My mother was on the psychiatric ward while I grew in her womb in 1974. Her live-in relationship with my abusive and criminal father was over while her pregnancy meant new hurdles. Public shame for having a baby out of wedlock was one thing. A bigger question was how she could live as a single mom without a high school diploma.
The medical professionals counseled her to abort. In her heart, Mom wanted me. But she was vulnerable, and, so was I.
Elsewhere, her own mother was losing sleep. Grandma dearly loved the seven children she raised and was distressed over her daughter’s impending abortion.
The night before the scheduled abortion, Grandma had a dream so vivid she thought she was awake. She saw my mother as a little girl, playing with a doll. In the next scene her head was down, her arms empty. “Where’s your dolly?” asked Grandma.
With tears in her eyes, the little girl looked up and said, “They took it away!”
With shared resolve, my grandparents made the two-and-a-half hour drive from their little town to see my mom in Regina. Grandma wept so long, my grandpa couldn’t bear it any longer. “I’m going to put you in the hospital if you don’t stop crying,” he said.
After they finally made it to the hospital, Grandma said to Mom, "You really want this baby, don't you?"
“Yes, I do,” she replied.
With that, Grandma told the doctor, “This abortion is not going to happen.”
“But it’s been approved by the board,” the doctor protested.
“You can’t play God and neither can I,” Grandma said. “C’mon Debbie, we’re going home with our baby!”
So they took us home. A few days before Christmas, my mom returned to the hospital she left—to give me birth. True to their word, my grandparents took me after ten days and later adopted me. Grandma called me her little lamb and always said I was a gift from God. I stole Grandpa’s heart as well.
My birth mother still lives in Regina and has been married for many years, though not to my father. Now that I’m a married parent myself, my mom likes to take my little daughter out for walks in the stroller. She’s looking forward to my next child arriving in March. My birth father and his family also have a place in my life and count me a blessing.
Every once in awhile, as I reflect on the joy I have brought to my family, I’m horrified by the thought I could have been aborted. It’s not just that I would never have seen the light of day. It’s the void in my family where I was supposed to be, and the haunting grief they would still carry.
God is my only consolation when I grieve for the millions aborted in Canada in my lifetime. I count Him big enough to save the souls of the unborn and heal the hurts of the living.
--photo of Shirley Harding, grandmother and adopted mother, along with Lee