Two weeks after giving birth to her second child, Julia Schoch received an e-mail that would forever change her life. It was February 2003, and she was at home recovering from a C-section with her husband, her two-year-old son, and her newborn daughter when her husband Andy told her she had an e-mail that she needed to see immediately. It was from a friend who knew of a 13-year-old pregnant rape victim who needed help. It turned out that Julia was exactly the help this girl and her baby needed.
“It’s one of those kind of bizarre God stories,” explains Julia, “I’d been involved in pro-life stuff since high school, and I had monitored a message board for CBR [The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform]. I would come into contact with people who were post-abortive. In that, I met a woman who had an abortion at 18 weeks and five days, and I ended up becoming friends with her. Over two years of encouraging her and loving her, she finally felt ready to share her story. She was telling [that] story at a Campus Crusade for Christ event at her campus. In the audience, was a young woman who shared that her 13-year-old sister had been raped and was pregnant. Their mother was pressuring her to abort the baby. This girl was reaching out for help.”
Julia knew that if she asked this young girl, just an 8th-grader, to go against her mother, she would need to make it a practical, realistic option. She immediately started praying that it was God’s plan for her to adopt this baby. Then, while she was nursing her daughter and praying about adopting, she realized Andy would think she was nuts. Adoption hadn’t been on their radar. They hadn’t ever researched it or budgeted for it. But just then, Andy walked into the room and told Julia that he wanted to adopt the baby.
“It was just that gut feeling that God gives you sometimes,” Julia explains.
Julia let her friend know that she and her husband wanted to adopt the baby, and then continued to pray. Finally, she heard back that the girl was willing to talk with her, so Julia, her friend, and the young girl – states away – chatted on the phone. Julia found out some disconcerting information. The girl had already gone to a clinic for an abortion.
She told Julia that she was at the abortion clinic for six hours, and that the clinic tested her for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and performed an ultrasound. However, they wouldn’t allow her to look at the ultrasound and didn’t inform her of the results of the STD tests. But that wasn’t the most astounding part.
The clinic informed her that she was 20 weeks pregnant, but that at 20 weeks, the baby wasn’t formed yet. That was lie number one. They went on to tell her that if she did have the baby, she wouldn’t survive labor because she was so young. That was lie number two. When the girl asked about adoption, the clinic told her that no one would want to adopt a “biracial” “rapist’s baby.” That was lie number three.
Scared of dying while giving birth to a baby no one would want, the young girl and her mother consented to an abortion without being informed about the actual procedure. In addition, the price that had been quoted to her mother for the abortion included local anesthesia. Then the clinic discovered that the girl was 20 weeks along and would require a D&E (live dismemberment abortion) that would normally involve general anesthesia.
The mother hadn’t brought enough money to cover the additional fees, so the abortionist decided to proceed with the abortion using local anesthesia, leaving the girl awake for an abortion that would take about 20 minutes while she was dilated using metal rods (which can cause fertility problems).
“She was on the table, in stirrups and being dilated,” says Julia, “She was in so much pain and she was getting upset. She was so upset that the abortionist told the mother that the girl was making his job too difficult and advised the mother to come up with more money, reschedule, and come back so he could finish the abortion. In between the appointments is when I had the chance to talk to her.”
Knowing that this girl didn’t have an advocate and that one day she would find out that what the clinic had told her about her baby wasn’t true, Julie knew that the one thing she could do for this girl was to provide her with accurate information, and have her friend share her experience with her own second-trimester abortion. These women told the girl to stand up for herself and to research everything that Julia was telling her. Julia told her that while other people would move on and forget about this baby, as the mother, she would never forget about being pregnant with this child.
Soon after the phone call, Julia received word that on the morning of the rescheduled abortion, the girl told her mother that she wasn’t going through with it. A month later, Julia found out that the girl had chosen her and her husband to be the adoptive parents, which Julia calls an “incredible honor.”
