No Big Deal ?

Because LINK> Rebecca Solnit says it so well in her essay in The Guardian . . .

Being a parent is expensive. Being a criminal is also expensive, whether you lose economic opportunities to avoid apprehension or spend money on your defense if apprehended or go to prison and lose everything and, marked as a felon, emerge unemployable. Abortion is an economic issue, because when it’s not legal, those are the two remaining options, leaving out being dead, which you could argue is either very expensive or absolutely beyond the realms of money and price. And being dead is also on the table because women have all too often died from lack of access to reproductive healthcare, including abortions (to say nothing of being unable to leave an abuser, to whom pregnancy and children can bind you more tightly). They are facing more of that now.

Having no options but to be dead, criminal or a parent is not a sane or moral argument for parenthood, and it’s also pretty different than having certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Also, now that abortion is unavailable under almost all circumstances in Texas and other states, it’s an economic justice issue in that those with the financial capacity to take time off, travel in search of care and pay for it out of pocket are not affected the way those who cannot do so are. And those who can afford to get an abortion under these circumstances are also those who can afford to defend themselves against possible criminal charges.

All of which is to say, abortion is an economic issue and a labor issue, as well as a human rights and healthcare issue, as the AFL-CIO and other labor unions have recognized. So it’s been confounding to see some supposedly progressive men say that people should talk about economics instead of abortion, as if the loss of reproductive rights isn’t a huge economic blow to anyone facing the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy. The last days before the midterm elections should include robust Democratic conversations about defending rights and pursuing economic justice, with access to abortion central to both.

Access to birth control and abortion laid the groundwork for US women to begin to claim financial, professional and educational equality – a goal still far from realized, overall, but reproductive rights flattened the mountains and filled in the chasms a little. Taking that away pushes women back into the grim era when an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy could upend a life, stop an education, stymie a career, force unwanted dependency on the person who caused that pregnancy – an era when self-determination was an aspiration, not a given.

The Dobbs decision striking down Roe v Wade on 24 June was cavalier about all this. The majority opinion pretends that bearing a child no longer has significant social and economic impact. It cites among its justifications that “attitudes about the pregnancy of unmarried women have changed drastically; that federal and state laws ban discrimination on the basis of pregnancy; that leave for pregnancy and childbirth are now guaranteed by law in many cases; that the costs of medical care associated with pregnancy are covered by insurance or government assistance; that states have increasingly adopted “safe haven” laws, which generally allow women to drop off babies anonymously; and that a woman who puts her newborn up for adoption today has little reason to fear that the baby will not find a suitable home”. In other words, there is no reason not to have an unplanned or unwanted child; doing so is no big deal.

All of which are callous lies. The right not to bear children isn’t just about respectability for the unmarried, and to frame it that way while ignoring the profound and lasting emotional, psychological and physical as well as financial impact of carrying a pregnancy for nine months and giving birth is outrageous. Discrimination against people who may get pregnant or are pregnant continues despite those laws; many pregnant people continue to lack access to healthcare; and the fact that a baby can be handed over is no justification for being forced to bear it. Furthermore, as another branch of the US government that the supreme court could have consulted reports: “The number of children waiting to be adopted also fell in fiscal year 2020 to 117,000”; the number in foster care was over 400,000.

One of the striking things about the conversation in defense of abortion rights in recent months is the testimony by those who’ve undergone pregnancy, miscarriage and childbirth about how physically grueling and even life-threatening they can be. Pregnancy can incapacitate women for months, which is obviously economically devastating to a poor person working in the gig economy or, say, in a nail salon or a fast-food restaurant. It can be an overwhelming experience, interfering particularly in the ability to perform physical labor: the judge may be able to toil on when the janitor cannot. And a lot of people are making a living through work that is physically demanding.

Another striking new note has been the insistence that we need to stop defining abortion as a stand-alone right and look at the criminalization of pregnancy and motherhood, especially for poor and nonwhite women. “More than 50 women have been prosecuted for child neglect or manslaughter in the United States since 1999 because they tested positive for drug use after a miscarriage or stillbirth,” reported the Marshall Project, while noting that miscarriages are common under all circumstances. “Sentences have ranged from probation to 20 years in prison. Women prosecuted after pregnancy loss are often those least able to defend themselves, the investigation found. They typically work low-paying jobs, are often victims of domestic abuse, have little access to healthcare or drug treatment and rely on court-appointed lawyers who advise them that pleading guilty is their best option.” Too, some women die from pregnancy and childbirth, and thanks to unequal medical care, Black women have the highest incidence of such deaths. Pregnancy and childbirth can also cause permanent physical changes, including lasting pain and disability.

