OVERVIEW

Discover how the journey of healing and personal growth after an abortion can fundamentally reshape and enrich the way you parent in our Parenting After Abortion Roundtable webinar. Join hosts, Greg Mayo, Men’s Healing Strategist, and Amanda Hoff, Relationship Development Specialist at Support After Abortion, along with panelists Marly, Rhonda, Susan, and Treion, as they lead this insightful virtual event. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain valuable perspectives and transform your approach to parenting after abortion!

GREG’S STORY OF HOW ABORTION CAN IMPACT PARENTING

“Somewhere inside of me, I knew I didn’t protect the two children that I lost, and so I had an unrealistic expectation of how much of a father I could be,” reflected Greg as he began the webinar. 

He candidly shared how his two abortion experiences shaped his parenting style, leading him to become overprotective of his children. Greg also explained how he faced a constant struggle with confidence in his role as a father, admitting to battling anxiety and feelings of inadequacy throughout the first decade of parenting. 

Greg shared that it wasn’t until he embarked on a journey of healing from his past abortion wounds that significant changes began to take place in his parenting. Learning to acknowledge, heal and validate his pain, shame, and guilt transformed him into a more intentional parent. He emphasized that this process not only improved his own parenting skills but also inspired him to assist others facing similar challenges. 

Greg highlighted that unresolved abortion experiences can impact parenting in various ways beyond overprotectiveness and anxiety. These impacts can include creating unrealistic expectations, attachment issues, an authoritarian parenting style, a quest for perfection, feelings of undeservingness, and overall confidence issues. He underscored the need for healing to empower parents to create healthier, more intentional relationships with their children. 

By focusing on the importance of healing, Greg set the stage for a deeper exploration of how addressing past traumas can lead to positive changes in parenting. His insights laid the groundwork for understanding the profound connection between personal healing and the ability to foster nurturing, resilient family dynamics. 

CAROLYN’S STORY

Following Greg’s insightful reflections, Amanda expressed her gratitude for his openness, noting that many people could relate to his experiences, including herself. She then introduced a video featuring Carolyn, who recounted her emotional journey after a previous abortion and how it affected her subsequent pregnancies.

When she discovered she was pregnant again just a few years after the abortion, she initially assumed she would have another abortion. However, her boyfriend, now husband, reacted positively, expressing his support for keeping the baby. This response brought Carolyn immense relief. 

But throughout her pregnancy, Carolyn struggled to connect with her baby, feeling unattached and unable to share in the joy that others often described. This disconnection persisted after the birth of her son, where she found a profound inability to bond with him immediately. The birth brought up unresolved feelings from her abortion, and she faced deep-seated guilt, shame, and pain. 

Carolyn continued to experience these emotions with her subsequent pregnancies, leading to a persistent sense of sadness and disconnection with each of her children’s births. Despite loving her children, she grappled with underlying guilt and the belief that she didn’t deserve to be happy or to be a mother. She explained how the unresolved trauma affected her ability to fully enjoy the milestones of her children’s lives and underscored the long-lasting emotional impact of her abortion experience. 

ABORTION CAN IMPACT PARENTING

Amanda highlighted common emotional threads, such as the feelings Greg shared, that many others also experience. She pointed out that while Greg became overprotective due to his abortion experience, Carolyn struggled to bond with her children and feel connected to them, and that others may be impacted differently. 

Amanda reflected on the fact that individuals often don’t realize how profoundly their abortion experiences affect them until they begin the healing process, remarking, “We don’t see clearly how it’s affecting us until we get healing.” She suggested that people may go through daily life and parenting without acknowledging the impact, often claiming they are fine. Amanda observed that it wasn’t until Greg started healing that he could look back and recognize how his abortion experiences had consistently influenced his parenting over the years. 

Greg agreed, “Yeah, 100%,” and shared a poignant analogy from his father: “You don’t know how dirty you are until you hose off.” This comparison resonated deeply with Greg as he reflected on his journey. He explained that prior to beginning his healing process, he had been living reactively, not intentionally. Greg likened his approach to life as playing “emotional whack-a-mole,” constantly responding to challenges from a place of woundedness and pain. 

Greg emphasized that embarking on a healing journey required a newfound level of intentionality that made his previous defensive approach to life challenging. As Greg progressed on his healing path, he began to recognize and appreciate the changes in himself. This introspection brought a sense of realization and growth as he understood the impact of his emotional state on his life and parenting, motivating him to continue his journey towards greater awareness and purposefulness. 

