Recently I wrote on Facebook and told the story of my unplanned pregnancy, and then posted my dad’s response letter to me and his memories about that time in our lives. The response to the story was overwhelming and I realize that many of us hold these thoughts and stories inside due to the enormity of emotion involved. Today I’d like to share my story and my father’s response. I pray you know someone you can share it with to help them and their family during their storms of life as well.
I considered having an abortion.
I was 18 years and 4 months old when I got pregnant, and had 2 months left of high school to finish. I had my eye on a Wesleyan college in Oklahoma and I had a recruiter getting me interested in their nursing school and had even done a weekend visit down to campus. When I found out I was pregnant, I knew my dream was over…or was it? People had abortions all the time and just went on living their lives. But I had something a lot of these other women didn’t have: a loving group of family and friends who were there for me.
Telling my parents I was pregnant was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Actually, I didn’t even do it. I told my sister and then she told them-on the weekend of her college graduation. What should have been a happy time for her and our family was stained by shame and disappointment. Some hurtful things were said to me, but as a parent of older kids now, I get it. I had been raised better…I was intelligent, I knew the standard the Lord had for me and I fell short. The amazing thing was, after the initial anger and sadness, a new thing happened. They loved me. They talked about this baby and the joy it would bring us all. I went from thinking about how I could get out of my responsibility to imagining a life as a mom.
I considered adoption as well. In the end, the decision became clear that with the help of my parents, I could parent my child. A university was found in Topeka and a loving pastor and his wife, whose own children were attending Wesleyan colleges, invited me to live with them. I attended Washburn university my first semester as an 18 year old freshman, and everyday my drive to campus took me past the Westboro Baptist Church and the picketers with their signs. I wondered why they were so full of hate when the people I knew who knew God were so full of love.
I delivered an 8 lb 8 oz healthy baby girl on December 22, 1998, exactly one week before my 19th birthday. My parents had moved to a completely different town, from Manhattan, KS to Olathe, KS, so that I could attend MidAmerica Nazarene University and live with them and my mom watched Hannah free of charge. They let me use their car free of charge and gifted it to me as a graduation gift from nursing school.
I share this story to show the many people who helped me keep my baby and give her life. Today, she attends Kansas State University and lives with her biological grandparents on her dad’s side. She is involved with all of her dad’s family and her dad and stepmom and baby brother. She is so very loved and treasured by all who know her.
Don’t you see? We throw stones at the women who abort their children, when so many of them don’t know where to turn. They are scared and hurting and don’t have the IMMENSE support system I had to help me keep my child.
PLEASE, never think I’m judging others. I’m the chief of sinners. There go I, by the grace of God and other believers who showed me His love.
Please see where you can fit into this mission with other women in this situation. Please foster, please adopt, please mentor, please march, please raise awareness, please vote, please volunteer, please pray. There are a million reasons to stay comfortable in our own homes and lives, and getting involved in other’s lives is messy and uncomfortable. However, as benefactors of an amazing grace, we are called to give that grace away, not hoard it for ourselves.
With much love and humility,
Your friend Kathy
Believe it or not, the thought of abortion went through my mind. I was numb, looking for a way for things to return to normal (whatever that was), but let me go back and fill you in on my memories.
We were on our way to IWU for Beth’s graduation ceremony. I had been asked to pray and I was full of thoughts regarding what I would say during the prayer. We stopped at a rest area somewhere in Missouri. You and Mom were sitting in the back seat together. After the two of you got back in the car, Mom soon handed me a note: “Kathy thinks she might be pregnant.” I couldn’t comprehend what I had just read. As fear and panic began to form in my mind, a numbness settled in that lasted for months.
That night in the motel in Marion, Indiana, Mom and I were beside ourselves. (I think you were with your friend, Christina.) I thought I was going to lose my mind. This could not be happening to you, or us. I couldn’t sleep and was literally beating my head against the wall. About 1:00 AM, I knew that I had to have help if I was to make it through the night. I remembered that my good friend, H.C. Wilson was in the same motel: I called him at 1:00AM, asking for his help. He came to our room and stayed until 4:00 AM.
After the graduation our family began to deal with what this situation would mean. A baby was coming. Mom and I were months away from the “empty nest.” Now what! You were scheduled to be off to college, and prepare for life. Now what! I remember the evening I told my parents (Papa and Grandmother.) It was a shock to them.
It was during those early days of confusion and shock that thoughts of abortion would float through my mind. I never entertained them for long, but they were definitely there. Wouldn’t it be easier for everyone?
