In this article, we hope to present a true case study with some identifying information changed to protect privacy. As we examine the events as they unfolded for us when we met this abortion-minded mother, we will provide what we believe are some guiding principles for sidewalk counselors as they encounter similar situations.
Be Available – Showing up is Half the Battle: Such a simple truth. If you are not there, you can’t help the baby.
Cara* (not real name) came early to the abortion center. When she pulled into the parking lot, only one pro-life person was on the sidewalk. Elijah waved to the distraught woman and she pulled her car over to him in tears. She instantly noticed his high top Converse sneakers and smiled despite her deep sorrow. He looked so young. “So dorky,” she thought, “But kind.”
Determine the Situation: Ask questions. Find out what brought her there.
She rolled down her window. Elijah asked her if she was here for an abortion. She admitted sorrowfully that she was. But she had no choice. She was in an abusive marriage, and he was headed to jail. How could she raise a baby alone…and how could she continue to bind herself to a man that physically harmed her and was a drug addict to boot?
Use Team Members: You don’t have to know it all. You just need to know who to call! We have counseled thousands of moms over the years and have ALWAYS found help in some way. The vast list of resources we now have, we compiled out of necessity when we encountered situations for which we didn’t have a resource already.
“Look,” Elijah said, “We can help you. I don’t know HOW we can help you. But I know we can. Will you pull over while I call someone who will know HOW we can help you?”
Then Elijah called me.
Trust that with God, we WILL be able to help: Offer help even if you are unsure what exactly you can do. Know that nothing is impossible with God and if you are following Him, He will enable you to do what He has called you to do. Remember: No situation is permanent. Remind the mothers you work with and yourself that things WILL change, and if we keep our eyes on Jesus, probably for the better!
Now I have no great, special knowledge, but I am very good at Googling sources for help. While Elijah convinced Cara to go on the HELP Monroe Pregnancy Center mobile ultrasound unit parked at the abortion center, I found a domestic violence hotline and called them. I got the numbers of domestic violence lawyers in our state and also all the information for Cara from the hotline that would help her deal with the relationship issues. While I was gathering that information, our counselor, Angela arrived. She took Cara on the RV and began learning the specifics of her situation while they waited for the HELP Monroe nurse/sonographer to arrive.
Whenever possible, show them the baby ASAP: The vast majority of women who see their baby on an ultrasound choose life.
When the nurse arrived, the medical history was reviewed and then Cara was taken back for the ultrasound. She was surprised to see that she had twins! This solidified her choice for life. We often find that mothers may be willing to abort one child, but are often hesitant to do so with twins. As Angela shared resources that could help Cara, I drove to the RV so I could present all the information I had discovered to help with the domestic abuse issue.
Solidify choice by arranging appointments/future baby showers: If women have something to look forward to that celebrates the baby, they are more likely to remain solid in a choice for life. Painting a vision and a positive future with the baby in it is important!
While on the RV, Angela told Cara we would help her with a baby shower that would provide two years of the twins needs. We would walk alongside her through appointing a mentor the entire next year. We would explore placing her precious twins in the arms of a loving adoptive family. We would help her out of the abusive situation.
Disciple and follow up, especially in first few days/weeks: The first days are critical. The first 48 hours are the most critical. The women return to the same situation initially and the same people who may have been pushing for abortion. Your voice may be what keeps them on track in those difficult adjustment periods.
Angela and I both followed up with Cara for the many weeks following her decision to save her twins. We both shared the Gospel, stayed in contact, and connected her with the HELP Pregnancy resource center as will as the new LoveLife Charlotte ministry. Through LL Charlotte, an adoptive family was found who was eager to parent Cara’s twins.
Address environment and obstacles to maintaining choice for life: If you can help smooth relationship issues that may be fueling the choice to abort, that is always helpful! Suggest counseling. Share the Gospel with significant others in the mother’s life if you are able to.
There were many struggles. Cara’s mother had a difficult relationship with Cara. Many times, I called her mother to help smooth some of the issues. At that time, Love Life was still newly developing the programs, mentors, and resources to help the moms so Angela and I sometimes took over discipling and counseling. These are areas that Love Life mentors with the backing of a home church now completely shoulder.
Share the Gospel: NEVER neglect the Gospel! Even when you think all is lost, God is working in the lives of those in whom you have planted seeds of faith.
Cara submitted her life to Jesus. She seemed to be growing by leaps and bounds in the Lord. The abusive husband was out of the picture, the adoption process was begun, and her life looked like it was on a good path.
Sadly, she delivered the twins at only 24 weeks. They were given a very bleak prognosis. They held on for a short time but tragically, neither twin survived. Not surprisingly, Cara went into a tailspin of deep depression and questioning God. She had made all the right choices, how could God allow this to happen? She entered a very dark period that ended in jail time.
Surprisingly, she remained in touch with me. She contacted me through Facebook, and was also on an email list I send out every morning to moms who have chosen life. Each day I post an encouraging Bible verse. We checked in with each other every few months. I did not know a lot of what was happening in her life, but I could see through the Facebook posts that popped now and then in my newsfeed that she was working, had friends, and was rebuilding her life.
Stay connected, especially if no mentor is in the picture: Don’t abandon the mom once she chooses life. I use social media and daily emails with Bible verses to connect long term with the moms I have counseled. You never know when that positive connection to a Godly person might be critical down the road.
This Christmas, I received a text from her:
Hey, Vicky! 3 years ago I lost 2 babies, and this year on Christmas Eve, God has gifted me with an amazing husband that loves me and treats me well, my first home, and a new baby on the way. I think about you all alot, and am so very grateful for everything you do. Y’all changed my life more than u could ever know. Thank you, Merry Christmas!
Never give up! Even the most hopeless situations can be turned around!
I responded and she shared more of what had transpired over those three years. She had continued to try to follow God and had come to understand that His timing and provision was perfect. He had been with her and guiding her, and refining her, even with the death of her twins. The faith that she had come to when she met us had kindled and grown, even in the midst of all the seeming backsliding and despair.
Rejoice in the victories of which God allows us to be a part: Ask for updates, baby photos, birthday pictures. You have earned the right to rejoice as that child grows!
After Cara shared her Christmas joy with me, I asked her if she remembered Elijah. Of course she did. She would never forget him. I hesitated to tell her what was new with Elijah, fearing it might bring her pain.
“Elijah is married now. With a 10-month-old … AND … twin girls on the way.”
“AWWWWW!” Cara said. “Tell him congratulations. I bet he is a great dad.”
If there was any sorrow over the sad memory of her own twins, she didn’t express it. Instead she told me that now she realized that God had always been with her, and had always been guiding her. He knew what was best, and she trusted Him.