Pro-Life is Complicated, and How You Can Help

by | Feb 9, 2016 | Babies, Catholic Living, Printables | 24 comments

Last month we had the unfortunate anniversary of Roe v Wade. Many cities, including my own Los Angeles, hosted Walks for Life, but our family wasn’t there. We weren’t there because we were at a funeral, for a baby named Emily Rose Marie.

We are fortunate enough to live in a vibrant Catholic community, and the church was packed with families. And I couldn’t help thinking how very pro-life that funeral was.

Because everyone there knew that Baby Emily wasn’t going to live long. There was a great deal of doubt that she would survive her birth. But she did. And she lived for six weeks past it. The whole of her life, people who loved her provided meals and support to her family. Her tiny life touched others and brought them together in love.

In the circles in which I run, we often think that being pro-life means having lots of babies.

Some folks on the other side, of course, think that being pro-life means putting a bunch of uncaring rules on people.

We know THAT’S not true, but what I think we sometimes forget is that being pro-life means so much more than not having abortions. For some, it means having more kids or fewer kids than you thought you would, or none at all. For a few, like our friends, it means cherishing a life for the short time you get to have it. For many, it means accepting a child who isn’t exactly who or when or what you had hoped or planned for, and finding the beauty in that.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you might remember the story of my sister- and brother-in law.

They were one of the cautionary tales in this post:

Dear Newlywed, You’re Probably Worried About the Wrong Thing

They spent many years trying everything they could try in good conscience . . . and weren’t able to have a baby. 

Two years ago, my sister-in-law visited the Trappist Monks of Our Lady of the Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, VA. She and my brother-in-law decided to sponsor a giveaway on my blog, to send someone on a retreat with the monks to pray for their intentions. And four months later, they became the parents of a handsome little guy they named Luke, adopted in June of 2014.

Prayers answered, right?! Yay!

But God wasn’t quite done with them yet. Because when our family went out to Washington D.C. last spring to meet baby Luke, she and I were BOTH sporting baby bumps. This despite being told by fertility experts that it was very unlikely that they would ever conceive.

So, our cousin Brendan was born in August, just a couple of weeks after Mary Jane was born, and ten months after his brother Luke.

Two babies in a year. The whole family was thrilled, especially after having wondered for so long if they’d have any children at all. Good to go, right?

Nope, not quite yet.

Just a couple of months later, they got a call from their social worker that Luke’s birth mother was expecting again, and was hoping that my brother- and sister-in-law would adopt this baby too.

Another boy, due in May of 2016. Eleven months younger than Brendan.

And after hoping and praying for so many years, how could they say anything but, “yes.”

Since the adoption is through an agency again, they are incurring all of the same expenses as their first adoption.

I told them that after all the readers of this blog have been through with them, I thought we could help. I asked them to set up a crowdfunding site, and they did.

You can find it here. That day at the funeral really convinced me that we are all made better when we live out our pro-life convictions together.

Update: I’m so excited by your donations, you guys. Seriously. I’m seeing all these names I know from comments and Facebook and I’m tearing up and I’m not even pregnant. (I think. I really shouldn’t ever say that.) So, here’s a free printable for you all, whether you donate or not, just because you guys are the best. 🙂

 As with all my printables, you are welcome to save the images to your
computer for your own personal use. You may print the images and / or
upload them and have prints made for your personal use or to give as
gifts. First click on the image to bring it up in a new window, then
right click on the image to save it to your computer. You may use my
images on your blog, just please link back to my blog. If you would like
to sell my images, please contact me first.

For LOTS MORE free printable prayers, check out my Pinterest board.

And for custom images, old favorites, and prayers, quotes, scripture, and catechism, available as high quality digital downloads, check out the shop!

And, because I seriously cannot stop with the picMonkey-ing even when I am definitely supposed to be working on writing projects . . . I created new sections in both the Etsy Shop and the CafePress Shop with all new printables and items for babies and about babies and 100% OF THE PROFITS FROM ANYTHING SOLD IN EITHER SHOP SECTION UNTIL MAY WILL GO TO HELP COVER ADOPTION EXPENSES.

Here are all the new printables in the Etsy Shop:

Adopted Too, Fictional Friends 8×10 Quote Set {digital download} Set 1: Anne of Green Gables, Princess Leia, Dorothy of Oz
Also available in pastels, by request!

Adopted Too, Fictional Friends 8×10 Quote Set {digital download} Set 2: Spiderman, Superman, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I Prayed For This Child 8×10 Quote Set {digital download}

They Prayed for Me 8×10 Quote Set {digital download}

Every Good and Perfect Gift / I Was Born to Do This 8×10 Quote Set in blue {digital download}
or in red

 And here is all the new gear in the Cafe Press Shop:

Gifts for babies . . . here and here

 Gifts for moms . . . here and here
Gifts for babies AND moms . . . here and here

And a whole bunch more stuff for moms, babies, and kids including gowns, onsies, bibs, blankets, burp cloths, t-shirts, sweat shirts, necklaces, key chains, journals, note cards, pillows, posters, and framed prints.

If you don’t see a particular image on a particular item, just let me know and I can make it up. (Except I can’t put Superhero or Star Wars images in the Cafe Press Shop.)

We would all also very much appreciate your prayers, whether or not you can contribute.

I hope you have a very festive Fat Tuesday and a most fruitful Lent!


  1. imjenx

    Thanks for this beautiful post, Kendra. As you said, people sometimes think being pro-life and using NFP is about having lots of babies. I used to think this way too until I had three miscarriages and no babies after four years of marriage. God blessed us with a beautiful baby who's now turning 18 months old – but he also blessed us with the opportunity to really understand what it means to be open to life. Have you read Colleen Carroll Campbell's "My Sisters the Saints"? Her book's related to this topic.

