January 22, 1973 had quite an impact on my life, even though I was not yet born. It was the day that abortion was legalized in the United States, which ended up making it easier for mom to abort in ’95. But January 22, 2006 had an even bigger impact on my life, for that was the evening that mom bravely shared her testimony with us. There was instant sadness, but no tears. In part because I am really not comfortable with my emotions being visible, but also because I didn’t want to add to mom’s pain, which was so obvious. Despite that, she was open for questioning, leting us know, among other things, that she had named the baby Joseph Michael, as well as the date of the abortion (2/14/95). As hard as it was to hear, these details actually made things easier to handle in some ways, so I deeply admire the strength she showed.
Prior to finding out about Joey, I had dealt with numerous losses as a nursing home volunteer, and while they definitely hurt, I was able to move on fairly quickly. I assumed it would be like that with him, especially because I hadn’t even known about him and the death was so many years earlier. Plus, some of it was wishful thinking, so I wouldn’t have to feel such strong and painful emotions.
A decade later, I see how wrong I was. But you know, as rough as it’s been, and still is at times, I don’t regret going through that pain. It has opened my eyes in multiple ways for which I am so grateful and there have been some amazing blessings! 🙂
I will not get into all of them in this post, but one of the ones I am most excited about is that I am now an advocate! Through this blog, my facebook pages and group, etc I get to be a voice for siblings. The kind that I very much longed to find when I was first ready to find help. I was shocked by how little was available for and about us at that time, even among those who offered post abortive counseling. Silent No More, Rhode Island and Lumina were the only ones I could find, speaking up for and reaching out to others like me, but both were across the country, unfortunately. With mom’s permission, a pen name of sorts (Susi O Fanabba, short for ‘surviving sibling of an aborted baby’), and the encouragement of those at Silent No More, I wrote my first testimony. That in and of itself was healing, as a lot that I had been repressing came out. I sent it to SNM and to Theresa Bonopartis at Lumina, who was coordinating a retreat day for siblings, a few weeks from that time. I knew I was not going to be able to make it, but hoped that it could be read to the other siblings at least. To my shock, she wrote back with an invite to attend, and offered to help me figure out a way to get there. WOW! I was instantly nervous! Not just about traveling, but about the day itself. Could I handle being in such an emotionally charged environment? Would I be able to keep my own emotions in check or would I have a public breakdown, etc?
Despite these worries, I said yes and am so glad I did. While it was very physically and emotionally draining (no tears though), it brought amazing healing! To start with, Theresa kept it small, only 7 of us total. 5 siblings, a chaplain and her. We all had a very generous amount of time to share our stories, in a comfortable, home-like setting, with hardly any interruption or fear of judgement, mockery, hurting our parents, etc. When my turn came I imagined I would give just a brief account, especially because I was shy and worried about a breakdown, but nope!! Even more came out than what was in the testimony!! For the first time, I was with others who could relate to my loss and found it so freeing 😀 5 people, from different backgrounds, finding common ground and healing together!
That day was over too quickly! But the healing and joy that came have not left! Nor have the friendships. We are all very busy with our own lives but still find time to reconnect with each other, for which I am grateful. What’s rather sad to me though, is that so few post abortive sibs can relate to the healing I’ve experienced and I want to do my part to help them. The main ways I have done this are through sharing my own story, in the hopes that it brings awareness to our pain and issues and inspires those who can to start programs and such for us. Also, by starting and maintaining this blog, which has a growing number of testimonies, most of them anonymous, and through my private group on facebook, just for siblings. It’s been such an honor to hear from some, post abortive and non, that my efforts are helping bring healing and awareness!
There have been some awesome changes in the last 10 years, that I am looking forward to seeing what the next 10 bring. 🙂