A TALE OF TWO MOTHERS: Andrea Bomberger and Margaret Sanger
History. It’s disposable. How often do we use it to bolster a cause and then quickly discard it when its inconvenient truths call that effort into question? March is Women’s History Month. Americans celebrate the courage and tenacity of those who’ve made the world a better place. We should take the opportunity to pause and intentionally look closer at the totality of these women’s lives. Understanding their motivation, what sustained their passion, and how such indelible marks along the human timeline have been made, is simply powerful.
Here is a tale of two women with amazingly similar beginnings. I’ll allow history to speak for itself so you can see where their chosen journeys have brought them.
My mother, Andrea Bomberger, grew up poor. She had an alcoholic father who was verbally and emotionally abusive to her mother. The marriage was dysfunctional, to say the least, and it put a young girl in a situation of temporary abandonment at the age of five. While her parents split, Andrea was placed in a faith-based home for children called Christ’s Home in Paradise. For nearly a year as her parents tried to sort out their tumultuous relationship, she became, in essence, an orphan. Although Andrea’s parents would visit her separately, at least she had visitors. There was one girl in particular who suffered with physical deformities and for the entire duration never had one visitor. She never had anyone to hug, hold, or tell her that she was loved.
It was in that singular year of separation from home and the security of parents that Andrea found security and peace in a different source—God. She recalls giving her life to the Lord and promising, after witnessing the heartbreak of that sweet little girl who was all alone, that she would be a mommy for those who didn’t have one. Despite the brokenness that surrounded her, my mom’s decision to invite Christ into her life at such a young age kept her hopeful and compassionate. My mom’s parents eventually made their divorce final. Her mom clung to faith in God, which served as a powerful influence in Andrea’s life. But her father’s disdain for both religion and her mother drove him to be unfaithful and eventually into the arms of his wife’s best friend.
That devastation didn’t break my mother. It made her stronger. Her heart for adoption was shared by the man she fell in love with –a kind, fun loving, hard-working father who loves Jesus. After having three biological children, Andrea continued to pursue the promise she had made to God as a little girl in the Children’s home.
That’s when I entered the picture–a biracial baby conceived in rape. My courageous birth mom chose to be stronger than her circumstances. She gave me the opportunity to live and the incredible gift of adoption. I was blessed to be my parents’ first adopted child.
My mom’s father, who had never exhibited any racist behavior to her before, lashed out at the idea of transracially adopting a black child. “You’re going to ruin your family,” he told her with words laced with shocking venom. “Black people can’t think.” It was the last straw for a bitter man who perceived his daughter as having chosen her mother over him. He wanted nothing to do with this family.
My mother, painfully, lost a father in order to gain a son.
Her passion to love the “unwanted” was stronger than her desire to be loved by an absent father. Ten adopted children, mostly biracial, with backgrounds as varied as the hues of our skin, didn’t “ruin” the Bomberger family. All fifteen of us made a unique family, full of love, full of triumph over brokenness, full of Purpose. My mother’s heart for the broken can be seen in my siblings’ and my lives—shattering the myth of the “unwanted” through adoption, caring for those in need, and living out God’s love in quiet yet profound ways.
Margaret Sanger also grew up poor. Her father was an abusive alcoholic who despised religion and failed to provide for his family. Her mother, a devout Catholic, did all she could do to impart faith to her children. She, tragically, died at 50 due to tuberculosis. Sanger had a choice to make. But instead of allowing faith to infuse her life and produce compassion, she declared motherhood was bondage, blamed her mother’s death on forced pregnancy and launched a Birth Control crusade that showed nothing but animosity toward religion.
Of course, today, most of Sanger’s sycophantic advocates try to whitewash her entire history, but her own words and volumes of irrefutable documentation reveal the indisputable truth: Sanger saw misery in human existence and the only way to address this was to eliminate humans. Birth control was merely a euphemism for “race control” or “population control”. Steeped in eugenic racism (as evidenced by a multitude of Sanger’s writings) birth control’s main aim was “nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defective or of those who will become defective.” This declaration in her book, Women and the New Race (Chapter 18) is one of hundreds of examples from Sanger that birth control had nothing to do with women’s rights or providing actual solutions to poverty. It was about crushing unseen Purpose.
Sanger birthed the world’s largest abortion empire, Planned Parenthood. Human life, to her, wasn’t something to be celebrated or seen as full of potential to conquer the odds—it was something to be controlled, despised, and destroyed if it didn’t fit within her prescribed parameters.
Her credo, as found in her manifesto, Woman Rebel, was “The Right to be Lazy. The Right to be an Unmarried Mother. The Right to Destroy. The Right to Create. The Right to Live and the Right to Love.” She died, according to some accounts, addicted to Demerol and alcohol. Few attended her funeral. She was not an empowered woman, but one who was a slave to sexual addiction, continuous marital infidelity, and an elitist mindset that placed her (at least in her own mind) above all others. Though she boasted on the masthead of her magazine, Woman Rebel, “No Gods; No Masters!” she became her own god, shackled by a lifetime of lies, eugenic racism, frequent abandonment of her children, and a lonely passing from this world.
The difference between my mother and Margaret Sanger is simple: God. My mother’s life could have resulted in a path that saw human existence mired in misery. Instead, she saw beautiful Possibility. She didn’t see others as defective but deserving. She didn’t see marriage as a funding source to launch a cause, but a source of security and devoted love to unleash Purpose.
My mother’s life may not be immortalized in history books, but she has made history. She personifies strength, grace, wisdom, and most importantly, love. She (and my father, of course) have rewritten the narrative given to ten children who were wrongly thought to be “unwanted” and “unloved.” Margaret Sanger personified brokenness—a woman who couldn’t see the pieces she was making of millions of lives. Sanger thought her Birth Control Crusade would achieve perfection through elimination. My mom never claimed to want or be perfection, but she was the perfect one for ten adopted children whose lives are still unfolding, whose families are still growing, whose dreams are still coming true, and whose actions of love and compassion will be felt for generations.