Jim Sable’s Story — Jim is an adoptee, conceived in rape from Illinois and is available for speaking — firstname.lastname@example.org
My story arrived in a neatly addressed, letter sized envelope from Catholic Charities in November 2005. Catholic Charities facilitated my adoption in 1958 and when I reached adulthood, provided the opportunity to receive non-identifying background information about my biological family. I considered requesting information in 1995, but it took me 10 years to purge the anxiety and trepidation surrounding my desire to learn about my biological history. I hemmed and hawed and procrastinated and convinced myself I was okay.
The nagging curiosity became an urgency, so at long last, I completed and submitted the request for my background information in the fall of 2005.
The much anticipated letter arrived quietly enough. Little did I know as I opened it the explosiveness of the information inside. On that early November day when I read the letter, my life came to an abrupt halt. There was information I did not expect. My mother was raped. She said the attack occurred as she walked home from work. That is how I was conceived.
The news was not easy to take, it really shut me down. For two years, only a therapist and my wife, Wendy, knew the story. Slowly, by the end of 2007, I was getting through the stigmatized feelings and began testing my ability to share and the ability of others to hear the story. I now realize the gift I have been given, not just the gift of life, but the gift of having this unique story and the perspective it gives me about the sanctity of all life. My story and the stories of this group, have the power to change the minds, soften the hearts and expand the conscious horizon of those limited to abstract concepts about rape conception. The pro abortion side declares all unwanted lives are expendable, and abortion is justified, even recommended. Rape and incest conceptions create lives that they define as unwanted. On their list of unwanted lives, we are Exhibit 1. Even if only one unwanted life is saved, the wanted vs. unwanted rationalization comes crashing to the ground. We all know the truth. There are no unwanted lives. There are millions of open arms waiting to accept any and all lives forsaken.
Adoption made me pro life since the time I first learned about abortion. I was a freshman in high school when Roe v. Wade was decided. Abortion, as a social issue, was gaining more and more prominence in the early ’70’s, so it was probably during that time when I made my connection to being an abortion survivor. I do not mean literally surviving the procedure attempting to take my unborn life. We know there are those who really did survive an abortion — the miraculous lives. My survival was due to my mother’s decision combined with the cultural climate of the 1950’s, and also due to society protecting me through law. It was not long after abortion was legalized nationally when I began to hear comments justifying the killing. People would say, “These unwed mothers shouldn’t be bringing these children into the world . . . .” Painful comments to hear, of course, but then I had an opportunity to rebut with, “My mother was single, and I think I am much better off here than in a garbage can.” It was then that I realized my birth was at least partially due to timing. Being rape-conceived, there are many people today who think I should have been killed. Our lives are repeatedly used as bargaining chips in the abortion debate and allowed to be called exceptions to anti-abortion laws.
My mother was 36 years old when I was born, probably a little older than the average rape conception. My adopted life was excellent and had many of the usual highs and lows of family life. God provided me with parents who were unable to have children because I was born to a mother who felt she was unable to parent me. My mom and dad were tremendous examples of God’s grace and love. However, I yearned for some answers to help deal with some of the loneliness and feelings of rejection which were byproducts of the old, secretive, confidential adoption system. There was enough information in the Catholic Charities letter and my adoption decree to start a search for my birth mother, so I did. A close friend who researches genealogy helped me to search. We found my birth mother two years ago, but it was a year too late. Eleanor died in 2007. I was able to learn a lot about her though, because I also found and reunited with her sister. My aunt describes Eleanor as a slightly reserved, quiet woman, devout with a steady moral compass. Unfortunately, my aunt could not confirm or deny the Catholic Charities story. There was no police report. The rape was a secret. The baby growing inside her was a secret. She looked minimally pregnant, even near the end. She called her baby bump, a “tumor”. Eleanor did not tell anyone of her pregnancy until about two weeks before I was born prematurely by four to five weeks. I was actually born on the day Eleanor was scheduled to be admitted to the Catholic Charities mother and baby shelter in Chicago. After I was born and surrendered for adoption, I was never talked about again. Her family knew not to ask about or refer to the pregnancy and birth. The subject was covered up, taboo. As the years went by, the story was never retracted. So I am left to interpret, with help, what her reaction to the pregnancy means.
The story of her words, her silence, and her actions, all speak of a deep, acute trauma.
We have some reflexes to trauma – fight, flight or freeze and apparently Eleanor froze. My mother signed my surrender five months after my birth and was married nine months later. She married a protector, a veteran of two wars, who became her warrior. My birth cousins say he treated Eleanor like gold. He provided safety. He deflected some of the natural questions extended family asks about a couple’s plan for starting a family. He talked about miscarriages. He defended her. She did not have any more children. My cousins speculate about a secret boyfriend who might be my father because they do not fully accept the attack story. But why would a 36 year old woman with two married sisters have to keep a boyfriend secret? If my father was someone Eleanor was emotionally close to, why didn’t they get married? Many of these emotional clues indicate my father was likely someone Eleanor knew, and just as likely in a position of power over her, a boss or higher level coworker who forced the sex, the denial, the secrecy and most likely pushed for the adoption surrender. What is evident is that my mother was not a man chaser, was not someone willing to engage in adultery and was not looking to climb the corporate ladder on the rungs of sexual gratification.
Compounding the trauma was the humiliation caused by Eleanor’s father imposing his will over his 36 year old daughter by removing her from the family and forcing the adoption.
So however it happened, in a dark alley or street, in the back recesses of a mail room or in the seclusion of a locked office – God gave me life then and through the news of the rape, renewed it now. For five years I’ve known how it feels to be conceived through rape. Even though I’ve known the bottom of that stigmatized pit, I now feel the power of the gift I have been given. Finding Rebecca and this group put an end to the sensation of being the only one on the planet with this story. The exhilaration of speaking out and defending life, of trying to give back to the system that saved me, the thrill of being part of this special group and meeting my heroes, has been a monumental healing force in my life. Through you, God has touched me with His love and my faith has been reinforced. My journey continues,
guided by His grace.
Every Life Matters