ASHWAUBENON — If Katie Polasky could speak to her birth mother, she would express her gratitude.
“I would tell her that I’m thankful that she gave me such an amazing family,” said Katie, the daughter of Doug and Amy Polasky. “If I could ever see her in person, I would thank her for what she did. She gave me a life; she gave me hope and a chance.”
Katie, 12, a seventh grade student at Notre Dame Middle School in De Pere, was born in Guatemala. Her birth mother, whose name is Kelita, chose adoption to find a safe place for her child. While she cannot speak to Kelita at this time, Katie did recently share her gratitude in writing.
The 2018 Culture of Life Essay Contest, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, Wisconsin State Council, was introduced in her language arts class. The contest theme was “How has abortion negatively impacted the American economy?” Katie admits, with a smile, that she departed from the theme. Instead, she told her personal story.
In her essay, titled “It’s Not Their Choice,” Katie writes about how her most important life choice was made by a woman whom she doesn’t remember. Abortions are illegal in Guatemala, but still happen. Katie believes that due to her birth mother’s faith, abortion was never an option.
“She was a strong Catholic,” she explained about Kelita. “She was close to God and didn’t want anyone to hurt me.”
In her essay, Katie wrote, “I think a lot of people who choose abortion don’t realize that abortion kills an actual person.”
“One thing that really strikes Katie is (that) the child is defenseless and relies entirely on the mother,” said Amy, Katie’s adoptive mother. “She doesn’t understand why abortion exists and how it could be legal. She thinks that people don’t understand it. ‘It’s a human being. Why would (her birth mother choose abortion)? She is Catholic.’”
Her essay was read in front of the entire school. It was also shared on WTAQ News Talk by radio host Joe Giganti, a Notre Dame School parent.
“I’m very surprised that it has been a big hit with people all over,” said Katie.
She admits that she was somewhat hesitant at first to open up about her life in writing. Before completing the essay, she and Amy viewed the film, “Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer.” The film is about Kermit Gosnell, a physician and abortion provider in Philadelphia who was convicted of murder in the deaths of three infants born alive. Seeing the film contributed to Katie’s willingness to share her story.
“Some people have never seen this side of me telling my own story,” she said. “When my mom (Amy) was talking about it, she said that ‘Maybe there is a person who is thinking about having an abortion who would change her mind because of this essay.’”
“I don’t think she understands everybody’s emotional response to it, because she is just telling her story,” said Amy. “I said to her, ‘Honey, somebody could be listening and you might have saved a baby’s life. You never know.’”
Her brother, Joey, 15, a student at Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay, was also born in Guatemala. Both were fostered by a woman affectionately known as “Momma Anna.” The Polaskys, members of Nativity of Our Lord Parish, Ashwaubenon, remain in contact with their foster mother.
“She’s an angel,” said Amy about Anna. “She is able to get photos of Katie’s siblings in Guatemala. Katie stays in touch through social media with her foster sister (Anna’s granddaughter), who is in law school. Anna has 22 grandchildren and six children of her own. Joey was her 22nd foster child. Katie was like her 30th.”
Katie received an additional affirmation of her birth mother’s love. The adoption process took more than a year. When she came home at 15 months, her ears were pierced.
“If you see a baby with pierced ears in Guatemala, it means someone loves them,” explained Amy. “Her birth mother would see her. She would go to meetings at the U.S. Embassy with her foster mother. (Kelita) would hug Katie and say, ‘She is so beautiful.’ Anna knows her and they are still in touch.
“We know from (Anna) that Katie’s birth mom is extremely kind, very devout and a sweet woman,” she added.
Katie would like to return to Guatemala someday, but recognizes that it’s currently unsafe.
“I have a new baby brother, born last month,” said Katie about her family in Guatemala. “I have two older siblings. I’m in the middle. I have one younger sister and now a baby brother. Sometimes I wonder, when I haven’t seen photos, what they look like. Do they look like me? I wonder what their life is like. It’s very different from ours.”
Katie enjoys sports, time with friends, service, arts and crafts, and singing. She is a member of the GRACE (Green Bay Area Catholic Education) St. Cecilia Choir. She expects to participate in the essay contest again next year. She closed this year’s essay with a message about abortion.
“I don’t understand why abortion is legal here, or anywhere,” she wrote. “Parents should be able to choose where their kids go to school and what they eat and even what they wear. But they shouldn’t be able to choose if their child lives or dies. That choice is up to God.”