The laws making the most intimate conditions of a body and life subject to legal intrusion are reportedly already preventing pregnant people from seeking healthcare and spreading well-founded fear. Making the administration of an abortion a crime is frightening medical caregivers and interfering with their ability to provide care. Some of the proposed abortion bans would include life-saving abortions, and we have already seen cases in which medical care was withheld until a woman’s life was actively in danger. Women are already being denied prescriptions when those drugs can be used in abortions, another way that taking away abortion rights is turning into a broader loss of rights.

The financial and professional impact of parenting in heterosexual relationships still mostly falls on women. The majority of women who have abortions are already mothers raising kids; we are in a childcare crisis that has, along with the long months schools were shut during the pandemic, crushed a lot of women’s working lives and financial independence.

As Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez noted in late September, “When the powerful force people to give birth against their will, they trap millions in cycles of economic setback and desperation. Especially in a country without guaranteed healthcare. And desperate workers are easier to exploit.” The supreme court majority pretended it was undermining access to reproductive rights because they have no significant impact, but of course the court’s agenda was the opposite: to impose the conditions that make women subordinate in rights and economic status.

The Brigid Alliance

St Brigid of Kildare

Learned about this non-profit organization today – The Brigid Alliance. I wish things were different but here we are. You might be surprised if you’ve not been listening to as many adoptee voices as I do every day, to learn how many will say plainly – I wish I had been aborted. Beyond that, many do not wish to have children themselves. Here’s one example –

I’m an adoptee, former foster youth and former kinship foster youth. I do not want to be a parent. I have multiple reasons some of which include severe mental health issues, cost, responsibility, dysphoria etc… I am on long term birth control and am in a long term serious relationship. Abortion access is not limited in my state currently but could definitely become restricted. If I were to become pregnant, my first choice would be abortion. However due to limited access, I know that might not always be possible. My question is what advice would you give to someone who is pregnant but doesn’t want to be a parent and can’t access abortion?

Clearly, pregnancy prevention should not be all on the woman in a committed relationship. Agreeing to a vasectomy, which is a form of male birth control that cuts the supply of sperm to the man’s semen. It’s done by cutting and sealing the tubes that carry sperm. A vasectomy has a low risk of problems and can usually be performed in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia. The man can opt to have a vasectomy reversal in the future. This is a surgery to undo a vasectomy. During the procedure, a surgeon reconnects each tube (vas deferens) that carries sperm from a testicle into the semen. After a successful vasectomy reversal, sperm are again present in the semen and a man may be able to once again get his partner pregnant.

In the case presented in this blog today, the male was not willing – so what else ? Pre-emptive preparation can help. Research what pharmaceuticals can be accessed online and know what the resources are in your state before you need them. The LINK> National Women’s Health Network has a fact sheet on safe and effective FDA-approved abortion pills (aka medication abortion) which are now available by mail in several states — without an in-person clinic visit.

Lastly, today I learned about LINK> The Brigid Alliance, a referral-based service that provides travel, food, lodging, child care and other logistical support for people seeking abortions. They prioritize clients who are beyond 15 weeks of pregnancy and for whom it’s generally more expensive and harder to find a provider near home. They are part of a growing ecosystem of support organizations propping up abortion care access in the US due to an increasingly hostile environment post-Roe.

The group takes their name from a story about St Brigid of Kildare who ministered to a nun who had failed to keep her vow of chastity, and became pregnant. Based upon a 1987 translation of the story: “A certain woman who had taken the vow of chastity fell, through the youthful desire of pleasure and her womb swelled with child. Brigid, exercising the most potent strength of her ineffable faith, blessed her, causing the child to disappear, without coming to birth, and without pain. She faithfully returned the woman to health and to penance.”

Which Was It ?

Recently, more than one woman, as the nuances are parsed out, has come to realize that what they thought of as a miscarriage was actually a type of abortion. Truth is the definition means that both result in a similar outcome.

