Once abandoned, senior spreads message

Heather Rousseau/The Herald
Emma Mundy, a senior at Southridge High School, left, and Nora Hopf a senior at Jasper High School, prepared to sing with the congregation during the Holy Thursday service last week at St. Mary Catholic Church in Huntingburg. Mundy, Hopf and Tiffany Singer of Forest Park High School lead Southern Indiana Teens for Life organization. Mundy was abandoned as a newborn in China before being adopted by Rick and Gwen Mundy of Huntingburg.

Herald Staff Writer

Emma Mundy was lucky not to become just another abortion statistic 18 years ago when she was found abandoned on the streets of Bengbu City in China, likely at only one day old.

She has a happy life in Huntingburg now, but she does not forget where she came from or how she got here.

The Southridge High School senior and several others from the Southern Indiana Teens for Life activism group spent a day in March erecting a “Cemetery of the Innocents” in memory of the babies who lose their lives to abortion. In total, almost 4,000 flags were staked in the ground outside of St. Joseph Church in Jasper as part of a 30 year tradition in the area. Those flags represent the approximately 4,000 pregnancies which are aborted each day. The group also protested outside an abortion clinic in Louisville on Good Friday.

She is not sure of her actual birthday, but the Chinese government guessed it at April 2. Emma was taken to an orphanage where she turned 1, when Rick and Gwen Mundy of Huntingburg finally broke through red tape to adopt their second daughter and bring her back to America.

Emma does not know the names of her birth parents or why they chose to give her up, but she guesses it has something to do with China’s one-child policy which restricts most urban families in the ethnic majority to just one baby. The strict rule has been cited as a reason for the death or abandonment of many female babies because sons can perform farm work and often provide financial support for the parents. The Chinese government even blocked Emma’s adoption for several months because the Mundys already had one other daughter, Jennifer, who was adopted from Indianapolis. To convince the government to let Emma be adopted, the orphanage concocted a lie that Emma has club feet. Because disabled children are not subject to the one-child rule in China, the government was more comfortable sending Emma to an American family that already had one child. If not for the lie, Emma might have been forced to wait at the orphanage for a family without children to adopt her, but she isn’t sure exactly what would have happened.

She has not been back to visit China, but Emma has researched online to learn more about where she came from; information is very limited. As a taste of Chinese culture, Emma is hosting exchange student Meng Yu this semester. The two have shared stories of their very different lives; one thing that struck Emma is that Meng is not allowed to use Facebook in her home country, a detail that makes Emma feel especially lucky to have grown up in America. She also keeps in touch with several adopted friends throughout the area, some of whom know their birth parents.

Now nearing the end of her high school career, Emma is co-president of Teens for Life. She got involved a little over a year ago when she was asked by a friend to attend an abortion clinic retreat last year and she nervously accepted.

“I guess I never realized the big issue of abortion before,” Emma said “It really kind of woke me up, and I came back and I said I want a leadership position in this group. I said I feel like I would be an influence because it’s influenced me. Steve Uebelhor is the leader, and he said, ”˜Sure,’ and got me involved.”

In January, Emma and her fellow presidents — Nora Hopf of Jasper High School and Tiffany Singer of Forest Park High School — traveled to Washington D.C. for March for Life. Though a snowstorm kept them from the main event, they attended several rallies in the city.

“The March for Life is a really big thing for me,” Emma said. “It was very, very inspiring.”

Teens for Life has grown under its current leadership, with members meeting more often to talk about upcoming events. There are 30 to 40 members from ages 12 to 19 from  throughout southern Indiana.

Emma’s hope is that her actions in Teens for Life will raise awareness of abortion alternatives, like abstinence and adoption.

“I want people not to use things like the morning-after pill as an excuse to just have fun, especially at the high school age,” she explained. “I’m a strong believer in adoption. I think it saved my life. I don’t know if it’s hard to give someone up for adoption, but it’s definitely something to look into.”
Even next year, as she begins studying psychology at the University of Evansville, Emma won’t lose sight of the cause that has such a great personal meaning for her.

“Being adopted is definitely a great thing for me,” she said. “I always think about how things worked out. What if my parents wouldn’t have adopted me?”

Contact Claire Moorman at cmoorman@dcherald.com.

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