I’ve been a student of Fatherhood Lost by abortion for a number of years. Hundreds of men have related the difficulties they have had adjusting to the aftermath of losing their child. Men are more private by nature than women and they have different ways of dealing with grief. Even Robert Frost, in his poem Home Burial, lines 74 and 75, “A man can’t speak of his own child that’s dead—you can’t because you don’t know how,” explains the great difficulty for men to talk about it. In a recently released of Men’s Experience of Elective Abortion by Rue and Coyle, they indicate five commonalities: 1) Abortion is not perceived by men to be a benign experience, 2) an expressed need or desire for post-abortion counseling is not unusual among male partners of women undergoing elective abortion, 3) ambivalent and painful emotions may be experienced by men after abortion, 4) the abortion decision is often deferred to female partners with concomitant repression of man’s own emotions as containment of emotion is view as consistent with men’s perceived role as one of support, and 5) relationships may be stressed by abortion.
Men are bothered by the experience, and have varying emotions which they feel need to be kept to themselves in an effort to appear strong for their partners. I have also found men are reluctant to talk about the experience and even more reluctant to go exploring the depths of the effects on them, their behavior and their identity. Some men who do want to talk about their experience and want to explore the depths. They want resolve and overcome the effects abortion has had on their personalities, their spirituality and their identity as a man, father and husband. One of the men in a Fatherhood Lost support group was at once grieving the loss of a son, a nephew and a grandson. He wondered if he were to blame for the whole mess. He was medicating.
As a student wanting to understand how to work better with these men I have used a hierarchy within the make-up of man. God created us spirit, soul and body. I have found that solving spiritual problems will open an avenue to solving others as well. Our Creator placed the mechanics in our spirits to be men who could bless the planet as men, husbands and fathers. As men, we are fallen and we make mistakes like abortion. But when we abort it is a mistake we make not only as men, but as fathers and husbands. Here’s why. When she says “I’m pregnant,” we realize the relationship has resulted in a child (Romans 2: God has written his law upon our hearts)-this is a RELATIONSHIP not just sex. Having a child means we are also a father. Our man side, whether in a “committed relationship or not, the relationship has been surprised with a whole new dimension-fatherhood. Fatherhood calls deep into our spirits and brings up new requirements of our manhood. We hear words like provider, protector, preserver of our lineage, head of the household, spiritual leader of the FAMILY-did I just say Family? She is awaiting our response from the “I’m pregnant” bomb and we don’t have one. Full of absolute bewilderment and the necessity to be instant in answer, the next few words can very well determine whether our child will be born or aborted. If we say things which are supportive, she may carry to term. If not, she may abort. If we are not committed to her, we will very likely lose a child and our fatherhood. Even if we are committed, it does not guarantee she will choose to carry our child to term. About two to three men in ten are ecstatic about “I’m pregnant.” They want to be fathers more than anything. Some do not have committed partners though. Some will not be able to negotiate the life of their child and he/she will be aborted. Proverbs 13:12 describes this man as heartsick-I know him and he is truly heartsick. His life is devastated and he feels hollowed out. He really needs and wants help, but he doesn’t want the vulnerability of telling someone to further destroy him. He is fearful that he will not be accepted and fearful that he cannot be healed. He thinks God has abandoned him because he could not negotiate the life of his child, so why would God care about his situation now?
About seven in ten men would rather not have a child now. They would be very happy if it was later, as they are not ready to be fathers. Some are not in committed relationships and are angry that their partner did not protect herself from “I’m pregnant.” They abuse, abandon, coerce, threaten and in other ways try to force an abortion. These are the guys who deny their identity as fathers and husbands. They are in it for the man-the sex, the pleasure and the thrill. Later some of them will hear another woman (usually because over half the time abortion wrecks a relationship) say “I’m pregnant.” This time they want a baby, but does she? This time they realize the gravity of their last relationship where they pushed her into an abortion. This time they are in touch with their fatherhood and their spiritual identity. Now they join the ranks of the ones who are hurting. They feel guilty, ashamed, confused and angry with themselves. Proverbs 28:17 describes their latent behavior as that of a fugitive who cannot be helped by men. God can help him, a man cannot. As one of these fugitive-type men in one of my support groups put it: “You can get shot in the foot or you can shoot yourself in the foot, but either way, you have a hole in your foot and it hurts all the time.”
Here is how these men heal:
- They become aware of their need.
- They find a safe haven, a place where they can be received without judgment and impunity. A place where their story will for ever be confidential and honored.
- They begin the journey of discovery of the effects from abortion on their spirit, soul and body (many of them medicate so much, their bodies are in very bad shape)
- They develop trusting relationships with the ones with whom they feel safe, and they start to trust God as well.
- They begin to commit to a healing regimen, which will reverse the effects of Fatherhood Lost. They make a plan to improve their support systems and to grieve the loss of their child and the lost relationships.
- They find closure and comfort through their grief and they change.
- They find that God has restored them, they can trust Him and they are truly new creatures in Christ their creator.