I remember us going with you to the crisis pregnancy center in Manhattan (Kansas.) We walked in. I thought that the workers would see what terrible shape we were all in. Instead, they were peaceful, helpful and hopeful. “It’s going to be okay. We’ve never lost a grandpa yet and we don’t expect you to be the first.” I’ll never forget the hope they instilled in us, that life would go on. (I think it is amazing that twenty years later, Hannah, our blessing, is volunteering in that same crisis pregnancy center!)
Later on, at a minister’s retreat in Horn Creek, Colorado, we gathered our pastors and wives for an impromptu meeting. “Our daughter, Kathy, is pregnant. Susan and I plan intend to stand beside her and help. If you think I should resign as District Superintendent, I’ll be glad to, but we will stand beside our daughter.” I never heard one word of criticism or judgment from that special group. Instead they hugged us and ministered to us.
I remember asking my district board if I could relocate the district office from Manhattan to Olathe so that you could attend Mid America Nazarene University. Those precious co-workers had one word, “Do whatever you need to do to take care of Kathy and the baby.” I still love the many, many friends from Kansas!
Ed and Sharon Rotz, our pastors in Topeka, invited you to live with them during your pregnancy and our move. This made it possible for you to take a few classes at Washburn, as well.
During the midst of our confusion and fear, the Rotzes gave us a plaque that always has been displayed in a prominent place in our home, especially during those years. As I write this, it sits on my bookshelf just behind my right shoulder. It simply says, “TRUST ME, I HAVE EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL.” JESUS
Your grandparents closed their home in South Carolina and came to Clay Center, Kansas, to be the interim pastor and be nearer to their granddaughter at this very important time.
You had lots of help on the day of delivery. Your mom was in the delivery room with you, your grandmother and sister were there as well. Sharon was also there and David’s girlfriend, Tasha, was there as well. (David, Papa and I were in the waiting room!) Has any little girl had such a welcoming committee?
Hannah Nicole was loved and prayed for from the start. She went home with us: you, your mom and me. Soon we had you settled in a snug little basement apartment on Nelson Circle.
I remember how you worked to make a life for you and your daughter. You went to nursing school and finished near the top of your class. You cleaned houses, you got free diapers and supplies from local closets and pantries made available by women who had experienced similar circumstances. God led you to some wonderful friends who mentored and motivated you. But your drive, determination and strength, as well as a growing relationship with God were key to your success.
Seeing the names of some of the girls who responded to your Facebook post brought back memories of the network of friends you had: Dana, Andrea, Julianna and Tasha are just a few that come to mind. Hopefully, our family had a positive influence on them as we shared this journey.
You were wise beyond your years, Kathy. From the beginning you wanted Hannah to know her father and his family. Although it wasn’t easy for you or Mom, every other weekend beginning when Hannah was one year old, we packed her things and took her to Topeka to meet Pat and his family. Today Hannah’s father and his family are large part of her life. Who would have thought 20 years ago that she would be living with the Feldkemp’s and attending KSU. Your insights to making sure she grew up loving them was truly wonderful.
I remember when God brought Earl into your life. He understood that he was not just dating you but that Hannah was a part of the package. He never hesitated. Once you were married, he stepped in as a loving stepfather, standing beside you as together you reared our precious granddaughter.
One of the most amazing things I’ve seen took place during your wedding. Hannah was a flower girl, all dressed up and beautiful with curly hair. You and Earl had written a part into the ceremony for the three of you to join hands and hearts. Earl picked her up. Immediately she put her arm around his neck and reached over and put the arm around your neck! Then she pulled the heads of all three together in a holy huddle. There wasn’t a dry eye in the church, including mine.
Several years ago, we got an email from our teen-age Hannah. It brought back memories of the long nights of walking the floor with her when she wouldn’t or couldn’t sleep. Somehow I always got the 2 – 5:00 AM shift!
“Papa,” she wrote, “I just got out of a missions service and I think God spoke to me. The hair on my neck stood straight up. I think He wants me to be a missionary.”
For years I have told the grandchildren, “Learn at least two languages. You will need them in the new global world.” In my mind I pictured them learning Spanish or French, one of the romance languages. Imagine our surprise when she called to tell us that she was studying Chinese (she has your mind), and she was tutoring young Chinese kids in English through the internet! Many of her friends are foreign exchange students.
Needless to say, Hannah is a special blessing. Many of the questions we had twenty years ago have now been answered. As the plaque so simply says, “TRUST ME, I HAVE EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL.” JESUS
The picture above this post is my daughter, Hannah, on her 20th birthday. Blessings and peace to you, and may you each find ways you can minister to the women who desperately need help but may not know where to turn.