Abby and Doug Johnson’s youngest child was just 6 months old when Abby received a
phone call from her best friend who lived in Maryland.
Her friend, a sign language interpreter, had an unexpected proposal for Abby.
“She said, ‘Look, I know this is crazy, but I just have to ask if you guys would be
interested in adopting this baby?’” Abby recalled at a speaking event in 2015.
Abby immediately replied that she would before remembering she needed to talk with her husband.
The baby boy was expected to be born very soon. Because she is deaf, his birth mother was a client of Abby’s friend.
“Through some meetings and things like that, my friend found out that this little boy had been conceived through a very violent rape,” Abby said.
The birthmother had made an adoption plan for her baby and had selected an adoptive family for him. But two weeks before the baby was due, the adoptive-parents-to-be sent the birthmother shocking news.
“The family sent her an email and said, ‘You know, we’ve been thinking about it, and since there’s a possibility that your son could be deaf, we don’t want him,’” Abby said.
The next day, another potential adoptive couple turned the baby down on the basis that he is biracial.
“They weren’t interested because they wanted a baby that looked like them,” Abby said.
That’s when Abby’s friend called her.
Abby—who once served as the director of a major Planned Parenthood outpost in Texas—had always wanted to serve women in positions like her friend’s client. But while working for Planned Parenthood, she began to see how the corporation sold abortions to vulnerable women instead of truly serving them.
The final straw was when Abby was asked to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion. She watched, horrified, as a 13-week-old baby fought for its life and died.
Convicted of the wrongness of what she had witnessed, she quit her job and became an outspoken pro-life advocate.
By the time her friend called her with the proposal to adopt a baby in need, Abby had been gone from Planned Parenthood for six years. And she was working fulltime as a pro-life advocate.
After getting off the phone with her friend, Abby called her husband, Doug, and explained the situation.
“He freaked out for a good 24 hours,” Abby said. “But then, the next day, he called me and he said, ‘You know, Abby, I’m nervous. I’m scared. I don’t know how this is going to work, but I figure that if we are a people of life, then I guess our answer better be “yes.”’”
To honor the birthmother, the couple began looking at names beginning with the letter “J,” as her three other children’s names began with that letter.
The Johnsons traditionally choose a saint name and a family name for their children, so Abby did a search for saints whose names began with “J.”
As soon as she saw “St. Jude” listed, she knew “Jude” was the name for their son.
“I was like, ‘Yes! Of course!’” she said. “Right? St. Jude–patron state of impossible causes.”
“I realized just how precious his life is,” she said. “I mean, all babies–all the lives of all babies in this society, any baby that’s born and cared for–that is a miracle in itself. I think about Jude, and I think, ‘Oh my gosh. What a miracle it is that we have him.’ Because the abortion industry targets babies like him because he is African American. He is a minority.”
But she saw another way in which Jude could have been targeted for abortion, as well: Because of the circumstances of his conception.
“I just think how special it is that his mother courageously chose life for him,” she said, pointing out that even many pro-lifers make exceptions for abortions in the case of rape.
For Abby, her son’s utter vulnerability to all of these targets only drives home the importance of protecting the sanctity of all human life.
“I’ve been reminded today just how fragile life is,” she said. “I have a friend who attempted suicide last night. He survived, but he’s in the hospital. I have another friend that just was put on suicide watch today. I have another friend who today miscarried her 12 week old baby. And I think, if there was ever a time for us to really put up a fight to defend the most vulnerable—and I don’t just mean the unborn, I mean all of those who are vulnerable in our society: the elderly, the disabled, anyone who is marginalized…I mean, life is just…it’s so precious and it’s so incredibly fragile and it can be over like that.”
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