    • Kendra

      Thank you, and congratulations. I haven't read that book, but I've heard good things about it.

  2. Kati

    Thank you for telling this story. God is good, all the time.

  3. Amanda

    What a wonderful surprise for their family! Love the adoption printables too 🙂 We're obviously fans of birth kids and adoption too!

  4. melanie

    Beautiful post! Yes, we often forget that being open to life isn't just about having as many children as possible. This post is a great reminder.

    And just for the record, I have very much enjoyed your house posts. It's a beautiful house for a spiritually beautiful family!

  5. Sarah

    So happy to see this post. Many women silently suffer. I love the beautiful turn of events for this family and their willingness to share their story. And thank you to Kendra for allowing all of us a glimpse into not only her life but into lives that look a little different from hers and perhaps our own. I think it's easy to forget the struggles of others. It also takes courage, and humility, to ask for help.

    Perhaps it would have been selfish for Kendra not to share this beautiful story? It seems that there are many, many people who will be blessed and touched and encouraged on their own journey through it.

  6. AnneMarie

    Yes; so true! I think that people can, at times, cling to "pro-life is only about having babies and ending abortion" theme, because it's comfortable. It's simple to wave around pictures of babies at Life Chain or pray Rosaries for an end to abortion. And while it's very sacrificial (especially when it's cold), it's also fairly predictable to attend a March for Life (when there's not a blizzard). But recognizing that pro-life means finding peace amid infertility, working with adoption agencies, or supporting a family who just lost a child? That's a lot more uncomfortable & unpredictable. Yet, it is so, so important! Thank you, Kendra, for this post! I will definitely be keeping Emily's family in my prayers, as well as your relatives.

  7. Kristi

    What a beautiful family! Thank you for sharing their story & will add them to prayers. Also, all of this post is great but this especially resonates for me: " … what I think we sometimes forget is that being pro-life … [for some] means having more kids or fewer kids than you thought you would, or none at all." Strangers/acquaintances often assume that how many children you have or don't have is your "choice," but we have so much less control over this than some seem to think. These assumptions are illogical and misguided when we don't know the reasons for a particular family's size; but they are unsurprising in a culture that often supports on-demand services for either trying to have children at all costs (in cases of infertility), or treating them as disposable when circumstances aren't "ideal."

  8. Anonymous

    Left out of thins conversation is the birth mother, who is planning to give up second baby for adoption. She needs our prayers for the strength to do what would seem impossible to most if us…give up her child. I do not know her circumstances but I hope that she is able to get some help….counseling, support and (I am just going to say this as I am not Catholic and have no objection), perhaps access to birth control if she is unable for some reason to care for the children she keeps creating. I hope that she is able to find peace of mind that her baby will be going to a loving and stable home. My best wishes to the adoptive parents as well….they are being given an incredible gift .

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for thinking of the birth mother! I agree, she's a very brave woman and she needs all of our prayers and support!

  9. Schafergal (Ashley)

    I am so happy for your sister-in-law and her family! What a huge blessing!

    As you know, we had a similar story – 8 years of infertility, adopted our oldest as a newborn, 4 years later adopted our son as a newborn and then immediately found out I was pregnant. So our younger two are 9 months apart. Such chaos, but such joy. My heart beats a little fast for them thinking about adding a 3rd into the mix – both with trepidation and excitement. Because you're exactly right – pro-life takes many forms, and it means jumping into the situation God gives you with both feet. And sometimes that's embracing infertility, and sometimes it's embracing "Irish Triplets".

    Thanks for updating on their story!

  10. Elise

    Wow, how amazing! I especially love how you highlight the ways we can be pro-life. So very true, and so very necessary! Saying a prayer for your brother & sister in-law.

  11. Rachel Grubb

    God is beautiful. We haven't said anything to our family yet but…after my cancer treatment we are hoping to once again be totally open and welcome a 5th (hopefully 4th living) child into our family. I'm praying and praying that radiation therapy won't hinder this (and since it's jaw-mouth aimed, I don't think this will be an issue. Also, because God.) This reinstated my hope and belief in once again being open to God's plan!! 🙂

  12. Rebecca Raye

    Thanks for sharing this perspective. My husband and I have been open to life for fifteen years with a few early miscarriages, but no births.

    God has given us as many children as he planned for us to have, fortunately or unfortunately.

    Being open to life means not doing IVF or donnor eggs, even when your heartbreaks for a baby.

    • Mariaa D

      Prayers for the babies you lost Rebecca, and for you and your husband.

  13. Mariaa D

    Many prayers for Emily Rose Marie and her family that muat miss her so much! Also prayers for the upcoming adoption! My husband and I were just discussing about how people can be prolife apart from being anti-abortion and anti-contraceptions. A close family member lost their baby at 20 weeks last August. The parents were obvisiously hurt and heartbroken but they tried to pretend it never even happened. They wouldn't let us acknowledge their baby in anyway and we were asked not to bring it up again. This is so sad, the baby did exist, I pray for him or her often and for my brother in law and his girlfriend. I believe consoling and helping families through miscarriage is very prolife and very needed.

  14. alison

    Wish I could give right now. We are in our own crazy stork situation though. Be assured of our prayers!

  15. Amy W

    This is so very wonderful. It is my pleasure to support financially and through prayers. I wish mainstream media would pick up this post and report on the fact that proliferate so much more than just anti abortion. Thanks for writing!
    Amy @ The Salt Stories

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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