Travis was ten years old when he learned how close he came to being aborted.
To this day, Travis remembers that night. In a drunken rage, his birth mother had told him the truth. The revelation quickly escalated into a physical fight between Travis’s birth mother and uncle.
“You should never have told that kid that!” Travis’s uncle told her.
But that wasn’t the last time Travis would hear about her almost-abortion.
Throughout his youth, at varying states of intoxication, his birth mother would tell him, “I wish I would’ve had an abortion.”
So why didn’t she? Too poor to afford an abortion herself, Travis’s birth mother had scheduled an appointment with the help of a friend who told her she would pay the cost. But at the last minute—for some unknown reason—the friend backed out. That decision spared Travis his life.
“It is by the grace of God that I was not given up for an abortion—by the grace of God,” Travis told Indiana Right to Life in an interview.
Poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, and domestic violence made for an unstable and unsafe childhood for Travis and his three biological brothers. Through all of it, Travis’s saving grace was Wheeler Mission, a Christian social services organization serving the homeless and poor in Indianapolis.
That’s where he met Doug Crane, who was working as a mentor in the organization’s youth program. Travis wasn’t old enough to be in Doug’s group when he joined, but the two hit it off anyway. Their bond grew as Doug began inviting Travis on outings. Within a few years, when Travis was about 13, Doug and his wife, Natalie, started taking Travis to church with them. He attended extended family gatherings with them, went on vacations with them, and even gained his own bedroom in the Crane home. Travis watched as the Cranes became birth parents, welcoming four babies over the course of the next several years.
The Cranes would remind Travis that he would always have a place to stay in their home.
But the Cranes’ household was clearly a world apart from what Travis knew growing up. The Cranes set boundaries in a way that Travis’s birth parents did not. Even his school knew to call the Cranes about any misconduct committed by Travis.
The Cranes’ high expectations turned out to be exactly what Travis needed.
Today, Travis believes that the two factors that made the biggest difference in his life are Jesus and having adults in his life who cared about him.
Thanks to both of those, Travis became the first person in his family to graduate high school. He then became the first to go to college.
But in his sophomore year, his birth mother was diagnosed with cancer. Despite the years of pain and hardship between them, Travis took a year off to help her through her diagnosis.
As she was dying in the hospital, Travis’s birth mother brought up a subject she’d visited many times before: her almost-abortion. But this time, her perspective was a sober one.
“I’m so thankful that I didn’t kill you when you were a baby,” she told Travis. “Because it would’ve been the biggest mistake that I ever made.”
Reflecting on that moment years later, Travis knows the truth of this sentiment.
“When you get down to the brass tacks of reality, there’s not a single person that would consider abortion that would ever come back and say to their child legitimately, in an honest conversation, ‘You know, I think I made the wrong decision,’” Travis said.
“But the opposite of that is not true,” he said, noting all the stories of women who regret their abortions.
Travis’s personal experience with the issue of abortion would follow him long after his mother’s death.
By the time she passed away, Travis had moved in with the Cranes and was considering going back to school.
“What would you want to do if you could do anything?” Natalie asked him.
“Well, I always wanted to go to law school,” Travis said.
“Then go to law school,” Natalie replied.
And he did.
But it wasn’t easy.
“I had to work really hard in college, significantly harder than other people, because by the time I got out of high school, I’d never written anything over, like, a page-and-a-half paper,” he said. “As far as my biological family goes, you know, no one had ever even graduated and so much less, gone to college.”
While in law school, Travis came face-to-face with the legal case which nearly sealed his fate as an unborn child.
On the day the class was to discuss Roe v. Wade, Travis wore a t-shirt that read, “I survived Roe v. Wade.” His classmates were angered by his choice of attire. They told him that as a male, he couldn’t have an opinion on the subject.
“I remember having a conversation with 10 people in the class,” he said. “And I said, ‘Here’s the thing—you don’t know this, but…I would have been a no-name aborted child.’”
“You don’t know anything about me,” he told them. “My mom tried to have an abortion with me, but by the grace of God, didn’t because she couldn’t afford it. So, what you’re sitting here telling me right now is that her right to choose to do what she wanted with her body outweighs my entire life. And my existence should not be here because of the value you put on someone’s choice to kill their child.”
“And that shut them up real quick,” he said.
Travis persisted with his hard work in college. That work ethic, coupled with his Christian faith, opened even more experiences for him. During one of his summers, he traveled all the way around the world to Africa to serve with an organization that deals with the trafficking of children. At the end of his two-month stay, he returned home to the Cranes.
Not long after his return, Travis and Doug were spending some time together when Doug began talking about how Travis had always been a part of their family.
“What’s something that we can do to solidify that for you?” Doug wondered aloud.
The two decided that through adult adoption, Travis would officially become a Crane.
Although the adoption transition came with its own set of challenges, the family worked through those issues with love, patience, and understanding. Travis began referring to Doug and Natalie as “Mom” and “Dad.” The Cranes’ biological children, who Travis had known since they were newborns, became his official siblings.
And today, Travis is growing a family himself. With his wife, Jenna, he has a one-year-old daughter and another baby on-the-way. With his law degree, he has become a juvenile deputy prosecutor. His goal is to become a juvenile court judge.
“The reason why is because a lot of the kids that are coming through the system that we are dealing with—I look at them and I’m like, ‘Man, I know exactly what you’re going through,’” he said. “I’m not saying that I know everything, but I know the difference between a kid who’s a knucklehead and a kid who’s in legitimate need of help. And honestly, my prayer, is that God would bring someone or some people that I can push to a successful life, both spiritually and physically.”
In the same way that Doug and Natalie were for him, he is striving to be “an adult in someone’s life that can make a difference.”
“There’s no doubt in my mind—at the time that I was in the womb until today—that God had a plan for my life,” he said. “And I don’t know what all of that entails because I’m not at the end of it, but I know that God’s plan was for me to be a part of the Crane family, although in a nontraditional way. And that’s the bottom line, as far as my mom and dad go. They’ve literally changed my entire life.”