A Mother’s reflection on pregnancy, abortion, miscarriage and adoption

Even though I was 26 when I married the first time in 1968, I had no idea what I was doing. But I knew why. The groom was a physician, so he would surely always take care of me. (I was a young woman born in the 1950’s, so that idea was de rigueur in those times, and I bought it.) The marriage was made far from heaven, and after ten rocky years, it came to an end, due mostly to an unexpected pregnancy. I was thrilled when the pregnancy happened – my husband was not. He demanded an abortion and found a doctor to do it. Sadly, I initially acquiesced. A poem I wrote last year sums up what ultimately happened:

Baby steps
Something stopped her that day,
As she climbed the steps to the hospital entrance.
Her husband demanded it,
The doctor was more than willing to do it,
But she couldn’t…
So, she walked back down the steps and went home to await the birth.
Despite her courage, a miscarriage left her grieving,
And changed her forever.
For the better.

The baby’s loss sent me into therapy, which helped me recognize it was not a true marriage, find an apartment, get a job, adopt a cat and start life over.

Six months later I went to a play by myself, and the cute guy seated next to me, who had also come alone, struck up a conversation at intermission. His name was Steven, and after a 3-year courtship, I married him. He remains the love of my life after 44 years.

We were so happy, until we weren’t. We both longed for a family, but the miscarriages happened one after another and we lost four babies. We finally determined we should try to adopt a child. It wasn’t easy. As many advised us to do, we told everyone about our goal – friends, family, co-workers, grocery store clerks. I went often to St. John Cathedral and sat in the darkened sanctuary praying and begging God for a baby. Steven began a 54-day rosary novena – a Catholic prayer asking God for a special intention.

Amazingly, the call came on the 54th day, the last day. A nurse friend of mine notified us that a woman had given birth, then left the hospital without her baby girl. The child was placed in foster care, and through the efforts of loving people, including a Catholic priest who knew the birth mother’s family, we were able to adopt little Anne Marie when she was two months old.

Thus, after what I called my “labor lasting 5 years”, I recognized my baby the minute I laid eyes on her. She gazed up at us from her crib with wide eyes and a big smile. She was so beautiful and to this day I say my baby grew IN my heart instead of under it.

Now Annie is 35, married with four children. I can only say, looking back over my life, that I am very blessed, and that God does indeed write straight with crooked lines!

Karen Kurdziel is a participant of Cornerstone of Hope’s spiritual direction services and Bible study