Marissa's Tale: The Heroic Gift of Being Adopted
WASHINGTON -- Every year, about a million couples in America are seeking to adopt a child, but many fail. And every year about a million women in America abort their unborn babies.
Pro-lifers say giving these children to loving families would both end abortion and solve the adoption crisis.
Many women believe, however, it's better to abort their unborn babies, fearing their child will feel abandoned by them or have a horrible life.
It's a Wonderful Life
But Marissa Cope, adopted at 5 days old, wishes she could shout out to each of them this just isn't true in so many cases.
Looking back over the three decades of her life, Marissa said it's been wonderful. She said she is so grateful to the young couple who decided not to abort her.
"I certainly hope my biological parents have the peace of mind of knowing that they chose life for me and they chose a beautiful life for me," she told CBN News.
Marissa and her husband, J. Marty, have just had their first child. The experience has made her reflect on her own childhood, and that brings nothing but happy memories about being adopted.
"It was presented to me from birth that this was a positive thing and a way that our family was built and grown," she explained. "So it's something that we've always celebrated."
Oddly enough Marissa grew up with a mom who looks almost exactly like her.
"Our physical similarity is quite striking," she said. "And I look as much like my parents as my brother does, who is their biological child."
The God of Adoption
In fact, Marissa always felt a little extra special because her parents chose her.
"There've been jokes through the years to my brother that, 'Ya know, it took a little more to get me. I didn't come the easy way,'" she shared.
Marissa sees it as a parallel to Christians' relationship with God.
"We serve a God who loves adoption," she stated. "He works through adoption. He adopts us in Christ."
In fact, Marissa and her family believe her first moment with them reflects how Jesus Christ sees all His people.
"My brother was 6 years old when I was adopted and the adoption agency had a policy that the older sibling, if they were old enough, could actually be the one to carry out the baby on that day to present them to the family," she recalled.
Marissa's new brother scooped her up in his arms with pride to present her to her new parents.
"So he brings me out and I have spiky hair going everywhere, and he says, 'Isn't she pretty? Doesn't she look just like me?'"
Marissa pointed out what that moment is like: "The love of Christ for us as He presents us to the Father and says, 'Isn't she pretty? Doesn't she look just like me?'" she said.
Marissa uses that comparison as an encouragement for abortion opponents to step in and experience such moments for themselves.
"A lot of times in critiques of pro-lifers, you hear it time and again, 'Why don't you adopt the babies if you care so much about them?'" she said.
A few years ago, her brother and his wife did, adopting Nate, an Ethiopian.
'A Child Is a Gift'
Marissa said she's felt so much love from and for her own newborn and her nephew Nate. She speaks from experience when she promises parenthood will bring great blessing.
"This is the most rewarding thing you'll ever do in your life," she argued. "And an adopted child, just like a biological child, is a gift."
But pro-lifers realize they're going against the grain in what's now a pro-abortion culture, where a place like Planned Parenthood aborts 145 babies for every one it helps get adopted.
Marissa works at Texas-based Heroic Media, whose mission is to convince women not to abort their babies.
"Sometimes, in the mind of a woman, because of what she hears in our culture, abortion is a more humane choice than choosing adoption," Marissa explained.
"We wanted to find out how can we challenge that and change the perception of adoption in the mind of that woman and in the culture at large," she said.
What Pregnant Women Need to Hear
Heroic Media uses in-depth research showing what women need to hear before they'll accept adoption for their unborn baby. Things like how they can pick the family who will raise their child and get support during the months of pregnancy.
Heroic Media has crafted ads that highlight these very points.
Surveys show these ads work. They aired over a four-year period in Austin, Texas, and the number of abortions dropped.
"The state of Texas reported over the same four-year period a decrease in the abortion ratio by over 20 percent," Marissa said.
She told CBN News of one New York City woman who was all set to get an abortion, when she spotted one of these pro-life ads featuring a number she could dial for help.
"She called the number. She chose life and adoption for her child!" Marissa said. "We've seen women who were pursuing abortion, had the appointment, and chose life and adoption instead."
2014 Clarion Call: Adoption
At this January's March for Life in Washington, D.C., the call went out from leading pro-life groups to make 2014 the Year of Adoption.
And organizations like Marissa's are begging women considering abortions to please reconsider -- and consider adoption instead.