To the mother who killed her daughter for being just like mine
My heart is broken for you, Addie Morfoot. I can feel the regret, the pain, the torture in the words you shared at Salon.com this week. The sheer thought of what you did to your undoubtedly beautiful, smart, and resilient daughter makes my stomach turn and sends chills through my body – a body which carries a defective cystic fibrosis gene. Just like yours. And just like your Annie, my “Peanut” has cystic fibrosis. I can only imagine what the thought of your actions must do to you.
I want to tell you that it’s okay. Because I know that telling the world your story of why you chose to kill your daughter while she was still in the womb is your way of seeking forgiveness and understanding that you must be struggling to find within yourself. But you don’t need my forgiveness or understanding. The only people whom you need forgiveness from are yourself and Annie (and God if you do believe in Him).
You said that Annie must be “mad, disappointed, and hurt.” You can stop worrying about that. Annie has already forgiven you. She has the ability to forgive you because she is now in a place that far surpasses what our tiny little brains can understand. She is in a place where she doesn’t feel the deep sting that comes with knowing your own parents planned and caused your death. Annie has peace, a peace which you will likely spend the rest of your days trying to find.
You don’t need me to tell you where you went wrong on your quest to save your daughter from herself or from your own self-doubts. I can hear the pain in your words. I can feel how desperately you want your baby, but rather than stand up for her, you caved in to the pressures of people who know nothing about life with cystic fibrosis. Did you seek out an adult living with CF? Did you talk to a CF specialist? Did you take the time to learn how much has changed for people with CF over just the last decade? Did you even attempt to find any other way than abortion? You say that your choice was impossible. But it wasn’t. And I want to make sure that other parents, who are at this moment in the exact same shoes that you were in, know that abortion is not the answer.
You say that you want Annie to know that you did what you “thought was best” for your child. And with that you admit that aborting her wasn’t what was best; otherwise, you would be secure in that decision. What would have been best was to fight for Annie’s life – to let her live her life. The other choice you had, besides abortion, was to do everything in your power to take care of her, not discard her. But you already know that. What would Annie’s choice have been?
Annie is the face of aborted babies with CF across this globe. But since we can’t see her face, I will show you my daughter’s.
She has 2 copies of the gene that I can only conclude you and your husband both carry, because half of those with CF carry two copies of this specific gene. About 90% carry one. It is the most common mutation there is – Delta F508. But it is not the most severe, although many people mistakenly believe so. It would have greatly benefited you and Annie to do some thorough research.
I want you and all parents who may be pregnant with a child with CF to know that my beautiful, smart, resilient daughter hasn’t spent a single day in the hospital from CF. She was there once for stitches because she’s such a daredevil. She goes to preschool. She takes swimming lessons. She attends dance class with her cousin. She loves the beach. She loves fair rides. She adores her little sisters, like Annie adores her little brother, though he will never have the pleasure of her hugs or her guidance. Look at my daughter. She is your daughter. They are “cysters.”
You know that what you did was a disservice to your child. Although “disservice” is not nearly a strong enough word. The loss of her was not a remedy, but a tragedy. How do I know this? Because throughout your writing I can see it. I can see how you let your husband and the doctors convince you that it was right. I can see how quickly you turned a blind eye to the people who wanted to help you choose life. I can see and feel how much you desperately want your daughter. Your regret is suffocating. Your husband tries to convince you that you are all better off, as you said yourself:
“We did the right thing,” Ross tells me on the rare occasion when I give myself permission to think about her. “We helped her. She was sick.”
I believe him, I do. But Annie still haunts me. When her due date rolls around, or when our son has a bad cough, or with the birth of my sister’s baby girl — I think of Annie. And once every year — on her birthday — I let myself cry. I think about how it would feel to hold her in my arms. And then I ask her to please understand that I did what I thought was best for my child.
You didn’t help her. You killed her. Addie, I know that you no longer think that death was what was best for your child. And I know, because you decided to get pregnant with your son just 4 months after aborting Annie. What if he had had CF too? What would have become of him? Could you have gone through another abortion? I don’t think you made the choice to get pregnant again so soon with the intention of just aborting him like you did Annie. At least I pray you didn’t.
Annie wasn’t sick. CF isn’t a “sickness” itself; it’s a genetic disorder that leaves you susceptible to illness. Fifty years ago it meant death around the age of eight. But in today’s world it’s far more treatable, and people with CF are living into their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. Emily is an adult with CF who runs the RockCF Foundation. Ronnie is an adult with CF who is a husband and father and the founder of CysticLife. They are living full, happy lives. Just last week, a man with CF died. He was 82 years old.
Yes, there are some who die young. But with each day we are closer to a cure, and people with CF are living longer and healthier. Hearing that your child might live to age 37 is painful. I know. I have been told the same exact thing. But here’s something that perhaps no one told you. Those with CF who are in their 30s now have parents who were told that their children wouldn’t live to graduate from high school. That’s how progress works. I have faith that my daughter will outlive me. I have faith that CF will not kill her. Do you know why? Because right now there is a scientist in a lab, and he or she is developing the drugs that are going to save my daughter. That scientist is from a team at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. And they would have helped Annie, too.
The truth is that none of us knows how long we are given or how we will suffer in this world. Healthy children get sick. Healthy children die. Parents bury their children. But it usually isn’t by choice, like yours. You didn’t want to have to bury your daughter because that would have hurt you. So what became of Annie’s little body?
I am truly sorry for the pain that you have caused yourself. And I do hope that you find a way to come to terms with killing your daughter before you even had a chance to know her. I hope you find a way to forgive yourself and to beg for forgiveness from God. There are many resources to help you. I also hope that you use your mistake as a way to educate other parents and to help them choose life for their children, so they don’t end up with the pain and regret that you have.
Please. Don’t let Annie’s short life be for nothing. Stop telling yourself and the rest of us that you did the right thing, and start saving other babies in her honor.
All of the people pictured here have CF or are families of people with CF. Each of them wants every new parent of a child with CF to know that life with CF is definitely worth living. If your unborn or newborn child has been diagnosed with CF, please know that you are not alone and that there is help. Contact your local CF clinic to get in touch with a CF parent or adult who can help you. And be sure to visit www.cff.org for up-to-date and accurate information on life with cystic fibrosis.