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Reconnecting With the Mother Who Tried to Abort Me

Melissa and her family
Melissa Ohden and family. L to R: her half-sister, Sarah; her birth mother, Ruth; Melissa; and her half-sister, Jennifer.
Melissa Ohden was 14 when she discovered she was the survivor of a botched abortion. Learning the truth was a horrific, live-changing experience, but today Melissa appreciates who God made her to be – survivor and all.

“Would you like to meet your birth mother?”

Though the moment took place several years ago, I can still remember the question. I had come to Focus on the Family in 2011 to share my story and record a broadcast about it with Jim Daly and John Fuller. I can’t recall if we were even recording at the moment, but I do remember how I answered the question.

“I would love to,” I replied, “but I continue to trust that it’s in God’s hands, and if He intends for it to happen, it will, in His way, and in His time.”

Sure, those were my words, but if it were possible to see inside me at that moment, my heart would have admitted that I didn’t think such a meeting was actually in His plans.

I needed help

The struggle to even locate my biological mother had been difficult enough. She was estranged from the rest of her family, and their response indicated that they would not be passing on my messages.

Their response, in fact, felt like nails in the coffin of any future I could have with my mother.

Romans 8:28 reminds us “that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” It’s an oft-quoted Bible verse, one that many people find comfort and hope in – myself included – particularly in times of difficulty or distress. To know that in the midst of life’s storms, God is working it all together for good … well, that is comforting news, indeed.

But in that moment, my trust in God’s plans was half-hearted at best.  I needed help – help trusting that He was working good in my life, and that His plans were, indeed, always greater than what I had in mind.

The story of my birth

As I describe in my memoir, You Carried Me, my past as the survivor of a botched abortion was a painful part of life that I initially tried to run from. I was 14 years old when I first learned how I had survived a saline infusion abortion. This particular procedure involved delivering a toxic salt solution into the amniotic fluid surrounding my preborn body in the womb. The intent was to first poison me inside my mother, then to induce premature labor – labor that would ultimately expel my deceased body from her womb.

At least, that’s how it was supposed to happen. And the hospital staff indeed thought I was dead when they set aside my body. But a nurse apparently heard me whimper, realized I wasn’t dead, and saved my life.

Learning the truth was a horrific, live-changing experience. But looking back on the years that have passed since I first heard the story of my birth, I now appreciate who God made me to be, survivor and all.

My identity is in Christ, through Christ. None of the circumstance about my life will change that.

God’s plans were different

That’s an important lesson for us all. Indeed, I’m the first to admit that I never expected my life to turn out this way. My background is in teaching and social work, but today I’m a speaker, writer and activist. I’m normally a quiet, private person, yet sharing my story of survival means I frequently live life in the public eye. It’s not the life I would have chosen for myself, but I’m forever grateful that God’s plans for me were so very different than anything that I could or would have imagined.

My life has changed dramatically since my first Focus broadcast. Back in 2011, my world looked quite different than it does now.

Since that initial radio program aired, I have connected with a maternal cousin, my two maternal half-sisters, a maternal aunt – and yes, even my biological mother! While much of what I’ve learned about my survival and those responsible for it was incredibly painful to hear, God has surrounded me with these amazing relatives who all love me – who have loved me all along.

God is the author of life. But remember, as an author, He’s not done writing!

Many lessons learned

I’ve learned many lessons along this journey called life, and I’d say this one is among the most significant. Even as I’ve continued to put my trust in God, time after time, I still didn’t foresee the depths of His plans for restoration and reconciliation – both in my life and in the lives of my biological family. And He’s still writing my story!

Do you struggle to believe that God is working good in your life right now? Are you having trouble trusting Him when it comes to restoring or reconciling a relationship? I urge you to trust Him. Not half-heartedly, but completely.

Just look where God has taken me! Not only did He save me from an abortion that was meant to end my life – and not only did He bless me with health, an amazing adoptive family and a biological family – He has also redeemed and restored the broken pieces of my heart and life.

No one but God

No one but God could have brought us all together.

No one but God could rewrite the narrative that began 40 years ago when my birth mother was pressured to have an abortion.

No one but God could bring about good in the midst of the suffering we have all experienced over the past four decades.

No one but God could unite us with the power of unconditional love and forgiveness.

Truly, what man intends for evil in our lives, God can use for good (Genesis 50:20). Continue to trust in Him, and I am confident that He will work His plans in your life.

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