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Growing up in a single parent home, impoverished, and with a mentally ill mother, I vowed to myself I would never be a single mother and put my children through the pain my twin and I suffered. I had plans to go to college, get married and have a big family. I was going to get out of the projects, whatever it took. By the age of 15, I was pregnant.

People around me never told me to get an abortion directly, but they made it clear I didn't have what it took to be a mom, a good mom. It didn't matter to me, and my daughter was born healthy on Valentine’s Day 1988. It didn't take long before I realized they were right. I was alone, afraid, and ill-equipped. Everyone wanted to tell me what I did wrong, but no one really wanted to coach me. I would eventually lose sole custody of my daughter and share joint custody with her paternal grandparents. It was painful.

Only one year later, her dad and I had decided to make it work and build a family. I found myself pregnant again while on birth control. I don't remember much about the decision-making process, but I ended up having my first abortion.  I would have eight abortions total over the period of fourteen years. I have three living children and eight in heaven.

During each of my abortions, several elements were consistent. First, I was convinced I could not be a good mother. Second, I believed another child would ruin my chances to not become like my mother.  Third, with each abortion I convinced myself that I wasn't murdering a child, but simply preventing a viable human being from forming. I was in every circumstance, except rape/incest at the time of my abortions. In some cases, I was in a committed relationship; others were one night stands or affairs with married men. I was in school or employed full time. In some cases I was financially capable, while others I was homeless. Each abortion was physically painful, but in my mind I deserved the pain.

During the first couple of pre-abortion counseling sessions, I'd have a moment of doubt, but the workers were skilled in how to squash that doubt. In all instances, I told myself it was the last time. In most cases, I had complications of bleeding or extended periods of pain. I always felt immediate relief, coupled with intense shame.

Although all of my abortions matter, I don't remember them all. I only remember the horrifying details of one. This is the abortion by RU486 that I had in 1996. I took the pills as prescribed after my fiancé went to work. Within hours I began to cramp, sweat, and shake. Finally, while on the toilet in our tiny bathroom, I heard something hit the toilet. I got up and looked. There lay my baby, tiny but fully intact and discernible as a baby. I was horrified and burst into wailing. The abortion doctor told me the pills would break down the forming egg, and I would pass material similar to clots after delivery of a live child, but at no time would I see a "baby". He lied to me. This was a baby. This was my baby. I killed it.

It didn't take long before I started to drink. I drank heavy. I never shared the story with my fiancé; I was sure it was my job to suffer this alone. After all, he didn't want the abortion. I did! We never spoke about it again. Our relationship began to deteriorate. Even though we married in September of the next year, it was clear that he didn't trust me. Whenever I tried to talk about it, he shut me down. I stopped trying. Nine months after we married, we had our first born son, Colton. He was the joy of our life. But the torment of my past abortions came flooding back. I used this as a chance to prove I could be a good mommy. No matter how hard I tried I could never live up to those expectations. I couldn't change my past. Things between us never improved.  So, only two years after getting married, I left him.

My career was picking up and promotions seemed to come every year. I bought a house with the pool in the backyard and a new SUV. I served on the PTO, was a baseball team mom, and I enjoyed the luxuries of a good income. Regardless of my outward appearance, I'd personally given up the hope of ever feeling whole. I constantly battled rage and self-loathing. I ran headlong into full blown alcohol addiction, homosexuality, adultery, pornography and numerous one night stands. I thought about suicide, but I never had the courage to pull it off. My living children didn't deserve the torment one more act of selfishness would bring. Although I thought of the abortions from time to time, I was unable to recall every abortion. I'd suppressed those memories so deep, yet the reality of them was evident in how I lived my self-destructive life.

It wasn't until 2005, one year after I became a Christian, I was driving down a short stretch of highway. I had just struggled with a one night stand the night before and extreme drunkenness. The memories of my abortions began to flood my mind. I was overcome with grief and self-contempt. I cried out to God asking him, asking how he could forgive me, a murderer of eight of his children. He drew my attention to the sky. "My beloved, look up." Not a cloud in the sky, except one. This cloud made an exclamation point. My breath was taken away. I heard Him say, "This is how I feel about you, what I think of you. I love you. Your children will greet you when you return to me." I took a picture of this cloud. I carry it with me even today - This experience made me sob uncontrollably. These tears were soothing, reassuring and healing. But this experience also drew me deeper into God's word, and my desire to serve Him intensified. I knew I was forgiven.

It would be five more years until I came face to face with this again. The Lord began to put people in my path that were involved in pro-life, pregnancy centers, 40 days for Life, and the Life Ballet. I soon realized I was forgiven, but I wasn't healed. The thought of abortion sent me into anxiety attacks, insomnia, depression, and rage. I was baffled. I was a Christian, running a non-profit ministry that helped homeless mothers and children, women who chose life. I enjoyed my work deeply and felt it made use of all of my past hurts done to me and by me. Yet, here I was born again, Holy Spirit filled, and serving the Lord, and I still hurt. So, over the course of two years the Lord would put people and experiences into my life to prepare my heart for healing.

From 2004 when I was born again to 2011, the Lord had healed and delivered me from so many things. I believe those years prepared me for my participation in a Rachel's Vineyard weekend healing retreat. In March of 2014, I attended one in South Central Pennsylvania. It was powerful, transformative, and exactly what I needed at that time. I was invited by a woman with whom I'd developed a friendship the previous year. She was the coordinator for our area. I went because I trusted her, because she understood my pain. I don't believe healing for any hurt is an event. It's a process. But this retreat was critical for me to take the next step forward. I'd been forgiven; I hadn't had an abortion in eleven years.

My ex-husband and I reconciled after almost five years apart in 2006 and God blessed my womb with another child in 2006. Caleb was born healthy. I had become a great mom, and I wasn't constantly running around trying to make up for my past. But one thing was lacking. I hadn't forgiven myself. This retreat helped me do this. It helped me grieve as my children's mother. It helped me celebrate their existence. Most of all, it helped me to speak up.  I had been speaking from church pulpits and various events for 10 years, but I always skimmed over the abortion part of my story. This retreat helped me heal and claim these beautiful children as my own. I am Tammi Morris, the mother of 11 children and I am Silent No More!


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