AMANDA’S STORY

Amanda shared her personal story, reflecting on how her abortion at age 14 deeply impacted her perception of motherhood. She recounted feeling pressured by family and friends to have the abortion, leading to immediate feelings of punishment and worry over her future ability to have children. 

She explained how five years later, at age 19, she found herself pregnant again and chose to keep her child despite feeling unprepared. Her fear of punishment persisted into early motherhood, intensifying with each subsequent child. Amanda described the anxiety and pressure she placed on herself and her children, striving to prove her worth as a mother despite lingering doubts and fears.

Amanda detailed how the fear of punishment due to her abortion continued to affect her during her early years of parenting, explaining that she carried a deep-seated belief that she was undeserving of motherhood and that something bad might happen as a consequence of her past decisions. She described how this manifested in her parenting style, particularly with her first child, who she described as colicky and difficult. 

Amanda felt an overwhelming need to prove herself as a capable mother, often shouldering the responsibility alone and feeling compelled to keep her child close at all times, even to the extent of taking him everywhere, including the bathroom. She also described how needing to prove herself caused her to place unrealistic expectations of perfection on her children. This pressure to excel as a mother stemmed from the messages she had internalized about her worthiness and capability after her abortion experience. 

Amanda stated that after 20 years, she finally sought healing, recognizing the profound impact her unresolved emotions stemming from her abortion had on her parenting. She highlighted the importance of early intervention in healing processes, stressing how unaddressed emotional wounds can affect both parents and children. 

FOSTERING CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS TO SUPPORT CHANGE

 Amanda introduced the concept of the “relationship funnel,” emphasizing that “life change happens in the context of relationships.” She highlighted the importance of taking the opportunity to guide clients toward healing during their childbearing years, particularly when their children are still young. By fostering relationships through tools and programs like BrightCourse or parenting classes, Amanda noted, support centers can provide more frequent touchpoints with clients and cultivate a supportive community. 

Reflecting on her time as the director of a pregnancy resource center, Amanda explained that in that center, clients received resources – such as diapers, wipes, baby clothes – every three months, making it difficult to build meaningful relationships unless clients participated in regular classes. She advocated for inviting all clients to join these classes, emphasizing their benefits, such as community support and incentives to earn additional resources. 

Amanda encouraged using these sessions not just for education but as opportunities to engage clients personally, asking about their lives and struggles to build trust and rapport. She suggested that this approach may help clients feel comfortable sharing deeper issues, allowing for more effective support. 

She detailed how once clients open up about their struggles, providers could introduce deeper topics related to their issues. Amanda mentioned Unraveled Roots, which addresses root causes of damaging behaviors, and other resources available on BrightCourse, such as those focused on trauma and parenting without shame. Materials like these can help clients delve into more profound topics, setting them on a path to healing. 

After establishing a relationship and exploring deeper topics, Amanda said it becomes easier to address sensitive issues like abortion healing. She noted that clients might initially downplay their need for help with abortion-related struggles, but with a foundation of trust, providers can reintroduce the topic and offer to go through resources like Keys to Hope and Healing, also available on BrightCourse, which serves as an excellent starting point for abortion healing. 

Amanda recommended providing various next steps, such as more in-depth spiritual curricula, retreats, or referrals to clinicians, allowing clients to choose the path that best suits them. She emphasized that by guiding clients towards healing, they could begin to see generational patterns being broken. She noted that this approach would foster healthier parents, which makes healthier children, and healthier communities. Amanda underscored that the ultimate goal for everyone involved was to create positive, lasting change within families and communities.   

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION

Next, Amanda introduced the roundtable panelists, expressing her excitement to hear their insights and experiences on integrating healing into their services. 

She invited Marly, Treion, Susan, and Rhonda to introduce themselves. 

The panelists introduced themselves, sharing their roles and affiliations:

Rhonda manages a pregnancy resource center in the midwest.

Treion has been the director of a pregnancy resource center in the western US for 30 years and also serves as executive director for a regional abortion healing retreat program. 

Susan serves as office manager in a pregnancy resource center in the south and has been involved in abortion recovery for 18 years.

Marly coordinates abortion healing in a pregnancy resource center in the southeast and has been with the center for over 20 years.

HOW DID YOUR ABORTION EXPERIENCE AFFECT YOUR PARENTING?

RHONDA

Amanda asked how panelists’ abortion experiences had affected their parenting. 

