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Sunday, February 26, 2017
Today I sit in a prison cell a broken man. A man that wishes every waking minute of every day that I could go back to May 26, 2016, and make a different choice. The choice I made to drink and get behind the wheel of a car with my best friend Casey by my side forever will be my biggest regret. The guilt that I carry on my shoulders knowing that my actions took Casey’s life weighs heavy on my heart and is something I forever will carry.
Casey was my best friend and was always there for me. He loved life and lived it to the fullest every day. He showed me how not to worry about the small things that most of us spend too much time and energy on and to always look for the good in people. He never met a stranger he wouldn’t help, and he loved his friends and most especially his family. We had a band of brothers who all hung out together, and our motto was “Never leave a brother behind.” Casey always had my back and he knew I always had his, but I never thought that our motto would mean so much to me and that those simple words would lead me on a journey of healing and redemption. The knowledge that I didn’t leave Casey to die in that field alone and did everything in my power to try to save his life is the one thing that gives me peace in the midst of tragedy.
On the night of May 25, 2016, Casey and I went to a high school graduation party, with close to 50 kids from all over the area in attendance. Beer was packed in coolers in the back of the homeowners’ truck and we were told we could drink as much as we wanted. Casey and I had graduated from high school two years prior and recently had returned home from college. We didn’t know a lot of the kids in attendance, so we hung out together, enjoying the party from the sidelines. Party goers asked us to bring a car with a loud stereo system so I drove a jeep out that had a great sound system and Casey drove my pickup. We spent the evening playing a lot of country music. Around 1:00 AM, Casey and I decided to call it quits since we both had to work the next day so Casey drove my pickup home and I drove the jeep. After arriving home, we realized that Casey had left his phone at the party, so we both jumped into the jeep and headed back out to retrieve it. As we were getting in the jeep to leave, someone from the party yelled, “Do a donut!” So I did.
After the jeep tipped I didn’t realize at first that Casey was pinned under the roll bar as he was thrown from his seat as he never fastened his seatbelt. I was stuck in my seatbelt, hanging sideways, and couldn’t get out. I was yelling for help when I glanced down and only saw Casey’s legs. The kids from the bonfire rushed over and together managed to pick up the jeep and put it back on all four tires. No doubt panicked at the sight of Casey who had been pinned, they all ran off, leaving me to help my best friend alone. It was me and Casey in a field all alone at nearly 2:00 AM in the morning. I dialed 911 and began to follow the instructions of the emergency operator when the phone went dead. Tamping down a growing sense of panic, I called my mom, who is an medic and happened to be on duty that night, and told her to hurry. The phone disconnected again. We were in a field where the cell reception was bad and I couldn’t get a good signal to call back. I just followed the 911 dispatcher’s instructions to perform CPR, waiting for help to arrive.
When my mom arrived on scene, she kept asking me if I was okay as I was covered in the blood of my best friend. Her partner took over chest compressions, and exhausted, I sat beside her. At the time, I didn’t realize that I had been performing CPR on Casey for nine minutes with no relief or help. I sat beside Casey, crying, and I knew my mom was doing everything she could to try and save him. I remember seeing tears running down her face as she worked to put a tube down Casey’s throat to help him breathe. Casey was in the best of hands as my mom is a great medic and would do everything she could to save his life. My mom loved Casey as if he were her own, and I could see the hurt and pain etched on her face as she struggled to save his life. Casey was hooked up to machines and my mom, her partner and Samaritan Life Flight were doing everything they could to save his life. After a few minutes, the frustration and sadness on my mom’s face told me all I needed to know. Moments later she came over and hugged me, kissed my forehead, and told me that my best friend in the whole world was gone. In that moment, I thought about Casey’s family and how disappointed they were going to be with me. I completely fell apart, hitting my head on the ground and yelling, “I’m so sorry Casey! I’m so sorry!”
In the early morning hours, I sat there in shock as police officers arrived at the scene, asking me if I was ok and wanting to know what happened. I answered all their questions about the events of the night, admitting that I had been drinking prior to the accident. I told them that I was doing donuts in the field when the jeep tipped. Knowing I owed it to Casey to tell the truth, I hid nothing from investigators. Eventually, I was arrested for OWI causing death as I had a blood alcohol level of .085. The legal limit in Indiana is .08, but since I was under age, there was no legal limit to drinking and driving. I decided to plead guilty, taking full responsibility for my actions, and was sentenced to serve time in a Department of Corrections facility.
