What Was I Supposed to Be?
A seven-year-old's view of abortion
by Lanita Bradley Boyd
I squinted against the glare of oncoming headlights. Why was I so foolish to keep a seven-year-old out late on a school night? I thought. Was the Christian concert we had driven 45 miles to hear worth it? I was tired and sleepy and questioning my parental judgment.
I glanced at Kelsey to see if she was asleep yet. Eyes bright, she was obviously not as drowsy as I was.
"Mom, what was that song about with all the pictures of the doctor's stuff and teacher's stuff and children and old people and with the baby's hand at the end?"
I had to think. Several of the concert's songs had used accompanying slides for effect. Then I remembered.
"Do you mean, 'What Was I Supposed to Be?'" I asked.
"Yes, that's it. What did that mean?"
I took a deep breath. I was wide awake now, praying quickly my explanation would be complete and yet not too frightening for her. Hesitantly, I began.
"Honey, sometimes girls get pregnant when they aren't married." I could tell by her look I was already in trouble.
"But how can they do that? I thought getting married was how you had babies."
"Well," I groped, "sometimes teenagers do things before they are married - well, they act like - well, they do with each other's bodies what married people do. Then the girl gets pregnant. When she does, she has various choices."
I took a breath. "The girl and boy can get married if they love each other. A lot of people do that. Sometimes it works out to be a good marriage, and sometimes it doesn't.
"The girl and her parents can keep the baby and take care of it. Or the girl can give it up for adoption." I paused, considering my next words. "The way your birth mother did you."
Kelsey brought me back to the point. "I still don't understand the song."
"The other choice is called abortion. That's when a doctor uses instruments inside the girl - a type of surgery - to get rid of the baby when it is still very tiny."
The voice beside me was also tiny. "Then what happens to the baby?"
"It's gone. The hospital gets rid of it, and the girl goes home. She isn't pregnant anymore." I hoped I was telling Kelsey what she could hear and comprehend.
"The song was written from the baby's viewpoint," I continued. "The baby was asking Jesus what it would have been if it had lived to be born. It said, 'What was I supposed to be? What were my eyes supposed to see? Why did I taste of death before I even drew a breath, hid my head at my mother's breast to sleep? O Jesus, what was I supposed to be?'"
I had no idea whether any of this was making sense to my little traveling companion until I heard her shuddering breath.
I glanced over to see tears streaming from her eyes. She caught her breath in short puffs.
Finally, she whispered, "Then that's what my birth mother could have done to me, if she hadn't loved me so much?"
I eased the car to the side of the highway and stopped. I took Kelsey in my arms, and we both sobbed and stroked each other - and loved each other even more than before.
This gift of love from an unknown birth mother had changed my life forever. Tonight this song had made my little daughter aware for the first time of one of the greatest gifts of love - the gift of life.
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