Saturday, September 23, 2017

Double Jeopardy: Mom Conceived in Rape, Dad Conceived in Incest, by Van Atkins

Of course, our precious Savior always perfectly knows what went on, is going on, and will
go on in our lives. For us, the reasons why our life has unfolded the way it has only begin to come into focus when we can look back and see the footsteps of Our Lord as he walked with us at every moment. Recently, the 50th anniversary of the precious matrimonial sacrament of myself and my beloved Maureen was a huge such opportunity to reflect on my journey home so far. For me, I see more clearly every day how even the very moment of my conception was so unlikely it could only have been God’s mysterious will and divine providence.

You see, my father was the result of incest,and my mother was the result of rape. The fact that both occurred in the early part of the last century, when such things were “dealt with” via cover-up or keeping them secret -- instead of the now ubiquitous abortion solution -- was certainly a providential blessing in disguise. 

Through my now 7+ decades, every time I’ve marveled at the numerous blessings God has bestowed on me, in those same moments, I’ve also been acutely aware that almost all folks judge that in such situations of conception -- let alone in the double jeopardy I was in -- should be able to be murdered, in their mother’s womb, well before birth. Yet, praise the Lord, here I am. And here also are 4 children, 7 grandchildren; a sister; 7 nieces and nephews; and 6 grand nieces and nephews -- all of whom are certainly intensely pro-life and also making other real differences, for good, in the Body of Christ.

It arouses deep gratitude, in the depths of my soul, to realize that God loved me so much
and so hungered for my role in his salvation plan. But it’s also almost immeasurably humbling -- not infrequently accompanied by a palpable sense of “why me?” -- and difficult to accept that I was chosen to be born when so many other tens of millions were cast away as easily and dispassionately as the day’s trash. 

Yet, as I know without doubt that I exist per God’s will, I’ve come to a more full, and peace-filled, resolution of my internal guilt conflict. And such resolution has emboldened my willingness to clearly stand up and be counted everywhere -- workplace, neighborhood, friends, extended family, parish -- as 100% pro-life, with no exceptions. 

The “Save the 1” mentality took deep roots in my spiritual journey. There are folks alive today because we shared, with their confused and frightened parents, the beauty and sanctity of every conceived child.

It has never seemed to me even remotely understandable that those in authority can think they can play God with his precious children’s lives. The very thing they tout as a wonderful “good” for society seems so clearly to actually be a death rattle for society. And then there’s that almost universal tagline “except in the cases of incest and rape, or danger of the mother’s health” that’s endlessly and mindlessly used by those who purport to be pro-life, but are actually “let me chose which life is more important”. 

Every time I hear that phrase, I become almost physically ill: “What about me and how I came to be”?

But how did mom and dad deal with the circumstances of their births? Dad knew he was
born in a very rural home, located in a backwoods area called Gopher Valley. So, when he
needed a birth certificate to go with the Army to Panama in the late 1930's, he wasn’t
surprised that local record keepers didn’t have his . He was able to get some birth affidavits from the delivery doctor and relatives, and didn’t think any more about it. 

But then, later in his civilian life, he got a job in Morocco and the need for a U.S.passport-compliant birth certificate arose. Through that process, the old family rumors which he’d always discounted -- that some “farmer” had been involved in his birth -- began to seem at least possible. Dad still pretty much still was a man who lived in the present and looked forward. But doubts about his origin did make him more introspective and reflective. 

He was non-Catholic. But thereafter, he took real interest in Catholic perspectives (beware getting between him and watching his favorite program, Bishop Sheen!) and got to the point where he could argue Catholic dogma -- including about life issues -- better than most baptized Catholics. And, sure enough, on his deathbed, he requested baptism, and was received into the Catholic Church where he felt he’d found his real Father. 

After he passed, DNA testing done by me, in connection with my genealogy hobby, proved the rumors -- and the farmer turned out to be his maternal great uncle, in whose home he’d been born.

Mom’s revelation about her birth was more of an immediate surprise. The Morocco move
meant she also needed a passport. That caused her mother to tell her, for the first time, that
she was not her parents' natural child. Indeed, she’d never been formally adopted. 

Her parents had recently lost a child and were visiting North Dakota. They heard of a baby girl who’d been abandoned at the local Catholic hospital. A local farmer had brought his pregnant 13 year old daughter, who’d been raped by a malcontent hired hand, to that hospital to ask the good nuns for help, as no facilities existed anywhere in the county to handle such events. 

The nuns took her in and a very premature -- a nearly certain death sentence in those days -- little girl was born soon thereafter. Since the child was dying, the nuns baptized her Catholic. (To this day she’s still the only Catholic ever in her birth mother’s bloodline.)  But she miraculously survived (God’s plan at work again!) and ultimately mom’s parents agreed to take the child with them as they returned to Oregon. 

After mom learned about her birth circumstances, she tried hard to locate her birth mother.
She was enormously grateful, and in awe, that such a young child should so bravely give birth to her. Especially as the world, in mom’s later years, began to see such bravery as utter foolishness, and such babies as out and out “tragedies”. 