Now, I spend my days praying for Casey’s parents who have stood by me, never blaming me for the accident that caused Casey’s death. Having their love and support is helping me heal and hopefully, one day, I can move forward with my life. I also pray for my parents, especially my mom, who emotionally has suffered over this accident and the fact that she couldn’t save Casey’s life. “Never leaving a brother behind” is not just a motto for our band of brothers anymore. Since Casey’s death, it has taken on a new and deeper meaning. It has become a way of life. I never once had any intention of taking off with those kids that night and abandoning Casey to die in that field alone. I pray he is looking down from Heaven and knows that I had the chance to leave him and I didn’t. I stayed and fought for his life and kept my promise that I would never leave him behind.
To help Monica and JJ produce a Public Service Announcement video discouraging
underage drinking and driving by telling JJ and Casey's story click here:
underage drinking and driving by telling JJ and Casey's story click here:
Saturday, February 25, 2017
At some point in our lives, most of us will face a decision that has the potential to alter the course of our lives and the lives of those around us. Just such a decision faced 13-year-old Ashley after she was raped and became pregnant by her attacker. In an act of courage, she assisted in the prosecution of her rapist and decided her baby wouldn’t be a casualty of his father’s crime. Four years ago, when I received a call regarding this brave young girl who resisted calls to abort her unborn child and move on with her life, I was compelled to find some way to help. This is how I met Ashley, a young woman whose strength and perseverance is and always has been one of her most impressive accomplishments.
At a time when most young teens are attending slumber parties with friends, playing with makeup, and going to the movies, Ashley has spent the last four years caring for Aiden, her son, finishing high school, and becoming a powerful voice in support of the prolife movement. Last year, Ashley came forward to tell her story to the Indiana Senate. Her riveting testimony helped convince the body to pass a law that would sever the parental rights of convicted rapists. Although forced to relive her personal nightmare in front of a room full of strangers, Ashley persevered because she knew that she had to protect not only her son, but other children like him and their mothers who live with the constant fear that their rapists will have access to their children. Her testimony ultimately was a deciding factor in the passage of the bill.
This coming June, Aiden will celebrate his fourth birthday with his mom and extended family by his side. Ashley, now 18, is committed to giving her son the best life she can despite the emotional and financial challenges they face. Over the years, Ashley has struggled emotionally to cope with the aftermath of the rape and raising her son on her own, but she has endured by sheer force of will and determination. She continues to pursue her education while working a part-time job and being a single mom to Aiden. She hopes this summer to have enough money so they can move into a place of their own. Her love for and pride in Aiden shines in her eyes when she speaks about her son.
“He is very full of energy, very talkative, and knows his colors, numbers and his ABCs,” said Ashley. “He loves Power Rangers, Batman, Superman, dinosaurs, and motorcycles, but his favorite is zombies.”
Aiden, who is 36 pounds and over three feet tall is by all accounts a well-adjusted and happy toddler.
“He is such a lady’s man and flirts with all the girls anywhere they go,” Ashley continued. “He loves babies and playing with his cousins and uncles.”
Ashley credits her parents and extended family and friends for helping her through a difficult time, and she is appreciative of the support of those who’ve reached out to her and Aiden.
“I am very grateful to my parents for helping me with all they could over the last four years,” Ashley said. “I am very thankful for everyone who has donated and continues to keep up with us. I don’t know where I would be without Monica and her family. I am so very blessed.”
Aiden is a living, breathing example of the beauty that can come of tragedy when a mother courageously and unselfishly choose life for her unborn child. Every day in this movement we find ourselves helping young women with basic needs and support for unintended pregnancies. Through Ashley and Aiden’s story, supporters from all over the country came forward to provide for a courageous young girl and her son, making it easier for her to move forward and build a life. Ashley didn’t ask to be a mom at the tender age of 13, but she didn’t let that stop her from being one. We can learn a lot from Ashley and Aiden about the precious nature and purpose of each human life and the sacrifices often made to protect and nurture that life. Christ has big plans for Ashley and Aiden, and I am eager to see what He has in store for them.
