Friday, June 12, 2009

Beccah Beushausen Admits 'April's Mom' Hoax: Opportunities for Forgiveness

I hadn't heard of "April's Mom," the heartwarming story of a single mother bravely "giving birth to a child diagnosed as terminally ill in the womb," as a Chicago Tribune article put it.

"April's Mom" had a great deal of support, including nearly a million hits on her blog.

And, people were praying for her and her baby.

Just one problem: The whole thing was a hoax.

Beccah Beushausen, a social worker near Chicago, wasn't pregnant.

She also doesn't say why she started the "April's Mom" hoax. I think we get a little insight in what the Chicago Tribune writes:
"...'I know what I did was wrong,' she said. 'I've been getting hate mail. I'm sorry because people were so emotionally involved.'

"There's no evidence that Beushausen benefited financially in any significant way or committed any crime.

"Still, Russell said she doesn't understand how anyone could create such a convincing tale that preyed on other women's emotions.

"Beushausen said she really did lose a son shortly after birth in 2005. She started her blog in March to help deal with that loss and to express her strong anti-abortion views, she said.

"She had expected only a handful of friends to read it, but when her first post got 50 comments, she was hooked.

" 'I've always liked writing. It was addictive to find out I had a voice that people wanted to hear,' Beushausen said.

" 'Soon I was getting 100,000 hits a week, and it just got out of hand,' she said. 'I didn't know how to stop. ... One lie led to another.'..." (Chicago Tribune) [emphasis mine]
The hoax unraveled partly because Beushausen put a photo of a fairly lifelike doll on her blog, and said it was the baby. A dollmaker, Elizabeth Russell, recognized the doll.

Hurt Feelings and Hate Mail

Beushausen has been getting hate mail. I think I can understand how people who had become emotionally involved with "April's Mom" would feel hurt.

Beushausen seems to realize that she's done something that isn't right:
"...'I know what I did was wrong,' she said. 'I've been getting hate mail. I'm sorry because people were so emotionally involved.'...

"There's no evidence that Beushausen benefited financially in any significant way or committed any crime...." (Chicago Tribune)
I feel sorry for the people who believed the "April's Mom" hoax, but I have some sympathy for Beushausen, too.

Losing a Baby isn't Fun

My wife and I were looking forward to the birth of a child several years ago. On February 4, 2002, my wife went into labor, and the two of us set out for the hospital. On the way, my wife reported that the child moved very rapidly, and then was still.

Elizabeth Marie, based on information from the medical staff, died sometime before midnight that day. She was born shortly after midnight. We nearly lost my wife in the process.

It was a very unpleasant experience.

I'm not making an excuse for Beushausen: but suggest that perhaps she was dealing with moderately intense feelings, and that this should be considered when thinking about what she did.

Lying isn't Nice, and You Shouldn't Do it

" 'A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving.'..." (Catechism of the Catholic Church (2482)) In other words, if you think it's an hour after noon, and tell someone it's one o'clock, and it's really two, you're not lying. You're just saying something that isn't true.

And yes, intent does matter.

It looks like Beushausen knew she was lying. And, knew it was wrong.

The Catholic Church teaches that it's important to tell the truth. There's a whole article in the Catechism on the Eighth Commandment: "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." (Exodus 20, 16)

There's also an article on forgiveness.

I don't know what Beccah Beushausen is going to do, to deal with her elaborate lie and its consequences. And, I don't need to.

I do know that I need to remember the standing orders Catholics have, to forgive those who hurt them. In the case of Beccah Beushausen, it's easy - because my feelings weren't engaged by her hoax. But I am quite sure that I'll have an opportunity to practice forgiveness: sooner or later.

When that opportunity comes, I pray that I will forgive, instead of harboring ill will against another.

I may fail.

It's easy to say "forgive." From personal experience, I know it's hard to do.

Related posts: In the news:

2 comments:

Michelle said...

Unfortunately the "son" she lost was also a lie. It was confirmed by multiple sources, both friends and family, that she never had a baby...ever.

She was also involved in a scam a few years ago where she picked out adoptive parents for the baby she needed to place for adoption...she wasn't pregnant then, either.

I believe she has very serious mental issues and I hope she gets some help and is held accountable for the emotional distress she has caused.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Michelle,

Thanks for your comment. I don't have the resources to track down those multiple sources - but it's plausible, given what got into the news.

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.