Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 3/28/2020 – Laura Lynn Hughes is the Author of Choose Zoe: A story of Unplanned Parenthood and Case for Life. Pregnant at fifteen, and choosing to keep her child, Laura knew that her life would never be the same.She is a mother of five and grandmother of eleven. She is a volunteer at her local Alpha Pregnancy Clinic and Alpha Mobile Unit and is the co-founder of A Movement of Love ministry, serving as a speaker and teacher about pregnancy, fetal development, and post-abortion trauma and recovery in community colleges, high schools, churches, and conferences, both nationally and internationally. She owns a photography studio, Images by Hughes, in northern California.
Tell us how you moved beyond the pain to healing and now have an abundant life?
Writing is therapeutic. The process of looking back to face the pain of teen pregnancy, late-term miscarriage, and broken relationships, provided me an opportunity to embrace life’s lessons. Experiences in life are brought forth either by our actions or the actions of others. Desiring healing for myself and others, I decided to embrace pain and kiss it goodbye. Purpose became my new best friend. I spent all my time with her. Learning how to offer others the abundant life I received inspired me to help others in practical ways. The lessons of pain birthed my purpose to write Choose Zoe.
What is your vision for your book, “Choose Zoe A story of Unplanned Parenthood and Case for Life. Can you share a pivotal moment in your story?
In Choose Zoe, we witness beauty and redemption rising from the ashes of lost hope as my stories and those of parents struggling with miscarriage, infertility, abusive relationships, addictions, abortions, and those mourning the children they placed for adoption. My hope is to arm people with knowledge and resources to help with pregnancy and pregnancy loss. Yes to save the unborn, but God has so much more for us than mere physical existence. We were created to thrive.” A pivotal moment in my story was the day I met the 3rd twelve-year-old pregnant girl within one month. She had a positive pregnancy test. I shared my experience of being young, pregnant, and afraid of the unknown. She unraveled her own story. There were tears about her relationships, moments of joy as she learned the development of her unborn baby, and prayer for her pre-teen pregnancy. Her fears diminished as she braced herself to speak with the authorities. That night I went home and cried out to the Lord, “how can I help?” Choose Zoe was birthed out of compassion for her and every other young girl.
What are some of the misconceptions about teen pregnancy?
I hear “you have your whole life ahead of you” “you’re going to ruin your future” “you’re too young to raise a child” echoed throughout the generations of parents, church leaders, educators, and medical professionals. I ask in contrast “what kind of life are we then suggesting, one of hopelessness, and grief from aborting a baby?” Teenager parents have the potential like I have to rise above our beginnings. Some make the noble option to choose adoption, and gift a family. My life was not over. My life was just beginning. My future is here, and it is not ruined. In fact, it is enhanced. I have a fulfilled life with 5 amazing grown children, and 11 grandchildren. The struggles I endured like poverty and single parenting, actually empowered me to persevere in parenting, education, running a business, becoming a published author, leading ministries, & volunteering. Plus my children are educated, most have their Master’s degrees or are working on it, some serve in the military, education, mental health, church positions, volunteer position, and everyone needs a good hairdresser. Amidst problems and adversity, we have faith. Some call it chaos, we call it family!
The infant daughter that you chose to raise at 15-years old. What is she doing today? My brilliant, lovely daughter has a family of her own. She works in mental health and is the director of a pregnancy clinic. She is passionate to help others seek recovery in both Celebrate recovery, and A Movement Of Love ministries. My daughter influences culture with positivity while adding silliness, organization skills, a sense of flair, lots of vocabulary, and compassion to our family. I was asked at 15 to prayerfully consider placing her for adoption. But I chose to parent, and I’ve never regretted it for one moment. Motherhood is my epic accomplishment and my grandest joy!
You are the Co-Founder of “A Movement of Love” ministry. What have you learned through this experience?
Abortion has not been the solution to unplanned pregnancy. Over 61 million lives have ended by abortion since the 1973 Roe V Wade landmark case legalizing abortion. Many made this decision out of haste, legality, coercion, lack of fetal development knowledge, or fear. I have witnessed women and men who regretted their abortion unravel their painful experiences of the past, and find forgiveness and new hope for their future. In the context of community, we can be heard and healed. I want the world to know that God is not mad at you, He is madly in love with you. There is absolutely nothing that can separate us from His love. Within the context of the church, I am so thankful for ministries like ours who seek to see people healed and whole.
What has surprised you the most?