Rhonda shared that her experience paralleled both Amanda and Greg’s, recounting how she had her first abortion at 16 and, six years later, became pregnant with her son. Determined not to repeat her past, she embraced the pregnancy, but continued to think about what she missed out on with her first pregnancy. Rhonda described the overwhelming gratitude she felt upon giving birth, clinging tightly to her son, and feeling fortunate to have the chance to be a mother again after years of promiscuous behavior and substance abuse, which she attributed to her unhealed abortion experience. 

Rhonda explained that she parented very closely, struggling to let go and becoming obsessive-compulsive about every aspect of her son’s life. She detailed how she would control his play and follow him around, fearing for his safety and questioning her capabilities as a mother. This intense need to make up for not parenting at 16 led her to overcompensate with her son. 

When she had another child at 26, the experience was different, marked by physical complications related to her past abortion. While she was less clingy, she still parented closely and controlled everything, a behavior that persisted until she went through a healing process. Reflecting on her journey, Rhonda realized that her need for control and obsessive-compulsive tendencies were deeply tied to her unresolved feelings about her abortion experience. 

Amanda expressed gratitude to Rhonda for her vulnerability and sharing her story, noting the common threads that resonate across their experiences.

She then turned to Susan, asking her to share how abortion affected her parenting. 

SUSAN

Susan shared that she became pregnant at 18 and, for various reasons, chose abortion, which she later regretted deeply. She acknowledged that she didn’t realize how much it had impacted her until she participated in a healing program. 

At the time of her healing journey, her children were 10 and 7 years old. Reflecting on Greg’s and others’ stories, she saw similarities in her own experience of striving to raise perfect children to compensate for her past decisions. Susan emphasized that her healing process allowed her to step back and give her children the freedom to be themselves, which brought them happiness. 

Greg asked Susan whether she had informed her children about entering into a healing program, or if they had noticed a change on their own. 

Susan responded that about a year after completing the program, she decided to share her experience with her children. Intending to share her story publicly, Susan felt it was best to tell them beforehand. Being that her children were only 11 and 8 at the time, Susan shared that she was pleasantly surprised by their reactions and felt a sense of affirmation that it was the right time to disclose the information. She communicated to them that she had realized how much she had expected from them. Now as adults, her children acknowledge that the healing journey was beneficial for their mother and consequently for them as well.  

HOW DID ABORTION HEALING CHANGE YOUR PARENTING

SUSAN

Susan reflected that one of the significant changes in her parenting style, similar to previous speakers, involved overcoming deep-seated fear that stemmed from her abortion experience – that she didn’t deserve to have children and that God might take them away as a consequence. She expressed that addressing this fear allowed her to let go of the need to control her children’s every move and to embrace allowing them to fail and learn under her guidance. 

RHONDA

Rhonda recounted her journey into abortion healing, which began in 2006 when she surrendered to God. She started working at a pregnancy resource center and was invited to share her story at a local school. Beforehand, she disclosed her past to her children, expecting their dismay but instead received understanding and empathy, especially from her son, who acknowledged having a sister in heaven. This revelation lifted a burden and strengthened their relationship, allowing her to embrace motherhood with newfound freedom from fear and shame. 

Greg thanked Susan and Rhonda and once again pointed out the commonalities and threads among the speakers, suggesting that these shared experiences also reflect what we may encounter with clients. This observation underscores the relevance of integrating healing practices into our centers based on these shared narratives. 

HOW DO YOU PRIORITIZE AND INTEGRATE ABORTION HEALING IN YOUR CENTER?

TREION

On the topic of integrating healing into pregnancy resource centers, Amanda asked Treion how she’s been able to create a culture that prioritizes healing within her center.

Treion emphasized her approach to prioritizing healing by first acknowledging the ongoing need for personal healing among staff and volunteers, fostering a culture of humility and empathy. 

She explained that with clients, they begin by building relationships through inviting them for informal meetings like coffee or soda, and then tailor their approach based on each client’s preferences before integrating and delving into programs like BrightCourse and Earn while you Learn to cater to various needs.

Treion also discussed a structured progression through programs like Unraveled Roots and Keys to Hope and Healing, followed by deeper emotional exploration and opportunities for biblical engagement and retreats, all supported by ongoing relational connections and always based on the client’s preferences. 

Amanda found Treion’s methods inspiring and commended her for integrating healing into her center’s activities. She emphasized the importance of starting with personal healing among staff and thanked Treion for sharing her insights. 

