Susan Michelle Tyrrell

A tale of two mangers: how I was adopted after being abandoned on the streets of Bethlehem

Susan Michelle Tyrrell
By Susan Michelle Tyrrell
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Editor’s note: Susan lives in Kansas City and is the editor of the pro-life blog at Bound4Life.com. In addition to her pro-life work, she works with the International House of Prayer with intercessory research for its justice initiatives. Her heart is to see the church become a greater picture family of God through adoption, both natural and spiritual.

August 23, 2012 (Bound4Life.com) - Five hundred yards from where Jesus was born in Bethlehem sits the Holy Family Hospital. It was known as a rescuer of orphans who, by all accounts, should have been killed if their parents had listened to their culture.

This was where my life began.

Many are fascinated by the fact I was born in Bethlehem. They ask, predictably, “was it in a manger?” A couple years ago, I found out the answer was yes. They called the area where the babies were kept “the crèche,” or manger. Today, it’s a full maternity hospital, but when I was born, the crèche was a place for abandoned children.

Initially, I had some brief email correspondence with Sister Sophie, the nun in charge who told me I was “placed in the crèche.” Otherwise, I was met with stunning replies from government offices in Jordan, where my adoption was processed. One wrote an official letter, saying if my birth were discovered, even now, “great harm” would come to my mother. The tone was so matter of fact, that I believed it. Until last year that’s all I really knew.

Then my curiosity hit a peak and I wrote to the orphanage again. One of the workers in the orphanage wrote:

[W]e still cannot help in any way. Of course, it is not because we don’t want to do so, but because we have nothing to share with you. Unfortunately, the only fact about your background is that you been collected from the street on [my alleged birth date] and in such cases there will be no way to know anything after these years. We know for sure that this is a very hard thing to deal with since this is our daily life whether for people facing the same situation that you are facing, and also for new tiny babies who have been collected from here and there from all the cities of the West Bank and most likely they don’t have the chance to be adopted like what happened with you since years ago for adoption is not allowed any more according to the Palestinian Authority laws.

I got this email at 7:57, crying in shock before teaching an 8 a.m. class. That was the first time I had ever known I might not have been given up for adoption but left in the street. Her second email said:

Between the years 1948 and 1967 Bethlehem area and the whole West Bank was administrated by Jordan, 1967 after the war of June Israeli occupied the whole area till the year 1993, afterward the Oslo agreement and the P.A (Palestinian Authority) take over.

What I am trying to say here is; even if you, we or any one tried to find a social file or history of a person who had benefited by the social services back then… nothing can be found especially when it comes to a very sensitive issue like having a baby out of marriage, if this was the case, the woman must by killed by a member of her family to revenge for the honor of the family.

Realizing I probably came from a family line that didn’t have much honor - except maybe that someone thought enough to put me in the street, whether literally or figuratively - I went to the head of the court system there, Father Emil, who didn’t offer me much more. In fact, he even dispelled the words in my adoption papers that said my birth mother gave me up “freely.” It seemed that was likely a lie. He said:

As for the information in the Decree, we usually say that a document was signed by the mother, because, the foreign embassies would not allow adoptions, emigration papers unless we add that, in order to avoid responsibilities

Fortunately for me, whether someone forged papers or found me in the street, I was adopted at six months by a 53-year-old single American woman who worked for the U.S. Foreign Service, possibly the CIA for some of her career. My adoption papers declare my mother (the woman who adopted me is my mother, by the way), to be 10 years younger than she was. The Catholic Church had to issue her, a Protestant, a dispensation to adopt a baby born in Israel through a Catholic court in Jordan. The only mention of a father said, “the name and whereabouts… are completely unknown.”

My mom and I stayed in Jerusalem until I was five. My earliest memory was her pushing me down in front of our window because of gunfire on the streets of the Old City. I rode camels and went to Catholic school. I learned French, Arabic, and English at age 4, in Kindergarten (I flunked Arabic, with a 65). Perhaps my 95 in English was prophetic of the two college degrees in English I would get, along with a 10-year career as a teacher of a language that was never supposed to be my own, had I been raised in “my culture.”

I came here with a “green card” because my mom didn’t understand the process to make me a citizen. Thus, I grew up a Palestinian girl, from Israel, in the United States.

After my mom died in 1995, I was on my own, and I wanted a passport. The U.S. couldn’t give me one because I was never naturalized. Israel said I did not have an Israeli identification number. Jordan said I was born in Israel so they couldn’t help. The U.S. issued me a Travel Document, declaring me “stateless.”

After 9/11, being a Palestinian made me an object of a whole lot of prejudice. I grew afraid to let anyone know that my Americanized name and accent were not my culture. In 2003, I became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Then last year I learned the new chapter, some of the details of which I may never know, which changes my framework of history: but it doesn’t change the reality that I know Jesus and was given that opportunity probably because I was collected from a street in war torn Palestine.

