Real Options Offers Real Hope
Kim Brochu loved working as a patient advocate at Real Options, guiding those whose lives were turned upside down by an unplanned pregnancy.
In her four years as a volunteer, the Chase Oaker helped dozens of women through scary times. It was fulfilling, gratifying, draining and frustrating all at once.
But this was Saturday, her day off. She was going to relax and enjoy breakfast at a small cafe with her daughter Em who was visiting from a Christian college.
On the way there, as mothers and daughters can do, Kim and Em butted heads over something small.
Kim recalls feeling disrespected by the way her daughter spoke to her. She says “tough love” instincts kicked in, and she turned the car around and started driving back home. Em looked wide-eyed at her mom. She seemed panicked and in an emotion-laced voice said, “We can’t go home now. Mom…I’m pregnant.”
Kim took a deep breath and pulled the car over.
Their lives would never be the same.
Real Options has helped women in North Texas for more than three decades.
They provide pregnancy testing, sonograms, screening for sexually-transmitted infections, as well as guidance and counseling. All paid for by donations, big and small.
Sara Hamilton, Abortion Recovery Director, has been with Real Options nearly 20 years. She sees women come in, unsure what they want to do, wanting someone to listen. Real Options seeks to do that in a non-judgmental way.
They’re straightforward about options: parenting the child, creating an adoption plan or the reality of abortion.
“We try to get them to slow down and think,” she explains. “This isn’t a short-term fix, it’s a life-long decision.”
If a mother chooses to keep her child, Real Options provides counseling and connections with community organizations to help with parenting skills and resources.
No illusions are sold. It’s challenging, and sometimes the mother is the only parent involved.
But Real Options lets them know someone is there to help after the birth. They work with Chase Oaks’ Real Options Partner Team and One by One ministries. One by One matches the Real Options mom with a Chase Oaks partner team member and trained mentor who offers encouragement, education, emotional and spiritual support through the baby’s first year.
If a mother chooses adoption, they learn about everything from closed adoptions (with little birth parent information given) all the way to open adoptions.
With open adoptions, if everyone agrees, birth moms can become extended members of the adoptive family, sharing in everything from birthday parties to babysitting.
But some women take another path.
A Safe Place
Sara shares that one in four women will have an abortion by the time they’re 45. “That’s across the board — women in church, women out of church. We give them a safe place to talk, lead them through the trauma. Though many in our groups were in college when they had abortions, it’s usually 10-20 years before they come through our bible studies.”
Sara knows the trauma too well. She remembers meeting her husband, Harlin, at Oklahoma State, in marching band.
She initially wasn’t drawn to the six-foot-one sophomore with brown hair and blue eyes. But she got to know him and found he was caring and intense, an all-in kind of guy.
She was distant from her faith at the time and caught up in a culture of partying hard. Things happened. One afternoon, she went to the campus medical clinic. The nurse ran tests, came out, and matter-of-factly asked her, "Do you want to terminate this pregnancy?”
Sara was stunned.
Only God Can Do That
The nurse nonchalantly handed her a list of abortion clinics with locations and pricing. Sara didn’t know what to say; she couldn't believe how easy it was.
She told Harlin. He listened and then said that they should do what she thought was best.
Sara had the procedure, the abortion, thinking it would solve her problems. It didn’t.
They married, had three great kids, and grew stronger in their faith with each one. But the closer Sara walked with God, the more guilt she felt, and it was crushing her. She became angrier and angrier with her husband.
She found her way to Real Options as a volunteer. One evening she spoke to a staff member and, for the first time, shared what happened.
She joined a bible study for women who’d had an abortion, and eventually led the group.
The anger she focused on Harlin turned to healthy grieving. Sara realized God had a plan.
“It amazes me He lets me participate in the ministry of reconciling women to Him, taking something so ugly and using it for His good. Only God can do that,” she said.
Volunteering turned to a full-time position where she’s helped hundreds of women heal.
Many of them young college women.
God Has a Sense of Humor
Parked on the side of the road, Kim morphed into a combination Real Options Patient Advocate and mom.
Her hope was that Em would never need to join Sara’s abortion recovery group.
Kim kept thinking about the advice she gave clients. She would often tell them that she was there to love the women as her sister, as her own daughter. "God has a sense of humor. He wanted me to speak from experience,” she says.
The family encouraged Em to explore all options, but what they didn’t know was that she’d already made an appointment for an abortion. When she realized how far along she was, Em decided that wasn’t an option. “I can’t imagine not choosing life,” Em added.
Now the Brochu house is filled with Caden’s fifteen-month-old energy. Sometimes laughing, sometimes fussy, but always loved. Kim says he’s changed their lives, bringing life to their home, and prompting them to give glory to God for the path they are on. Their lives will never be the same.
For information on Forgiven and Set Free, the abortion recovery group at Chase Oaks, contact Anita Battista at 972-783-8800.