UPDATE: Now 15, Ashley is a freshman in high school, adjusting to her life as a teenage mother and student. Baby Aiden is 20 months old, and although life has not been easy, Ashley is excelling in her classes and is a straight-A student. Read an update to her story here.
After a long day at work as a medic, I just wanted to go to bed and get a good night’s sleep. Of course, before I could call it a night, I had to jump on Facebook and see everyone’s updates. I saw a post with a news story out of Elwood, Indiana about a 13-year-old who was pregnant by rape and due to give birth in a few weeks. I read the story and wondered how this took place only 70 miles away from my home, but didn’t make local news in Fort Wayne or national news. I decided to shut down my computer and get some much appreciated sleep.
At 10:30 the same night, I received a call from Rebecca Kiessling, founder of Save the 1 (I’m also a member), asking if I had seen the story. I was really in no mood to discuss, but I continued the conversation. We hung up the phone, and I laid my head back down. I lay there, staring in the dark, and for some reason I got up, turned on my light, and started to do research on who this girl was. Since the girl was a minor, her name wasn’t posted with the article. In 20 minutes, I had her name and was on her Facebook profile, staring at this beautiful girl and an ultrasound picture. Little did I know, this was God working to get me moving on helping this family!
The next day, while volunteering at Allen County Right to Life in Fort Wayne, I called the phone number for this girl’s father and left a message. In the meantime, I started getting information on programs for her in her area.
Four days later, after another long day fulfilling my medic duties on an ambulance, I was in bed when my phone rang at 11:00 pm. I answered it, and it was Kristi, the young girl’s mother. We must have talked for an hour. She explained that Ashley was raped by her brother’s friend, who was 17 at the time, and how, even after charges had been filed, he hasn’t spent one night in jail for these charges. She also explained that the town of Elwood wasn’t providing any help, and Ashley had left school and never gone back because of the way she was being treated for turning in her rapist. In fact, to this day, Ashley’s school has not given her the items out of her locker! This is a perfect example of placing pressure on the victim, while the rapist gets to go on with little to no judgment.
Planned Parenthood decided to place further judgment on the victim by posting on their Facebook page a link to the original news article and this ridiculous comment: “As this article notes, heartbreaking stories like this are all too common in Indiana, which ranks second in the number of teen sexual assaults. Comprehensive sex ed can make a difference in preventing sexual assaults.”
I still to this day don’t understand why they even said anything. If they are wanting to help this girl with “her choice,” then they need to become part of the solution and not part of the problem.
Kristi, Ashley, and I decided to meet a few days later to talk about how Save the 1 could help. On June 18, I met the young girl from Elwood and felt an unexplainable bond. Ashley is an amazing young woman who understands that this child didn’t deserve to die simply because his father is a rapist! She reminds me of my own birth mother’s story. My birth mother Sandy was 17 when she was violently raped and as a result became pregnant with me. I wish 40 years ago when Sandy was pregnant with me that there had been an organization like Save the 1 to stand beside her through the toughest of times! My birth mother had no support from her community. She was hidden from the outside world, gave birth to me, and never even looked at me. She placed me up for adoption, which became the greatest gift I have ever received. My mom and dad raised me to stand up for what I believe, to love unconditionally, and to always treat people how I would like them to treat me. These values have made me who I am today!
After meeting Ashley, I knew that this girl needed my help more then I could have imagined. So I started posting about her and her journey on my Facebook page. It was an overwhelming response. Allen County Right to Life started posting updates also, and we had people wanting to donate to Ashley. We decided to accept donations at our local office and allow people to drop off items for her. Within a few days, you could barely walk into Allen County Right to Life Executive Director Cathie Humbarger’s office. To date, I have taken two truckloads of donations to Ashley and baby Aiden, all of it donated by angels among us.
Ashley is seeing how the pro-life community has embraced her and her precious son, Aiden. I have been told that people can’t wait to see my next post on Ashley and Aiden, and how they feel that they are a part of her journey! One pro-life supporter said that Ashley is just the “girl next door” and that God has big plans for them both. I am just blessed to be able to walk with Ashley on this journey and see firsthand the miracles happening right in front of me.
I wish that my birth mother could see how God is using me to help a girl who is in the same place she was 40 years ago. Sandy passed away on March 6 of this year, and what a blessing it was for me to be there for her. She was with me when I took my first breath, and I was with her, holding her hand, when she took her last. I am sure she is looking down today with a smile on her face.
Save the 1 has started a college fund for Ashley and Aiden. Ashley wants to become a veterinarian, and we are determined to do whatever possible to help her make this happen.