The numbers fail to tell the real story of tragedy and struggle, heartbreak and loss. Each year – seven times each day, five days each week – 2,000 unborn lives are ended in the state of Montana.
Across the nation, the numbers are too staggering to comprehend. Carried out with the sanction of the state, approximately 43.8 million children have lost their lives since the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973. And according to Culture of Life, 244,628 of these unborn babies are exterminated each year at the hands of Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion chain.
Amidst this ocean of sorrow, a small band of women and men work quietly and single mindedly to save the precious lives of unborn children. Headed by Catholic Social Services of Montana executive director Rosemary Miller and a tiny staff, these heroic people appear undaunted by the seemingly prevailing currents of pro-choice America. They are compelled by a powerful vision that every life is precious and unique, an irrepeatable gift from the Creator, made in the image and likeness of God. “I knew you before you were born, I formed you in your mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13)
In the combined dioceses of Helena and Great Falls/Billings, this small staff of admirable people places between 25 and 30 infants into adoptive homes each year. Given the staggering number of abortions that are carried out across the land, we might be tempted to ask, “What motivates you when the number of abortions is so great and the number of adoptions so few?”
Rosemary Miller responds with conviction: “We believe every child is a gift from God. We intend to help facilitate God’s plan, believing that every child deserves the chance to claim their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The adoption option is a compelling and untold story. Prospective parents longing to fill their empty arms with a precious child frequently wait years before their dreams are ever fulfilled. The enormous dis-connect in our society between the choice for abortion and the adoption option is unfathomable.
Prospective parents considering adoption will sometimes forego a domestic adoption because they presume that foreign adoptions will proceed more quickly. On the other hand, special needs children in this country often languish for years without the hope of a loving home.
What is needed in our own state to help bridge the gap between abortion clients and adoptive parents longing for a little one? Rosemary Miller and the staff at Catholic Social Services of Montana are the first to offer these insights.
- The Catholic Church needs to raise the consciousness of its own people, as well as the people of the state – that women and men facing unplanned pregnancies do have a life-giving option available to them. They need not be left out in the cold of pro-choice society. We need to open wide the doors of our hearts to receive them with warmth and welcome.
- Greater funding and staffing is necessary if we are going to make a real difference by providing substantive social and pastoral assistance for young women and men struggling with unplanned pregnancies.
- We need to seek the help of federal and state officials to unravel the red tape and enormous expense involved in the adoption process. This cannot and should not be done at the expense of quality home studies and careful adoption planning.
- We must call upon Congress and state legislators to examine the present-day legislation and tort exposure that has driven so many otherwise quality adoption agencies out of business.
- A more advantageous economic environment for adoption must be created, with particular efforts focused upon increasing tax relief and advantages for adoptive couples.
- We need to spread the word about the Montana Safe Haven Newborn Protection Act, the state law that allows parents of newborns to leave their children at emergency rooms or other designated places without facing prosecution for abandonment.
- We should continue to deepen awareness of the healing work of Project Rachel, a post-abortive ministry coordinated through CSSM, which provides support to women and men recovering from the trauma of abortion.
- Finally, we can never grow weary of proclaiming the value of a Culture of Life that protects and cherishes life from the moment of conception until natural death, even in the face of rejection, ridicule, strident rhetoric and overwhelming statistics.
I applaud the heroic and unsung work of Rosemary Miller, executive director of CSSM, and Helen Beausoleil, Shirley Cole, Carol Ferrell, Margaret Foster, Becky and Sam Hubbert, Suzanne Johnson, Betsy Robel, Deljean Wadsworth and Kyla Wright. They work tirelessly in the name of the Church to protect children and help facilitate the entrustment of the precious gift of a child into the waiting arms of loving parents and welcoming homes. I also applaud the courage of mothers and fathers who choose life over death in the face of terrible societal pressure to choose abortion.
We await the day when Catholic Charities across the land are publicly proclaimed as the premier adoption agencies that stand ready, willing and able to receive and place children into loving homes. Then the numbers will tell a new story of healing, hope and happiness, instead of a tale of heartbreak, tragedy and loss.
Published in The Montana Catholic, Vol. 21, No. 9, October 21, 2005.