If you would like to give a gift to Ashley and Aiden please click the link below.
Monday, February 6, 2017
My birthmother told me that in 1973, as she recovered from the vicious attack that left her pregnant, she couldn’t see any good that could possibly come from her being raped. I imagine that at the time the pain was too raw, too fresh, for her to possibly find a spark of hope and imagine that a life of purpose might arise from such intense anguish.
For a while, after discovering the truth about my parentage, I shared that sentiment and wondered if anything positive could ever come from knowing the horrific truth.
For me, the circumstances of my conception and abandonment were all-consuming, and I couldn’t help but look at my life through the lens of this devastating revelation. What I didn’t know at the time, however, was that the very heartache and devastation I experienced, and the steps I took to overcome it, ultimately prepared me for the struggles I would face in the days and years to follow.
The events of May 26th, 2016 proved to be one of those times. This day will forever be a defining moment in my family, a moment that shook my family to the core and forced us to hang on to faith, as we walked along an unknown path to an uncertain future.
As I travel the world speaking about the gift of life I have been given, I also have the amazing opportunity to work part-time saving lives as a medic and firefighter. Being a medic can be very rewarding as you fight to save the lives of people you’ve never met. Although many of these experiences are rewarding and have happy endings, others are too horrifying to contemplate.
On May 25, 2016, I was the medic on call and my ambulance driver and I were praying for a slow night so we could get some sleep. My husband and my youngest daughter were at home, and my son and his best friend were going to a high school graduation party and bonfire. These boys were like brothers, always together, and both had graduated the year before and had just returned home from college.
In the early morning hours of May 26, we were paged to the scene of an accident. A jeep had rolled over and pinned a victim under the vehicle. This being a high priority call, we quickly headed out. We were driving down a major highway and I mentioned to my driver that there were a lot of cars on the road this early in the morning.
On our way to the scene of the accident, my cell phone rang. It was my son.
I answered the call. I heard only blood-curdling screams from my son and a desperate plea to hurry. Then the call was disconnected.
About 30 seconds after the call abruptly ended, our emergency dispatcher came across the radio and advised us that a bystander had started CPR. My heart sank. I tried calling my son back, but there was no answer. At this point, I knew my son was involved, but I didn’t know if he was giving or receiving CPR. I immediately radioed my fellow first responders that my son was involved and that I would need another medic as I knew I wouldn’t be able to work on my own child.
The accident was in a field about 1/2 mile from the main road, but we didn’t have an exact location. We could see the glow of the bonfire, but finding the road to it was more challenging. Time was of the essence, so I instructed my driver to abandon the road, cut across the field, and get me to my son.
As we arrived on scene, I saw my son covered in blood performing chest compressions on his best friend. We quickly took over efforts. After a few minutes it was clear that our efforts were failing. Our team worked tirelessly to save this young man’s life, doing everything our training had prepared us for, but it wasn’t enough. His injuries were too severe. We ceased all our life-saving efforts and I completely fell apart. Not only did my son’s best friend die in that field that night, but a part of my son and I died too.
As I sat there hugging my son, he told me what happened. My son said they were doing donuts in the field when the jeep rolled, pinning his best friend under the vehicle. The kids who were attending the bonfire hoisted the jeep off him and put it back on its tires, but then took off so they wouldn’t get into trouble for underage drinking. These 30-50 kids who were at the party when the accident happened left my son to try to save his best friend by himself. It became clear that this was why the road was so busy on our way to the scene at that hour of the morning.
My son was charged with Operating While Intoxicated causing death. His blood alcohol was .085, which is just above the legal limit in Indiana. In December, my son pled guilty and assumed full responsibility for his actions. Our hearts are broken for the loss of his best friend and for the parents of this young man who forgave and stood by my son through this whole process.
I struggle every day with the events of that night. I couldn’t save that young man’s life and there’s no way to go back and make it right. But I am reminded of God’s love and purpose for our lives - and for my son’s life. My son’s heart is broken and the guilt he feels is bigger than any punishment a judge can give him.
