ONEIDA, N.Y. — Oneida resident Kailee Perrin is a volunteer at CareNet pregnancy center in Syracuse and a national speaker who addresses the questions about abortion and its alternatives.
Over 10 years ago, she was addicted to drugs, pregnant-and considering aborting her child. She spoke to the Dispatch last week about her story.
“In February of 2008, I hadn’t been feeling myself,” she said. “I was sick all the time, but as an addict, I was used to that feeling. I never felt well. I used drugs and alcohol to numb everything and had been in full-blown addiction the last four years.
“This was different. Something was off. I took a home pregnancy test and sure enough, it was positive. My stomach dropped to the floor, my heart began to race as I thought this was the worst thing that could happen to me.”
At the time, Perrin was 18, heavily addicted to drugs, and pregnant…by a drug dealer she had just started dating. Perrin confronted the baby’s father with the news.
“He didn’t take the news very well and insisted I get an abortion,” she said. “He said it would cost around four hundred dollars and I could go to Planned Parenthood. This wasn’t his first rodeo, but it was all he knew to fix the mess we were in.”
Perrin felt ill-equipped for motherhood. She was jobless, a high school dropout, with no vehicle, and no license.
“We had nothing to offer this baby,” she said. “I spent the next several nights crying myself to sleep not knowing what I should do. I had the support of my mother, but it wasn’t enough. My boyfriend made it very clear he wanted no part of this baby, and my biggest fear was to have a baby without a father.”
Perrin’s situation forced her to take a look at her past. The baby would spend life like she had…without a father. “I grew up that way due to my dad’s addiction to crack cocaine,” she said. “He spent my whole life in and out of prison and this left a deep wound in my heart and life. How could I repeat this?”
Perrin decided abortion was her only option.
“The greatest lie I believed was that I would be doing my child a favor if I had an abortion,” she said. “I had to do it. I thought I would go in for a quick procedure then just go on with my life.
“The truth is when a woman walks through the doors of an abortion clinic she will leave never ever the same. A part of me would die that day. I didn’t realize all that abortion entailed. I thought this is my right, it’s okay I’m in an awful situation and many praised my decision to have an abortion.”
Perrin’s mother found a solution to her dilemma from an unexpected source.
“My mother didn’t know how to help me after I told her my decision, but she said, “I will stand by you with whatever you choose,” she said. “She was at a local meeting talking about my situation and after the meeting, a man came up to her and gave her a piece of paper with a number on it. He said, ‘Take your daughter here.’ The number on that paper was for CareNet Pregnancy Center. We called and they got us right in.”
Perrin said she found love and acceptance, and a new perspective, during her visit.
“When I walked through those doors, I was afraid and full of shame. Immediately they loved me,” she said. They didn’t care that I was a pregnant teen, a drug-addicted mess. They loved me right where I was in my life.
“I met with a counselor there. I had so many walls up as she spoke to me, but after I felt there was no judgment only love those walls began to tumble down. She went through all of my options with me and we thoroughly talked about each one and what it would look like for my life. I had options and I didn’t even realize it.”
Perrin said seeing her daughter, at eight weeks old, on an ultrasound that was provided for free changed her perspective for good.
“On that screen, I saw my baby for the first time. She had a strong heartbeat and I could see the life before me wiggling about in my womb,” she said. “It was life-changing. I knew no matter what I needed to fight for her life and mine.
“I was empowered that day. My mom will tell you today I went in broken, eyes dark and when I left I had light in my eyes, and joy on my face. Hope changed everything.”
They discussed Perrin’s options: abortion, adoption, or parenting her child.
“We talked about how hard each one may be and how they might affect my life. I began to feel hope,” she said. “Most often we find that fear is filling a woman’s decision. When I was able to set aside the fear and think through each one I was able to make a sound decision regarding my pregnancy.”
Adoption is a viable option for mothers facing an unwanted pregnancy. Some sources estimate that there are about two million couples currently waiting to adopt in the United States, or about 36 families waiting for each child who is placed for adoption.
Parenting guidance is also available to those who decide to keep their babies. “CareNet provided ongoing care for me, they offered me parenting classes, diapers, things for my baby, and began to mentor me. I am truly forever grateful for their help and support,” Perrin said.
Perrin went into rehab, while pregnant, to deal with her addictions and later reunited with the father of her child. He had decided he wanted to be a dad.
“We got back together and he gave up his life of selling drugs and started working hard to provide for our family,” Perrin said. “CareNet offered so much help to us and never asked for a penny. They had no hidden agenda, only love and support for us. I can’t help but think how different our story would’ve been had I went through with my choice to have an abortion.”
Perrin’s daughter was born on Oct. 3, 2008. She married the father in July of 2010, and they now have five children.
“We’ve been married almost twelve years and I have been sober for eleven by the grace and power of God working in my life. It’s truly a miracle,” she said.
Perrin’s daughter is 13 today, and they started sharing their story in 2010, in hopes that people will see the good pregnancy centers are doing. They now speak nationally across the country.
“One thing my daughter says is, ‘In 2008, the year that she was born there were over 800,000 abortions,’” Perrin said. “She was almost one of those numbers, but because places like pregnancy centers exist offering women all of their options, and supporting them through whatever decision they make, she’s alive today.”
“The pregnancy center being there for us truly impacted us and saved our lives,” Perrin said. “We’re so thankful.”