Medically, an abortion is the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to a viability allowing it to continue living. Many doctors now prefer to refer to this event as a termination rather than an abortion (for obvious reasons). This can happen either spontaneously or it can be induced. Generally, the more spontaneous is referred to as a miscarriage and this can occur even rather late in a pregnancy. When the event is induced, it is referred to as an abortion. Often, when a D&C is performed, medical personnel don’t really know for certain, if an embryo is present. I remember having to have a D&C when I was receiving reproductive assistance between the births of my two sons due to my lining not developing well enough and being asked directly if I was or could be pregnant. Since I was experiencing secondary infertility due to age and had not had any embryos transferred, I could be confident in my answer. With recent laws at some state’s level, this kind of situation could risk legal ramifications for the medical personnel and the woman.

During in vitro fertilization, it is common to fertilize more eggs than will be needed as the goal is to increase the woman’s chances of a successful pregnancy. Those excess fertilized eggs are commonly frozen, disposed of or donated for scientific research (which will then cause their destruction) – none of those choices are thought of as abortion. Some couples, as we did, will donate their frozen embryos to another couple – though in our case – the couple whose effort initially was successful and joyous, ultimately failed to develop after that point. All reproductive assistance patients want their pregnancy to be successful. In my mom’s group, only about half of the woman who started off in the group with us ended up with a pregnancy and ultimately, a child or children (we had quite a few twins and even a set of triplets in our group).

Often tens of thousands of dollars have been invested in the effort. Though this effort may initially appear successful, the pregnancy can still end and a decision must be made to remove those cells and the lining. Technically, this would be defined as an abortion. I read today about one case where a patient was carrying triplets. The pregnancies created by through in vitro fertilization, each implanted but stopped developing at different stages: one at six weeks, one at seven and one at eight. Therefore, none of these embryos were going to be successful in producing a child. Her doctor had to remove that tissue. It is not healthy and serves no purpose in remaining.

There is a kind of miscarriage that will be referred to as a missed abortion. The pregnancy actually ended, even though no symptoms of that had occurred. The contents of the uterus have not been naturally expelled. Sometimes, there may be some brownish discharge. The fact that the embryo has died is often discovered during a routine scan by her OB. The patient will be given Oxytocin, antibiotics and a D&C (a complete uterine evacuation – abortion). This is a situation where new laws could become problematic, especially if this occurs after 6 weeks and a positive indication of pregnancy.

None Of Your Business

From the sister of an adoptee and once a hopeful adoptive parent –

After being pretty firmly childfree my whole life, I find myself pregnant and have decided to parent. In the past I have even said I would have an abortion if I found myself unexpectedly pregnant but I’ve changed my mind.

When discussing some of my anxieties surrounding single parenthood and everything, my therapist actually asked me if I had considered adoption. It kind of took me by surprise because I hadn’t given any impression I don’t want to parent, beyond discussing average normal fears a new inexperienced mom might have.

This is a new therapist, so we are still feeling each other out, but it makes me uncomfortable that she asked this. It makes me feel suspicious that she might try to subconsciously, or even on purpose, try to manipulate me into adoption. I wouldn’t surrender my child of course but I don’t want to financially support a person who does this to young vulnerable moms who might be struggling with the decision.

Another who was considering adopting or fostering shared – I told my therapist I wanted another child and she questioned me due to how much is on my plate and my mental issues.

I know that’s not the same but I also felt like she overstepped. I’ve been asked that by several people. I feel like it’s not their choice. It’s my and my husband’s and we do great with our two kids. One of my kids is critically ill with a short prognosis. One is healthy. I always wanted two kids, so they can play together etc. So, one can’t play. That’s just one reason of the many I want another child. I don’t know why people try to change peoples lives like that or question them. I’m so sorry she did that to you. I don’t think your being over critical. Try to figure out why she said that. Maybe bring it back up and ask her why she asked. See if she did it to see how you felt about it and if it was something you need to discuss or if she was doubting you because of your concerns or history. She may have had good intentions behind the question but I would be sure to let her know how you feel about adoption to prevent this issue from resurfacing in the future. She’s there to listen and help you and get to know you. So open up to her and let her know how you feel about this. She shouldn’t judge you for that or try to persuade you in any way. If she does, then she is a bad therapist.

Another who is in training to be a therapist offers – She may think she is helping clients to explore all options. I agree with you on how problematic a casual suggestion to give the baby up for adoption could be for clients. You could confront her and try to educate her. Determine whether you want to stay with her based on her response. Maybe she will have a different conversation with the next client navigating a pregnancy. Or you could walk away because you are not obligated to convince or educate her.