I often ask myself what good can possibly come out of this? My son is in a prison cell and his best friend is dead. And then I’m reminded that it took 37 years for my birthmother and I to meet and for us both to discern God’s purpose in her pain. The daughter conceived in violence and abandoned is now working to save the lives of others.
Now I wait, praying to see God’s plan unfold in this situation as well.
Monica Kelsey is the First Lady of Woodburn, Indiana, a mother of three and the Founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, an organization that advocates for the Safe Haven Law that allows mothers in crisis an alternative to illegal abandonment. She is currently working on a Public Service Announcement video of her son’s story in hopes of discouraging underage drinking and driving and welcomes donations at www.gofundme.com/NeverLeaveABrotherBehind for this project. Coming soon: part two of this story, in Monica’s son’s own words.
Monday, December 28, 2015
As 2015 comes to a close, I am reminded of how blessed I am. From a family who loves me and friends who would do anything for me to just being alive. This, however, hasn't always been the case. Six years ago, I didn’t look at my life as a gift. I looked at it as a source of humiliation and shame--all due to the circumstances surrounding my birth.
When my birthmother pulled out a police report and told me that I was conceived through rape, I was devastated. This was not what I was told while growing up as an adopted child of loving parents. From the very first moment that my parents told me I was adopted, I was reassured that my birth parents were young and in love, but were still in school and couldn't care for a baby, thus the decision to put me up for adoption. I was a loved and wanted child of two people who loved each other. That is what I have believed for 37 years. How could I have spent the last 37 years of my life living a lie? So many questions raced through my mind, but answers were in short supply.
After a few days of denial, I resolved to prove my birth mother's story a piece of fiction. The last thing in the world that I wanted was for this circumstance to define my life.
I started my search for answers at the police station that took my birth mother's report of rape more than 30 years previously. My quest for answers continued as my husband and I walked the streets of the town that my birth father called home. My husband, armed with a video camera, documented our every step. Although I wasn't quite sure what motivated his desire to video tape this encounter, today I am thankful for the footage. I have to say that the more that I learned about the circumstances surrounding my conception, the more deeply depressed I became. I remember thinking to myself that I didn’t want this to be my life, my story. I only desired to be the wanted and loved child of my birth parents, not a child thrust into this world by an act of violence.
After fact-finding missions at the court house, police station, library, hospital and health department, I still had doubts about her story. Not because the evidence didn't exist; it was there, in abundance, and all pointing toward the truth of my birth mother's story, a truth I refused to face. In a last ditch effort marked by desperation and pain, I arrived on the doorstep of my biological father's house. I just wanted someone to deny this horrible truth and tell me it was going to be okay. Naturally, I turned to the one person who would surely deny it.
My husband, camera rolling, and I drove past his home four times as I summoned the courage to stop. Although patient with the whole process, my husband's agitation was beginning to show. As we drove by his house one last time, we noticed a woman on a ladder painting a garage. I looked at my husband and said "Okay, it's time; let’s stop."
With the camera still rolling, we pulled into the driveway. The woman turned around to see who it was and then began to descend the steps of the ladder. My husband and I got out of our car and walked up the drive. My first words were “Hi, I’m Monica." That was all it took. There was no hand shake, no “it’s nice to meet you," nothing. She stared at me and coldly said, "I know who you are and you’re not welcome here."
This woman turned out to be my birth father's wife, who had been married to him for many years. She went on to tell me that I was ruining their lives and that he didn’t want to be my “father," all the while throwing in a few choice insults for good measure.
As she continued to call me names, my husband stepped in and calmly said, "Do you realize that this has nothing to do with Monica? You are blaming an innocent victim for your husband’s crime.”
Grabbing my hand in a quick reassuring squeeze, my husband then escorted me back down the drive toward our car, with my birth father's wife following close behind, calling me names and telling us to leave their family alone. Shaken, we reached the relative safety of the car. As my husband started the engine, he looked at me and said "You know this isn’t your fault, right?"
We drove down the road for about a mile when my husband stopped the car and gently pulled me into his arms. The remainder of the ride home was quiet and long and full of tears.