Amanda then directed the same question to Marly about creating a culture of healing in her center. 

MARLY

Marly explained that at her center, they prioritize prayer, healing, and then parenting. She said that while evangelism is also important, they focus on sharing their faith and values only after they’ve established a relationship. Marly stated that when clients visit the center for services, their intake process identifies if they have experienced loss through abortion, allowing them to initiate conversations about trauma and healing, focusing on forgiveness and grief. 

She emphasized the use of BrightCourse to educate clients about trauma and its effect on their lives. She noted that many people struggle to connect past experiences to current issues and stressed the importance of addressing past pain to positively influence motivations and relationships. Marly advocated for a holistic approach to healing, encouraging personal growth and transformation through deeper relationships and support networks. 

Amanda stated that she found Marly’s insights inspiring, particularly the notion that parenting information without healing is merely information, a perspective Amanda often quotes. She expressed a desire to continue learning from the panelists due to their wealth of knowledge. 

Amanda then shifted the focus back to Susan, asking her to share some of the unique methods she utilizes for incentivizing healing practices in her center, noting that Susan’s approaches had been particularly effective. 

SUSAN

Susan explained that they recently established a separate facility called the “Parenting Center,” where clients attended classes utilizing BrightCourse. She stated that they are offering significantly more points to parents who attend these classes compared to their regularly offered parenting classes. Clients can use the earned points for vouchers to area thrift stores to shop for baby items. 

Susan shared that they are starting their first in-person Unraveled Roots group. They have promoted the program heavily among their clients and on social media, setting a participant cap and emphasizing limited spots. As a result, they had 15 people sign up, including some dads. She expressed excitement and hope that the group would not only foster healing, but also help build relationships, which could lead to participants choosing to attend additional types of classes. 

Amanda expressed enthusiasm for Susan’s ideas and excitement about the upcoming Unraveled Roots group. She reassured Susan of Support After Abortion’s support and desire to hear about the group’s progress. 

Q & A

Greg expressed his gratitude to the panelists for their insights. He emphasized the importance of offering various options to clients, stating, “We have to provide options that meet clients where they’re at.” He underscored that the key to achieving this is through collaboration, such as sharing ideas and learning from others in settings like these, to “help as many people as possible find healing.”

Amanda then encouraged attendees to submit questions for her, Greg, or the panelists using the chat feature.

Q: How can partners, spouses, parents, or other close individuals support the recovery process of someone who has experienced abortion?

A: Greg responded, saying that he disclosed his abortion experiences to his wife early in their relationship, before marriage. Although she had not experienced abortion herself, she chose to participate in Keys to Hope and Healing to gain understanding. Greg emphasized again that each person’s journey through abortion recovery is unique, mentioning how his wife found value in participating in Keys to Hope and Healing, which provided her with insights into their shared losses. 

Q: How can we assist our clients in seeing that their abortion may be affecting their parenting if they are currently unaware or denying any impact?

A: Greg acknowledged that it was challenging to convince someone of what they needed to know, emphasizing that building a relationship was crucial. He referred to Amanda’s funnel approach as essential, explaining that trust and meaningful conversations with someone who knows, likes, and trusts you were key. He noted that without context, it would be difficult to address the issue effectively. 

Amanda agreed, stating that through relationship building and discussing other issues, clients might come to realize how their abortion may be affecting them. She stresses the importance of having that trust to discuss such sensitive matters. 

Treion added that it was not about convincing clients but asking insightful questions to help them recognize their own issues. By acknowledging their anxieties and fears, clients could see the need for help and be more willing to participate in programs, rather than just being told to join a class. 

CLOSING

In closing, Greg invited participants to email him or Amanda with any further questions or comments. He expressed gratitude for everyone’s attendance and thanked the panelists for sharing their knowledge, stating how much he learns from them daily. 

Greg emphasized his appreciation for being able to share this knowledge with other providers and concluded by thanking everyone again.

NEXT STEPS

Click here to watch the video of this webinar.

Click here to go to the self-guided Unraveled Roots for Men resources

Click here to to to the facilitator Unraveled Roots for Men resources

Click here to register for the next Men’s Healing Matters webinar.

Click here to register for the next Abortion Healing Provider webinar.

Click here to access Support After Abortion’s Resource Library.

Click here to explore Support After Abortion’s services, resources, and training for Abortion Healing Providers.

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