20-Year-Old Pregnant from Rape Refuses to Abort Baby And Gives Him New Life

In the face of adversity, it takes an immense strength of spirit and a heart full of faith to turn an act of evil into an act of love. Kathleen Folan, a college junior who became pregnant from a horrific act of rape, found the courage within her deep Christian faith to acknowledge the precious life developing inside her.

kathleen folan adoption story

Raised in a devout Catholic home in Spokane, Washington, Kathleen has always held faith as her guiding light. She grew up dreaming of a future that included college, a successful career, marriage, and children. Her vision, however, was brutally interrupted when she was raped by an acquaintance.

“Little did I know, I was walking into harm’s way,” she recalls. When she later discovered she was pregnant, shock washed over her. But she also knew, “a life, a human being, who would have his first breath, first smile, first steps, first day of kindergarten, and all the amazing mysteries that life has to offer was inside of me!”

Kathleen’s faith led her to see the innocent life growing inside her not as an unwanted consequence, but as a sacred trust. “God entrusted him to me for some reason, and I had to figure out the best life possible for him.”

Despite the unimaginable circumstances, Kathleen chose life over abortion. “Abortion was never an option for us,” she asserts, standing firm in her belief that every life, from the moment of conception, holds inherent value and dignity. She also rejected the notion that rape should grant an exception to terminate a pregnancy. “Killing the unborn child doesn’t take the rape away but adds the guilt of a mother knowing she destroyed the life inside her.”

Kathleen’s own mother, an adoptee herself, served as a beacon of strength and hope. Kathleen vividly recalls her mother’s story and how her birth mother attempted to abort her three times. “We all thank God abortion was illegal in 1945, or she and her children would not have existed,” she said.

Faced with the monumental decision of adoption, Kathleen sought God’s guidance, and after much contemplation, she found a family that shared her faith and values. Barry and Liz Sullivan, from Maryland, Washington, were chosen to be the adoptive parents of Kathleen’s son, Nathan, a name that means “a gift from God.”

The day Kathleen placed Nathan in Liz’s arms, she felt a profound sense of loss, but also a deep peace. She knew that Nathan was exactly where he was meant to be. “I sobbed such a cry of loss, and through tears [Liz] uttered, ‘Thank you,’ like I have never heard before.”

Over time, Kathleen found healing and grace. She met her future husband, Luis, at college. They bonded over their shared faith and values, and Luis was deeply moved by Kathleen’s story. “At that moment, in his mind, he said he was going to marry me. … I had been worried I would never find a good Catholic man who would want to marry me since I had had a baby but instead I found a man who loved me because of my decision, not despite it.”

Years later, Kathleen’s relationship with her birth son continues to blossom. She insists that women are stronger than they are often given credit for, and encourages all expectant mothers, regardless of their circumstances, to embrace the life growing within them.

“Love this baby, and know that he or she is meant to be in this world,” Kathleen said. “Do everything in your power to give him the best life possible, whether that be through raising that baby yourself, or placing it with a loving family that longs for and will love your child so much, and will love you in return.”

Nathan, now a successful software engineer, has become a testament to the strength and grace of his birth mother’s decision. He highlights, “My mother’s story, and my story, shows that the decisions that she made didn’t have to mean that her life was derailed. Did it change it? Sure. But she had the strength, and was given the grace, to pick up the pieces and move on and move forward.”

Indeed, Kathleen’s journey wasn’t without trials. The aftermath of her decision brought about a season of grief and struggle. But her faith never wavered. She once said, “Without my relationship with God, I don’t think I could have been at ‘so much peace’ about my decision.”

Today Kathleen lives with her loving husband and their three children. She is now the director of family and youth ministries at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in San Francisco, California.

“I never could have dreamed that our story would turn out so beautifully,” Kathleen reflects. “I would find a husband greater than the man of my dreams, that we would have our own three beautiful children, and that my boys would become so close to Nathan.”