I didn’t get to meet my birthfather that day, but I did receive a phone call from him that evening. I finally got the denial I was looking for. My birthfather went on to tell me that there was two men with the same name and that he was the wrong guy. I explained that I had his birthdate, social security number and I didn’t believe him. I am not sure what changed me after hearing the words of denial come out of his mouth, but I suddenly became very defensive and adamantly defended my birth-mother. I then asked him for a DNA test which he agreed to do. This would settle it once and for all. We scheduled a date to have the DNA test done at a hospital two weeks out.
After a few weeks of riding an emotional rollercoaster, the final proof of my new reality arrived at my doorstep in the guise of a letter. It was from the attorney hired by my biological father. This letter advised me to stay away from my birthfather and his family and I finally had the answers that I was looking for, he was my birthfather and I was his daughter. I was forced to face the facts. No matter how much I tried, no matter how much I didn’t want this new life--my life-- this was the one I was given. It didn’t matter how much I prayed to be the wanted and loved child of my birth parents. The harsh reality is that I was not.
One long, dark day stretched into another until my husband finally came to me and said, "Monica, enough is enough. I need my wife back and our kids need their mother."
As I came to the realization that my journey wasn't mine alone, but my family’s as well, I wept for the lost moments of joy and for the shared sorrow borne by those who love me more than anything in the world. They experienced my tears, my sadness, and eventually, my breaking point. Now, it was up to me to find a way through the pain, so that our family's journey could continue.
Today my family and I celebrate my life knowing the circumstances of my existence. Although my vision of my life might have changed, I am now a stronger wife, mother and daughter to my family.
We always must remember that when Christ puts us on a path to purpose, we can look the other way, try to find a different road, or simply ignore all the signs. But when you accept the road and start walking with purpose, amazing things will happen.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Safe Haven Baby Boxes Responds to Commission Hearing
On November 18, 2015 Indiana's Commission on Improving the Status of Children voted against a statewide program mandating Baby Boxes throughout Indiana. Their stated reasoning was the baby boxes should not be mandatory and the cost is too high. House Enrolled Act 1016 clearly stated that this was voluntary and the state would incur no fees for this program, but these facts were ignored.
Dr. Jen Walthall, the deputy commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health, suggested that Indiana would be better served if Hoosiers were better educated on the state’s safe haven law and resources available to mothers. Dr. Walthall included in her report vague references to medieval practices and provided statistics that have been shown to be false on infant abandonment in Indiana. She then simultaneously admitted that there are no good statistics on infant abandonment. The task force acted outside of the scope of legislation and its recommendations do not preclude the implementation of “baby boxes” as a last resort option for communities who desire to provide this measure to save the life of babies at risk for abandonment. Discussion of cost by this committee was moot, as the baby boxes are being privately funded by caring people who believe that if the baby box saves even one child a cruel death in a dumpster or by the side of a highway, it is worth every effort.
The Task force stated that education on the existing law needed to take place and yet Indiana State Department of Health has not participated in an education program to this date. The majority of the education has been done by non-profit, privately funded organizations.
Representative Casey Cox issued the following statement:
“On Wednesday November 18, 2015, the Indiana Commission on Improving the Status of Children declined to recommend that Indiana pursue a statewide policy with respect to newborn safety incubators, sometimes referred to as ‘baby boxes’ or ‘angels cradles,’ as prescribed in the original version of House Enrolled Act 1016. Still, the Commission acknowledged that providers could likely implement newborn safety incubators on their own. In the next few weeks the Indiana Department of Health will be required by HEA 1016 to issue standards and protocols for the development of newborn safety incubators. Using these standards, providers may choose to voluntarily implement such a mechanism to support the existing Indiana Safe Haven law. The Commission approved a separate resolution that should providers undertake this method voluntarily, the State should seriously consider whether to extend immunity protections to providers and persons under such circumstances.
When we started this discussion two years ago, one of our main goals was to create a dialogue about preventing the tragedy of newborn infant abandonment. We have succeeded at that beyond my expectations. Our discussion grew out of Indiana across the country and overseas. As we continue this discussion, I will be ready to pursue whatever legislative protections may be necessary to compliment this important lifesaving endeavor.”
