Ryan Scott Bomberger is co-founder and chief creative officer at The Radiance Foundation, an educational organization that uses creative ad campaigns, multi-media presentations, and compassionate community outreach to illuminate the intrinsic value of every person. An Emmy® Awardwinning creative professional, Ryan is known for the bold “TooManyAborted. com” billboard/web campaign, which he created with his wife and is the first pro-adoption themed ad campaign to address the disproportionate impact of abortion in the black community. The effort received massive media coverage by The New York Times, USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Times, and Fox News. Working in conjunction with noted national civil rights leaders like Dr. Alveda King (niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), Ryan is involved in national efforts to expose the pro-abortion industry by illuminating the human rights injustice that is abortion. He is a featured blogger on LifeNews.com, and a graduate of Regent University, where was named the 2012 Alumnus of the Year.
The following is an edited transcript of an interview with Ryan Bomberger, which was conducted by Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. An edited version of this interview aired in March 2013 on the Council’s weekly radio program, “Family Policy Matters.” Ryan, who was adopted as an infant, shared his personal testimony, and talked about the power of adoption and the creative ways his organization is promoting the sanctity of human life.
Bill Brooks: Ryan, I want to start by asking you to share your testimony, which really highlights the heart of the sanctity of human life. Tell us about your birth mother, and about the family that adopted you as a baby.
Ryan Bomberger: Well, sometimes when you hear people who are very passionate about the life issue, you wonder what is the back-story. Being pro-life is basically part of my DNA—it courses through my veins. I was adopted as a baby into a little American family, the size of 15 [including my parents]! I had six brothers and six sisters, and it was a multi-racial Christian family, and just a beautiful situation to grow up in. I had two parents who just loved the mess out of us, and 10 in our family were adopted. My birth mother faced a very difficult choice at one point, and you could say that I was born as a result of an extreme act of violence, and yet she had the courage to go through nine months of a traumatic pregnancy, and gave me life. And she probably never realized the incredible wave of events that her singular choice kind of set off, making the plan for adoption, allowing me to be loved like crazy by my family, and of course now today I’m also an adoptive father with four children. And so that’s pretty much how my life began … immersed in love, immersed in the understanding of a God that makes the impossible happen every single day.
BB: Well your story is really powerful, especially since an argument we often hear in the debate over abortion is, “well, what about pregnancies that result from rape?” And there is sort of this idea that abortion has to remain legal for women who find themselves in this situation and become pregnant. How does this argument make you feel as a young man who came from this kind of, as you described it, violent situation? What is your response to this argument?
RB: Well, there has to be a whole lot of compassion that is extended toward all those involved in this. I think what happens sometimes when we talk about how every life is precious, we want to protect the life of the unborn child, [but] I think, at times, the woman that has gone through that horrendous ordeal is sometimes forgotten. And we have to remember her in all this, and reach out with compassion, and provide a means for her to experience deep healing, because that’s what she needs after an act of such inexplicable violence, she needs that kind of healing. And the shame of it is our society wants to throw abortion as a solution to everything that is unplanned and particularly in these horrific cases. And yet, abortion never brings healing to women, abortion never un-rapes a woman, and abortion never punishes the rapist. Abortion never punishes the attacker. And I wish in the public square we would talk more about punishing the actual guilty individual in this, and doing more to protect the lives of women and children. So, I am just grateful that my biological mother had the courage to go through pregnancy and make an adoption plan, to hold on enough to get past the immediate moment of, you know, unfathomable pain and confusion. And that’s what happens in these cases, so many are fixated on the immediate moment, and they don’t see the possibility of what can happen in the future. And quite honestly children, and I meet a number of them across the country who are a result of this kind of violence, are the only thing that can redeem such an act of violence. And that is what I hear from women who have experienced this across the country, women who have chosen to carry their children, or chosen to parent the children who are a result of this violence. So, I just wish there were a broader conversation in the public square about this, instead of immediately throwing abortion as some sort of solution.
BB: Tell us about The Radiance Foundation, which you co-founded with your wife, Bethany. What is the purpose and vision of your organization?
BR: Well, we love doing things a little unconventionally. We started back in 2009. My wife is a teacher by profession, and I’m a creative professional, and having been inspired by a lot of great historical American figures, one in particular, Frederick Douglas, who told us to agitate, agitate, agitate, when dealing with issues of injustice, particularly slavery. I consider myself a creative agitator. And the reason why we started The Radiance Foundation was to illuminate the truth about a myriad of social issues, all in the context of Godgiven purpose. And so our vision for our organization is, basically, we want … people to understand that … they have irreplaceable, intrinsic value. And so we do that through creative ad campaigns, we do that through multi-media presentations across the country and actually outside of the country. And we also engage in compassionate community outreach, and those are the ways that we illuminate the beautiful intrinsic value that we are all given— this God-given intrinsic value that we all possess.
BB: Ryan, one of your most powerful campaigns has to do with abortion in the black community. Tell us about the “Too Many Aborted” campaign?
