On the evening of Sunday, March 15, I had a homecoming of sorts. I gave a speech in Storm Lake, Iowa, at the St. Mary’s church. Open to the public, this was the first speech of mine that my adoptive father had attended. In addition, my adoptive mother, aunt, cousins, in-laws, husband and daughter, and numerous friends from the community were present. It was kind of surreal, baring my soul to the very people who I had lived with, worked with, and gone to school with, for over 15 years. People who I, in fact, had kept the secret of being an abortion attempt survivor, from for all these years.

Although Sunday night’s speech wasn’t the best one that I’ve ever given (somehow, Olivia always seems to pull a no-sleep night with me when I need sleep the most), that really did’t matter to me. What matters is that I once again touched other people’s lives by sharing my story with them, I helped to unite the pro-life community in Storm Lake, and my family was together for the first time in a very long time. Although, in recent years, my adoptive family has experienced its share of conflict, our love for each other, and the story of how abortion affected all of our lives ties us together.

Speaking one on one with audience members is always my favorite part of a speaking event, and tonight was no exception. I got a big hug from a man who was the vice principal of my high school, which meant a lot to me. There were also a large number of foster and adoptive parents present. I always enjoy hearing about the children they’ve loved and let into their homes and hearts.

On Monday morning, I shared my story with grades 5-12 at St. Mary’s schools, and to be honest, I was really nervous about it. Although I’ve spoken to high school students before, and have worked with younger students in the past, I had never shared my personal story about abortion with younger students. Thankfully, the time and effort that I put into creating my speech, coupled with God’s guidance, made this the best event that I have ever done. For those of you that speak publicly, you know what I’m talking about—you know, right there in the midst of what you are doing, that you are nailing your speech, that you are connected with your audience, and connected I was. In that sanctuary, I was more honest with those kids than I ever have been with anyone else (besides my husband and God). From how I found out about the abortion to what my pregnancy was like with my daughter, I bared my soul to the students and let them see, firsthand, how abortion affects the lives of individuals and communities.

I was so impressed with how attentive the students were throughout my speech (especially since it was an early Monday morning), how well-behaved they were, and how insightful their questions were. I truly believe that kids have a leg-up on us as adults; they are so pure and so true.

Participating in this event with the students reinforced in me that reaching out to younger kids is key in pro-life work. Although it’s important to reach out to those young adults who are most impacted by abortion (college students), it’s even more important to reach out to kids before they get to that point, when they are busy forming their beliefs, principles.

Following the event, I was blessed to meet a handful of the students involved in the schools’ pro-life student group. What an amazing group of young people! Many, themselves, are adopted, and could relate to my story about growing up as an adoptee. The pro-life student group gave me the most wonderful gifts I have received from any speech—a HUGE thank you card on butcher paper, and a beautiful cross.

We were additionally blessed to have media coverage of the day’s event from the Pilot Tribune. Olivia and I were photographed along with some of the students from the Pro-Life student group (there is a link on the media page if you are interested).  Since that time, I have continued to hear great feedback from community members, family of students, and students themselves, about the event and how it impacted them and their perspective on abortion.

All in all, these two events in Storm Lake were a joy to do! Of course, I appreciate not having to jump on a plane and fly across the country to share my story, but even more so, I enjoy doing local events because this is not just my story, this is OUR story. The more I share my story, the more I’ve come to recognize that my story has affected tens of hundreds of people right here in my home community, and as I tell my story, it becomes the story of so many more. Thanks to all of you at St. Mary’s for your hospitality and your commitment to the pro-life movement!