Mom began to more concretely recognize and accept God’s plan in her life. To bring her to life -- and such a long-lived and loving one (she lived to age 96) -- just had to be part of specific plan God had for her. When mom died, she’d come through 3 marriages, 2 divorces, and much physical pain, to die in full concert with the Church, receiving all the anointing sacraments, and revered as a long-time pillar of her parish. 

Even mom’s 13 year old birth mother’s life was distinctly affected by being raped yet choosing to still have her child at such a young age. The physical event rendered her unable to have other child and ”Aunt _____” became the favorite mentor and counselor of everyone in her sibling’s extended family. When that bloodline family learned their beloved aunt’s child had been found, there was an incredible outpouring of joy and love from them.  

And, . . . hard to believe, but there’s still another remarkable aspect to our family story:
My wife Maureen’s own mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, but refused treatment so she could choose birth Maureen -- at the expense of her own life. The knowledge of her mother’s ultimate sacrifice has hovered over Maureen’s entire life and strengthened her Catholic faith throughout. It’s been integral to her on-going spiritual awareness and growth, and has played the major role in her always being the leader in faith in our family.

As I humbly look back on the life God has thus far gifted me, I daily thank him that he so lovingly allowed the role my family has played in his plan.  It breaks my heart when those who wantonly disregard life's sanctity start their delusional, self-congratulatory mantras about how it's not life; or "my body" -- which is really "my avoidance of the consequences of my actions."  Evil!  God's plan to populate his kingdom with precious souls he brings forth out of his perfect love has NO exceptions.  When our selfishness and lack of trust causes us to take a tiny life that is God's, it is a far greater travesty than the terrible loss of that life.  It is a complete denial of God's love and of that child's absolutely necessary role in God's plan for the happiness of us ALL.


I started my genealogy hobby and created our family tree so that my immediate family and extended family -- and all those who come after us -- would always know and be able to reflect upon the heroics of so many of our ancestors, but most especially of mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, and great- grandma. These dear souls believed all life was precious and worthy, no matter how it came to be or what it cost, and so willingly sacrificed that we might enjoy God's gift of life.  I ask that they never be forgotten because, without their selfless love, we would not be here, and I genuinely believe that the world would be a lesser place.  Our lives will be so much more God's if we can also have, as they did, at least one great and defining moment of unselfishness.  Thanks to them all!!!

My Bio: Van is a husband of 50 years to his beloved Maureen, father of 4 and the
grandfather of 7. He and Maureen presently serve as their parish’s RCIA Coordinators.
Additionally, they own a thriving health coaching outreach that specializes in all areas of
permanent better health change -- weight, nutrition, supplementation, diet, home safety and
detoxification, stress, exercise, and sleep.
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I helped my mother heal from the rape in which I was conceived, by Claudia Marcela from Columbia

Hello, my name is Claudia Marcela and I’m Colombian. I’m the product of the rape that my mother endured at the age of 15 at the hands of a family acquaintance.

My mother still had the innocence of a girl her age and she couldn’t say anything in her house because she was afraid of the threats of the person who had defiled and left her pregnant. 

She didn’t understand why her body was changing so quickly and she couldn’t find the courage to tell her mother Ana, her grandmother Mercedes, or her sister Amanda what had happened to her.  It was something very painful for her.

However, the person who was most distraught by the situation was her grandmother Mercedes. My mother was her precious little girl, the apple of her eye. Her pain was so great that she became sick, and after she found out the truth that her granddaughter was pregnant by rape, she was never the same again.

With fervor, my family searched for the man who raped my mother, in order that they could turn him into the police, but they weren’t able to find him because he’d already left town.

My mother and grandmother decided to persist with the pregnancy, not only because of the advanced stage of her pregnancy, but because the innocent child she carried within had all the rights in the world to be born.

The months passed and I was born. My mother’s uncle said that my birth helped relieve some of my mother's pain but my mother’s grandmother, my great-grandmother Mercedes, couldn’t overcome the pain and she fell into bed depressed.

Everyday she would ask that I was laid beside her so that she could cuddle me, kiss me and watch over me, but her pain didn’t let her continue doing that and she died shortly after. This caused my mother to blame herself for her grandmother’s death and she hardened herself, even with her baby.

A few months later, her sister Amanda, my aunt, married a man named Edgar who fell in love with me from the moment he laid eyes on me, and like my grandfather, he became a paternal figure for me.

My grandparents hadn’t lived together for a long time. My grandfather lived in another town with his own family, but he was a father to me during the vacations in which I went to visit him. He was loving and fun. 

In everyone in my family, I found love, but in my mother, I noticed an emotional distance.  Though she gave me gifts and material things, I couldn’t understand why there was this distance.

As the time passed, I asked about my father, and the answer was that he had died
before I was born.  However, when I turned 13, a relative confessed the truth to me. Even though learning the truth of my origins was very hard, it made me understand the attitude of my mother. Nonetheless, I never discussed this with her, out of fear of hurting her by reminding her of such a painful moment.

