February 2, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — I'm 78 years old and I'm telling my story now while I still have the opportunity. I want people to know that pregnancy by rape is not the fault of the child, so why should we punish the child for something the biological father did?
My teen years were difficult. My mom was overly permissive while my dad was nowhere to be seen at this troubled time in my life. Dad even refused to pay the child support the court had ordered. To me, this meant my parents didn't love me. So I joined the U.S. Women's Army.
Eight weeks into Basic Training, I went on a double date which was a blind date. He was also in the military, stationed at the same base. All I remember is that we had all driven somewhere and he gave me a drink. I passed out and have no memory of the rest of the evening. I don't even remember how I got back to the barracks or in bed.
Two weeks later, while standing in line for inspection, I passed out. I was taken to the base infirmary where the doctor examined me and said, “Private, because of your symptoms, I would say you are pregnant.”
I replied, “I can't be pregnant because I have not done anything to become pregnant!”
He then said, “Still, we need to do a test to see if you are pregnant.”
I was totally devastated to learn that I was pregnant. Since I hadn't been anywhere socially, I knew right away that it had to have been that night, and my date must have drugged and raped me. Of course, I told the doctor what had happened. The Army did conduct an investigation and contacted the rapist, but they kept me out of it and I was never informed of any results. .
My commanding officer gave me 48 hours to pack up and leave. I called home and told my mother what had happened, that I was pregnant.
She immediately asked, “Who, what, where, why, when and how?”
I told her about the rape, and she just said that I needed to come home. It took a few weeks for all of the paperwork to be completed. I was discharged from the Army, and returned home.
‘You will have an abortion’
My mother and two sisters met me at the bus station and we got into my mother's car. Her first words to me were: “Patricia, you will have an abortion.” It was May, 1957, I was 18 years old, and I did not know what that word meant. She told me it meant “they would take the baby” from me. The way she stated it, I knew that she meant something was going to happen very quickly, and that she wasn't saying they were going to take the baby from me after my baby was born.
I realized this meant they would kill my baby.
I said, “I will not have an abortion because that is murder and I will not stand before God as one who committed murder.”
My mom replied, “Patricia, you're just being stupid.”
Both of my sisters agreed that I should have an abortion. I felt like I was being ganged up on, but I knew I had to stand for what was right.
The relationship between my mother and I grew colder over the next couple of weeks. One afternoon, I was asleep on the bed and awoke to my mother holding a rifle within one inch of my face, square between my eyes. I was totally afraid for my life! I instantly pushed the gun aside, frantically saying to my mother, “What do you think you are doing?”
She said, “I am trying to frighten you so much you will miscarry the child.”
At that point, I determined I would leave my mother's home.
She mocked me, asking, “Where will you go, who will have you?”
I said, “Juanita, my oldest sister will help me.”
But Mom said, “She doesn't want your shame.”
However, within days I went to live with my oldest sister, Juanita. Shortly after I arrived at her home, my other sister Mary came to me and said, “Patricia, hold out your hand.” When I held out my hand, she dropped about 20 pills into my hand and said, “Mom says you are to take these all at once.”
I knew enough to know that taking 20 of any kind of pill was dangerous for your health and that my mother was intending to kill me. I walked into the bathroom, stood over the toilet, dropped the pills in, and flushed them away. I told my sister, “I may be dumb, but I am not stupid.”
After my son was born, my mother confessed to me that the pills were medicine that was given to heart patients, and had I taken them as instructed, according to doctors, I would have had a massive heart attack. She never apologized, but I think in her own feeble way, she was trying to tell me she was sorry.
Finally, arrangements were made for me to go to the Salvation Army Home for Unwed Mothers in St Louis, Missouri, on November 2, 1957. Here I spent the remainder of my pregnancy. In the home, I experienced for the first time in my life unconditional love – love from the workers there who loved all of us, and never condemned any of the nine girls in their care.
My son was born on January 11, 1958, in the early morning hours. He was a big baby, weighing 9 pounds 2 ounces. He was 23 inches long. My eyes were covered with a towel as he was being delivered. This was the Salvation Army policy for birthmothers placing their babies for adoption. They also strapped my arms down so I could not remove the towel. They did not let me see my baby until two days later, when I was in the presence of a social worker.
