It never occurred to me that the cute 16-year-old guy down the street had a violent side. At 14, my string-bean figure had become a bit curvier, yet my biggest passion was riding my pony (bareback) through our little town. We lived a lifestyle typical to those days in the early 70’s: get up, do chores, and then run with friends until the porch lights came on. It was an idyllic, carefree time – safe to ride bikes, do flips in the front yard, and wander from one neighbor’s house to the other.
Then something happened that would shatter the innocence of my girlhood. That cute guy became aggressive, sexually — and my world turned upside-down. It would be a few weeks later that my mother, alerted by gossip, verbalized her inconceivable fear.
“People are saying you’re pregnant,” she murmured.
For weeks she’d worried about my stomach ‘flu.’ Nothing would stay down and my adolescent form became skinnier.
“Well, maybe I am,” I mumbled quickly.
Verbalizing my fear at that moment made the situation all too real. My mother, stunned, fell to the floor in front of her bubbling pot of soup. We cried, hugged, and tried to make sense of the unthinkable. The un-reciprocated advances of the neighborhood boy had resulted in a baby.
All this transpired during the days of the infamous Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton cases. The topic of abortion was being discussed and the laws were on the cusp of being handed down. The common rationalizations in support of abortion were many. They still are. We’d heard them all, but there was one that was even more unthinkable:
“What about the rape/incest exception?”
And now it had hit home. Should a girl really carry her attacker’s child? For this irrevocably Catholic family there was only one answer: yes! After all, why punish the child for his father’s crime? Wouldn’t that just create another victim? That child had committed no crime, had been convicted by no jury. To give him a death sentence would be the height of injustice. But, but, but …
“Wouldn’t the girl’s life come to a screeching halt, with no chance of a future?”
In a nutshell, the answer was no! The ensuing months became a blur, yet time stood still. Although my early high-school life changed, it continued. Now there was a ‘homebound’ teacher and an algebra tutor. Time, however, marched on and adjustments were made. This wasn’t an era of ‘baby mommas’ and ‘baby daddies’, this was a more sheltered time and after a while we began to attend Mass in a neighboring town.
‘The time’ came in early summer and a kind-faced nurse kept me somewhat calm by talking about mundane things – like my nice tan. Then there he was – a blue eyed bundle of around 7 pounds. They laid him in my lap and I timidly poked at him – counted the fingers and toes, because that’s what was expected, and then quickly rebundled him.
At home again, life continued with my sisters and a little wooden cradle holding him. My parents had stepped up in and chosen the loving option of adopting this child of mine. He was lovingly added to their brood even though my mother was four months pregnant at the time of his birth. This was our Catholic faith in action!
The blue-eyed angel grew up knowing I was ‘special’ and about his adoption, even before he knew what that meant, because my parents wanted him to know the truth from the beginning. ‘The Boys,’ as we called them, grew up together as brothers with a bond that grew stronger and matured with adulthood. Our little family of seven resumed our idyllic life in our small town and acceptance was regained from most. The whispers would always be there but we all grew accustomed to them. We circled the wagons around our family and our Catholic faith.
That next fall, I returned to high school. Then, during the summer of my sixteenth year, I met a young man whom my mother trusted. He was the first one I was allowed to date. We became quite the pair and were soon ‘going steady.’ Another reminder of ‘that time’ would come when we parked in a quiet meadow and I told him my story. He had heard the murmurs but I needed to tell him myself – that it wasn’t quite the way it was portrayed in some circles. To my surprise and joy he accepted my tale with a loving calm! He was not in tune with the naysayers; his heart was his own – and mine!
We married Thanksgiving weekend of my senior year, with the blessing of our parish priest. Our high school courtship had remained a chaste one – by our mutual agreement. After our wedding we approached my parents and asked if we could adopt the little one – now three years old. My mother’s answer was an unequivocal ‘NO’! She explained that he was now her baby and she simply could not give him up. We did, however, have ‘The Boys’ over quite a bit. They became our ‘practice kids’ in those early years.
That fall, after having graduated from high school, I began my college life and remained on track to graduate on time. In what seemed like no time at all I found myself in my senior year of college – I was also pregnant with our first child! Our son was born before I walked the stage to receive my diploma.
Life and Love March On!
Since that time many things have happened. After graduation with a BA in Art, my various jobs have included art teacher, office manager, and Catholic bookstore manager, as well as a field representative for a pro-life US congressman. In the pro-life realm I have been an executive director of Right to Life of Owensboro (twice) and served as newsletter editor and board member of several pro-life groups. My life has been full and fulfilling. I tell you these things not to brag about my credentials, but to enforce the point that your life is never over – no matter what cards you are dealt.
During our 44 years of marriage, my husband and I have had three children and have seen them all marry. We have welcomed 10 grandchildren – gifts from their happy marriages. The two children born to my ‘special brother’ and his wife, round out our total of twelve grandchildren. They are all 15 years old and younger. I am godmother to seven of these angels and we are quite the lively bunch. Life (and Love) prevailed and has come full circle. Contrary to being ‘ruined,’ I can honestly say that my 61 years on this earth have truly been blessed!
Note: the fruit of all of my pro-LIFE fervor manifests itself in the pro-LIFE memes I create and share in my album and fan page at Designs by Birgit on Facebook. I also write about pro-life issues on my personal blog, Catholic Life In Our Times.
Copyright 2019 Birgit Jones