When I hear terms like “rescuing orphans,” that’s more than a pro-life theory. I try to imagine what might have been had I lived there. But I’d have been dead. That’s clear based on the law and culture. Had I lived and stayed there, it is certainly doubtful I would have been raised Christian.

I was served justice because even without a family, even if I never know the full story, I have Jesus.

You ask me why adoption matters? You ask me why a woman shouldn’t be allowed to kill a baby? My mother was supposed to be killed for being pregnant. I’m sure grateful she didn’t opt for a secret abortion.

The day I was conceived He knew me. He knew me in the womb before my birth mother knew she had a crisis. He saved my life and picked me from a crèche of abandoned babies in an orphanage to bring me to the States and call me to Him. He gave my mom courage to risk her life (I think I got my warrior gene from that woman). And he gave a band of nuns and priests the money, prayers, and ability to operate a home for orphans in a war-torn culture without its own home. In the heart of Bethlehem that manger existed for other babies that would have been killed, just as Herod went after Jesus.

Abortion. Adoption. Orphans. Nations. It’s not a textbook; it’s personal. It’s how God shaped my life. And every prayer, every dollar, every work of justice in the name of Jesus, matters. True justice for me was not being raised in my culture. It wasn’t having two parents and a dog. True justice was being brought to Jesus. Anything I missed that our culture says I “should” have is nothing compared to “the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).

For me, a manger was my path to justice twice.

Reprinted with permission from Bound4Life.com

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A protester rallies against Hobby Lobby, protesting against the Supreme Court decision Dan Holm/Shutterstock
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DNC chairwoman exhorts constituents to boycott local Hobby Lobby store

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The Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision was nearly two months ago, but the issue as hot as ever, as was demonstrated yesterday when Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schulz, D-FL, urged constituents to boycott a Hobby Lobby store in her district.

In a press conference one lot away from the Hobby Lobby location in Davie, which opened in April, Wasserman-Schultz said that she wanted "people to know that this Hobby Lobby is here and they should vote with their purses and their pocketbooks, and women should not shop here."

"If you didn’t know this Hobby Lobby was here before, know it now and don’t shop here. They don’t deserve women’s business because they are the ones that all across the country have made it harder for women to get access to birth control,” she said.

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Wasserman-Schultz said that Hobby Lobby's corporate ownership "doesn’t support its employees" and "wants to be able to get in the personal business of their employees and make health care decisions and replace their own values, replace their employees’ health care decisions, with their values…."

She also criticized the Supreme Court's late June decision in favor of Hobby Lobby, which had sued the federal government over the Obama administration's HHS Mandate.

The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, say it violates their conscience to pay for coverage for the four abortifacients and potential abortifacients that the mandate required them to cover.

"The Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case was not only disappointing, it was dangerous," said the Democrat. "No boss should have the right to dictate and employee’s health decisions because [they] don’t belong in the bedrooms, doctor’s offices or pharmacies of their employees.

"A woman and her doctor know what’s best for their body. Not an insurance company. Not a politician. And certainly not a manager at a Hobby Lobby."

The Supreme Court's decision allowed closely held corporations to not fund coverage of contraception or abortion drugs and devices.

Wasserman-Schultz's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Through a spokesperson, the Green family declined to comment about the Congresswoman's statements. 

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America is rejecting abortion because pro-lifers are having more children: study

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“We find evidence that the abortion attitudes have lagged behind a liberalizing trend of other correlated attitudes,” the authors wrote. Using GSS data collected between 1977 and 2010, “We test[ed] the hypothesis that the comparatively high fertility of pro-life individuals has led to a more pro-life population.”

The authors wrote: “Support for abortion rights has turned flat after a period of increase following Roe v. Wade, and in recent years there are even indications of a reversal toward more restrictive attitudes. This U-turn is evinced particularly among younger cohorts, and is happening despite liberalizing trends in several ostensibly related issue domains.”

The authors speculated that the reason for the increase in pro-life attitudes among young people is that their parents had more children than their pro-abortion counterparts. When they examined the data, they found that pro-life individuals had, on average, 27 percent more children than those who considered themselves “pro-choice.”

Not only that, but pro-life parents appear to be much more likely to pass their views on to their children. The researchers found that the younger generation’s pro-life shift was too strong to be blamed solely on differences in fertility – meaning children of pro-abortion parents are rejecting their parents’ views.

“[E]ither pro-life beliefs are always more faithfully transmitted than pro-choice ones; or, there has been a cultural shift towards more pro-life beliefs that is being reflected in the parent-child correlations,” the authors wrote.

The study concluded that if it wasn’t for the higher fertility rate among pro-life people, the nation as a whole would favor abortion by about five percentage points more than it does currently – and researchers predict the pro-life trend will continue.

