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How Could You have Aborted my Big Brother?

The Secret Heartache of a Sibling Amanda Tipton

Amanda Tipton Photography

Theresa Bonopartis - published on 07/24/14

The secret heartbreak of children who've lost a sibling through abortion.

“My mom does not know I found out about her abortion. She is suffering and I want to help her but I don’t know how.”

Anne spoke these words to me when she came seeking advice and help. She had recently overheard a conversation where her mom was speaking about a past abortion.

Anne didn’t know what to do or what to say to her mom, and her own emotions were all over the place. She went from feeling sorry for her mom, to feeling anger, confusion and even guilt for being alive.

She was reluctant to approach her mom, who was already suffering, but she knew she needed to express her own pain. She felt alone and isolated, and was looking for a place where someone would understand what she was going through, while at the same time not judge her mother whom she loved and felt a need to protect.

Anne is not alone. With over 55 million abortions in our country, there are millions of “Annes” who have lost a sibling to abortion. Some have found out about the abortion without their parents’ knowledge. Some have been told and others just have a sense that someone is missing.

Andrew, who had always longed for an older brother, explained his reaction to his mom telling him about an abortion in her past: “Suddenly my whole life was beginning to make sense—every desire and sadness. I had actually felt his loss in my heart throughout my life.”

Many siblings of aborted babies have expressed similar experiences of “always knowing” that someone was missing and then a similar experience of fitting together the pieces of their lives once this crucial information was known. Still, if and when to tell a child about the abortion of his or her sibling needs to be carefully discerned.  

It‘s short-sighted to think that relieving oneself of the burden of carrying the secret of a past abortion by telling one’s child will be the end of the matter. And hearing your child say, “you are forgiven,” does not lessen the impact of the abortion on their life. The fact that they may not share their feelings with you doesn’t mean that your child is not struggling over the loss of a sibling. In fact, it’s to be expected that they will  wrestle with various issues surrounding the abortion. Often, children  don’t share  these negative feelings with their parents because they don’t want to cause more grief for someone they love, someone who is already suffering greatly.

Magaly confided:

“It was right after my mother’s abortion that I began to feel unwanted by my parents, even though I knew they loved me and had always cared for me. I couldn’t help but feel that I needed to be worthy of their love, that I needed to somehow justify having been allowed to be born.”

The reality of being alive when your sibling is not, is often very hard to grasp. Although most of the time, the abortion had nothing to do with the living sibling born before or after, there is still a sense of “Why I am here and my sibling is not?” “Would I even be here if that baby had been born?“ “Would my name be the same?”

Countless questions surface, but there’s often with no place or person to help children sort them out. As one sibling shared, “I wasn’t supposed to know about the abortion, but I overheard family conversations that piqued my suspicions.”

When I was 11-years-old, I asked my mom if she had ever thought about having an abortion. She very gently and honestly said, “Yes.” We were in the kitchen. I remember I had to leave the room. When I was away from my mom, my feet fell out from under me. I began sobbing silently and uncontrollably. I loved my three living siblings with my whole life; in many ways, my identity centered around them. I could not understand why my mom would assume that I might not love my aborted sibling just as much.

In the midst of all the suffering, however, is the mercy of God. Finding a place to go to release the pain and to learn the dynamics involved in abortion and how these affect their life will aid them in their healing. God can transform this intense suffering and bring peace and joy to families fragmented by abortion, drawing them closer, not only to one another but to Him. “A” expressed it this way:

“Facing my grief’s power meant facing the fact that I, like my aborted sibling, was vulnerable to my parents and family—not vulnerable to the point of physical death, but vulnerable to the point of rejection on the grounds of my obstinate obsession.

"The Entering Canaan Sibling Retreat was a turning point in my life. The day’s gentle, unhurried pace, Eucharistic focus and intimate setting allowed time to stop and expand, encompassing both the pain of the past and hope for the future. … It was strange and deeply comforting to be in a place where the central spiritual wound of my life was acknowledged and soothed, not idolized but transformed through a call to acceptance, forgiveness, healing, and celebration of my youngest sibling’s brief life on earth and eternal life in Heaven, where she or he now intercedes before the face of God for the healing of my whole family.

Now I know that this wound I bear is becoming like Christ’s wounds: welling up with God’s love so that everyone—my mother, father, all my siblings, and the generations before and after us— may be drawn to Him.” 


Theresa Bonopartisis the director of the post-abortion healing program Lumina and co-developer of the “Entering Canaan” post abortion ministry model.

AbortionDevotions and FeastsParentingSuffering
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