“Why today I am a young woman who is in love with her faith and with her Church.”
I felt inspired to write this testimony after reading the article you published a few days ago regarding babies conceived during rape. It has been three years since I found out that I was conceived that way, and it is the first time that I will talk about it at length.
At first, I tried to deny it (or not think about it too much), since my first impression was that I was not in the plans of anyone in my family, much less in my mother’s plans, really! She had planned a totally different life than what she now had with me.
She was in the consecrated religious life when she was raped (she had made perpetual vows 5 years before I was born). I know that she was a great religious. She had (and still has) the same mindset as Pope John Paul II: give young people leadership within the Church.
There are many things I still don’t know about what happened, because I found out by means of some old letters that people wrote to my mother at the time. My mother spend her whole pregnancy far from her country, receiving letters from her family, her best friend (a priest, who is my godfather) and some of her sisters in her religious community.
I believe that God began to act right away through the Mother Superior of the congregation. Her only concern from the start was to protect my mother; she, together with my mother’s family, thought that the best thing would be to remove my mother from her usual environment, so that she could make a decision without pressure, and also so as to protect the community of sisters. She would decide whether to give me up for adoption and go back to the community, or to leave the habit and be a mother.
I know that God showed himself through the people around my mother at that time, and [as I read the letters] I could sense how her feelings progressed throughout her months of pregnancy (I didn’t have the letters my mother had written, but I had the replies).
I have read all of the letters more than once, and there are three that are my favorites. Each is separated from the next by a few months, so the mood and emotions are different, and I think that they will help me to give better testimony.
I could see how at the beginning everything was dark for her, how she had feelings of guilt — this is very common, from what I understand; it doesn’t just affect the victim, but everyone around the victim too because they think that the situation could have been avoided. I saw how no solution seemed right to her, and how in reality the only clear answer was to entrust herself to God.
In one of the letters, my godfather wrote the following to her: “My dear R., these days I am still tormented when I ask myself why I wasn’t there to defend you and why this was allowed to happen to you, but I have found some calm in the Word of God, reading Job. God tests us to see our fidelity. I know you will come out of this trial well, as you always do!”
At first, reading those words was the closest thing to a bucket of cold water. I believe that we all like to think we were planned and loved (or at least loved) from the very beginning, but the reality is that even if it’s not that way at the start, or, as in many cases, it is never that way, God does love us from the moment when he plans our existence in this world. It took me long enough to understand it, but the key was to hold tightly to God’s hand so I could understand that He did have a plan.
As time passed, I could see that the people around us had come to love me; I could see how they thought about me in every possible situation. It was no longer just my mother’s good [they were considering], but mine too, because although at the beginning it was difficult to understand, the decisions that she was going to make would also affect me. Everyone began to see us as a family.
A religious sent her a card with her best wishes and the following text: “Dear R., I hope you are well. I keep you always in my prayers – you, and that baby you carry in your womb. Poor little thing, it’s not her fault at all. She is an innocent baby who has no reason to pay for the mistakes of another person. Beloved R., be strong!”
At that moment, I understood everything, and I am sure that my mother also began to overcome her depression around the time that the letter arrived. “All right, that’s the situation,” I knew. “I am a daughter of rape, but I can either keep bewailing the fact that I’m an accident or I can thank God each day for having allowed me to live to to grow with a great mother.”
Reading that little card was like being born again. As I have continued to grow, I have discovered the plans that God had prepared for me. Now that I know where I come from, I have a great desire to fulfill God’s plans, because I feel that he has given me an opportunity that is denied to millions of babies each day.
My day to be born finally arrived, in December of 1993. I was delivered completely healthy, thanks to God and to my mother who was also in perfect health. My godfather wrote her this little text that day: “Dear R., Thank you. Thank you because today you say ‘yes’ to life.” I can’t say that from then on everything became easier, because a lot of difficulties lay ahead, among which was asking the Holy See for a dispensation from her vows and explaining the reasons that obliged her to do so.
But God doesn’t allow something bad without getting something good out of it, and after my birth, my mother got a job with the Episcopal Conference of my country. After a few years she reached the position of being the person in charge of youth work on a national level. That job didn’t allow her leave aside her choice to work for others, for the young, even though it still wasn’t what she had initially planned. I grew up in that atmosphere, with young people who were close to God and who weren’t ashamed of their faith, who followed Jesus and loved the Virgin Mary. That’s the reason why today I am a young woman who is in love with her faith and with her Church.
To conclude, I just have to thank God for the opportunity he has given me, first of all, to arrive to this world, and secondly, to grow up next to a mother who never considered abortion as an option. It hasn’t been easy at all, above all for her, but every night we entrust ourselves to God and we ask all those who have left us — among them, the superior of the convent — for their intercession.
We have learned everything together. I believe that the fact that there were just the two of us gave us a special bond, and I think that the way in which I came into this life makes her love for me different, due to all the situations she had to pass through in order to get to where we are today.
I hope that this testimony is helpful in some way for those women who, like my mother, are at this moment deciding the future of their children. Please, never consider abortion! God has special love and great plans for children who have come into existence without being wanted, and he has a great reward for mothers who say “yes” to life even when this life is the result of such a sad situation. And to those who have been conceived in rape: please, honor God each day of your life!