Pregnancy Is Triggering

I have often seen adoptees mention how becoming pregnant or becoming a mother had surprising effects on their emotions and experiences. Here’s one story for today –

I’m 28 weeks pregnant and just need some support, anything you have to say will help. When I think about explaining the different ways families are created I get pretty upset inside. Introducing adoption and what that entails seems like a huge battle and I’m not understanding why, I grew up knowing I was adopted before I even knew what adoption meant. Is it possible I have a fear of passing on adoption trauma to my child ? Also my adoptive dad called me and explained he just hadn’t thought about me being adopted and what it must feel like to be going through this pregnancy, now at 28 weeks. As much as I value the validation, it almost felt like a blow, like “oh thanks, glad you are able to forget about it, while I sit here and it seems to be ruling my train of thoughts lately.” Then there is my adoptive mom, and well, she’s just too old to have any good conversation about it, but she’s been very defensive lately anytime adoption comes up. I’ll tell ya, I knew pregnancy would bring a lot to the surface, but I did not expect to not be able to articulate my thoughts and feelings. Even when I’m writing In my journal, I feel blank, and tired. Definitely not handling it in the most positive way, most of the time, and I’m finding my self stuffing down my feelings. Almost reverting back to ?

One comment – One thing i hear a lot of people say as they are doing the “normal” selfless mom thing, taking care of baby and all that (good nutrition, getting stable, etc), is that they are feeling so hurt, that they could do this for their kid but their moms didn’t “get it together” for them, when they were babies. Experiencing triggers around one’s own pregnancy is super common.

Another one shares – One night when my son was about 2 3 weeks old, he was inconsolable. I looked down at his face and realized when I was his age, I was crying in a crib, alone. That realization was devastating.

And this – I hear you and feel your stress. Breathe deeply and try to relax. Sure you are thinking about what adoption meant to your life and how it affected so many things, many more than you ever realized because now you have a small, vulnerable and completely dependent on you human being growing inside you. At various points of the day, you will try to forget all of this, but then you will be reminded by your work-in-progress with a kick or rollover… and guess what: all of the emotions will become even stronger as you get closer to due date. The worries and so much more. Be kind to you and let yourself cry, if you need to — once you meet your baby, this stuff will stay just below the surface (most likely) but you will also have a biological person who needs you and adores you and you won’t understand how anyone could ever willingly give such a precious beauty away to someone else to keep. Don’t stuff down your feelings – don’t be too hard on yourself (your hormones are doing enough of that crap – you don’t need to assist them!).

More – Being pregnant and having my daughter brought up a lot of feelings like this too. Finally understanding how messed up and abusive my family was, especially my mom. Realizing that I couldn’t imagine treating my daughter the way I was treated. Everything felt so fresh and raw, and I was experiencing triggers left and right, having breakdowns all the time. Therapy and meds helped a lot, but I know those things aren’t accessible and/or helpful for everyone. I might suggest doing some kind of mindfulness exercises, when you find yourself sinking into those feelings, affirmations about the choices you’re making and how they’re different from the things you experienced. Other than that, I don’t really have advice, just solidarity. Everybody talks about how having a child makes them appreciate their own parents so much more, but nobody ever tells you how it can bring your childhood trauma to the surface. I’m sorry you’re part of that second group. I’m sure you will be a wonderful mama.

Another from experience – My pregnancies undid all my pro-adoption programming. I thought a lot about the importance of genes, bonding, familial traits, and family lineages. Pregnancy is an emotional time, even more so with the additional layers of adoption. Take care of yourself and give yourself permission to process your feelings. 

Clearly, though every person is different and every adoptee has had different kinds of experiences, the stories are many and on some level rather universal. HUGS if you are an adoptee and pregnant or have recently given birth.

So Young And Pregnant

Raped 10 year old Ohio girl had to travel out of state to for an abortion in Indiana. A 14 year old in foster care says “Conception, continuing the pregnancy and relinquishment was not my decision. As a child in foster care, those decisions were made for me.”

The future is not bright for the very young women who may become pregnant in light of the Supreme Court ruling regarding Roe v Wade recently.

Sadly, in the case of the 14 year old former foster care youth, the outcome is troubling. Here is her story.

