I do not know for sure, but if I had to bet, I would pretty safely guess that in addition to being a mom who has had an abortion that I also have aborted siblings. Of course, there is no way for me to confirm that since my father has passed away, but I always felt that this was probably true.
My dad was the one who pressured me to abort as a teen, and I also learned that he paid for an abortion when my cousin’s girlfriend became pregnant. Adding that to the fact that I know he was unfaithful to my mom, I have just always had a sense that there are probably siblings missing from my life.
As a society, we have just begun to address the millions and millions of siblings suffering because of the knowledge (or lack thereof ) an aborted sibling.
For years I always had a sense of the pain. I know that my children (who were not even born yet when I had my abortion) were impacted by the loss of their sibling, and also by the ways in which my abortion impacted me. Very often a parent can be emotionally distant because they do not feel worthy, or conversely – overly protective, and it is not unusual for living children to experience many dynamics living with a parent suffering from traumatic stress that is manifested in countless ways because of a past abortion.
As terrified as I was, after much discernment and prayer, and with the support of my spiritual director, I told my kids about my abortion. (For more information about telling your children click here.) They were not all that surprised. In fact, like many other postabortive siblings, they “always knew something was wrong.” The knowledge brought them to an understanding of why so much of what had happened in their lives occurred. Suddenly – it all made sense.
Like millions of others out there, my children had to work through the issues of being a surviving sibling. The guilt for surviving and wondering if they would even be here if their sibling had survived, the anger, the confusion, would their name be the same? The list goes on and on. It took a great deal of time and work, but after years, the abortion, rather than separate us, through God’s grace, brought us closer together.
Having worked through the issues with my kids with the help of a great priest and a therapist, I was always very aware of the abortion fallout on siblings, and so it was with that in mind that 6 years ago I, with Father Mariusz Koch, CFR, began “Entering Canaan – Days of Prayer & Healing” for siblings.
In the spring of 2015, Lumina will have its first weekend retreat with the assistance of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and some wonderful siblings who have been working with us doing retreat days as well as some of those who have participated in the days. It is not unusual for people to come from across the country, uniting in their knowledge and finding comfort in meeting others and expressing their pain.
As one sibling said, “The Entering Canaan Sibling retreat was a turning point in my life. The day’s gentle, intent pace; Eucharistic focus, and intimate setting allowed time to stop and expand, encompassing both the pain of the past and hope for the future. Father Conrad and Theresa stewarded us with very gentle paternal and maternal care: a beautiful counterpoint to the gender enmity that spurred the abortions in our families. It was so strange and deeply comforting to be in a place where the central spiritual wound of my life was acknowledged and soothed, not idolized, but transformed through a call to acceptance, forgiveness, healing, and celebration of my youngest sibling’s brief life on earth and eternal life in Heaven, where she or he now intercedes before the face of God for the healing of my whole family.
Now I know that this wound I bear is becoming like Christ’s wounds: welling up with God’s love so that everyone – my mother, father, all my siblings, and the generations before and after us – may be drawn to Him.” – A
Addressing siblings and abortion may be relatively new, but there is no doubt there are millions of people out there feeling alone and different because of the knowledge of a parent’s abortion. In fact, just think of the possibilities. Their mother and father had an abortion, their mother or father aborted a baby with someone else before they were married, perhaps while in college, their mother or father had multiple abortions. While all may seem good on the outside, the chain reaction of abortion has placed a spiritual and emotional scourge on our world.
The good news is God is waiting to heal, waiting to touch the lives of families with His mercy and forgiveness, His understanding, and His love. We have seen it… we know it is true.