RB: Well, toomanyaborted.com began back in 2010. Our first campaign was about 80 billboards launched in metro-Atlanta area. Nothing like combining the volatile issue of abortion and race in the South! And that campaign exploded, and it was thanks to Georgia Right to Life, who actually funded the billboards. With this campaign that I created, we wanted to expose the eugenic racism that Planned Parenthood was birthed from, and talk about the continued racial targeting, the hugely disproportionate impact of abortion in the black community, where today black babies are aborted up to six times more than those of the majority population. And we called out black leaders in particular, like the NAACP, Congressional Black Caucus, and those leaders that either completely ignore this epidemic, or are actually aiding and abetting this epidemic.… Of course, I have to emphasize that we take the approach at The Radiance Foundation that abortion is a tragedy no matter the race, but we wanted to highlight the community and the demographic that is hardest hit. In New York City, more black babies are aborted than are born alive, and this is a tragedy that does not get to see the light of day. And until we launched toomanyaborted.com, it was barely mentioned, other than by some of our friends in the civil rights movement, like Dr. Alveda King [and others] who had been sounding this alarm for years, but never had any kind of public initiative or ad campaign. And so we’ve placed 500 plus billboards in major cities across the country.
BB: The Radiance Foundation recently launched a campaign encouraging responsible fatherhood. Share with us some of the ways you are encouraging strong fatherhood, and why this is important to reducing abortion in our society, and particularly in the black community.
RB: One of our campaigns is called “Fatherhood Begins In The Womb,” and we work together with Walter Hoy at Issues for Life Foundation based in California, and this initial campaign was launched in California. and We’ve launched in several other places, including Virginia. There’s no way to look at the issue of abortion and not look at the fatherlessness epidemic in our country, and that’s what we’re facing right now. Abortion and poverty have taken the place of fatherhood. When you look at the abortion stats, 1.21 million abortions a year in our country, out of those 1.21 million abortions, 85 percent of those are unmarried women, and that percentage continues to increase, decade after decade after decade. We have a fatherlessness epidemic in our country, where 41 percent of our children— our precious children—are born into homes without fathers. And as a father of four, I cannot help but look at this issue, and want to sound the alarm, and ask, “What is going on?” Back in the 60s, Daniel Patrick Moynihan sounded the alarm because the out-of-wedlock birthrate was 25 percent in the black community; today it’s 72.3 percent. It is devastating our communities. In fact, to see two-parent, married families in the black community is such a rarity—less than 30 percent of households in the black community are led by two married parents, a mother and a father—and that has disastrous consequences. And so we talk about the issue of abortion, we talk about the vulnerability of certain communities, and the best way for the abortion industry to continue to target certain communities is to keep them vulnerable, and when you have [very few] two-parent married families … in the black community that provides an incredible level of vulnerability. When you take fathers out of the picture, you leave children to grow up in homes in poverty. In fact, children who grow up in single female-led homes, are five times more likely to live in poverty, so these are some of the issues that we have to address, because they are all inextricably tied to abortion. Women, as resilient and resourceful, as incredible as they are, were never meant to play the role of both mother and father.
BB: Adoption is another important issue for you, and I know The Radiance Foundation recently launched the “Adopted and Loved” campaign. One of the myths in our society that is related to both abortion and adoption is what you have described as the “myth of the unwanted.” Is there such a thing as an “unwanted child,” and how do we change how society views unplanned pregnancies to where adoption is the first thought that comes to mind, and not the last?
RB: We emphasize adoption in much of what we do. Of course, anytime we ever address the issue of abortion, you cannot talk about abortion and not talk about one of the two life-affirming alternatives to that, and of course that’s adoption. The abortion industry, of course, has no interest in presenting that as a viable option, as we see in Planned Parenthood’s own statistics—they abort 145 children for every one adoption referral. And so we champion this cause of adoption—it’s a beautiful option; it’s an act of love; an act of justice; it’s an act of mercy. And yet we find there’s so many misconceptions about adoption. I’m an adoptee, and I’m an adoptive father, and it blows my mind that in 2013, [there are] those who are part of the church, especially those who claim to be Christians, who cannot grasp the very simple concept of adoption. There’s no salvation without adoption…. And so part of what we do when we travel around conferences, churches, college campuses, and schools is we talk about this “myth of the unwanted.” The problem with all that is it’s so much easier to discard human life, when you can label that life “unwanted,” which is what the abortion industry does. They say an unplanned pregnancy means that child is going to be unwanted, and that child’s going to be unloved, and an unloved child is a dangerous child. And that is the entire false premise that the abortion industry is based on. And we propose the opposite to that, which is purpose and possibility, and we look at examples of powerful adoption stories. I mean, our family is just one of many. In my family, my wife and I [have four children], two of which are adopted. But out of my four children, three were unplanned! The majority of children are actually unplanned, but that certainly doesn’t mean that they’re unworthy of being loved by a family. And so we’re trying to introduce the conversation in some places, and to talk about the beautiful stories that typify the adoption experience.