Rebecca Wasser-Kiessling is an attorney who has litigated numerous high profile cases fighting for women’s rights, as well as the rights of the unborn children. Rebecca travels around the country participating in presentations on behalf of Crisis Pregnancy Centers and other pro-life organizations. She has been interviewed on international, national, local television and radio, in which she speaks about the need for the sanctity of life. The following interview is a combination of the one given at Congregation Shema Yisrael on May 12th, 2001, and by email.
Rabbi Loren: Rebecca, tell us about yourself.
Rebecca: I’ve been married to Robert for about three years. We live in Rochester Hills, Michigan. We have a young son that we have adopted, Caleb. Our adopted daughter, Cassandra Grace, was born with a genetic disorder and died in our arms at 33 days old. I myself was adopted by a nice Jewish family and grew up in the Detroit area. I went to Hebrew school and became a Bat Mitzvah. When I was 10 years old, I saw the musical based on Little Orphan Annie, and that stimulated me to begin thinking about my birth mother. That began my search for my identity, meaning and purpose.
Rabbi Loren: Seeing “Annie” stimulated you to find out more about your own birth mother?
Rebecca: Yes. I hadn’t really thought about my birth mother. When I was really young I sort of thought that I was “adopted” instead of “born.” My parents told me that I was adopted and chosen, so I thought that my parents called up God and placed an order for me, that there was a room full of babies, and they went and picked me up.
Rabbi Loren: How old were you when your search for your birth mother began?
Rebecca: When I was in middle school I demanded that my parents tell me who the lawyer was who handled my adoption. When I called him, he told me I had to wait until I was 18 to find out any information. So, on my 18th birthday, I called him again and was told to call the court. I called the court and requested my information, and was told that I could only get “non-identifying information” and that I would never be able to meet my birth mother.
Rabbi Loren: That didn’t sound too promising. Then what happened?
Rebecca: I got my non-identifying information several months later. It gave a lot of information about my birth mother – eye color, hair color, height, weight, age of my siblings, grandparents, my birth mother’s occupation and educational level. But for my father, all it said that he was Caucasian and of a large build. A week later I called my caseworker and asked her, “Was my mom raped?” And she said, “Yes.”
Rabbi Loren: Why would you even ask that question?
Rebecca: Because the non-identifying information had all this information about my birth mother, and almost no information about my biological father. I thought, “Goodness, you couldn’t even say what his eye color was, or hair color, or anything?” I thought that it was really unusual; and “Caucasian” and “of a large build” sounds like a police description.
Rabbi Loren: So you got suspicious that your biological father might have raped your mother and called your caseworker. What was her response?
Rebecca: She said, “Yes – I didn’t want to tell you.” I was devastated because I had learned that socially deviant behavior was supposed to be genetic. I thought, “Who would ever love me? Who would want to marry someone like me, because I’ve got bad genes?” I also thought: “My birth mother must hate me. She probably wanted to abort me. She’s never going to want to meet me.” To make things worse, I thought of all those people who would say, “abortion is wrong except in cases of rape and incest.” I felt like at least half the world was against me.
Rabbi Loren: What happened next?
Rebecca: I thought about things for awhile and determined that if I could just meet her, and hear that she didn’t want to abort me, or that there was some mistake, I could feel safe and good about myself. So I pushed my caseworker and, after awhile, she told me that I could write a letter to the judge, requesting his permission to allow my caseworker contact my birth mother and see if she wanted to meet me – and it worked! My letter went to the judge and then, my birth mother got a message from my uncle that I was trying to find her, and she called and wanted to meet me!
Rabbi Loren: Then what happened?
Rebecca: First we spoke on the phone, and she filled me in on some of the horrible details surrounding my conception. It was a brutal rape. She was 4 feet 10 inches – really petite – and on her way to the store, and this man jumped out the bushes, abducted her at knife point, and brutally raped her. That’s how I was conceived.
Rabbi Loren: What did she decide to do?
Rebecca: A few weeks after meeting her, I got up the courage to ask her about abortion, and she told me that, if it had been legal, she would have aborted me. Several years later I found out that she actually went to two back alley abortionists, and I was almost killed.
Rabbi Loren: She tried to have an abortion? Or she just consulted with them?
Rebecca: Twice she was actually scheduled to have an abortion. The first time she walked in there ready to do it, but it had those typical back alley conditions that you hear about… blood and dirt all over the table and floor. That caused her to back out. Then, on the second attempt, she was supposed to meet someone by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Someone was supposed to approach her, say her name, blindfold her, put her in the back seat of a car, then take her to the abortionist, abort me, then blindfold her again and drop her back off. But providentially, the day she was going to have me aborted, the worst snowstorm of the century in the Detroit Metro area began that morning, and it snowed for days and days, and the roads were blocked for weeks, and that was it. It was God’s “mandatory waiting period.”
