At some point in our lives, most of us will face a decision that has the potential to alter the course of our lives and the lives of those around us. Just such a decision faced 13-year-old Ashley after she was raped and became pregnant by her attacker. In an act of courage, she assisted in the prosecution of her rapist and decided her baby wouldn’t be a casualty of his father’s crime. Four years ago, when I received a call regarding this brave young girl who resisted calls to abort her unborn child and move on with her life, I was compelled to find some way to help. This is how I met Ashley, a young woman whose strength and perseverance is and always has been one of her most impressive accomplishments.
At a time when most young teens are attending slumber parties with friends, playing with makeup, and going to the movies, Ashley has spent the last four years caring for Aiden, her son, finishing high school, and becoming a powerful voice in support of the prolife movement. Last year, Ashley came forward to tell her story to the Indiana Senate. Her riveting testimony helped convince the body to pass a law that would sever the parental rights of convicted rapists. Although forced to relive her personal nightmare in front of a room full of strangers, Ashley persevered because she knew that she had to protect not only her son, but other children like him and their mothers who live with the constant fear that their rapists will have access to their children. Her testimony ultimately was a deciding factor in the passage of the bill.
This coming June, Aiden will celebrate his fourth birthday with his mom and extended family by his side. Ashley, now 18, is committed to giving her son the best life she can despite the emotional and financial challenges they face. Over the years, Ashley has struggled emotionally to cope with the aftermath of the rape and raising her son on her own, but she has endured by sheer force of will and determination. She continues to pursue her education while working a part-time job and being a single mom to Aiden. She hopes this summer to have enough money so they can move into a place of their own. Her love for and pride in Aiden shines in her eyes when she speaks about her son.
“He is very full of energy, very talkative, and knows his colors, numbers and his ABCs,” said Ashley. “He loves Power Rangers, Batman, Superman, dinosaurs, and motorcycles, but his favorite is zombies.”
Aiden, who is 36 pounds and over three feet tall is by all accounts a well-adjusted and happy toddler.
“He is such a lady’s man and flirts with all the girls anywhere they go,” Ashley continued. “He loves babies and playing with his cousins and uncles.”
Ashley credits her parents and extended family and friends for helping her through a difficult time, and she is appreciative of the support of those who’ve reached out to her and Aiden.
“I am very grateful to my parents for helping me with all they could over the last four years,” Ashley said. “I am very thankful for everyone who has donated and continues to keep up with us. I don’t know where I would be without Monica and her family. I am so very blessed.”
Aiden is a living, breathing example of the beauty that can come of tragedy when a mother courageously and unselfishly choose life for her unborn child. Every day in this movement we find ourselves helping young women with basic needs and support for unintended pregnancies. Through Ashley and Aiden’s story, supporters from all over the country came forward to provide for a courageous young girl and her son, making it easier for her to move forward and build a life. Ashley didn’t ask to be a mom at the tender age of 13, but she didn’t let that stop her from being one. We can learn a lot from Ashley and Aiden about the precious nature and purpose of each human life and the sacrifices often made to protect and nurture that life. Christ has big plans for Ashley and Aiden, and I am eager to see what He has in store for them.