Liz Carl’s story – a 19 year old birthmom from Kentucky who became pregnant out of rape
I was raped when I was 17, in my senior year of high school – a little over two years ago. I was visited friends in Lexington, KY, about 100 miles from where I live for a Halloween party. After the party, we were all naive enough to have people from the party come back and visit the house where I was staying. In the middle of the night, I was drugged and raped. Only recently have I remembered anything from that night. I met the rapist the night it happened. He gave me a different name than his real name (as I later found out when I went to the police), so I didn’t really know him at all. As much as I convinced myself that nothing happened to me that night in Lexington, I know my body. I was sore, the signs were there, and I felt gross. I attempted to pretend it was a dream. I don’t remember any of the actual rape. However, I do remember crawling to the bathroom at some point and being really messed up. I guess I didn’t know for sure I was raped until I missed my period. I wasn’t sexually active, so it didn’t take much to connect the dots and figure out what I already knew inside. I knew something was up, but I denied the rape to myself for a very long time. In this denial, I obviously didn’t even think I was pregnant, even though I knew very well that I was. I never thought anything like that would happen to me in the first place, much less getting pregnant from such a disgusting, violent act.
It was not only ridiculous attempting to tell my mom and family, who believed me and helped me, but it was almost funny how many people I told who told other people I was lying, “because I got caught.” I can’t even explain how awful everything was for me. I wanted to die — I just couldn’t find the strength to do it.
My parents were not the people I went to first. My parents are great, but that was not news for them to take lightly, at all! But once I did tell them, they were in just about as much of denial as I was, there really wasn’t advice. They more wanted to take care of the legal things — dealing with the detectives and the court proceedings — and to get me to a doctor.
Before all of this happened, I was always “pro-life.” I was raised in a Catholic family and attended Catholic schools my whole life. However, when I finally took the pregnancy test that was very clearly positive, all my values and morals went out the window and I absolutely wanted the easy fix. I was for sure getting an abortion for maybe a week before I realized what the hell I was doing. I was vulnerable and miserable and scared and I felt that was my only option. Seeing everything now, I hate myself for ever even considering it.
Out of the friends who knew about me being pregnant in the very beginning, two of them supported the abortion and two did not. One from each side was proactive about it. My one friend who was supporting my decision to abort told me that she would help pay for it, drive me, etc.. She was also looking into getting a doctor friend of her sister’s to prescribe the abortion pill for me. She was just a 17 year old girl who was scared along with me. She wanted to help me get better and didn’t know what else to do. I was scared and I wanted an abortion, so she stood behind me. She’s told me since that she never wanted me to choose abortion, but that she just saw that it was what I wanted. She felt she was helping as a loyal friend. My pro-life friend sat me down with her mother who had several friends who had abortions in high school and several friends who gave their babies up for adoption, and she told me how that affected each one of them. She didn’t persuade me, but just told me some facts.
When I was still in shock and decision mode, my cousin Erin, who happens to be one of my very good friends, looked me in the eye and said, “Liz, you’re smart and you know that’s a baby, and you know yourself, you can’t kill a baby. “ She was right. I was smart and I couldn’t see the obvious through the thick layer of fog that seemed to never leave my eyes.
I obviously went through with the pregnancy, mostly denying my baby’s existence, but I got through it. My pregnancy was a mess. Medically it was a perfect pregnancy, but I just couldn’t seem to believe that I was pregnant. I didn’t start showing at all for probably seven months, so this was easy to do. Being pregnant in school is not fun, but it’s not the worst thing ever. Finishing school was not easy, especially at an all-girl atholic high school, but it was doable. It was not pleasant, but I survived.
My mom took me to Catholic Social Services and I started counseling with them. That absolutely helped me through my pregnancy. If nothing else, my counselor made me think about it, which helped when I actually did start showing and couldn’t ignore it anymore. The agency worked with pregnant mothers for parenting and adopting. They introduced me to the idea of open adoption and it seemed so perfect. It’s obviously not perfect, but it’s the next-best thing.
I ended up talking to a teacher at school who I was close to. She called a friend who called a friend and the next thing I knew, I was at Brian and Jen’s house talking with them. I had interviewed another couple before them, but when I met Brian and Jen, I just knew that they were the ones. They were perfect for me! They agreed on an open adoption. They had tried for many years to have a family and they had many false hopes. Brian and Jen are a part of my family now. (As I write this, I just got back from their house for a dinner and play time
I delivered my birth son a month before I left for college. My delivery was cake compared to some. When I actually felt like I was in labor, it was time to push and when I did, three pushes later he was here. I think I was in more shock that a human being came out of me than anything else. When I saw him, I didn’t think about how he got here. I didn’t think about his long lost biological father who would never ever be in his life. I only thought how perfect he was. When I first held him, it was more perfect than ever. I think I denied his existence probably up until the moment I held him. It was hard though — the whole situation. Everything about it was hard. But the hardships just didn’t seem like anything compared to the love for that little boy.
