I’ve just returned from the local movie theater, where Terri and I watched October Baby the new movie by Jon and Andrew Erwin. Jon and many of the others who worked behind the scenes on the movie have also been a part of Sherwood Pictures. Provident Films made a wise decision in being behind this movie.
It was obvious there was wise counsel in the writing. The “feminine touch” in the writing added a powerful dimension to the script. This is a heart movie. It pulls at your heart. Theresa Preston, who co-wrote the script, did an excellent job. Jon and Andrew are to be commended for how they have crafted all this into a cinematic benchmark. Every movie dealing with the issue of adoption and abortion will have to look back on October Baby as the standard.
This is the kind of movie our culture desperately needs. It is honest and deals with a painful and often divisive issue in a graceful way. I cannot imagine anyone, regardless of the budget or cast, doing a better job. Let me be clear, the movie is enlightening, encouraging, and edifying. I would consider it a must see movie for every teenager and parent. It should be recommended by every pastor and priest in our land. There is power in this movie that can only be explained by the hand of God upon it.
From a purely movie making standpoint, it is stunning in its cinematography. It is well shot, well edited, and well written, and the acting is superior. The characters are believable. It’s as powerful a movie as any I’ve ever seen. There was humor, but, more importantly, the movie touched a deep chord in my heart. I found myself wiping away tears during much of the movie.
The message hits close to home. If you don’t know my story, you may not understand. Without going into all the details, the young lady in the movie found out she was adopted when she was a teenager. I found out I was adopted when I was 39. She was angry at her parents for not telling her. I can still remember the anger I felt with my parents for not telling me. I found out in a bizarre way that caused me to go into the tank and to be filled with anger. It took me a long time to come to grips with all of this and to find victory in it.
I found myself, twenty years after learning of my adoption, reliving those emotions as I watched the movie. Not the anger, but identifying with the anger. I had “been there, done that.” I knew exactly what the girl was going through because I had felt the same thing. I knew the struggle because I had the same struggles.
For the longest time, I was angry with my parents for not telling me. Then, to top it off, a woman who knew my birth mother refused to tell me who she was or where she lived. I tried to write my birth mother a letter and tell her who I was, tell her I was grateful she didn’t abort me, and tell her about her two grandchildren, Erin and Hayley. I didn’t get that chance. The letter was returned to me, unopened.
I never got to resolve the issue with my parents. Of course, I was born and adopted at a time when you didn’t talk about adoption. Although it seemed everyone in my home church knew I was adopted except me, I was never told. Through an amazing and bizarre, set of circumstances, my wife found out and had the painful responsibility of telling me one night.
When I discovered the extent to which my parents had gone to hide the facts from me, I was at a loss for how to ever talk to them. The details are boring, but suffice it to say it was, at some level, deceptive. I’ve often asked myself, “Why? What harm would it have done to tell me?” Then I thought about the line in the movie when the adoptive dad said, “I wanted to tell you, but days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and years…” I guess that’s what happened to my folks too…but they never told me.
I don’t think their failure to tell me was malice, but more out of fear. So, for lack of honesty, my parents lived their days in fear. Fear that I would find out. Fear that I would reject them. Fear that I would discover who my birth mom really was. How many parents have lived with fear because of a failure to be honest?
I was born in Jackson County Hospital in Pascagoula, Mississippi, just 29 miles from Mobile, Alabama, where part of October Baby was filmed. The birth records are long gone. The chances I’ll ever know all the facts are slim to none.
I was born on December 25, although my birth certificate has been revised so I doubt if that was my actual birthday. I think my parents saw me as a Christmas gift to them, since they were unable to have children, and had the official date of birth changed by a judge.
My middle name is the name of the doctor who delivered me. He was our family doctor. He’s been dead for a long time and all his records are gone. Believe me, we’ve explored all possible avenues. About all I know about my birth mom is that she was an airline stewardess and that our daughter Erin (according to some who know what my birth mom looked like) looks just like her.
I would love to have the opportunity to say to the woman who gave birth to me, “Thanks for not having a back alley abortion. Thanks for giving me up for adoption. God worked it all for good. I love you for giving me life, and I thank you for loving me enough to give me up for adoption.” I truly love a woman I’ve never met.
I wish I had the opportunity to have the resolution with my parents on this issue. Both died rather suddenly, and I was never able to get release from the Lord to talk to them about it in their declining years. The scene at the end where the daughter and dad get it right is something I’ll not be able to do this side of heaven. I am grateful for being placed in a Christian home. I am grateful for parents who wanted me when my birth mom didn’t, or couldn’t.
Only my wife and Jesus know the pain I have felt through the years. The movie is about an October baby. I was a December baby. For the first time in my life, I do feel like someone captured on film much of what I’ve wrestled with deep in my soul over these years. While the stories are not identical, there were so many reminders in this film of where I’ve been.
Like the young girl at the end of the film, I continue to walk forward, but glance over my shoulder tonight with gratitude for a heavenly Father who has guided my path and loved me unconditionally. I look back and thank God for parents who loved me, even though they often didn’t know how to tell me. I’m grateful for people who loved me and prayed me through the process of dealing with my pain. I’m grateful for a wife who listened to me and was patient with me as I wrestled with my emotions. I’m grateful that God blessed me with two incredible daughters.
Finally, I’m more committed than ever to our Alpha Crisis Pregnancy Center and our ministry to unwed mothers. I’m more committed than ever to the unborn. As the nurse in the movie says to the young girl, “They told me it was just unviable tissue.” And then she says something like, “but when you heard the sounds I heard and saw what I saw…” As one who was spared from abortion, I hear the cries of the unborn. As long as God gives me breath, I will not be silent for those who never had an opportunity to speak for themselves.
I am more than viable tissue. Jeremiah says, that God knew me before I was in my mother’s womb. Mom, wherever you are, if you ever read this, I was no accident. God had a plan for you and for me. Thank you for not having an abortion. Thank you for loving me enough to give me breath. I hope that one day you will see and know how God has used all this for His glory.
(copyright 2012, Michael Catt)
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.