A survivor of multiple abortion attempts by her own birth mom and dad is sharing how God used her adoptive parents to teach her the importance of forgiveness and help heal her from within and find peace of mind.
‘The scariest place in the world’
55-year-old, Dawn Milberger and her husband of 21 years live in Central Texas Hill County. She calls her birth mother’s womb, “the scariest place in the world,” because instead of keeping her safe and protected from the evil outside, she was the one who was trying to kill her multiple times.
Milberger was aware from a young age that he was adopted but what she didn’t know was that she was an abortion survivor till age 18. She told The Epoch Times that she gave up a path of resentment and unforgiveness because it was making her more bitter and rendering her useless to God. The devout Christian said, “He can’t build on us if we have unforgiveness on us. Unforgiveness cannot be in the same realm, in the same room, and in the same throne room with our Creator. What I have learned over the years is that peace, trust, and forgiveness are all interlinked,” she said.
Abortion Attempt Survivor
She adds, “It’s not every day that you hear that somebody tried to end your life for seven months when you’re at your most vulnerable. But it’s not new to the one true God. It’s not new to our Creator. He knew the whole time. This is about His mercy in His desire to forgive us, and how we walk that out here on this earth.”
She is using her voice to talk publically about abortion survival, forgiveness, and adoption for the last three decades. When she tells people that she is an “abortion attempt survivor,” they are shocked. “When you tell them that you’re an abortion attempt survivor, 9 times out of 10 the reaction is, ‘I didn’t know that was a thing!’” she said.
She adds, “Usually my response is, ‘Well, you can’t say that anymore, you’re aware of our existence now, and there’s tens of thousands of us around the world.’ We are determined and labeled as failed abortions. So it’s kind of shocking to people. It puts a different reality on people.”
When on one side of Milberger, there was a killer mama, on the other side there was her adoptive mother who she calls her “real mama.” They were rooted in faith and had age-appropriate talks with her revealing she was adopted. “My mother said, ‘You are mine and daddy’s baby doll. Somebody gave you to us, and you are ours now,’” Her mama told her that when she 5-years-old.
“I’ve always known I was adopted,” she said. “I have an older brother who’s adopted as well. It was never kept a secret because you don’t keep anything good a secret. My mom and my dad made it a point to always put a positive spin on it, to let us know the old adage, ‘You are chosen.’”
Such encouraging words were a balm to Milberger’s wounds and not only her, but her parents encouraged the other adopted children in their family also to pray for their birth mother’s “sacrificial relinquishment” of them, which helped make their family complete. “We were just speaking nothing but positively for them, of them, and about them. And that encouragement helped mold respect and honor for our birth parents,” Milberger said.
“My mom always said, ‘Some women are mommies, some women are vessels, some women are both, and some women are neither.’ My birth mother and my brother’s birth mother were vessels called by the one true God to get us here to this earth; our mom was called to take us the rest of the way.”
Evidence of poor choices
The search for her birth mom began when she turned 18, she told her adoptive parents that she wanted to find her birth parents. They supported her decision and she contacted her adoption agency who arranged a reunion in February of 1986. When she met her birth parents, they said their decision was “evidence” of the poor choices they had made in life.
She recalled, “They kept telling [me], ‘We couldn’t shame our families. You were a judgment of our decisions in secret. You were evidence of our sin. You were evidence of our choices, and you couldn’t exist,’” she said. Her birth mom’s first sentences were to ask for forgiveness. She said, “I tried to get rid of you … I didn’t want to be pregnant. I didn’t want to look pregnant. I didn’t want to lose my job. I didn’t want to shame my family. I did everything I knew to try to end your life.”
One of her birth mom’s friends, a nurse, used to administer stolen injections from her doctor’s office to abort the unborn baby, but it didn’t work. “My birth father, who was in the room, stepped up and said, ‘I need to ask for your forgiveness, too. I used her stomach as a punching bag to make you drop. I would give her rough piggyback rides, and I pressed and pushed and did everything I knew to do without hurting her to end your life,’” she recalled.
