Rachel Allen

Empty Arms: Remembering the Parents Who Can’t Hold Their Children

This is my new friend, Elliot.


He wasn’t supposed to be here, yet. His due date was February 3rd but he showed up on December 8th, 2013 instead (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which is pretty cool). There were some medical complications that meant he had to come out early, for his own health and safety and the safety of his mama.

Just shy of 32 weeks gestation (a.k.a. time spent growing in the womb; 40 weeks is the average), he clocked in at 3 lbs, 2 oz, and 16 inches long.

…Elliot is TINY. And he’s also stinkin’ perfect.

He’s spent the last six weeks hanging out in the NICU, gaining weight like a champ and trying to get home before his original due date (and he succeeded! He went home over the weekend). His mom and dad, Adam and Eryn, are really good friends of mine. They were married in October of 2012 and awesome little Elliot turned them into parents last month.

I haven’t been able to meet Elliot yet, but I did get to sit down and have breakfast with his parents last week. They were like all other first-time parents I’ve ever known – lots of “ooohing” and “aaahing” and “look at these 7000 pictures we took of him sitting there with his eyes closed.”

The only difference is that they weren’t holding their baby while they said it.

Since Elliot was still in the hospital, Adam and Eryn were living in this weird kind of existence where they knew that they were parents to a beautiful baby boy who wasn’t with them, 24/7, like he should have been. They saw him every day in the hospital nursery and talked about him non-stop with all their family and friends. They’re still trying to make Facebook explode with all the cuteness.

I won't always be this little, but I will definitely always be this cute.

I won’t always be this little, but I will definitely always be this cute.

But as they were sitting at breakfast with me, bragging like crazy about how cute and smart and strong their little man is… their little man wasn’t with them. And I couldn’t help think about all the other parents out there who are missing their little ones, too.

This week, hundreds of thousands of people (myself included) will flock to Washington, D.C., to participate in the March for Life and protest abortion in this country. We don’t just go because we care about the unborn. We go because we care about their parents, too.

Abortion is a traumatic event, something no one ever wants and so many deeply regret. There’s an ache in the hearts of men and women who have been through it, because they know that they have become parents – without having their babies.

Even though many try to convince themselves that their child was “just a lump of tissue” or the abortion was “just an unfortunate incident,” they still feel the pain of knowing that their little one isn’t with them. I’ve met post-abortive men and women, and when they get honest, they admit that it’s something you never, ever forget.

I’m marching this week for the unborn, and for Elliot – but I’m marching for Adam and Eryn, too. I certainly don’t want Elliot’s peers to be lost to abortion, but I don’t want Adam and Eryn’s peers to be lost, either.

It’s easy to march with banners that proclaim, in huge letters, “Save the Babies!” Darn right, save the babies! Just don’t forget about saving their parents, too. Because every day, there are over 3,000 abortions performed in the United States. And those 3,000 abortions change over 9,000 lives forever.

Elliot is already overwhelmed by crazy love and care from his parents. He is deeply, desperately wanted. So many sacrifices (of time and money) have been made to keep him growing and Adam and Eryn are among the proudest parents I know.

Even though they weren’t holding their baby as they sat across the breakfast table from me, Adam and Eryn have become parents. As we march for life in D.C. this week, or get involved with pro-life work at home, or simply pray to end abortion when we talk to God today, don’t forget to also say a prayer – and fight for – all the other parents whose arms are empty, too.

Categories: AbortionMoralityMy Faith


Rachel Allen

About the Author

I work for a retreat ministry called the REAP Team, where it's my full-time job to talk about sex, love, dating, and chastity (which can sometimes lead to some awesomely awkward moments). I love being Catholic, watching movies, and browsing antique malls. The only thing I have against winter is the fact that there's no baseball. Feel free to email me at [email protected] or follow me on Twitter @rachel_m_allen