By John Hoffmeister
My first wife and I already had two sons before we divorced. I then fell into living for myself, having relationships with whomever, wherever, and whenever. I did not want to commit again. Eventually, in relationships four years apart, I got two other women pregnant. I was not concerned for these women, each of whom had no other children. The fact that these would have been the first children for each woman did not matter to me. While I had visitation and paid child support for my two sons, I did not want the financial responsibility for a third or fourth child. So, I convinced both women to abort our children. The long-term effects of forcing two different women to abort babies I created with them did not hit me until many years later.
For a long time, I felt no emotions regarding these two abortions. However, as my sons grew up, got married, and had children of their own, I began to see children from the perspective of a grandfather. By the time my fifth grandchild was born, I was a totally engaged grandpa. This transition caused me to realize the ramifications of my actions some thirty years earlier. Not only had I missed out on two additional children, I had forfeited additional grandchildren as well.
A strange ache began to grow in my heart. I felt empty inside. I had always been a tightly-wound person and now I found myself increasingly angry at my decisions to kill two children. The more time I spent with my grandchildren, the more I regretted causing two of my children to die.
My guilt and shame was compounded by the fact that I had been given up for adoption at birth by my mother. She already had two sons when her husband left her. She and her boys were living with her parents and her father insisted she not bring another child into their home. She could have chosen abortion, but instead she chose to give me life. She gave me the opportunity that I did not even consider for two of my own offspring.
I retired and reconnected with my Catholic faith. I saw information on Project Rachel and Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats. I decided I needed to do something to resolve my inner feelings of regret, shame, guilt, and anger. I signed up for a retreat near where I live and attended with an open mind. I came to understand the causes of my emotions regarding my two aborted children. I heard women share their abortion stories and realized how cruel, insensitive, and uncaring I had been regarding the feelings of the women I impregnated.
The responsibility for my actions rests solely upon my shoulders and I willingly accept that. I have vowed to do everything in my power to prevent any of my children and grandchildren from having or participating in an abortion. Additionally, I want to honor the memory of my adoptive parents by working to be silent no more to the true nature of abortion. It is murder.