An adopted woman has revealed how she was told she had survived the abortion that had killed her twin brother when she met her birth mother for the first time.
Mother-of-three Claire Culwell from Austin, Texas, was born to teenager mother Tonya Glasby, who was just 13 when she fell pregnant.
Glasby, now 47, assumed she was pregnant with just one child but doctors found that she had been expecting twins after she continued to feel movement a month after the termination.
Culwell survived the abortion attempt, although she weighed just 3lbs and was born two months’ prematurely with dislocated hips and club feet.
The 30-year-old, who has two adopted children and one biological child, says she was left staggered when she heard Glasby’s dramatic confession – when they reunited for the first time.
Claire Culwell, a mother-of-three from Austin, Texas, has shared her remarkable story of how she learned from her birth mother, Tonya Glasby, that she had lived despite an attempt to abort her life
‘This is what it looks like to survive an abortion’ Culwell has shared this photo to her Instagram showing her shortly after her birth. While her twin brother died following the abortion attempt, she survived and was born two months’ early with dislocated hips and club feet
After being adopted at two months’ old by her parents Barbara and Warren Culwell, Culwell began to thrive – although the damage done to her body in the womb ensured health problems throughout her early childhood.
Her parents had adopted her believing that she’d simply been born early to a teenager mother, with no hint of the real story offered to them.
She told Fabulous Magazine: ‘I weighed just 3lbs at birth, having been born two months early and my hips on both sides were dislocated. My feet were both turned in. I was on life support for months.’
After growing up in a happy home, she was always given a positive story about her birth mother, being told frequently by her adoptive parents that she was a always ‘wanted’ baby.
At 20, Culwell decided that she wanted to meet her birth mother and, after several months tracking her down via an adoption agency, the family decided together that they should have a face-to-face reunion – unaware of the dramatic confession about to be made.
Claire Culwell, pictured with her biological daughter, Sadie-June, six, first met her biological mother Tonya, now 47, at the age of 21 after tracking her down via an adoption agency
Ahead of her first meeting with her birth mother, Culwell had written a card, saying that she was grateful to her mother for giving birth to her – the note prompted a confession about the abortion
Forgiveness: Culwell says she understands why her birth mother acted in the way she did, saying: ‘She was only 13’ and forgave her as soon as she heard the story
In March 2009, Culwell, by now 21, met her mother for the first time at the house of a friend in Texas.
The highly emotional meeting went well, with Culwell sharing photos of her childhood and thanking her for giving birth to her. She’d written a card to her birth mother in advance, saying: ‘Thank you for choosing life for me… it’s the greatest gift I’ve ever received.’
After Glasby read the card, she broke down and began to confess the real story of Culwell’s birth, revealing that she was just 13 when she fell pregnant and that after telling her family, they had decided she must have a termination.
She told the family that she had been unaware that she’d been expecting twins and when the abortion took place at five months, Culwell’s twin brother didn’t survive.
When she realised Culwell had survived, Glasby was now six months’ pregnant and travelled to a different state to try and have a second abortion – but doctors deemed it too risky and the pregnancy continued to the seventh month, when Culwell was born.
Of the shock confession, Culwell said she ‘felt like I was in a movie’…but didn’t hesitate to reassure her birth mother that she had forgiven her already.
The mother and daughter are now still in touch. Glasby said meeting her daughter had been ‘amazing’, and that ‘forgiveness is a wonderful thing.’
Culwell says the experience has given her ‘purpose’ and she now has two adopted children of her own, Elijah, 10, Lita, nine and a biological daughter, Sadie-June, six.