"For what credit is there if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps." I Peter 2:20-21
My story begins at the washer. My daughter and her boyfriend had gone to the lake for the day at his grandparent's cabin. They had wanted to leave early in the morning. I questioned her about the early departure and was reluctant to give my approval. With their persistence, I finally agreed they could leave early. Later, as I was doing laundry this thought came into my head, "Connie is having an abortion." "No, that is not true, that is a lie," I told myself. "My daughter would not do that." Yet, the thought, or 'voice,' continued to haunt me.
When Connie came home later that night, she was cordial and acted friendly; however, I recognized coldness on her part. My heart was still concerned, but I tried to push off the message of the 'voice.'
Months later, I found something in my daughter's bedroom I was not looking for — a prescription bottle from a well-known abortionist in my city. That bottle confirmed that the 'voice' was true. How I responded still surprises me as I look back on those dark days of pain. I had been working at the Wichita Pregnancy Center for more than five years at this point, offering love and grace to women in crisis pregnancies. This occurred 20 years ago when I was just beginning to learn the effects of abortion in women's lives. Sadly, my grief disabled me from offering this grace to my own daughter.
I was overwhelmed with feelings of anger, hurt, and betrayal. My daughter had an abortion. My grandchild was gone! My greatest fears were realized. My head was spinning with "what ifs?" I wondered if my position at the pregnancy center would be in jeopardy if I told anyone. I was obviously full of pride.
"For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light" Mark 4:22.
Hidden in my story is shame. Even though it didn't really belong to me, I placed it on my shoulders every morning. Shame is an emotion that we make our own from the inside out. When our children do something wrong, we immediately think it is a direct reflection on us. We call it shame, but we wrap it up in the pretty wrapping paper of pride! It should be disappointment, hurt, or maybe rejection, but we title it shame.
I had suspected my daughter might be pregnant and confronted her with my suspicions several weeks before her abortion. She had lied then, assuring me she was still a virgin. These lies tortured my soul.
Despite being on staff at a PCC, I did not know how to 'fix' my daughter or myself. The loss of my grandchild, along with my daughter's innocence, was too much to carry. At work, just hearing the word abortion was a constant reminder of my loss. I would cry at very inopportune times.
Then I went through a separate painful experience where I was momentarily relieved about not having a crying baby in the house. These thoughts conflicted with my personal beliefs and my position at the PCC. I had to release my guilt, emotions, and thoughts, but I did not know where to begin.
The sorrow of losing a grandchild in abortion can be overwhelming. I simply never considered openly grieving my lost grandchild, even though I had already begun to mourn subconsciously. It seemed that when I started to grieve, my pain increased!
I could not repent for my daughter's sin. I tried to be her Holy Spirit. That didn't work. All I could do was pray for God, through His Holy Spirit, to bring her to the place where she recognized her sin and willingly repented.
Twenty years ago, there was nothing available for extended family members who were affected by another person's abortion. Then I learned about the Forgiven and Set Free Bible study and read Sydna Massé's book, Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion. These resources helped me reach an understanding that I was experiencing a secondary form of post-abortion syndrome.
I can't really say when I decided to forgive my daughter and her boyfriend for the abortion. The Lord took over that process and helped me. As I applied what I learned, forgiveness and healing came in His time. Forgiveness often starts in our heart first and then God takes that and filters it to others.
As I received peace, God began to grow my outreach work; I started a post-abortion ministry at our pregnancy center. Through the outreach to the wounded of abortion I have talked to more grandmothers, as well as other related family members, of aborted babies than I could have ever imagined. God has used my grandchild's death to reach out to others who have suffered from abortion personally and particularly at a secondary level. During this healing process, our Savior stripped away my preconceived ideas about women who abort. I became incredibly empathetic with each client the Lord sent my way.
My relationship is fully restored with my daughter. Connie married her baby's father after she graduated from high school. After struggling with years of infertility, they now have a son and remain happily married. Connie attended an abortion recovery group herself. She has received healing in her own heart, praise the Lord.
I share my story because I want others to know the perspective of grandparents, especially those who are actively involved in the pregnancy center ministry. If parents are involved in their son or daughter's abortion decision, their pain may be very different than mine. No matter what the package of pain may be, God's healing is available for everyone.
Grandparent pain is often unnoticed and unrecognized. The aftermath of that decision remains. It is continuously played out in our own lives as well as in our children's lives. The loss of a grandchild affects us physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Even if we are involved in pregnancy center work, the risk that our child may abort is still very real. This loss can be extremely devastating to the point that it can impede our work.
The pain intensity of grandparent issues normally depends upon their involvement in the abortion decision. The pain and guilt of my situation differed from the parent who may have pressured/encouraged her child into aborting; therefore, the healing process must address their involvement.
In order to help other grandparents, the Lord helped me author Forgotten: Post-Abortion Healing for Grandparents, the first abortion recovery program for grandmothers. This study is a perfect addition to your current post-abortion ministry efforts as the healing pattern is the same.
As the poster child for grandparent pain after abortion and as the Director of Volunteer Services for a PCC, I recommend you prayerfully consider asking if potential volunteers or staff members have experienced an abortion and include the secondary level as well. If they have, I highly recommend that they be treated as you would any other post-abortive person by recommending a recovery program before they begin to minister at your center. However, it is advised that you not allow grandparents in a group with post-abortive women. With this new resource, my prayer is that God would bring His healing to a deeper level within these extended hearts and use your center to reconcile many families and lives.
Write firstname.lastname@example.org or call 316-945-9400 for information on how to obtain Forgotten: Post-Abortion Healing for Grandparents.
Karen Fifer is Director of Volunteer Services at Hope Renewed PCC, 1040 N. West St., Wichita, Kansas 67203. She can be contacted at 316-945-9400 or email@example.com.