One of the churches my husband pastored supported a local pro-life crisis pregnancy ministry, and my husband had the opportunity to counsel some of the girls. One important decision they had to make was whether to raise the child themselves or give the child up for adoption.
An author friend wrote a book series about a teen who chose adoption for her baby, and she gave her baby to the adoptive couple during a short ceremony in the hospital chapel.
Both of these ideas made their way into Katie’s story.
The scene I’m sharing today was originally what I planned to use as the prologue to Her Heart’s Longing.
Sixteen-year-old Katie Mann stared straight ahead as her father pushed her wheelchair toward the hospital’s sliding glass doors. She’d change her mind if she looked back, even though it was too late.
Yesterday, an eternity ago, she’d given birth. Today, just minutes ago, she’d given her baby, her little boy, to strangers–forever. Her head told her he deserved a stable, two-parent family, but her broken heart cried for him, her empty arms ached to hold him.
The gentle pressure of her grandmother’s hand on her hand, reassured her. Grandma had been with her through it all, from the day her pregnancy had been confirmed until now. Today, both Mom and Dad came to be with her as well.
Today she could hardly remember the pain of childbirth. Instead, the pain in her chest and the nausea in her gut almost made her get out of the wheelchair and dash into the restroom. Tears clogged her throat so she could hardly swallow.
She remembered well the day the doctor confirmed her pregnancy.
“How could you do this, Katie!” Her father’s furious, accusing words struck her like hammer blows as they stood in the living room. She’d just delivered the news to him. “You knew better!”
Her mother pursed her lips and gave him an angry look. They’d fight later, when they thought she couldn’t hear. She stood before her father, her head down, her arms wrapped around her abdomen, willing the tears to stay in her eyes. Her father had no sympathy for tears.
She could only think, “I failed him again.”
She loved her parents and thought they loved her. But they spent more and more time working, and less and less time with her. They hadn’t attended church as a family since…well, for a long time. Katie could hardly remember the last time her lawyer dad had come to see her in a school play or even attended a parent’ night. More and more often, Katie came home to an empty house because of Mom’s schedule as a nurse at the hospital. She often covered for absentee nurses on her days off.
If not for The Three Sisters, Katie would have been a latch key kid. Katie spent hours with Haleigh Abbott and Aubrey White at their homes. She called their brothers her brothers.
She joined drama club and became friends with Nathan West. With his charm and compliments, he made her feel so special. Although he sometimes attended church and youth activities with her, Katie slowly drew away from her former friends and activities to be with him. They spent too much time alone. Katie took Nathan to her empty house after school when she knew her mother would be working.
She deserved her father’s anger. She’d betrayed the trust of her parents and friends, and most of all, she’d failed God. But, oh, how she longed for a hug and a word of encouragement from her dad!
“Well, we can take care of it. I’ll arrange the abortion,” her father said.
Mom gasped. “Abortion! No!”
Katie shook her head. “No!” She’d seen pictures in her biology textbook, and she’d read the pro-life literature provided by her church. This was a baby inside her, a person. And she knew, from listening to the testimonies of other girls and women in her situation, that abortion didn’t wipe out the memory of the act that led to the pregnancy or the baby. Two wrongs did not make a right.
“Gail, my reputation,” he pleaded. “And what would we do with a baby? Katie hasn’t even graduated from high school. How will she ever make anything of herself with a baby?”
“There’s always adoption,” Mom said. “Abortion isn’t the only option, Tyler. We need a little more time to think before we act.”
“Well, let’s not take too long. I’m a busy man. I have clients to represent and a whole line of court cases to prepare.”
Fury overtook her. “What about me, Dad? Am I disposable too? You never have time for anything but your precious clients!” She choked. “And your reputation!”
He glared at her, then at Mom. “I see I’m really appreciated around here! I’m going to the office.” He stomped out the front door, slamming it behind him. They heard the tires squeal as he accelerated out of the driveway.
Helplessly, Katie looked at her stricken mother, needing assurance, wanting hope.
“I’m sorry, honey, we’ll work something out.” She hugged Katie and went into the kitchen.
Loneliness surrounded her, pressed in on her. Who would help her? She’d failed everyone. How could she ask for help? Slowly she climbed the stairs to her room.
Grandma Whitaker took her in, giving her the unconditional love she needed. Grandma helped her find God’s forgiveness, guided her through her decision to let her baby be adopted, and homeschooled her during her pregnancy. Grandma taught her about putting the past behind and looking to the future, giving her hope.
But today, as she left the hospital, the doubts resurfaced. She shivered and sniffled, wiping her face with the crumpled tissue in her hand.
A hand touched her shoulder. She tipped her head back and looked up into her father’s face. For the first time she could remember, she saw tears in his eyes that began to slide down his cheeks.