While studying at the University of San Francisco in 1990, Kathy Folan turned to a friend of a friend for help when she became locked out of her apartment. He told her that she could sleep in his bed while he slept on the couch, but before the night was over, he broke her trust and raped her. A month later, Kathy realized she was pregnant.
“I think I was just so ashamed, I didn’t tell anyone,” Kathy explained in a video for Live Action. “A month later, I felt nauseated every day. One of my roommates, she took me to the grocery store and got a pregnancy test. When I turned it over and it said positive, I just remember looking in the mirror and not recognizing the person looking back at me. Like this can’t be. This is not my plan. And I panicked, but at the same time, I knew God created the life inside of me.”
When she told her parents she was pregnant and that her plan was to place the baby for adoption, they gave her their full support. She knew she wanted an open adoption, but the more she thought about who would raise her baby, the more specific the values became that she wanted them to have.
“I wanted to always know that he was okay. And at first, it didn’t matter what religion they were. Then I realized, ‘No I want them to have Jesus in their life with my baby. No, they need to be Catholic and no, actually they need to be practicing Catholic, but also fun.’ And that’s when I realized I wanted a stay-at-home mom.”
She reached out to a priest that she knew, told him she was pregnant, and asked if he knew of a family. He didn’t, but he said he would keep his eyes open. Kathy spoke again to an adoption agency, and a week later, both the priest and the agency called her within an hour of each other with the same couple in mind. Barry and Liz Sullivan lived across the country on the east coast, but Kathy knew that they were the right family for her son.
While at a Catholic bookstore, Kathy began looking at the meanings of different names, and the name Nathan stood out to her. It means ‘gift from God.’ When she met with Barry and Liz, they said they were trying to choose between two names and one of those names was Nathan. So, Nathan it was.
“My biggest fear was that I would hold him and not be able to place him for adoption and also seeing my parents’ pain,” said Kathy of her son’s birth. “When he came out, the Holy Spirit was so alive in the room. I held him. My mom was with me as I held him and then my dad looked at him and then he said, ‘Do you want me to go and call the Sullivans and tell them their son has been born?’ And I said, ‘Yes.'”
Kathy stayed with her baby for six days, and he was baptized at four days old, with Kathy’s parents as his godparents. Then Nathan went home with his family. Though she went back to her usual routine in school, Kathy cried every night, not knowing how she could live without her baby.
Ten months later, the Sullivans called and invited her to visit. She saw Nathan playing with his sister while their parents prepared dinner, and she knew that she had made the right choice. After that week, she didn’t cry again. Her adoption story also led her to her future husband, who, upon hearing her story, knew that he was going to marry her someday.
As for Nathan, he told Live Action, “The thing that struck me most about when we first met again was that the bond and the love was almost as if we had never been separated. My mother’s story and my story show that the decisions that she made didn’t have to mean that her life was derailed. Did it change it? Sure. But she had the strength and was given the grace to pick up the pieces and move on and move forward.”
Kathy says her life is better than she could have ever imagined.
She shared that she thinks the biggest misconception people have about abortion following rape is that abortion will help to heal the rape survivor. “But,” she said, “what would really happen is that you would live, not only being raped, which is traumatic, but with the trauma of knowing you destroyed a human being out of something that wasn’t even your own fault. We’re talking about a human being — a child.”
She wants other rape survivors who are pregnant to know that they are strong, and that abortion won’t make them stronger. “Out of darkness,” she said, “comes beauty. And Nathan is the beauty that came out of that darkness.”
Read more about Kathy and Nathan’s story at Live Action News here.
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