Case Study: “Jamie Smith”
I grew up in a physically and verbally abusive home. My youngest sister drowned when I was seven years old and my mother blamed me for it. I cooked, cleaned, cared for my siblings, and received daily beatings from my mother. I was told to be quiet, take what was coming to me, and not talk about our family. I did just that.
When I was 13, my mother told me I was fat, ugly, and unlikable. She told me know one would want me. She also said that if I ever talked with anyone about her I would be sorry, because anyone would believe her before they would believe me.
I did everything I could to win friends. I wanted so much to be liked. At age 17, I became pregnant. My mother told me she would not help me raise a child and that I must have an abortion. I did as I was told.
Right after the abortion, I shut down emotionally. It seemed to be the last straw for me. I didn’t receive any counseling and there wasn’t anyone to talk to. When I came home from the abortion clinic, my mother was angry and screamed at me, “You killed my grandbaby. You’re worthless.”
I was confused and hurt. I had killed my baby and got my mom even madder — and realized that no one cared. I withdrew even more; I was filled with loneliness, guilt, and shame.
Eventually I moved in with a man who let me do as I pleased. When I found out that I was pregnant again, I told myself that this time I was going to keep it. I gave birth at 27 weeks to a one pound, two ounce baby girl. I married her father, and we went straight into alcohol, pot, and cocaine. I started stealing to support our habits, and ended up in and out of jail.
During this time, I had five miscarriages. Then I gave birth to a boy. I smoked crack cocaine up until my arrest at eight months of pregnancy. My son was born while I was in a county jail waiting to go to prison. He was perfectly normal. I know God had his hand on me; His mercy and grace saved my life and my little boy.
I didn’t see my children for ten months after that. While I was in prison I got into some religion, so I thought maybe I would be okay. Actually, I knew God in my mind but not in my heart. After I was released, I returned home to my family, and a few months later I was using drugs again. I continued using for six months, and then checked into a Christian-based 12-step program. I learned to pray. I changed. But my husband continued to use drugs. I couldn’t return to that, I told him, so he left me and moved out of state.
I had been sober for six months when I realized I was pregnant once again. I wasn’t using but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I was still doing anything to be liked; I wasn’t ready for another baby. My friends suggested adoption, but I said, “No way. I can’t carry a baby and then give it up.” Abortion was my choice. I was still running from responsibility.
A few months after that second abortion, I got involved with the “man of my dreams.” Things seemed to be working out so well. I became pregnant again and wanted to keep the baby. I was in love, had been sober for two years, and was working. I felt things would work out, but I miscarried again. I believed I deserved to be punished by God for the abortions and for using drugs. I went into an emotional tailspin.
Then my boyfriend started drinking again. Next came gambling, arguments, lying, and other women. In his anger and drunkenness, he became physically abusive, and there were times when I was scared for my life. I stole money from my employer to try to move away, but I was caught and sentenced to prison again.
While I was serving this prison sentence, Kathy Troccoli came and gave a performance. She talked about healing, deep within. She talked about hope. When she sang “A Baby’s Prayer,” my inner spirit jumped and I cried and cried. It was then that I realized all of the pain, shame, and guilt I felt had been bottled up inside of me.
Women from the Pregnancy Resource Center were also here and some of them gave testimonies. When they offered a post-abortion Bible study, I knew I needed it. I had always believed in God, but I had felt that He was punishing me for certain things. I thought He didn’t love me or want me anymore.
I’m so thankful that God used Kathy to open my eyes and ears to the healing I needed. I’m even more thankful for the volunteers who faithfully showed up for ten weeks to help us through the Bible study. Through God’s word, I have been healed of things that had lingered with me for years: anger, guilt, shame, hurt, loneliness, depression. I found, without a doubt, that God wanted me to sit still and listen to Him. This time in prison is my training ground: a time to heal, listen, wait on Him, grow, and allow His work in me.
I needed healing. I always thought no one loved me or cared for me. Today, I know that God is always with me. He never left me; I’m the one who left Him.
I want to do His work now. I want to reach out to other women who feel alone and have nowhere to go. I’ll tell them, “Go to God. He’s always there. He’s faithful and forgiving.” I want to reach out to others to make the right choice, to help them know that with God there is always a way to prevail over all other things.
Originally published in The Post-Abortion Review 7(2) April-June 1999