My name is Lisa, and I come before you today as a perfectly flawed human being.  This is my story, about a “child lost to abortion.”

I grew up in a home that was void of love, affection, and attention, physically abused by a father and emotionally abused by a mother.  No wonder I would seek out intimacy at such a young age!

Finally, a young man came into my life that I became very serious with and fell in love with.  We were committed to each other for several years, so I thought he loved me too.  I guess it should come as no surprise that I learned I was pregnant, barely at the age of 16!

At such a young age I knew I was totally unprepared to raise a child, and I knew instinctively that my child was a “boy”.  Sadly, no angel came to young Lisa saying “Be not afraid.” I was scared to death, especially with a mother at home that was almost six months pregnant!

There was never a discussion about options, it was just assumed (especially by me) what the outcome should and would be.  I believed it was what the father wanted and that it was the best decision at the time.

I had been pregnant for 84 days.  On a dreary December day just three days before Christmas we headed to the clinic for “The Procedure”.  Like most 16 year olds, I did not consider the consequences of my decision and how it would impact me, by changing the course of my life, ultimately defining the person I would become, and being the cause for my aversion to all things Christmas!  To think, I was hoping for ring.

How was I to know that that would be the only child I would ever create?

This single act changed me and the way I felt about myself.  I regretted the decision the moment it was done.  I remember screaming, “Please forgive me!”

From the moment we left the clinic I began to stuff my thoughts and feelings, and this would eventually become as natural as breathing.  I acted as if nothing had happened and tirelessly would search for ways to fill the emptiness that I felt, but nothing could fill the hole that abortion left behind.  It took too much effort to pretend everything was “normal” all the time.  I always felt that there was a disconnect, a void, and a constant need to belong.

No surprise that the father and I eventually broke up a few years later.

I grew up and married an alcoholic with three children, who were abandoned by their biological mother during a visitation weekend.  Although I always wanted children of my own, I quickly learned that being a mother was not all that I had dreamed it to be.  And thus this too would not fill the emptiness inside me.

Thirty-three years would pass before God gradually and gently led me to see signs to a healing path and to finally acknowledge the actions of that fateful day in December.  Not one of those 33 years would pass that I wasn’t reminded of the day my child was conceived, or the day he should have been born, as well as the day I ended his life.  These dates are painfully etched in my mind and my heart like a tattoo.  Sadly, I was not able to see God’s hands on my life, nor was I open to receive His amazing love and healing!  I never even imagined the goodness of God’s love and forgiveness.

My journey of healing began March 25, 2013 when I decided to participate in a “Spiritual Adoption” through my parish.  It wouldn’t be long before I started to see the beautiful path that God was laying down before me.  Feelings that had been stuffed for many years were slowly and painfully coming to the surface.  I trusted that God would not forsake me or mislead me through this journey.  Although I had always believed that God had forgiven me, I was learning that it was not only time to forgive myself but to finally acknowledge the child that I had lost to abortion and ignored for so many years.

Only a few weeks later I was led to a memorial mass at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral for children that pre-deceased their parents through abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth, and illness.  Little did I know that this was a night that would change my life forever!  This was the night God brought the “Sisters of Life” to Philadelphia just to touch and change MY life.

When mass had ended, guests were invited to receive a special blessing to anyone who was interested.  As the sisters stood at the foot of the altar they asked how they could help me.  After pouring out the sins of my past to the sisters with such ease, they prayed over me, asking my son to come and comfort his mother – all I could do was sob!  Later that evening, asleep in my bed, he did just that by visiting me in my bedroom and briefly sitting on my bed.  What a gift from God!

That night the sisters invited me to a retreat in Connecticut for post-abortive women, and I eagerly agreed.  I had no idea this was where I would receive the gift of healing and forgiveness with the help of God’s love, replacing the pain of my abortion.

During the retreat I had the opportunity to receive the “Sacrament of Reconciliation” for the first time in 40 years.  I was willing to confess the greatest sin of all, that of rejecting the precious gift of life He offered to me!  I confessed my sins.  I did this not for myself, but for my son, to assure him that as long as I lived I would regret my decision to end his life, I would acknowledge him always and in all ways whenever and wherever possible, and, most importantly, that I desperately needed “his” forgiveness.

It wouldn’t be long before I would discover another ministry called “Rachel’s Vineyard”.  Determined to heal my deep wound, I registered for their retreat. The Rachel’s Vineyard retreat is a place where you feel the love of God and realize that He wants you to be healed.  It is a beautiful caress from God at a time when you may feel that you are unworthy of His love and forgiveness, maybe just needing reassurance that He cares!

Rachel’s Vineyard offers a very beautiful and gentle retreat where I was able to acknowledge my son, name him, baptize him, and bury him.  I received the most healing by going through this process.  I thank God for putting this ministry in my path, as it has allowed me to forge a relationship with my unborn child.

I now know that I have someone close with God who prays for me and watches over me, my son Robert!  He is with me every day, and I know this because I talk to him every day.  I honor my son by acknowledging him!

I have enshrined Robert’s name in the “Book of Life” at the Church of the Holy Innocents in New York City.  I attend the beautiful Annual Mass of Remembrance each May, and I have three masses a year said for him on each of the dates that are imprinted on my heart.  I send him love notes written on balloons on his true birthday (the day he was conceived).  I’ve had a necklace made with his initials so that I can keep him even closer to my heart.

With the help of a visualization exercise at the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat I have seen my son and, not only is he the most beautiful boy I have ever seen, but he is so very happy!  A boy that today would be a grown man probably with children of his own; a boy that has truly forgiven his mother, not just because of her willingness to heal but by her finally acknowledging the time that he was alive. A son that sends his mother signs every day to show her that he has always been with her.  A son that truly loves his mother and eagerly awaits for the day he is reunited with her.  A son who longs to finally be wrapped in his mother’s loving arms.

Until that day, I promise to always be a voice for my child and all those children lost to abortion.  I ask all of you to keep my Robert and all the unborn children in your prayers and for you to be open to receive the information about Rachel’s Vineyard that is in your church’s Narthex for yourself or someone you know and love.  Please help God heal our broken world.