Please don’t abort your baby; I’ll adopt your child… REALLY? As I talked to these young women facing so much turmoil with their choice to abort their baby, I would often repeat the cliché that I had heard so many other pro-lifers say. On this particular day, as I stood outside the doors of the abortion clinic, those words hit me and I thought, Wow, would I really adopt her child? That is quite a commitment.
That’s how the journey, for me, into the world of adoption began.
I was raised in Central Wisconsin, the seventh of eight children in a hard-working farm family. We were not given to a sophisticated way of speech; as a matter-of-fact, my vocabulary was quite plain until I met and married my husband, Dale. My family actually practiced a simple biblical principle, even though at the time we could not have quoted the verse. Jesus said, Let your yes, be yes and your no, no (Mt. 5:37). It simply means that if you say something, then mean it; do it or don’t say it. Growing up, it really bugged me if people would say things they were going to do and then never do it. I prided myself on being a woman of her word. Well, as I found, pride can get you into trouble.
Standing there that day on the sidewalk outside the downtown Milwaukee abortion clinic I began thinking about what I had just said to this young woman being so rapidly escorted into the clinic. The nice sounding name for this particular abortion clinic was, “Women’s Health Center,” even though the baby’s health was in grave danger in this Center. The reality was each mother’s soul would be forever marked by the decision to destroy the life God had placed in her womb, and the child that God created would never fulfil the destiny He intended for him or her.
As a young person in high school my first encounter with the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision came through my friend at school. She never told me directly, but through another friend, I found out that she had an abortion. I didn’t know much about prenatal development, or abortion for that matter, but I sensed a dark foreboding when this informant told me. I felt bad for my friend. At that time I knew the church my family attended would have taken a strong stance against abortion and, therefore, I would have known it to be a major sin and very wrong. Because our family was devoted in our faith, I supposed this was the reason my friend never told me about it.
Now, here I stood some 17 years later, well informed about abortion and so convinced of the destruction upon the soul that I was willing to intervene and speak to the women headed for the clinic doors. I know that many women suffer the after-effects from abortion and walk through life with a guilty-soul for having chosen this “medical option” to solve their immediate problem. The sad reality is that the medical establishment isn’t able to truly minister to the soul; only God can do that. But He is looking for Christians to extend His love and forgiveness to those needing it. This was my goal as a sidewalk counselor. Problem was, by the time they were on the sidewalk, with green-vested escorts around them, little could be said to stop the rapid push toward the clinic door.
The summer of 1992 in Milwaukee was a major Pro-Life summer. Being the largest city in Wisconsin, Milwaukee had eight functional abortion clinics in operation. That summer, with the help of the local Christian Radio & TV station, a group called “Missionaries to the Preborn” became well known in our community. Organized in 1990, they were committed to abolishing abortion. The mission was launched with such enthusiasm and zeal and it brought a broadly based coalition of many people from various churches and diverse individuals to the cause. While motives in the hearts of people in any movement vary, for the most part, I believe the focused goal and mission was to protect the lives of preborn children in their mother’s womb and to share the answer of hope and life with the women involved. Like any new movement, with the variety of people involved, it became at times a mish-mash of confusion. Experience, theology, and practice often clashed on the front lines at the clinics. Not in a noticeable way in front of the opposition, but behind the scenes there was so much controversy happening concerning how to carry on with a single objective and purpose — always remembering, that the lives of the preborn infants were our mission, along with ministering to their mothers. This needed to be a movement of God’s love expressed–yet often misunderstanding and fear manifested itself in the actions of people on both sides. Gaining the mind of Christ (II Tim. 4:5) was a daily challenge in the midst of the brutal reality of abortion.
Many would liken our battle to that of Dr. Martin Luther King’s battle in the arena of civil rights and liberty for all, regardless of skin color. He faced many challenges trying to convey God’s way of non-resistance in a world of violence and prejudice. So, like Dr. King, we too had to teach what Christ taught his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount. Teaching and theology is the basis for the success of any movement, and once cohesiveness is gained great strides can be made.