In conclusion, Monica Kelsey, founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes states the following:
“I am disappointed that the Indiana Commission on Improving the Status of Children yesterday failed to do adequate research into Indiana's Safe Haven Law and acknowledge the lives of the 34 illegally abandoned babies in Indiana. The history lesson we received yesterday by the task force was inaccurate and did not include the statistics on abandoned babies for Indiana, as they stated they were not available. Since I have those statistics, which include abandoned babies and safe surrenders in the State of Indiana, I would have been more than willing to share these statistics and their sources, in order for them to provide a more accurate report to the commission. From the very beginning of this project I have always focused on saving the lives of abandoned babies, the goal was never about passing a law. With that being said, we are legally moving forward and will have 5 boxes deployed in 5 different cities in Indiana within the next 90 days. We will continue all of our efforts to save the lives of abandoned babies, as this is and has always been our main objective.”
If you would like more information or to schedule an interview with Monica Kelsey, please contact 260-750-3668 or email Pam Stenzel at the following address:
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
With the onset of birth control and legal abortion, the sexual revolution was ushered in with a tidal wave. Today, most young women are no longer "ashamed" that the pregnancy reveals that they were sexually active, instead they feel ashamed they were stupid enough to get "caught". And for some young women, they are in such crisis over the possibility of a pregnancy, they deny the symptoms and wrongly believe it will simply "go away" until it is too late. Some might be fearful that the father of the baby is not their current boyfriend/partner and the baby will be proof of infidelity, some are being physically threatened by the father of the baby. There could be a number of reasons a women denies or suppresses her pregnancy for nine months, and is now in deep crisis. The nature of the crisis, in their minds, demands that they hide and remain anonymous. This could be what drives some women to do the unthinkable... to abandon their newborn in a park, in a dumpster or by the side of a highway.
My deep desire is that no child die, either by chemicals, by being torn apart in her mothers womb and sold for spare parts, or by being abandoned in a dumpster. When we succeed in making chemical and surgical abortion illegal in this country, there will still be some (and possibly more) women who conceal their pregnancy until birth and become desperate enough to consider the latter option. We must have a safety net, a way for these few desperate women to find a way out of their crisis that does not involve the death of their child. This is why Safe Havens and the added insurance of a baby box that allows complete anonymity, need to be in place and operating. Women need to know BEFORE they are in deep crisis, that this option exists and that they can relinquish their baby with no names, no blame, no shame.
Let me be perfectly clear, I am against the killing of babies, period and in all circumstances. I am praying for the day that no child will die for the convenience or emotional well-being of his mother or the crime of her father. Killing babies inside and outside of the womb is murder, period. We have done an amazing job of reaching out to women in crisis with thousands of Pregnancy Care Centers across this country and around the world. These amazing centers are helping young women every day, physically , emotionally and spiritually. The staff and volunteers give of the themselves tirelessly for every young woman and her baby, lives are being saved! They are truly "loving them both". The Safe Haven Law is in place, not because we don't think women should be helped before the birth of their child, not to "replace" the work of thousands of pregnancy centers across the nation, not because we don't believe a young woman who has just given birth alone and afraid does not need help. It is in place because no matter how good our efforts are BEFORE we get to the point of birth, some women will not avail themselves of the help offered. For reasons we may never know, they did not take the help freely offered to them up to that point. The Safe Haven Law gives them one more emergency option to drop their newborn off at a fire station, police station or hospital and hand that baby safely to a professional without being prosecuted. And yet, even with this safeguard, experience tells us that there will STILL be a few who just cannot handle the face to face interaction. It is still too difficult and even with all the help available to them, still choose to abandon their infant to the elements and risk their death. The Safe Haven Baby Box is that final attempt to give her one more option. The option of safely relinquishing her infant without the face to face interaction. Maybe, just maybe this is the only option a few women will choose instead of abandonment.
In a perfect world, no one would have sex outside of marriage or ever find themselves experiencing unwanted pregnancy. In a perfect world, no one would ever consider chemically aborting or surgically aborting their unborn child. In a perfect world no one would have the legal RIGHT to kill an unborn child in the womb. In a perfect world, every woman experiencing a crisis pregnancy will walk into a pregnancy care center and get the help they need for themselves and their baby. When abortion is finally illegal in this country, there will certainly be more women in crisis who will need the services of these centers, and we must be ready. Crisis Pregnancy Centers will not cease to exist because abortion is no longer legal, in fact they know that their work will increase and be even more necessary. When abortion becomes illegal, we must have a safety net in place for those few women who are in denial and hiding their pregnancy in desperation. There won't be fewer of these women, there will certainly be more.