Rabbi Loren: So, the fact that abortion was illegal and inconvenient before 1973 saved your life? If it was legal, easy and convenient, like it is now, you would have died in your mother’s womb? That sounds like one very good reason why abortion should be illegal. Tell us how you came to know Messiah Yeshua.
Rebecca: I first heard about the Messiah when I was 15. A classmate invited me to a special youth event, and for the first time I heard the message about the Messiah explained, and I believed! When my parents found out about my new faith in Yeshua, my mom took me to see the rabbi who had immersed me in the mikvah (pool of water for the purpose of baptism) when I was three years old. The rabbi told me that I had no choice – I was made Jewish, and I couldn’t change my beliefs.
Rabbi Loren: You couldn’t believe in Yeshua? Did you accept the rabbi’s explanation?
Rebecca: No. I thought that sounded quite ridiculous. The truth was irrelevant and I had no choice what to believe? Unfortunately, after nine months I lost my ride to church and drifted away from God. I ended up spending some of the toughest years of my life, away from God, away from the fellowship of other Christians, on my own, doing things my way – the world’s way. Needless to say, I got myself into quite a bit of trouble.
Rabbi Loren: How did the Lord turn your life around?
Rebecca: Before Yeshua called me back to Him, while I was still astray, I had thought, “If I could just find someone who would love me, and if I could prove to the world that I shouldn’t have been aborted, by making myself attractive and successful, then people would say, ‘Oh, it’s so obvious that Rebecca shouldn’t have been aborted,’ and then I could feel good about myself.” Not being firmly rooted in Christ, I settled in dysfunctional relationships until Law School, when a guy wound up beating me up so badly that he broke my jaw and left my front tooth hanging loose in my mouth. It was after I tried doing things my way, “the world’s way,” which ended in disaster, that the Lord called me back to Himself. God sent one person after another into my life. It was as if they were at every fork in the road saying, “Come this way, here’s the narrow path.” I’ve been back with the Lord for eight years.
Rabbi Loren: What has God done in your life in the past eight years?
Rebecca: God sent me a godly man who honored me throughout our courtship. Before we were engaged, we agreed that adopting children was something we felt called to do. Last year, a few days before her baby was due, my husband and I learned of a 16 year old girl who had decided to place her child for adoption. We brought home our adopted son Caleb when he was a day old. What’s really interesting is that Caleb was also conceived out of a rape. He was conceived from a date-rape drug given by an 18 year old to Caleb’s mother at a rave party. The birth mother only knew the man’s first name, and never saw him again. What are the odds of that happening, my mother raped, me given up for adoption, and I wind up adopting a child whose mother was also raped? But now that I have come to know God and the Messiah, I will be able to give my son a great legacy – not that he’s a child of rape, but a child of God, and that there’s no stigma in being adopted. In the New Testament we are told that it’s in the spirit of adoption that we’re called to be God’s children through the Messiah. God must have thought highly of adoption to use that as a picture of His love for us. I searched for my value for many years in the wrong places. But if my son wants to know what his value is, he doesn’t have to repeat my mistakes. Now I am able to teach him that all he has to do is look to the Cross on which Yeshua died, because that’s the incredible price that was paid for him. That’s the great value that God placed on his life.
Rabbi Loren: How do you feel about yourself these days?
Rebecca: One of the greatest things I have learned is that the rapist is not my creator. My self-esteem, my value is firmly rooted in God. I am honored that He is using me as a Pro-Life attorney and as an adopted mother. My husband and I adopted a little girl who died last September, but it was a privilege to be there for her short life. I feel honored that God has used me, but I know my value isn’t linked to the things that I’ve done. My real worth comes from being part of His creation, and one of His adopted daughters.
Rabbi Loren: What would you say to a young woman who is considering having an abortion?
Rebecca: I would speak the truth to a young woman who is considering having an abortion, that this is a horrific thing and that there are all sorts of things in the aftermath that she may not be aware of, and there are lots of reasons for her not to choose abortion. There are physical consequences – for example, there is a link between breast cancer and abortion. There are emotional consequences – Post-Abortion Syndrome can be horrific. There are spiritual consequences – abortion is murder and it will not go unpunished. And I would tell her that there are positive reasons to keep the child alive, even in a case of rape. Glamour Magazine did an article called, “My Father’s a Rapist.” Eight of us were profiled, and what was interesting to me was that each one of our mothers expressed what Glamour Magazinecalled the “stunning fact” that they were able to overcome their hatred for the rapist by finding joy in their love for their daughters. Giving birth to the child was part of the healing process for each one who was raped. Killing the child by abortion would have been the wrong course of action, and would have only added more hurt, guilt and pain. Abortion is never right, even in the case of rape or incest. My very existence is vivid testimony to that.