December 2020 – In 2007, Jill Grusch stood at the front of the classroom, looking out at a group of students at Oak Park High School in Kansas City, Missouri.
Not an educator by profession, she was not teaching arithmetic, history, or music. She was a guest speaker talking about dating, healthy relationships, and unplanned pregnancies.
As always, she urged pregnant teens not to make hasty decisions to abort their babies. Jill was a perfect fit for addressing these issues with teens.
“This moment of fear and panic will pass,” Jill told them. “There is a gift far greater if you just take a little time to consider how you will feel in a year. If you take time to let that fear and panic pass, there’s something wonderful – and someone wonderful – that God has a plan for.”
Jill shared her own story, and then gave the class some exciting personal news: She was pregnant. A student quickly asked when the baby was due.
“On December nineteenth,” she answered, “but that’s when my first child was born. Since I have to do a C-section, we’re going to have the baby the next day, on December twentieth.”
To the students, this was a joyous occasion. However, Jill had no idea just how much that one conversation would spark big change in her life.
When she was a teenager herself, Jill Lippoldt Grusch had disappeared from her family’s home.
Her mother, Donna Lippoldt, remembers it vividly.
“She was gone,” said Lippoldt. “It was the most tragic thing that’s ever happened to our family.”
They searched and searched but found no leads. Then, after four-and-a-half months, Jill reappeared, completely unharmed. She had traveled to California with a guy and had been living there with him.
Through the tears, young Jill embraced her mom.
“At least you didn’t get pregnant,” her mother said.
“But mom,” she confessed, “I am pregnant.”
Though the news was shattering, the Lippoldts were positive, uplifting voices during the tumultuous season for their daughter.
“When we told my dad,” Jill recalled, “the first thing he said was ‘Let’s pray.’ It was beautiful.”
After much thought and prayer, the teenager decided to place the baby girl for adoption.
“I knew there was an innocent life inside of me,” she told AFA Journal, concerning her decision against abortion.
This turned out to be a closed adoption. The birth family did not have access to the baby or the adoptive family after the adoption was complete.
Both Jill and her mother agree: It was the most difficult thing they’d ever done.
Jill grew stronger in her faith, adapted to life, and a few years later, began using her experience through a Kansas City ministry to single mothers to encourage them to choose adoption over abortion.
“It was just like Second Corinthians 1:3-4,” said Lippoldt, “which says we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
Many of the women whom Jill is able to mentor have decided against abortion, placing their children for adoption or keeping them to raise on their own.
Eventually, Jill became a spokesperson for the entire Kansas City area, a position that opened the door to public schools like Oak Park. She gave 90-minute presentations on healthy dating decisions and the process of adoption during an unplanned pregnancy.
Since 2019, Jill has been on staff at Liberty Women’s Clinic (LWC) in Liberty, Missouri. She performs a multitude of tasks, often still using her experience of choosing adoption for her baby girl.
“[LWC exists] to help women choose life and find the resources they need,” she explained. “It’s not just about saving babies’ lives. It’s about coming alongside a woman and helping her in that situation in a really respectful and beautiful, almost sacred, way.”
Jill handles one of the most important moments in the course of ministry at a pregnancy clinic: the first phone call.
“I take the immediate phone calls when they say, ‘I’m calling for an abortion,’” said Jill. “Sometimes they just want someone to listen because they haven’t told anyone they think they’re pregnant.” They may only need someone to empathize.
She added, “We are geared toward getting the abortion-minded client to call us. The [goal] is to get the women who are seriously considering abortion so they can stop and think for a minute and utilize our services.”
With the onset of COVID-19, there has been no shortage of such calls.
“Women are feeling more desperate, more alone,” reported Jill. “We have been inundated with abortion-minded women since the lockdowns started. More people are abortion-determined than ever before.”
Through her interactions with clients, Jill has a vital opportunity to encourage these women during some of the most vulnerable moments of their lives. She is able to speak wisdom in the midst of chaos, the depth of wisdom that comes only through personal experience.
To Jill Grusch, these are not just words or surface-level platitudes. She knows this to be the truth, and that day at Oak Park High School deeply solidified this belief within her.
The week after her presentation all those years ago, her husband received a phone call.
“Does your wife teach on abstinence and adoption?” a man asked.
“Yes, she does.”
“Well, our daughter was in Jill’s class, and she’s the baby your wife placed for adoption 17 years ago.”
Jill’s birth daughter, whose name is Catherine, had recognized her December birthday when Jill announced her pregnancy to the students. Knowing she was adopted at birth, Catherine had made the connection that Jill was her birth mother.
Soon thereafter, Jill and her family were able to meet Catherine and her adoptive family.
“God knew what He was doing,” Jill exclaimed. “I think it was the perfect way for us to find each other, and I think God planned it in advance.”
Catherine is the “someone wonderful” Jill tells pregnant women about. Through her story of desperation, uncertainty, faith, and prayer, she is able to impact many other women, urging them to choose life for their children.
Today (photo, right to left: Jill Grusch, Catherine, Gracelyn (Catherine’s oldest), Catherine is 30 years old, lives 10 minutes down the road from Jill, and is pregnant with Jill’s second grandchild.
She is due in December.
For a mom in need
Liberty Women’s Clinic offers a wide range of services to clients. It also offers a new mentorship program. Through partnerships with local churches, mentors have been trained to come alongside clients and provide much needed personal support. These one-on-one relationships give a client a connection with a local church. Learn more at 816.415.5111 or strides4life.com.
For a life in danger
American Family Studios’ DVD Life is a Civil Right with Dr. Alveda King builds the case for saving the lives of the unborn. Available at afastore.net or 877.927.4917.
For a culture in chaos
Grusch’s mother, Donna Lippoldt, is also a staunch supporter of the pro-life movement. Featured in the October 2020 issue of AFA Journal, Lippoldt’s Kansas organization, Culture Shield Network, purposes to bring American culture back to Jesus through the power of prayer and community engagement. Learn more at cultureshield.com or 316.516.0777.