A Walkerton, Ontario woman’s decision 22 years ago to carry an unplanned pregnancy to term is today paying tremendous dividends in terms of happiness and personal fulfillment.

The story of Jeannie Hedley and her biological son Greg Tremblay is a valuable reminder of the role of adoption as a life-affirming alternative to abortion.

In the late summer of 1973, 17 year-old Jeannie looked forward to a date with a man several years her senior. Eager to keep this man as a boyfriend, Jeannie overcame her reluctance and bowed to pressure to have sex. When later she discovered she was pregnant, the boyfriend was nowhere to be found.

“My memories of that time are a little hazy,” Jeannie said with understandable understatement. Alone and afraid, Jeannie kept her secret for seven months, until the evidence of her condition could no longer be concealed.

Eventually, her parents took her out of high school and arranged for intervention by a sympathetic case worker from the local Children’s Aid Society. Despite some awkwardness and embarrassment, Jeannie at no time considered abortion as a way out. She gave birth to her son in May, 1974 and decided it best to give the child up for adoption. The only condition she asked for was that the adoptive parents be Catholic.

In Jeannie’s words, “I wanted him to have a ‘normal’ life with two parents who would love him and provide more for him than I felt I ever could. Abortion was never mentioned…and I never knew there was such a thing.”

Picking up the pieces of a rocky adolescence, Jeannie found a job with a local hardware manufacturer. A photograph of her son at age five months was her only reminder of a short-lived motherhood.

Although she admitted to having no “driving need” to learn more about the son she gave up for adoption, her Children’s Aid Society worker would occasionally provide tidbits of “non-identifying information.”

Little did Jeannie know that hundreds of miles away, young Greg Tremblay of North Bay, Ontario, was growing curious about his biological mother. Encouraged by his adoptive parents, Greg applied to the province’s Adoption Disclosure Registry. With the help of Jeannie’s case worker, the two parties exchanged letters and arranged a get-together in Walkerton this August.

“At our first reunion, I knew that my prayers head been answered,” Jeannie said. “Greg seemed like the perfect son, and this I knew was a reflection of the excellent upbringing his adoptive parents had given him. We looked at lots of pictures and at Greg’s baby book and talked about the circumstances of his birth.”

Greg and Jeannie met again in November during the Alliance for Life convention in North Bay. Jeannie is vice-president of the Walkerton and District Right to Life group and the Trembleys are supporters of northern Ontario pro-life activity. During the November visit, the Trembleys invited Jeannie into their home where they reminisced on Greg’s life through photographs and videos. Later Greg took Jeannie on a tour of his home town, including a visit to Nippissing University where Greg is in his fourth year of English Literature studies.

Greg keenly appreciates the gift of loving parents, and each day his life is a bold declaration of the life-affirming role of adoption. With the blessing of his parents, Greg intends to make room for Jeannie in his life. “It’s almost as if I have two families now,” he said.

For her part, Jeannie urges young people to remember chastity and self-control in response to today’s pressure for premarital sex. “Practice chastity and a positive, realistic lifestyle, using sexual self-control out of respect for yourself and your partner,” she said.

(This is the first of a series of adoption-related articles to appear in The Interim. Through these articles, The Interim hoped to become a reference centre for young women facing crisis pregnancies, particularly those concerned about finding a good home for their children. These women or their family members or friends can contact The Interim and we will attempt to put them in touch with social workers, lawyers and agencies for life-affirming assistance. Readers are asked to keep an eye open for woman who might benefit from this new Interim initiative)