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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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

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