Birth mothers retreat is July 14

| June 6, 2012 | 0 Comments

Organizer says Holy Spirit prompted first one in 2008

Lack of information about her birth families nearly killed Gretchen Traylor, 66.

Following a routine hip replacement in 2003, Traylor was given blood thinners to prevent death from blood clots. Little did she know that her birth father’s family carries a genetic marker for a name-brand blood thinner that causes severe bleeding.

“Although the tests indicated that my blood level was fine, I was, in fact, bleeding to death internally into the surgical wound without knowing it,” she said. The doctor sent her home with her husband, who later insisted on taking her back to the hospital because she looked so pale.

Two days and two units of blood later, she recovered. That event thrust her into a long-time legislative effort to obtain original birth certificates for adopted adults over the age of 19. It also pushed her to volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, where she handed out a variety of information to women who were involved in the adoption triad — birth mothers, adoptive parents and adoptees.

“I wondered why we had nothing, as a religious institution, to offer these people who had chosen life, when there are any number of things for women who are post-abortive,” Traylor said. “There was nothing for anyone who had relinquished a child to adoption. In all my experience with birth mothers, I learned that so much of the suffering that post-abortive women go through, many post-relinquishment women do, too, especially if the adoption was closed.”

Don’t missWhat: Retreat for birth mothers

When: July 14

Where: St. Peter in Mendota Heights

More information or registration (pdf), $15, or call (651) 291-4488

Forgetting was not an option

Back in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, many women, like Traylor’s own birth mother, were told to go home and forget about it.

“They made this incredible choice when so many of them had other options. Then  they were shuffled off to suffer in shame and silence for decades,” she said. “The stories I heard from these women about how they were treated by the churches, their parents, society and the agencies, you would have thought they were axe murderers. Here they were choosing life for their children . . . and they were treated as pariahs.”

After thinking about the issue and contacting several Catholic agencies to find a way to help them, Traylor got an answer — or a command — during daily prayer.

“I heard the Holy Spirit in my head say, ‘You have to call the archbishop,’” said Traylor, a member of St. Gerard in Brooklyn Center.

“I said, ‘I’m not going to call the archbishop, why would I do that, I’m not a birth mother.’ We argued about it a few minutes,” she said with a laugh.

“Finally, I heard, ‘They can’t do it, they are too wounded. Get up and call the archbishop.’ So I did.”

That call led to a meeting with Kathy Laird, then director of the Office of Marriage, Family and Life, who worked with Traylor, two birth mothers and Catholic Charities to plan the first retreat day for birth mothers in 2008.

Fourth annual retreat day

The fifth annual Day of Recognition and Honoring for Birth Mothers will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 14, at St. Peter, 1405 Hwy. 3 in Mendota.

“We typically get 30 to 40 women each year,” Traylor said. They travel from as far as Hawaii, Colorado and Arizona because — to her knowledge — it is the only retreat for birth mothers in the nation.

The day includes testimonies from birth mothers, a speaker on grief and loss, time for participants to share their stories with each other and an opportunity for the sacrament of reconciliation.

Sharon Wilson, Respect Life coordinator in the Marriage, Family and Life Office, said that promotion of the retreat was passed along to her office because “it falls in with respect for life.”

The retreat is open to all women who are birth mothers. They also may bring  a companion. Sometimes a younger birth mother will bring her mother with her, Wilson said.

The retreat “celebrates life and the sacrifice these women have made,” while it offers healing and resources for those who may be having some difficulties with their life and the decision they made, she said.

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