Brayden is almost a year and half now and he is the love of my life! He does not remind me of the violence that happened to conceive him like many pro-choicers say. He means the world to me. Now, I am truly 100% pro-life. I have experienced many aspects of the pro-choice argument and I know that life is not only the best choice – it should be the only choice. Brayden, my birth son, is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me and to so many other people — especially his two thrilled new parents! This is why I would do anything in the world to save every baby in this world!
I was raped. Yes. But he deserves to live!
It’s easy to ignore something that you cannot see. But I can see him now and he deserves everything in this world. I no longer care who is biological father is, he is nothing. He is long gone. But look who came because of him. I don’t care who you are, this beautiful little boy SHOULD be alive! Women should not have to face a choice that they will regret. It seems as though America is running into a dark hole, where morality is gone and foggy vision encompasses all of our known beliefs. Stand up as an American and turn you back on that black hole. Regain your vision and see the light at the end. Abortion will be illegal someday. We just have to keep fighting. Sorry if anyone thinks this is weird, but I feel like I have to keep fighting, to make people understand. And that cute face sure does get attention!!
My son is bi-racial. I’m white. The rapist was black. I am a very open person, so the bi-racial thing didn’t even phase me. And as far as Brayden being a boy, I know people say they would only see the rapist, but honestly anyone who is a mother would know that all you see is this perfect little baby. I think Brayden looks like me in a lot of ways, but he has brown eyes and his skin is darker than mine. But when I look at him, I see a beautiful baby boy, who I love so much. I do not see his brown eyes or tan skin, or even his nose that does not fit with mine. I see a precious gift that I am so thankful for. I guess something like that is hard to explain to someone, but I can guarantee that no mother should look at their baby and see the awful person who violated them. A mother sees her child, who she unconditionally loves.
Eventually, Brayden will know that he was conceived in rape, and I don’t know how that will affect him. But my thought is, that just because he was not conceived in an act of love — or a wanted act at all — he is still a precious human being who is deserving of life and everything in it. In fact, I can say that ultimately one thing has saved me from severe, severe depression, and that is my baby. And as to anyone who has been conceived in rape — you should never consider them less of people. I felt like less of a person for a long time until I saw the beauty in the darkness. Precious babies that come from something as awful as rape should be considered a saving grace, a blessing in disguise. I would be nowhere without that awful pregnancy.
I am not one to want to be involved in everything, but I do like to be a part of something. Honestly I had no idea that the University of Louisville had a pro-life group until one day I got a Facebook message from a girl in the group inviting me to a meeting. I seriously felt like God Facebooked me! I was obviously very pro-life after I saw how easy it was to make a decision you don’t mean to make. I love the Cards for LIFE! I love the events. I love the people. I’m probably a little less conservative than them in some issues, but they don’t care. They accept me for who I am, and we share a very special bond because they agree with me on the one thing that I would absolutely fight the rest of my life for, and that’s the unborn.
I think that most pro-lifers are very taken back when they find out I am a birthmom from rape. I’ve had people cry, people I hardly knew hug me (which I never mind a hug) and I have had people who have been really awkward about it. The awkward ones are a lot of people who think that it would have been okay for me to have an abortion. It’s like they don’t know what to do with me.
Most of the pro-choice people who find out I’m a birthmom “from rape” always try to dismiss me by saying I have it better than others. They try to tell me that my family was supportive and not all people have that, or they would say, “Just because you’re strong doesn’t mean everyone is.” To be honest, it’s degrading to me as a woman when people make excuses of women’s lack of strength. I know a lot of women and every single one of them is strong. Every woman is strong enough to love her baby enough not to kill it. That last sentence may sound sort of harsh, but I am not a judging person — I know the vulnerability of a crisis situation, but the truth is the truth, and every woman has the strength to love her baby.
And Rebecca, I think the world of you, not only because you speak out and make a difference to so make people, but because I relate you to Brayden, someone who saved my life, and that’s beautiful. It’s so awesome that you are here in this world touching so many people. I hope to do the same.
Liz is available for speaking and can be reached at Liz12888@yahoo.com
Liz Carl speaking at Expectant Mother Care’s fundraiser in NYC in March 2010