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“Taken together, these findings suggest that fertility has had at least some part in leading the population in a more pro-life direction over time,” the authors wrote. “Further investigation into this pattern indicates that not only are abortion attitudes associated with fertility, but in proportional terms—which is what matters for cultural change—the gap is widening.”

“Fertility has declined for both pro-choice and pro-life groups over the past 30 years, but fertility has declined far less markedly for pro-life individuals,” they added. “Whereas pro-[life] individuals born before 1940 were only having about 1.2 children per one child born to a pro-choice parent, this ratio has grown to over 1.5 for those born in the mid to late 1970s. This pattern suggests that future cohorts may place an even stronger demographic drag on the liberalization of abortion attitudes.”

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A declaration that PP is an 'enemy of the Church' would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication. American Life League
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New campaign asks Pope Francis to declare Planned Parenthood an ‘enemy of the Church’

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Using prayer and education, ALL’s Defend the Family campaign seeks to expose the nation’s largest abortion provider for contribution to the destruction of human lives, as well as the family. 

The campaign, said Jim Sedlack, vice-president of ALL, is quite simply “a way of calling attention to the fact that this is a very bad organization.”

“Planned Parenthood is attacking the family, either by killing preborn children or by robbing the souls of the older children,” he said. 

A declaration that PP is an “enemy of the Church” would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication.

Such a declaration would not be unprecedented. Popes in the past have identified and condemned organizations that posed a grave threat to the Church, most recently Pope Pius XII in 1949 with Communism and Pope Clement XII in 1738 with Freemasonry.

While specifics would depend on the wording of the Papal pronouncement, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews if the Holy Father makes the declaration there would be no mistaking its intent.

“When the pope makes the declaration it becomes crystal clear,” Sedlak said. “There’ll be no shades of gray, it’ll be black and white, it’ll be clear to the world.”

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'Now is the time'

There are still people who are not fully aware of the extent of the societal damage inflicted by Planned Parenthood, said Sedlak, including members of the Church hierarchy. He said it’s important to emphasize the truth of what the abortion giant does.

“That’s why we’re focusing on the enemy,” said Sedlak. “When people really stop and focus on Planned Parenthood, they realize it’s the enemy.”

ALL cites Planned Parenthood’s targeting of children to sexualize them as a major cause of the destruction of the family and a fundamental reason for the Defend the Family campaign.

“They really push for getting young people into lives of sexual sin,” Sedlak said. “Young people who aren’t pulled into sexual activity do not provide a cent of income to Planned Parenthood, but young people who are pulled in provide millions of dollars to the Planned Parenthood empire.”

ALL compiled a comprehensive report on Planned Parenthood titled, “The Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood,” as part of the Defend the Family campaign.

“The document builds the case,” said Sedlak. “Why Planned Parenthood, why now is the time.”

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that for its part Planned Parenthood has always recognized that its greatest enemy is the Catholic Church, even working to have the Church lose its status at the UN.

“They fight anybody who wants to take sex away from the kids in any way possible,” Sedlak said. “That’s one reason why Planned Parenthood is the sex mafia.”

And when Sedlak uses the term “mafia,” he means it literally, pointing out that the Holy Father condemned the mafia in his June 21, 2014, homily in Calabria, Italy, denouncing its, “Adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.”

“Planned Parenthood kills far more people than the mafia,” Sedlak said.

Also underscoring the need for the Vatican to act on declaring Planned Parenthood an enemy of the Church, is the convening of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family this October in Rome, which will lead into the general synod in 2015.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that these, along with the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, are events that ALL will rally around to raise awareness of the Defend the Family campaign.

Preliminary response to the campaign has been very positive, he said.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that the “Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood” report was so well received upon initial presentation to Vatican officials, that ALL was asked to translate it into three more languages.

“The support we’ve gotten from talking to bishops has been overwhelming,” Sedlak said.

Prayer is priority #1

The Defend the Family campaign consists first and foremost of prayer, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews.

“Our approach is that we need prayer support,” he said. “The only way that we’re going to succeed is through prayer to the Blessed Mother; the only way it will succeed is if God wants it to succeed.”

Participants are asked to say regular prayers after Mass, to offer prayers for the pope and to initiate communication with local bishops about the dangers that Planned Parenthood poses to the faithful.

Sedlak also added that The Defend the Family campaign is for everyone, not just Catholics.

He said pro-life supporters of all faith traditions are invited to contact ALL for assistance in encouraging their religious denomination or church leader to declare Planned Parenthood an enemy.

In addition to prayers for the campaign, ALL is asking people to sign and submit ALL’s Declaration of Encouragement to the Holy Father, enroll in the Spiritual Bouquet for the Holy Father and to share ALL resources on Planned Parenthood.

Information, links and resources are available on the campaign website, defendthefamily.org.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that ALL is giving the success of the Defend the Family campaign up to God.

“This is all happening in God’s time, and so far he’s been blessing us mightily,” Sedlak said. “And we’re going to go wherever God takes us.”

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