Opinion

An abortion survivor and an infertile mother: How God’s plan for us worked for the greater good

An abortion survivor and her adopted mother reflect on prayer.
Thu Feb 6, 2020 - 4:07 pm EST
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Barbara Culwell and her adopted daughter Claire, who survived an abortion

February 6, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Claire Culwell, abortion survivor: Prayer is powerful not merely because it unites us with believers; it is a 24/7 direct line of communication with our Creator. When I look at the story God has written in my life so far, I’m amazed by all the ways He showed up for my family and me and faithfully answered our prayers, even though His resolutions didn't always satisfy our timetables and expectations. This truth took on a new significance for me when I met my birth mother, an encounter that would alter the course of my life.

Growing up, my sister and I were fully aware that our parents adopted us after their struggles to get pregnant. In our home, adoption was celebrated; I knew that I was wanted, chosen, and loved by my family. So when my sister and I got the chance to meet our birth mothers, I chose to do so, believing that no matter what the encounter unveiled, it was simply another aspect of what made our stories so special and was another mark of God’s grace in uniting us together as a family.

In 2009, I came face-to-face with my birth mother. She revealed that she had tried to abort my twin and me, and I survived the procedure. Of course, in hearing that, I was initially heartbroken. Despite being cherished by my adopted family, there was still pain in knowing that my birth mom did not want me. As I navigated my new reality of being an abortion survivor and a twinless twin, I leaned on my family and God. I asked God for answers that I will never get on this side of heaven. Still, one thing He made clear to me was that regardless of being accidentally born after a botched abortion and losing my twin, He redeemed a seemingly hopeless situation. And He didn’t stop there.

He placed me in a family that loved me and wanted me, and after I discovered my story, began opening doors for me to share my testimony of God’s great love, grace, and forgiveness for the world. Every day since learning about the circumstances of my birth, I have become more secure in who I am. I know that my identity is in Christ, not my birth story.

When I called out to God, He provided solutions far better than the ones for which I prayed. He gave me a family, a husband, children, and a ministry that offers a voice to women like my birth mother and me.

What was meant for evil, He used for my good, and He answered the longings of my parents’ hearts when they desperately desired children and couldn’t have them naturally. He spared my body from the abortion instruments that day, 32 years ago, and put me into the arms of my parents to fill their hearts and continue to leave a legacy for the Culwell name.

Barbara Culwell, Claire’s adopted mother: My story of God forging my prayer life formed from my longing to have a baby. At the beginning of our fourth year of marriage, my husband and I began the journey of starting a family. Very soon, we could tell we might not be able to have a baby naturally. Over the next four years, I poured my heart out to the Lord over and over again. Having walked with the Lord since high school, I knew a lot “about Him,” but the aching, wondering, and uncertainty brought me to my knees like no other time in my life. I had so many questions for God.

Do you see me? Do you hear me? Do you really care about me? Do you have good plans for me?

Day after day, year after year, I began to see and know that indeed He did see me and care for me and had more excellent plans for my family and me than I could ever imagine.

My constant need and ache drove me to Him, and I began experiencing a deeper level of trust with God than I had ever known, despite being in so much agony. Today, when I look back on some of the prayers I journaled during that time, I am encouraged:

“Lord, Thank you that you are in control of everything and that... you have my best interests in mind. Your timing is perfect”.

“Lord, I want a baby. Please give us one. Thank you for teaching me more about you as I wait. I don’t want to look to anything or anyone else to give me satisfaction except for you.”

“Lord, Please help me be content in you. Help me to stand in your goodness and not doubt it.” 

“Lord, I need you to help me. I feel like nobody understands what I feel. I feel so alone in this waiting room.”

When I read those prayers and reflect on all the ways God carried me through the heartache, confusion, and discouragement I experienced, I am in awe of His tenderness and patience toward me. As heavy as my pain and emptiness felt, it was still a sweet time of learning to learn on the God of the Universe, even when I didn’t want or enjoy the path on which He had placed me. As Isaiah put it so eloquently: 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV).

Who could have fathomed that in my moaning and groaning for a baby that God was orchestrating something far more incredible than I could have ever imagined? He protected Claire in her birth mother’s womb so that I could become a mother to her. At just the right time, He placed her in our family. And at just the right time again, He gave us another precious baby girl a few years later. I am in awe at God’s mercy and kindness He has shown me not only in answering my prayer for a baby, but in showing me more of His goodness.

The life of our family is a testimony to the power of prayer. Today, Claire and I are both passionate about not only sharing our stories but about praying for children and families. On February 15, 2020, we will join a panel of guest storytellers during the She Loves Out Loud free livestream prayer event to share testimonies of encouragement with audiences facing all kinds of struggles, including infertility, abortion, adoption, and forgiveness. If these issues are on your heart and if you believe in the importance of prayer intervention, please join us. Join us now in praying that women who need to be encouraged will participate in the livestream. Pray that women listening would place their hope in God and His plan, and consider hosting or joining a prayer group during the event.

“For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them” (Matthew 18:20 NIV).

Claire Culwell is an international speaker and abortion survivor. She will appear during the She Loves Out Loud prayer livestream event with her mother Barbara Culwell on February 15.


  abortion, abortion survivor, adoption, born alive, claire culwell

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