Generational Sin Issues
“You are my dreams fulfilled, Sydna,” my Irish maternal grandfather announced upon meeting me at 5 years old. “You are my American grandchild, a citizen of the land flowing with milk and honey!”
Abortion among first and second generation Americans – immigrants and children of foreign-born individuals – can be common simply because we are often held hostage to the hopes and dreams of our impoverished ancestors. An unexpected pregnancy not only threatens the respect of family in home nations, it is perceived to cancel any potential American dream fulfillment for everyone involved.
According to a 2013 report from the Pew Research Center, “The second-generation population is well educated, compared with the population overall: 39% have at least a college degree, and only 7% have less than a high school education(1). Obviously, many second-generation Americans realized their ancestor’s educational dreams but at what cost?
At the tender age of 8, my grandfather watched the Titanic – a ship his father had helped build – sail out of Belfast Harbor in 1911. He shared with his children that watching the Titanic sail was the day his dream to become an American was born. Like other nations in that era, if you were not the first-born child in Ireland, immigration to America was your only hope for a decent future.
My grandfather arrived in America as an illegal alien in the 1920’s, stowing-away on a ship and jumping into the New York harbor. He hoped to carve out a new destiny for his descendants. He went to live with his two older brothers in Providence, RI where he made a faith commitment to God.
Convicted that his illegal status was problematic for his offspring, Samuel made the rare decision to return to Belfast a year later. His hopes to immigrate legally were dashed when his new girlfriend announced she was pregnant. My grandparents barely knew each other at that point and their marriage was not a good one.
In that day and age, my grandfather had no choice but to marry. He then gave his dream of his grandchildren becoming American citizens onto his second-born daughter, my mother. My mother immigrated to the Detroit area with my birth-father in the 1950’s.
My mother then transferred her father’s dreams to my shoulders by proudly declaring, “You will be the very first female to achieve a college education! No other woman in our family line has ever had such an opportunity!”
I was a sophomore in college when I discovered I was pregnant at a Planned Parenthood office in 1981. Obviously, without a marriage proposal, that pregnancy was an immediate barrier to fulfilling my ancestor’s hopes and dreams.
While I was able to complete my education, it came at the cost of my unborn child’s life. No aspiration is ever worth becoming the mother of a dead child.
Abortion is still illegal in Ireland today. My grandfather’s mother – my great-grandmother, pictured above – gave birth to 18 children. I have often wondered if she had been born in a nation where abortion was legal, would she have borne so many children?
Since my grandfather was her 17th child, clearly he was the most likely to have been aborted. Obviously, I’m grateful my great-grandparents did not have such a choice because I may not have been born!
Many immigrants arrive in America from nations where abortion is not only readily accepted but enforced. These first generation Americans often feel great pressure from their families to achieve a much higher potential due to the opportunities afforded them through receiving the American dream.
Abortion is never the answer to an unexpected pregnancy. Clearly, had this choice been available to our ancestors, many of us would never have been born. I will never know the impact my aborted child, whom I named Jesse, would have had on the world. At the time of this writing, he would have been 35. I miss him still, despite recovering from my abortion pain.
The Bible outlines in Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV), This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.
What do you know about your ancestors? Did any of them experience an unexpected pregnancy? Regardless of where they were raised, outline your relationship with them, if any, in your journal. Did they know or help you choose abortion? Did their choices in life impact you in any way? Pray and ask God to reveal to you how unexpected pregnancy can occur over several generations.