I have traveled around many states for tv, speaking engagements, radio, podcast interviews, and to speak at churches and pregnancy clinic events. It’s the conversations with men who have surprised me the most. Whether the host who interviewed me, pastors, or my Uber or Lyft drivers, these men have shared their stories with me for the first time ever. Stories of regretting suggesting an abortion, leaving their family or pregnant girlfriend, not being able to support their wife after a miscarriage because they didn’t know how to deal with their grief, feeling like they couldn’t provide a child due to infertility, responding cruelly to their daughter for becoming pregnant, and the list goes on. Men have been excluded from the pregnancy conversation, yet they hold an equal part of the DNA or parenting. Men like women hurt too. They want families too!
Can you share a few impactful stories?
Story 1, A teenager who was raped by her father gave birth to a beautiful son, while her dad went to jail. Her pastors adopted the baby who she spends time with every Sunday at church. The last time I saw her, she was in her school uniform sitting in the front row. She gave me the biggest smile and hug while proclaiming how much Jesus loves us. When abortion is argued people tend to say “you would make a 14-year-old give birth?” Here’s my response, every teen I’ve spoken to who was raped and had an abortion said they regret the abortion and it did not help them, but every teen who was raped and gave birth say they have no regrets. Two teens have told me they wanted to kill themselves after the rape, but the baby saved their life. One chose to parent and one placed the baby with an adoptive family. Story 2, I introduced a pregnant woman who received a fetal diagnosis of down syndrome to a couple who raise a daughter with down syndrome. One of the best ways to make decisions or prepare oneself to the unexpected is to hear from people in the same situation. The baby was born without down syndrome, the new mom was given a false diagnosis. Both families celebrated as each experienced the joy of new life. As a photographer I can attest to children who are born with down syndrome indeed have an extra chromosome, as well as extra joy. After photographing these children my cheeks hurt so bad. The cutest happiest of children remind us there is often joy in the unexpected.
You are a photographer. Tell us about your photography business, “Images by Hughes.”
I’m a school photographer. My favorite job every year is photographing a special needs preschool. It is the most challenging job, but the most fulfilling. Parents and teachers of these children want the best smile possible. With my yellow duck puppet on my hand, I manage to capture a great photo as these little ones capture my heart! This job puts my pro-life convictions into practice. I believe all human beings are made in the image of God and have equal intrinsic value. The creative craft of photography gives me an outlet to show how precious every life is. There is power in an image, power to equalize, bear witness, and transport. I was so drawn to the beauty and the importance of images that I became a photographer. There are many images that shaped my life, but one with the upmost importance was handed to me by one of my daughters. An ultrasound photo. And so, love continues!
Do you have any additional thoughts?
Choose Zoe is filled with resources for pregnancy topics. If you find yourself in any of these situations or know someone who is, people are ready and willing to help. If you are pro-choice or non-religious I believe you will enjoy the incredible stories. There are many ways to pursue pro-life in Choose Zoe. Consider helping two people at once by helping a teen mom. I am more than grateful for the kind remarks: 5.0 out of 5 stars
-I found this book captivating and very insightful. I am not religious and I am very much still pro-choice; however, Laura spoke to me in many ways. I think women of all ages should read this book (I bought 3 additional copies to share with friends & family whom I know have experienced the traumas she describes). I will also share it with my 16 yr old daughter, and would like to see it in junior & high school libraries. I was moved THAT much!
-This book weaves together personal stories and enlightening information to create a clear picture of how we can all choose Zoe–abundant life–and help others around us do the same. I strongly recommend this to anyone wishing to peer behind the pro-life v. pro-choice rhetoric and find out what’s really possible when we confirm the humanity of women, men, and children at every point along the pregnancy continuum.
-I have a daughter named Zoe, and her dad has tattoos. I was so drawn to the book cover because of Zoe and the arm of tattoos. I feel It’s a sign. I plan to contact her dad and share Christ with him.
-An unplanned pregnancy, like so many situations in life, can throw us for a loop and lead us into hopelessness and despair. But with great wisdom, insight, and vulnerability, Laura Lynn Hughes shares her own moving testimony and reminds us that we serve a God who anoints every single human life with great value, hope, and potential. – Jim Daly, President – Focus on the Family
-Our book club turned into a support group!
I found healing from my sexual molestation and miscarriage!
-I was isolated in my hopelessness of infertility. I became pregnant after I braved the doctor.
Choose Zoe showed me how to finally grieve my abortions. I’m a foster parent!