Guest column: Lyceum speaker to address adversity, self-worth

By Bridgette Sutton Marshall
Jan. 28, 2012 at 4:01 p.m.
Updated Jan. 27, 2012 at 7:28 p.m.

The next guest scheduled to speak as part of Victoria College's Lyceum Lecture Series is - like many women - skilled in the art of multi-tasking.

Wife, mother, daughter, attorney, author and activist are just a few roles Rebecca Kiessling juggles daily. What makes her different than most other working mothers is that by all accounts, Kiessling should not be alive.

Two attempts have been made on her life, both by her mother, both in utero. Her birth mother, Joann, was raped, and Kiessling is the product of that horrific experience.

Kiessling was adopted and did not meet her birth mother until she reached adulthood. It was then that she was made aware of the details surrounding her conception and Joann's attempts to terminate the pregnancy from which she was to come. These revelations have served as the catalysts for Kiessling's writings. "Conceived in Rape: A Story of Hope" details her conception as well as the two back alley abortion attempts made by her birth mother. She has also penned a philosophical essay, "The Right of the Unborn Child Not to be Unjustly Killed - a philosophy of rights approach," as well as many poems, each focusing on adoption and the rights of the unborn.

Kiessling's history and experiences have shaped her family life, too. Today, she is happily married, and she and her husband are busy raising their five children, two of whom are adopted. However, during her childhood and adolescence, Kiessling had little self-worth.

Adopted by Jewish parents, she attended Hebrew school where classmates constantly reminded her that she wasn't "one of them," thus imparting a sense of worthlessness. Her birth mother's disclosures added to those feelings, and in romantic relationships, she began to settle; grateful that anyone would bother to love her. This led to her tolerating physical abuse at the hands of a college boyfriend. But then, Kiessling experienced an epiphany and began to view herself as worthy: worthy of love, worthy of happiness, worthy of existence.

She now imparts this message of self-worth and overcoming adversity to audiences both domestic and abroad.

In addition to speaking, writing and caring for her family, Kiessling is a busy family law attorney.

Currently, she has four pro bono, internationally recognized cases. Each of the cases involves reproductive privileges, and rape is a factor in two of the cases. Additionally, Kiessling serves on advisory boards for crisis pregnancy centers and conducts workshops regarding the life-giving, legal options available during pregnancy.

Kiessling has been a guest on "Good Morning America," CNN, and "Extra." Her story has also been published in Glamour Magazine and Marie Claire. She is also featured in an upcoming film, "The Gift of Life with Governor Mike Huckabee."

VC welcomes Kiessling as the fourth speaker in its Lyceum Lecture Series. Please plan to attend this compelling presentation. Guests can look forward to a motivational event that will highlight overcoming adversity and finding one's worth.

Kiessling is scheduled to speak at noon Tuesday, Jan. 31, at the Victoria ISD Fine Arts Center. Tickets are not required for this event. More information on Rebecca Kiessling can be found at

Bridgette Sutton Marshall is an English instructor at Victoria College and also serves as a member of the Lyceum Committee.



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