Ryan Bomberger is passionate about his work against abortion and for adoption, but he doesnt come at the subjects from a philosophical point of view. Instead, he said, its very personal.
Conceived when his 21-year-old birth mother was raped, he was adopted when he was 6 weeks old into a family that ended up with three biological children and 10 adopted children from different racial backgrounds. Hes never met his birth mother and doesnt even know her first name, but said hes very thankful she did the courageous thing to go through nine months of pregnancy after the traumatic sexual assault to give him life and allow him to be adopted into a loving home.
Her courage showed that beauty can rise from the ashes of something so unspeakable, he said. He calls his birth mother and his adoptive parents his heroes.
The Virginia resident will bring his message to a fundraising event for Bethany Christian Services on May 8 at the Gallo Center for the Arts. Bomberger, 42, has partnered with Bethany to do some promotional ads with the tag line, Turn the unplanned into a loving plan, referring to crisis pregnancies that can lead to a birth mom choosing adoptive parents. Its a choice that somehow, he said, has become almost taboo in our society, with people putting down women who give up their children to adoption.
I want to dispel some of the myths that surround adoption and open peoples hearts and minds to adopt, or support adoption, Bomberger said. Id like to encourage people to step in and be part of a culture that supports this beautiful and loving act.
His life as an adopted son, he said, made him realize the value of it.
I was adopted into a family full of love, a lot of faith, to amazing parents, he said. People often ask me why Im pro-life. Seeing the compassion of my parents, its just natural for me.
He and his wife, Bethany, have a heart for adoption and for young women facing unplanned pregnancy. Before they married, Bethany was a single mom of a 1-year-old, having left an abusive relationship, Bomberger said. He adopted her daughter, and the couple have added two biological children and an adopted son since then.
They also founded The Radiance Foundation, which exists to inspire people to embrace their intrinsic value and live a life of meaning, according to its website, www.theradiancefoundation.org. Radiance is their oldest daughters middle name, coming from the Bible verse in Psalm 34:5 Those who look to him are radiant. Their faces are never covered with shame.
The nonprofit organization advocates for adoption, has a ministry called Sallys Lambs for birth mothers, puts up billboards and creates multimedia platforms to fight abortion, and encourages education on topics such as fatherlessness, poverty, educational choices and pop culture.
Working with Alveda King, niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and other national black leaders, the foundation began a program called toomanyabortions.com that sponsored billboards in Atlanta in 2010 that read, Black Children Are An Endangered Species. Bomberger said that in New York City, for example, for every 1,000 black babies who are born, there are 1,489 abortions. Billboards in Oakland read, Black & Beautiful. In Sacramento, they read, Fatherhood Begins in the Womb.
The billboards provoked a storm of criticism, he said, and led to coverage by The New York Times, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, MSNBC and The Associated Press, among others.
Ive never seen such horrific news coverage in my life, he said. The Oakland media said that we were blatantly racist.
Its a claim that Bomberger, who is half-black, denies. We wanted to wake up black leaders to deal with this epidemic of abortion, he said. We really try to give people the other side of the story. What abortion says to women is: Youre not strong enough. You cant overcome this. We want to express to people that every human life has purpose.
Bomberger, who has won an Emmy Award for his work on a documentary featuring extraordinary missionaries around the world, said hes written a song, Meant to Be, that hed like to sing to his own birth mother some day. Part of the lyrics say:
Though you went through so much such pain,
Your tears, they were not in vain;
Although you could not see
What God had planned for me,
I know I was meant to be.
He said hes not obsessed with finding his birth mother and doesnt much like the emphasis with which the media often portrays such reunions. Nor does he like some terminology used, such as real mother or real siblings.
Even some of my relatives referred to my parents three (biological) children as real siblings. I understand there is some compulsion among adopted children to find a blood relative, he said. I have enough siblings; I have no desire to find more of them. In the same way, he added, he doesnt feel a need to find his birth mother to develop a close relationship with her.
But, he added, I know she went through a traumatic experience. She couldnt possibly know what kind of life I would live. She couldnt know about how I would grow up, about my wife, my children. Her one decision (to carry me to term) made all of this possible. Thats why I would hopefully like to meet her one day. The joy would be incredible, to be able to thank her.
Bomberger said hed like to tell young women who are facing unplanned pregnancies that they are not alone and that there are many resources available. What many young women dont see is that adoption is a loving parenting choice, as well: I cant provide the best environment for the child right now, but Im going to make a parenting plan.
My four kids are here, at least two of them biologically, because of the incredible decision by my biological mom. Adoption is a win-win-win situation. Its not an easy thing, but it is a beautiful thing. Were good friends with a number of birth moms who have made those loving plans for their children and were able to move on. People dont hear those stories enough.
When asked what message he plans to leave with his Modesto audience, he said, This is probably too simplistic, but hope. When people hear my story about the horrible situation of being born as a result of rape and being adopted, theyll realize a child can always rise above tragedy. Thats really what I want to get across.
Of course, its a Bethany Christian Services event, and Im very passionate about adoption and what it unleashes: Love and hope and purpose.
Bee staff writer Sue Nowicki can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2012.