Until then, we must do everything in our power to save every life and help every mother in crisis. We are committed to providing that last line of defense for the very desperate mother in her time of crisis. We cannot abandon her. Every mother matters, and every baby matters.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
As volunteers in the pro-life movement, there are many instances where we aren't able to see the fruits of our labor. From the dedicated sidewalk counselor who prays her words have reached a young mother contemplating abortion to those who spread the joy of adoption. We can sometimes go days, months, even years without seeing the results of our efforts, often making it a challenge to keep our hearts and minds focused on that for which we are truly fighting for--mothers and their unborn babies. To that end, we must continue to be faithful and trust that we are following God's plan. Every once in a while, we are rewarded by that one special moment in time when a plan is realized before our very eyes, allowing us to experience first-hand the impact our actions have made on the life of another and the beautiful ripple effect it has on the lives of those around them. It's this rare and special moment that makes all those years of work and dedication worth it. This is one such moment for me.
On August 1, 2015, I received a message in my inbox on Facebook from someone who was inquiring if there was a Safe Haven Baby Box near their location. Since Safe Haven Baby Boxes are not legal in any state yet, I was concerned, although this wasn’t the first time I had gotten a message like this. On average, I receive about 20 emails and messages a day with questions and comments regarding the baby boxes, from people asking specific questions to those who simply want to know how they work. Due to the casual nature of the inquiry, I didn’t view the message as urgent and added it to my growing list of messages and calls to return. A few hours later, my cell phone rang from a phone number that I didn't recognize. My phone number is published on all of my sites as I want young women in crisis to know that I'm here for them. I quickly answered the call and was surprised to discover that the caller was the young girl who had sent me the Facebook message.
To protect her privacy, I'll call her “Jane." Jane told me that she was pregnant, that no one knew about the pregnancy, and that she was pretty sure the baby was coming any day now. Alone and frightened, Jane had no interest in either a parenting or an adoption plan, and she was adamant about remaining anonymous. She went on to tell me that she was starting college in the fall. Her parents had no idea she was pregnant and she didn’t want to disappoint them. Jane was concerned that others would judge her and her situation. I was quick to assure her that simply wouldn’t happen and to promise I would do everything in my power to help her.
After gathering as much personal information as I could, I quickly contacted a hospital in her area and spoke to a social worker about Jane's situation. The social worker advised me to have Jane contact her right away. I immediately called Jane and gave her the social worker's name and number and Jane promised to contact her. Since that day, I attempted to contact Jane but to no avail. I hoped that Jane would do the right thing, but all I could do now was pray and wait for a phone call that might never come.
A few days ago as I was driving to Michigan, I received a call from the social worker who had agreed to help Jane.
“Monica, I have some great news for you," she said. "Jane came in yesterday, delivered a healthy baby, and surrendered the infant under the Safe Haven Law."
My initial reaction was stunned silence as I attempted to comprehend what the social worker was telling me. Suddenly, my eyes filled with tears at the thought of Jane's incredible selflessness and sacrifice as she put her baby's needs above her own. My heart began to sink for Jane who, alone and scared, had the courage to give up her child to the beauty of adoption. In an instant, though, that sorrow turned to joy for the baby now saved from abandonment
Sometimes it's easy to forget that we truly never know what a young woman goes through when confronted with seemingly impossible choices, especially if we've never been in that situation. But as a child who was once abandoned by my birth mother and then later reunited with her, I know the love this young woman has for her child. As was the situation of my birth mother so many years ago, Jane loved her child so much that she was compelled to act in that child's best interest. Decisions such as these are courageous and should be honored, respected, and celebrated.
Our Safe Haven motto is “No Shame, No Blame, No Names." For Jane, that is exactly what we did. Thank you, Jane, for standing up for the life you created and doing the best that you could for your baby. Please know that your child will be loved by two parents who prayed for this precious gift of life.
The Safe Haven Law is in all 50 states and allows a young woman in crisis to relinquish her child at any approved Safe Haven location with no questions asked. For more information on your current Safe Haven Law go to www.SafeHavenBabyBoxes.com