We all have our reasons for shouting out in praise of adoption. But Melissa Ohden’s reason is unique. Melissa is an adoptee who found out, at about age 14, that she became adoptable after surviving an abortion. Melissa and her older sister grew up in a home with loving parents who talked openly about adoption and the love they have for each other. They also talked about how much the girls’ birth parents must have loved them, to have placed them for adoption when they realized they would not be able to care for them. It wasn’t until reunification that the truth of Melissa’s birth mother didn’t know about her survival and so, of course, had no idea Melissa was placed for adoption, came to light.
Melissa’s birth mother was a 19-year-old college student in the last part of an unplanned pregnancy. (The abortionist’s notes say she was about 20 weeks into the pregnancy, but the neonatologist who cared for Melissa said she was delivered at 31 weeks.) The teenager’s mother was a nurse who had a strong working relationship with an abortionist. By force, Melissa’s birth mother was given saline injections to kill her unborn baby.
Generally, the saline, injected into the amniotic sac, burns off the outer layer of the baby’s skin. Labor is induced, and about 24-hours later, a dead baby is delivered and the abortion is complete. But it didn’t go quite like that in Melissa’s case. It was five full days after the injection of saline that Melissa’s young birth mother finally delivered her. The expectation, of course, was that there would be no heartbeat, no breathing. But when the baby gasped for breath, it shocked everyone.
Melissa’s birth grandmother was in the room and did all she could to talk the others into just setting her aside and letting her die. But another nurse took control and Melissa was rushed to the NICU where she was carefully cared for. In a failed abortion, there are usually terrible, life-long physical problems for the survivor. And although Melissa suffered from liver and respiratory problems, she did remarkably well. It was while Melissa was in the hospital that her adoptive parents first met her, and fell completely in love. There was no concern, in their minds, about what the doctors said would be problematic. They loved her and knew she belonged with them.
Before Melissa’s parents were ready to share with her the truth about her miraculous survival and the associated trauma of abortion, Melissa’s sister spilled the beans. It happened when her sister became pregnant and was considering her options. With abortion on the table, her parents could not stay silent. What they didn’t know was that Melissa’s sister would tell her before they could do it in their way.
(A side note: Melissa’s sister delivered a healthy baby, parented the child and went on to have more children.)
Understandably, Melissa struggled with the knowledge about the abortion. Her self-worth plummeted, her belief that her birth parents loved her disappeared and she began to question everything. Melissa worked through this new-found trauma to become the adoption and right to life advocate she is today. By the time she left for college, she was strong and firm in her beliefs as well as her knowledge of her own worth. She now has a beautiful family of her own.
Reunification has proven to be a beautiful thing in Melissa’s life. She and her family – including her adoptive parents – have good relationships with Melissa’s birth father’s family and her birth mother’s family. Forgiveness, understanding and honest love are the result of this dramatic search and reunification.
Good news! Melissa’s new book, You Carried Me, is now available for purchase. Look for a review coming in the next couple of days, right here on Adoption.com!