I was told that I could hold him, but I chose not to do so because I did not want him to bond with me since he needed to bond with his adoptive mother. For his sake and for mine as well, I knew it was best that I placed him for adoption. Even to this day, my heart breaks as I think about that moment, looking through the nursery window, telling him, “I'm so sorry my precious little boy that I have to give you up, but for your sake and mine, I have to do this, so please forgive me.”
I loved that child. I had fought for him. I knew I had done the right thing for him.
I wasn't a believer – I wasn't a Christian at that time, but I knew there was a just God, and that I was doing what was right before God and that He would honor that in some way.
Giving up my son for adoption was, and still is, one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life. But I knew his life was worth everything that I had gone through.
When I saw my son, I didn't see the rapist. I saw my child, my own flesh and blood.
‘He loved me despite all I had been through’
Two weeks later, I went back home and I was never allowed to talk about what I had been through. I was told by my mom, “now you will never find a decent man to marry you.” However, seven months later, I met Wayne.
Terrified my mother would be right, nevertheless, about a month into dating, I told Wayne about my son. I knew we were falling in love and felt he had the right to know about my story. After telling him, he took me home and I thought, “There goes another one. No one wants used merchandise.”
Two days later, however, Wayne called me and asked if he could come see me. He drove me to a wonderful spot in the San Gabriel mountains, parked the car under a beautiful pine tree, turned to me and said, “Pat, I don't care where you've been or what you've done. What's important to me is what you can be to me now and in our future.”
Five days later, he proposed to me.
We were married 36 years, 8 months and 2 days, and he loved me despite all I had been through.
We went on to have three daughters. I prayed to God, “Why didn't you ever give me a son to raise?” I felt God answered me that my daughter was born on Christmas Day as a reminder to me that God knew what it was like to give up His only Son.
Years later, on May 20, 1993, we began the trip to Missouri to the hometown of my son, Bob. We had agreed to meet in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart. When Wayne and I arrived, we did not see anyone who might be my son, so we waited on a bench outside the store.
In about 10 minutes, there was walking toward us a big man. He was 6'4″ tall and he had his wife with him. I had described what I would be wearing so he knew how to identify me. As he approached, I felt like a piece of a puzzle had just been put in place. We shook hands. We talked for a bit, then he asked us to follow him and his wife to their home.
That evening, Bob took my husband and me to the home of the woman who had adopted my baby. We stayed for dinner. It was an honor to meet the wonderful woman who had mothered my son so well. I have deep gratitude for the job she did, the job that I could not do. She is a hero to me.
I had made her an afghan as my gift to her for doing the wonderful job she had done in raising my son, her son. Although I am his birth mom, she is indeed his mother. She did all the things a mother should do, and did them well. In my mind she will always be his mother.
Before dinner she said, “Patricia, would you ask the blessing on our meal?” I was honored.
This time was a very special time as I got to talk to and hug my son for the first time. My heart was bursting with happiness, and I was feeling so good about having given him life, when others wanted me to abort him.
I did give him the details of how it came about that the only thing I could do at the time, for his best interests and for mine as well, was to place him for adoption. When I told him the story, he said two words that made the wait of 35 years worth it all.
He looked into my eyes and said, “THANK YOU.”
Recently, a week after his birthday, my son completely surprised me by picking me up and taking me to lunch at a restaurant I frequented in my hometown. I introduced my son to the waitress, telling her that this is the son I placed for adoption.
My son looked intently at the waitress, pointed to me and said, “I want you to know that this is one very strong woman.”
My heart was bursting with pride that I would hear him speak those words.
I hope all of you can see how God can take the ashes of our lives and make them into a beautiful picture, just as he intends it to be!
Editor’s Note: Patricia Lawrence is a widow, mother of 3 daughters, birthmother to one son, grandmother to 7, and great-grandmother to 6. She is a pro-life blogger for Save The 1, and has written a book of her life story which can be read here. Her story has been made into a radio drama: Part 1, and Patricia Lawrence Pt 2 – Unshackled.