Abortion survivor urges mothers to choose life

Sunday, May 27, 2012
Claire Culwell (Submitted photo)

Claire Culwell was faced with challenges even before her birth. At the age of 13 her mother became pregnant and chose to have an abortion. What her mother didn't know at the time is that she was pregnant with twins. Sometime later she returned to an abortion clinic to find out the news, where she was told it was too late to have a second abortion.

Placed on life support at birth, Culwell dealt with some difficult health issues -- including dislocated hips and feet turned inward. Despite the challenges, she's grateful to have lived to tell her story.

Culwell will be making two appearances in Southeast Missouri next week in connection with the Vitae Foundation. A pro-life benefit dinner will take place on June 4 at the Perryville Knights of Columbus hall, 31 Church St. in Perryville. Another dinner will be held June 5 at the Jackson Knights of Columbus hall, 3305 N. High St. in Jackson. Both dinners are free, though reservations are required. Donations will be accepted at both events. To make reservations, call Kristina Davis at 800-393-5791 or go to www.vitaefoundation.org/events. Both dinners begin at 6:30 p.m.

Q: What led you to seek out your birth mother?

A: My sister had an amazing reunion with her birth mother. Her reunion was next to perfect. I thought that if reunions could be that easy, I might as well meet mine. After meeting my sister's birth mother, I got to thank her for giving me my sister. Our family would not be the same without my sister. At the very moment I thanked her, I realized that I hadn't thanked the woman that gave me my family and my life. I knew I needed to thank her and with that, I made the call to my adoption agency to search for my birth mother in October of 2008.

Q: Growing up, and before meeting your biological mother, did you ever feel like you were a twin?

A: Yes, I used to ask my parents, "Where is my brother?" It never felt like I wanted a brother or wished I had a brother -- I was absolutely convinced I had a brother and he was missing.

Q: When your birth mother told you about the abortion, what was your reaction?

A: I was completely shocked. It took a long time to process. It took months. Initially, I was shocked. It was hard to fully believe. After months of realizing the truth of my birth, I began to grieve the loss for myself, my twin, my birth mother and even my parents. Through my grieving and my realization of being an abortion survivor and a twin, my life was forever changed.

Q: When did you become a Christian?

A: I became a Christian very young, in fact, I don't remember becoming a Christian. My parents work for Campus Crusade for Christ and have for over 35 years. So I was raised by a very godly couple with a firm Christian foundation. If you're asking when I really began to claim my faith as my own, that was through a series of events in high school and college.

Q: How has your faith guided you in light of the challenges you faced early on both physically and emotionally?

A: I know that if I hadn't been a Christian and hadn't known the grace, love, protection, faithfulness and truth of my parents as well as God's word, I would have had a lot of anger, hurt, guilt, and responded to the "news" my birth mother gave me very differently. However, due to my strong Christian upbringing and the fruits of the spirit that I knew so well, I was able to really apply them and cling to what I knew about God -- that He has a plan. Trials, tribulation, pain, suffering, hurts ... these are words I don't necessary care for, but the amazing thing about them is that they bring you closer to God, show you why he is in control and make you appreciate the life you have been given. I may have a life with "suffering" and "hardship" written throughout it quite often, but I also have a life with "God's faithfulness" written faithfully throughout it for the past 24 years.

Q: Is there one Scripture that has helped you in light of finding out about the abortion?

A: Psalm 139 and Jeremiah 1 -- He knows me and he knows my twin brother. This gives me confidence that I will know my brother, and we will all be reunited with those who were never given the gift of life. Jeremiah 39 also tells me that God has a perfect plan -- a plan for my own good. He can make beauty from ashes!

Q: What's your message to others about abortion?

A: You will never regret giving the gift of life. And there is no sin that is "unforgivable" by God.

Q: Today, how is your relationship with your adopted parents and biological mother?

A: I have a wonderful relationship with my adoptive parents. They are the most wonderful examples I have ever seen of being godly and selfless. They have given me the opportunity to thrive by giving me the most wonderful upbringing. My birth mother also gave me a wonderful gift -- she told me about my birth, something she had kept to herself for 21 years. She encouraged me to share it with others because she didn't want any other child to go through what she did. However, due to the pain that her abortion attempts and my birth caused her, it is best for us not to talk. She is healing but has done an amazing thing -- she gave us the opportunity to share her story with others.

Q: What's your message to couples considering adoption, particularly of a child with a disability?

A: Every single family that has adopted a child with a disability says that their child has opened up doors for them in life that would have never been opened if it hadn't been for their child with a disability. They never pretend that it is easy but they will guarantee you that it is a blessing. I used to take care of disabled people in their homes and I can tell you that there is no joy like the joy of a disabled child. Often times we look at a child with disabilities and see it as a misfortune or something that could have been prevented had the parents chosen abortion, but as Christians we know two things: 1. God created that child perfectly in his image. 2. God has a purpose and a plan beyond anything we can ever comprehend. This is witnessed each and every time I come in contact with a disabled child. God's hands are written all over that child.

Q: The Vitae Foundation is hosting the dinner in Perryville and Jackson. Tell us a little about the organization and why you're partnering with it.

A: Vitae is an organization that informs families that are faced with a crisis pregnancy about resources, information regarding the three options women have; abortion, adoption and parenting, and advertises for many pro-life organizations through media. I have found that much of our success is accomplished through media. We are addicted to media in our country -- the Internet, social media, billboards, commercials, TV, etc. Vitae feeds the addiction of our country by providing the truth behind crisis pregnancy scenarios while provided real options for families that are life affirming. I wish there was an organization like this in my birth mother's area in the 1980s.

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