I got proof that it’s making a positive impact! 🙂 After seeing that my mom’s reflection was attacked, 3 of my pro choice friends, as well as one I do not know, all stood up for her and me!! We may have very different views on some things, but they have shown a great level of respect! I hope to show others on both sides, that these civil relationships are absolutely possible 🙂
One final blessing I will speak of: my work with the siblings! 🙂 Connecting with them and sharing my story with people who truly get it has been so totally healing! For me, and I’ve heard from many that is has been for them too! It makes me so grateful for the immense support that my mom has shown me in my outreach, as well as the ability to overcome my shyness! And it’s been amazing to see other siblings follow suit. My sibling testimony section on here sure is growing! 😀 And with it, I’ve noticed more awareness of our pain overall! My blog has been viewed in upwards of 65 countries which is more than I ever dreamed. I now have much more hope for the siblings of the future and am glad that they will not have such limited options for healing as I and so many have.
Well, this is long enough for now. So I shall end it, and say thanks for being here! Feel free to share this or any of the other posts on my blog. Peace be with you all 🙂