Forgiveness and mercy
All of that filled her heart with anger towards her birth parents but thank God for her adoptive parents who kept putting her back on the right path, “My precious mom saw the path of anger that I was going down. She pulled that finger and she goes, ‘Stop right there. I love you too much to let you go down this road,’” Milberger said.
One thing that her ‘real mama’ told her touched her heart, “I’m hurt, but I’m not angry,” she said on the reunion day. She sat there and witnessed “two people looking for mercy,” who were at risk of being rejected by Milberger because of sharing how they wanted to abort her. “She was teaching me the difference,” Milberger recalled. “She said, ‘Does this not show you how far away from the Lord they were at that time in their lives? Does that not break your heart? What are you going to do with that?’
“When she redirected my thinking, [saying], ‘You’ve got two people looking for mercy, you better be very careful how you respond to that,’ this overwhelming sense of compassion came over me for them. I was immediately redirected from prideful anger in my pain to compassion for these two people who spent all this time trying to kill me. So it was a huge lesson in forgiveness and mercy.”
Her testimony is not about herself but about the power of God, in keeping her alive and showing her the path of forgiveness and mercy. “It’s not dismissing the pain that it caused—I choose to release that pain to the one true God. And He and I will handle it, but I won’t hold it against [my birth parents]. So it has been a tremendous journey of learning to forgive, and then teaching forgiveness by testimony,” she said.
Peace with God
Milberger knew that God was protecting her all throughout her life. When she was 6 months old, she was found blue in respiratory distress by her grandmother. Twice she almost bled to death from two botched tonsillectomies, she was hit by drunk drivers three times in a two-year span. She says, “I was sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled, and died; I left my body and watched the sexual assault of a serial rapist and murderer, then when he let go of my throat, I reentered my body. I sent him a forgiveness letter in jail,” she said. “Then I was diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy and given two years to live.”
She has received intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) since 1993 to boost her immune system, and with her parents’ support, she did not adopt a victim’s mentality, but got closer to God and was able to forgive easily. “I may have been victimized at one time, but I am not a victim. I’m a victor,” she said. “Forgiveness is not a feeling, it’s a process. You can’t have the peace of God until you have peace with God.”
Her adoptive parents raised her with “good southern wisdom” and as they were older than her peers’ parents, they used their life experiences foe give her strength as an adult; especially her dad. When he was just 9, he lost his mother to a sudden stroke in her sleep and he lost his dad 5 years later. He was sent to live at Father Flannigan’s Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska, till he graduated high school. He then served in the Korean War and when he finished graduating from the University of Alabama, he got a job in Houston and met his future wife there at a church singles’ meet.
After marriage, they tried to conceive but couldn’t, “One of their doctors mentioned adoption,” said Milberger. “It was an ‘aha’ moment for Daddy; he knew what his calling was.” Milberger’s father opened up their family home to students through the University of Houston and gave the students who had nowhere to go during the holidays a place to stay. Milberger said the people who stayed there are “connected forever because of the hospitality that my dad showed.”
Milberger’s adoptive mother passed away due to Alzheimer’s on Feb. 6, 2010, and her dad died on Oct. 10, 2019, from lung cancer. They stayed married for 50 years. But what they taught Milberger about life will stay with them forever, “I started sharing in my local church where I grew up,” she explained. “There were other kids in my youth group who were adopted, and my youth pastor came and asked me if I could speak to them, help redirect them with the direction I was given by my adoptive parents; with their guiding, I was able to guide my peers with the same words.”
She is sharing her testimony everywhere nowadays and always includes the story of her pre-birth. She and her husband don’t have kids of their own, but love doing gardening, cooking, traveling, and each other. They look after “unadoptable” dogs from shelters, and she has founded Gotcha Ministries of Central Texas. She trusts God to rectify the hurts of her past and asks others to do the same as well. “You won’t find true peace until you trust God,” she said. “He will make wrongs right. You’ve got to learn to forgive, and not forget but move forward with the new information that it’s already okay. Let Him take care of the justice.”