Human Interest

Thanks to a film from biology class, Deborah chose life… and open adoption

For most of her life, Deborah McClue contended with one challenge after another. Growing up in an abusive home perpetuated issues which later resulted in an unplanned pregnancy. When she was 22 years old, McClue was living with her mother and had been struggling to cope with the depression and anxiety she’d had since she was 13 years old by engaging in a risky lifestyle. 

McClue told Live Action News, “I was eventually diagnosed by a psychiatrist with major depressive disorder and given medication to help me manage it. But transitioning to adulthood brought much difficulty for me and I used alcohol and promiscuous sex to help me cope — but of course, it only resulted in more problems.”

McClue discovered she was pregnant by a co-worker whom she had been casually dating for only three months. When McClue informed the young man she was expecting his child, he responded that he’d support whatever decision she made regarding the pregnancy. But when McClue told her mother, the older woman became angry.

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“She yelled at me to go immediately to Planned Parenthood and get an abortion,” McClue said. “I had been raised in a pro-choice household by a fiercely feminist mother and never considered a pro-life stance. While I wasn’t surprised I didn’t get any support from her, I was intimidated by her strong reaction and acquiesced to her wishes.” 

At Planned Parenthood, McClue was taken aback when a staff member performing an ultrasound told her she was still very early in her pregnancy and would have to delay the abortion for a couple of weeks. She was advised to return when her pregnancy was more advanced. McClue had been asked during the procedure if she wanted to see the ultrasound, but she had refused.

McClue said, “I was so upset at having to wait another couple of weeks for the abortion. I started talking to people about what to do and got different messages. I was so confused. Everybody acted as if my decision around my pregnancy was no big deal. According to them, I could have the child and deal with it or just get the abortion and get on with my life as if nothing ever happened.”

Raised by a single mother, McClue didn’t want that same scenario for her child. She felt marrying the baby’s father was not an option as the couple was not in a serious relationship and wasn’t particularly compatible.

An unexpected solution spurs life-saving choice

Sleepless nights produced no answers to her dilemma until one day when McClue remembered a film, “The Miracle of Life” she once saw in biology class. Luckily, a friend had the feature on DVD, and she watched it again.

“Everything just clicked for me,” McClue said. “I knew I was carrying a living human being who already had a heartbeat. I just couldn’t go through with the abortion. Still, I was worried about what to do once my baby was born. I didn’t feel ready to be a parent.”

Little did McClue know the answer would come from her mother. Talking with her younger sister, Deborah, whom McClue was named after, McClue’s mother confided to her sister that she didn’t know how to help her distraught daughter. Her sister responded in an unexpected way.

McClue said, “Apparently, my aunt was having trouble conceiving another child. She asked my mother if she could adopt my baby. When my mother told me this, I just knew it was the right thing to do.”

Four months pregnant, McClue packed her bags and moved across the country to Berkeley at her aunt’s request. She wanted the adoption done legally and offered to assist McClue financially as well. 

Surprisingly, McClue’s boyfriend also decided to relocate with her.

“My partner was very helpful during this time which I appreciated,” McClue said. “My aunt was also very caring, and it reinforced for me that I had made the right choice.”

Because McClue’s labor and delivery had been difficult (she underwent an emergency C-section), she stayed three days in the hospital to breastfeed her daughter, Gina, allowing her some time to bond with her.

McClue said, “The hardest part was letting her go. While I never had any doubts about placing my daughter with my aunt, it was still an emotionally raw time for me. Some people urged me to change my mind, even two to three years afterward. I thought about how crazy that advice was.”

Open adoption offers win-win solution

The couple finalized the adoption through an open adoption agency to enable McClue to have a continual presence in her daughter’s life. McClue lived in Berkeley for a year after her daughter’s birth, then returned home to South Carolina, knowing her daughter was in good hands. She traveled west to visit whenever time would allow and attended her daughter’s high school graduation.

“My aunt was a very successful artist and well established financially,” McClue said. “She and my uncle were very good parents to my daughter who had a solid relationship with them. Later, when it was determined my daughter had [some other health concerns] they dealt with these issues very effectively.”

Today, Gina is a talented animation artist who has a successful career with a company helping to create health education videos. McClue is proud of the young, sweet woman her daughter is and credits her adoptive parents for her ability to be resilient amid life’s many trials.

A woman transformed

McClue later married and raised three children but says she never really got her life together until she was close to 40 years old. Growing up with a pro-choice foundation, McClue has done a “180-degree turn” and is now staunchly pro-life. When her children were young, she would take occasional trips to abortion facilities to pray and talk about her adoption experience with the women who would listen.

McClue said, “I’m glad for the challenges I went through because I have such compassion and love for these women. It’s sad that women don’t feel empowered to make better choices, that they’re led to think abortion is their only option. I lost a lot of friends when I converted to pro-life. But abortion is wrong, and I never regretted not ending my pregnancy. Adoption is a beautiful and life-sustaining choice.”

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