It took months, even years for this group to coalesce into an effective “ministry” out on the streets. Through it all, God taught us many lessons and after a few years into it, and the dust settled, a synergy developed that made for effective ministry. Our goal to minister was realized for the babies who were saved from death, the women who were in need of soul-healing after abortion, and the support given to those Mom’s who gave birth! The adoptive parents were thankful to welcome these babies and children into their homes. In the end, five of the eight clinics closed. Focusing on the three remaining clinics became a more manageable task, allowing for more focused ministry to those in need.
We came to meet many wonderful people through this difficult battle for life. At the height of this localized war, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, along with the two other remaining clinics, filed a federal lawsuit naming 51 people as conspirators/defendants in the complaint. Some were people who had an effective ministry speaking to women, faithfully standing on sidewalks through very extreme weather conditions to offer their assistance. Some were preachers who would give out the “Word of God” concerning abortion. The group of pastors was called, “ Pastor’s Emergency League” (PEL), following the name, example and efforts of German pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who spoke out against the atrocities of the Nazi’s during World War II. Our friend, David Liebherr founder of the Milwaukee area PEL, and my husband were part of this group. So when the lawsuit was filed, their names were included as defendants. Through this legal action we became acquainted with Attorney Patti Lyman and associates.
The lawsuit allowed PEL to put on paper and verbalize what their mission actually was. At the time, the lawsuit seemed threatening, but it turned out to be beneficial in that it helped to clarify and establish the mission and purpose for our actions. Remember with God, nothing is wasted. I often say this because I believe that when the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose”, that God can take anything and turn it around and use it for His glory. I believe that implicitly! And we believed our purpose for being at the clinic doors was good.
Patti Lyman, and her husband Frank, became good friends. With the many proceedings involving this lawsuit, Patti often needed to travel from their home in Fairfax, VA to Milwaukee to handle legal matters for Dale and David and others. Dave and his wife, Karla, had eight children at this time, and the Lymans loved being a part of their family. Like Dale and me, they were unable to conceive naturally and while they did not pursue adoption as we did, they have been “parents” to many along the way. Patti has long been a defender of legal rights for those without a voice. In the end, the clinics lost their lawsuit against the pro-lifers and we gained legal standing for being on the front-lines. Additionally, the proceedings provided a good avenue for the voice of the unborn to be heard.
Other Front Lines
During this time period Dale and I also became involved in attempting to deal with an adult porn outlet that had suddenly cropped up in a residential area near our home. It seemed we were always involved in some type of battle… they seemed to be everywhere! Because of this, we were also pulled into the public media outlets and especially the aforementioned Christian Radio station, WVCY in Milwaukee. This station was very active in informing the public, especially its Christian base of listeners about what was happening locally and nationally concerning moral issues in our nation.
The mid-nineties were a busy time for us. We were attempting to be a part of healing and hope in three areas of need. First, was our involvement in the prolife movement. Second, we felt led to pioneer a church in our suburb of West Allis, which would be a base of evangelism and ministry to our community and the greater Milwaukee area. Third, this “adult” pornography store had opened up, through a loop-hole in our city ordinance, in a residential area of our community. Back then, even though pornography was available on the internet, the average person did not access porn on-line as is common now. And this particular store not only sold “adult” material, but they also installed private viewing booths allowing patrons to view the raunchy videos and this became a public health issue (for obvious reasons to those who are familiar with porn usage and addiction). With all of this on our plate, the adoption focus took a back seat for some months.
Then, in October of 1997, my friend at the radio station, Ingrid, who was an advocate for adoption, mentioned to me twin girls with special needs that needed adopting. She knew our funds were limited so she presented these girls to us as a possibility. I had told her that if I am going to become a stay-at-home Mom, I would prefer to adopt several children at once. This prompted Dale and me to seriously consider beginning the adoption process–and we did. As it turned out the twin girls were adopted by another family, but that circumstance was used by God to get our paperwork going to begin the adoption process for ourselves.
Continue to next Chapter Domestic vs. International