News from Open Doors June 2019

Alison Campbell Rate Executive Director (Hon.)

Wonder of Living version 3 – Update

We are in the final stages of post-production of our new Wonder of Living sex education series for primary schools and are very pleased with the way this new version is coming together. Several new themes have been incorporated into the puberty section for upper primary, including perspectives on social media, body perfection stereotypes and the harms of internet pornography.

I often find myself wondering how it has happened that our society so casually places these dangerous influences into the hands of our children and young teens. But that is the world they are faced with – the world of the smart phone and all that flows from it into our private space on a daily basis. So we have to give young people, and their parents, the awareness and the tools with which to counteract such negative and harmful messages and to make safer choices, for now and the future.

A launch event will be organised in July to which you are warmly welcome. Please get in touch via phone or email to register your interest in receiving more details about this.

Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat

Five participants attended our March Rachel’s Vineyard retreat, some travelling from interstate. Here is some feedback they shared after the weekend concluded:

  • Helpful and nurturing and it was wonderful meeting other women and hearing their stories.
  • The spiritual exercises really helped me to “let go” and feel a sense of healing.
  • So healing and freeing for me after all the years of holding on to my “secret”.
  • I have been able to acknowledge myself as a mother to my children and to forge a bond with them that I had not felt before.
  • The Memorial Service was wonderful. I was able to experience holding my children to my heart. I felt it was my right to do that for the first time in my life.

Thank you to Retreat Facilitator Anne Neville and her team for the dedication they put into this very intense weekend process.

Our Director of Counselling, Eileen Carison has a client story to share – (all identifying details have been changed).

Rowan and Michelle met each other through some mutual friends. They seemed to hit it off right away and six months into the relationship Michelle found out she was pregnant. Initially both were in shock – the relationship was so new – but after talking it through they decided to go ahead.

At about 14 weeks into the pregnancy, Michelle began to panic. She had recently been divorced and already had 3 children. Questions were rattling around her head – “Do I want to do this, a baby and nappies again?” They hadn’t told her other children yet and she was worried about their response – “What will they think? Will they be happy and excited or embarrassed and ashamed of me?”

Michelle decided that they needed to seek some counselling so they made an appointment for pregnancy counselling through a women’s clinic at a public hospital.

When they arrived for their appointment at the hospital, they were told that the counsellor would only speak to Michelle and that Rowan would have to sit outside and wait for her. When Rowan objected, he was told that if he didn’t sit quietly he would be escorted out of the hospital by Security. By the time Michelle had exited the counselling room, she had booked an abortion for the following day.

Michelle later told our counsellor that during the session at the hospital, the discussion focused solely on the negative outcomes of continuing the pregnancy. This only reinforced the negative feelings that Michelle was experiencing. She said that no positive outcomes had been part of the discussion.

Rowan was devastated by this decision that he had no part in. A few weeks later, he rang Open Doors, desperately looking for some help.

They were both struggling. Rowan was angry; he felt he had been treated so unfairly at the hospital. He was the father and he wasn’t even permitted to be involved in a discussion to determine the fate of this child.  Rowan had written a letter of complaint to the hospital but had yet to receive a reply.

Rowan and Michelle both attended counselling sessions at Open Doors and also joined our Post Abortion Support group where they were able to experience the unconditional love, support and acceptance of its members.

Over time, Michelle said she was able to make peace with her decision. However, for Rowan it was different story. This was his first and maybe his only child. He holds strong Christian values and beliefs and as the baby’s father, he believed that he should have protected him and he failed to do so. Rowan was filled with self-loathing, unable to comprehend how he could have let such a thing happen. The fact that he had deprived his parents of a grandchild also cut him to the bone.

Added to all of this, Rowan and Michelle’s relationship declined rapidly and ultimately ended.  For Rowan, the road to healing will be a long and arduous one.

There appears to be an assumption in the community that men are not impacted by an abortion decision and that the decision a woman makes should be strictly between herself and her health care provider.  However, as we have seen from Rowan’s story – and many others – abortion hurts men too. Often, they are the forgotten ones, disregarded in the decision making and disregarded as grievers.

At Open Doors, we see the impact of abortion on both men and women first-hand; we know that, like women, men grieve for their lost children. Because of your help, our counsellors are privileged to be able to support, validate and help facilitate the healing of each and every one of them.      EILEEN

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There are very few organisations in Australia which care about the impact of an abortion decision on the life of the child and the women and men involved. There are groups which support pregnant mums with baby goods, birth mentors and parenting help. Some also offer fun makeovers and photoshoots, and so on. These are all great boosts in their own way once the decision is made to keep the child.

And of course there are plenty of businesses offering same day abortions – a simple internet search puts scores of highly paid ads in front of every woman who is feeling unsure or under pressure.

But there are very few services which will walk the difficult journeys of decision-making counselling and post abortion grief and trauma. Why? Because these issues are highly politicised. They cause discomfort.  They are a ‘hard sell’ for potential donors and corporate sponsors.

Open Doors is one of the few doing this work and we do it well but we can’t do it without you.  You are our only source of income for our counselling services. We are so grateful for your past support and we turn to you again today.

Please make your end-of-financial year gift count!

with our prayers and warm regards,

Alison Campbell Rate, Executive Director (Hon.)

Paul Rate, Financial Director (Hon.)

 

Annual report for the Year 2018