At 23 weeks, the birth mother finally began receiving prenatal care, and doctors told her she had chlamydia, something the abortion clinic never bothered to inform her of. The abortion clinic had left her uneducated about her own health regarding a disease that can cause sterility. If she had gone through with the abortion, she likely wouldn’t have found out she had chlamydia, and she might have aborted the only child she would have ever been able to have.
During her pregnancy, Julia and her husband were able to meet the birth mother and chat about baby names. The birth mother invited Julia to be in the delivery room. Julia says:
She asked us if we were thinking of names and if we would mind if she told us one she liked. Well, two weeks prior to meeting her, there was a girl at the park with a name we’d never heard before and we really liked it. [The birth mother] told us she liked the name Jaylyn. It was the same name we had chosen.
When it was time for Jaylyn to be born, Julia, her husband, her son, and her now six-month-old daughter drove out and spent 11 days in a Holiday Inn.
“It was wild,” explains Julia, “Both [babies] were nursing. It was just off the charts amazing.”
Today, Julia maintains a relationship with her daughter’s birth mother, who is thriving, thanks to some amazing people who rallied behind her. She began attending church, as did her mother, and they are now both extremely pro-life. The birth mother has graduated from high school and gone on to pursue higher education.
“Personally, I think of this girl as a true hero,” says Julia, “because she not only went against her mom, but also enormous peer pressure & pressure from those in positions of authority – like the doctors in white coats. She had to be visibly pregnant walking the halls at school. Incredible courage. We believe she and birth mothers like her are the very definition of ‘mother’ – selfless love and sacrifice in action.”
Julia and her husband now have a total of six children. And despite the fact that they didn’t have the money to afford adopting Jaylyn, they trusted that God would be there.
At the end of the month, when you’re paying the bills and you know you don’t have any more money coming in, God made sure our needs were met. We needed a $400 retainer fee for an attorney and I’m standing in my house like, ‘Lord, we don’t have $400.’ But if He wants us to do this, He’s going to figure it out. We’re going to do what He says and leave the details up to Him. I went to the mailbox and there was a check for $400 from the IRS for the George Bush child tax refund. And I was like, ‘Well, there it is’. It was stuff like that the whole time.
Julia and her husband have since signed up to be foster-to-adopt parents, as have many of their church members and neighbors. Julia also founded Respond for Life, a group that connects people to resources available in the pro-life movement and opportunities for action against abortion. She educates people on abortion through training and public speaking and also works with Choices 4 Life as a speaker against abortion in cases of rape. She is a strong advocate for adoption, especially the adoption of children with special needs. Julia says:
Society tends to have a negative view of adoption. There is a misperception that adopted children are somehow inferior to biological children. I have found adoption to be an inexpressible blessing. A true miracle. I was able to more fully grasp God’s love for me through the adoption of my own daughter. My heart does not recognize a difference between her & my biological children. When we come to salvation in Christ, we are adopted as sons and daughters of God and He becomes our Father.
Jaylyn is now nine years old. Due to the abortion attempt, she has some significant special needs and challenges that she will have for the rest of her life. She receives occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy.
“She’s definitely coming along,” says Julia, “She’s a worshiper! She doesn’t know how to sing quietly when we go to church. She prays and just cries. You ask her what she’s doing and she’ll tell you ‘praying for Daddy’ or whoever she is praying for with tears streaming down her face.”
Jaylyn also has a heart for special-needs children and adults. Julia has watched her walk up and hold the hand of a young man whose fingers were deformed due to muscular dystrophy. Her best friend is an adopted little boy who is blind, mostly deaf, and in a wheelchair, due to being a victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome. He can hear the tone of Jaylyn’s voice, and she sings to him and makes him laugh. If the family is out and Jaylyn spots someone with Down syndrome, then that is whom she wants to talk to or play with.
“It is so beautiful,” says Julia, “I’ve never seen anything like it. The parents are visibly moved to have their children unconditionally embraced. She makes them feel like they are the special people they are. Jaylyn’s a really special person.”