The time passed by and I turned 21. I became pregnant with the child of my boyfriend, Carlos, but I didn’t realize I was pregnant. I went for a medical check up because I didn’t feel well and the doctor performed an ultrasound on me where I could see a small image the size of a grain of rice. The doctor told me, “Claudia, you’re pregnant.”

I didn’t care if the father would be responsible for him or if my family would accept this development.  My eyes filled with tears, my heart wanted to jump out of my chest with love and joy, but the doctor thought that I was crying out of fear, and he told me, “Claudia, if you want an abortion, you’re just in time for it, and I can help you.” I looked at him with wide eyes filled with anger, and a desire to hit him. I said, “Butcher, I’d give my life for my child! I’d do anything for him without caring about anything else.”

I left the doctor’s office furious, found the father of my child and told him, “I’m pregnant, and I’m having this child with or without your help.” He told me to calm down, that we would go through the pregnancy together and that the baby was as much his as he or she was mine. The words of the man who would become my husband filled me with peace and encouragement.

After that, we went to talk to my mother. And that woman who was always distant and strong like a rock became passionate because of the news! My grandmother was happy as well. 

Later, a little battle unfolded within the family when my uncle Edgar found out the news. The women in my family wanted the baby to be a girl, but my uncle desired a boy so that there could be another male around to keep him company. Finally, my uncle won the war because my beautiful son was born and he won over all of the women in the family, including myself, his mother. That child has been a great blessing.

Six months after the birth of my son Mauricio, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, Laura, and 13 years after that came my youngest daughter Ana Valeria. My children are my greatest blessings.

Years later, my mother asked for psychological help to help heal the trauma from her rape and the after effects. We did it together. Thanks to God and the therapy we received, my mother realized that the only person she could count on in her life was her daughter, and that realization, joyful if very late, filled her with serenity.

My children knew the story of my life during their adolescence. It was hard for them to accept it, but they did it with the wisdom and love from God.

The phrase “God makes roses grow where there are only stones” is very fitting and I’d like this story to get to all of the women who don’t know what to do when they find themselves in a similar situation, or any women who are thinking of aborting their children.

My whole life I was able to achieve because of the wonderful Divine being I have always called “Father”, and the wonderful, celestial being called Jesus. I always went to him, in every moment, as well as his Saint Mother, Mary. 

BIO:  Claudia Marcela is a wife, mother of 3, and now blogger for Salvar El 1 -- the Spanish division of Save The 1.  Read her story in Spanish here.

Though conceived in rape, my son is the best thing that has happened to me, by Akli Ahlet from Argentina

I always lived alone with my dad because my mom passed away when I was four years old and nobody in my family ever wanted to take care of me. My dad found it very difficult to take care of me and go to work, so after school I used to go to swimming lessons by myself.

At age 15, I met at school a girl who hated me because I was completely against abortion. She would always say me: "That's because they never raped you."  And I replied that even if someone did, I would never kill my son because he would not be to blame for that violent aggression.

One day, while waiting for the bus, she and her brother got me in a car and raped me. To be honest, this hasn’t caused me any permanent trauma, although that day I felt disgusting.  But just in that moment. . . .

I told my dad what happened, and I still do not understand why, but he felt guilty for not being able to pick me up because of his work.  He was not to blame because, truly, it was impossible for him to pick me up.  He had to work because otherwise, we would not be able to eat. 

We are from Croatia, although we now live in Argentina where life is easier for us. But in Croatia, everything was more complicated and I had to stop attending swim lessons after the rape.

Four months later, I started fainting and having very low blood glucose levels. I am a diabetic and I went to the doctor where they told me that I was pregnant and that I had to have an abortion because the pregnancy came from a rape.

The so-called "doctor" told me that my son was disgusting -- all for a crime my son did not commit!  She said he would not survive because of my low blood glucose levels. I started to cry and to say that I did not understand why she was against my son if he had not done anything wrong.

My dad grabbed my hand and pulled me out without a word. The only thing he told me when we got into the car was that, when my son was born, I had start working because with my father's salary, he wasn’t going to be able to pay for everything. I knew that my father would never ask me to kill my son and his words made me very happy.

I kept going to school, eating lots of cookies so that my blood sugar did not drop. My classmates always looked at me badly and said that my son was going to ruin my life.  But I never responded to them because my son really is my reason to live.

 He is a very good boy and there are people who look at him rudely because, in one way or another, they learned how he was conceived. At the age 5 he said, "They're bad Mommy, and I’m good, that's why they look at me like that."

He still does not know how he was conceived. I will tell him when he grows up, but my son is the best thing that has happened in my life and I would go through everything that happened again to see my son every day, and also to see my father's joy when he looks at his grandson and says: "At last, a boy for me".

Now I am studying to become a teacher and my son comes to school with me from time to time and gets very spoiled there. When I experienced what it was like to be a mother, I understood what true happiness is.


BIO:  Akli Ahlet, from Argentina, sent the Spanish division of Save The 1, Salvar El 1 this testimony to share it and to help other women who have been through something similar. Here is her story in Spanish.