I see adoptees speak of how traumatizing it is when their birth moms refuse to meet them. I don’t want to cause any pain but the thought of meeting sends me into a meltdown. Contact and meeting isn’t something I want but I constantly read that I “owe” this to her. I’m not in a place where I can handle the fallout it will cause. I’m not interested in reliving the hell of 20+ years ago.

This isn’t something I can make myself do. It is too traumatic. I can’t pretend I’m interested in meeting or having a relationship when I’m not. She represents everything I hate and resent. I want to spend the rest of my life as if she doesn’t exist. I don’t want to see pictures or hear her voice. I want to be left alone.

How am I supposed to handle this? I don’t want to explain anything. Will she get it and leave me alone or eventually show up at my door?

I leave the story here. I’m not wishing to delve into the responses. Just wanted to share how one young woman forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy and then give her baby up for adoption feels 20+ years later.

When It Is Family

A woman’s sister writes – My sister asked me to care for her baby. The mom signed the form to terminate her parental rights, when her baby was only 2 days old. She had been in a car accident during pregnancy and lost her job. She is now financially stable, has her life together (her baby is only 5 months old now) and wants me to discontinue my adoption process regarding her baby.

The problem is – we don’t want to give her baby back. Is there anything legal – my sister, the baby’s biological mom – can do ? We’re so close to finalizing the adoption, all that is left is the home study. What do we tell our child, when she’s older, about why we refused to give her back to her original mom ?

Just goes to prove, that just because we are siblings born into the same family, once we are adults, all bets are off. I’ve seen it many times in many situations.

One commenter said – I truly can not fathom doing something so obviously horrible and disgusting. The fact that this woman is aware that what she’s doing is wrong because she wants to know what to tell the child (once they get older), well, it just makes it even worse. How incredibly selfish. That poor baby !

Important points not to miss – this women is the mother’s sister ! The baby’s Aunt ! In MANY families …. family members do HELP family members in crisis, to care for their children. Often via a parent-placed, joint custody with the more stable family having primary physical custody. The best thing about this is that there is no need to change the baby’s birth certificate. Any sister could raise her sister’s child appropriately, while calling herself Auntie. In some Indigenous cultures, it is not unusual for a primary caregiver to be called “Auntie” when that person is not the child’s actual mother. A term of endearment for the care given.

An overwhelmed pregnant women in crisis. with poverty related issues of housing, employment, transportation, food and daycare insecurity …. such a woman is easily manipulated into thinking she is not enough. Then in this particular case, add the huge factor of her physical injuries ….

This woman never offered her sister the option of providing temporary care. It was adoption or no help at all. That makes it very easy to see how this situation developed.

Most infants placed in foster care will remain there an average of 15 months with maybe 2 – six month extensions. That this Mom got herself back together in under 6 months is phenomenal. She has maintained contact with her infant and is now in a position to parent her child. Ethically this is a No-Brainer. This woman should definitely reunify her niece with her original mom. Need to tell other children why ? Family helps family. OK, someday you can tell the child that you did miss her living with you but you don’t regret doing the right thing at the time.

5 months is only the blink of an eye in this child’s life. Transitioning this baby as soon as possible back to the child’s original mother is important. Time is of the essence. Do the right thing !!

So often a pregnant woman in temporary crisis is pushed into a permanent solution – and then things get better. Most adult adoptees will counsel such a woman to sincerely try parenting her child first, before surrendering the child to adoption. Many times, this leads to a happy ending for mother and child.

The Brave New World

It is a reproductive fact – the egg contributes 50% of a person’s DNA, the sperm contributes 50% of a person’s DNA. For donor conceived children, the mother and/or father who is raising them may or may not be genetically related to them. Often, at least one parent is but in the brave new world of creating human beings utilizing reproductive technology – a child may be raised by a single mother who is not related at all to her child – though she may have carried the child and even breastfed her baby. The truth is that one’s marriage to their child is life-long, though as in the case of divorce, a genetically related parent may not be in their child’s life 24/7 or even throughout the childhood.

I do know of families with donor conceived children for whom the donor was anonymous – this can apply to egg donors as well as sperm donors. Fact is – Anonymity — as a pragmatic matter — can no longer be guaranteed to the donors who contribute to the existence of any donor conceived person. Donor-conceived people have interests all their own. Not all donor-conceived people know about their origin, and many express an interest in knowing more about their donors, including medical and identifying information. In a group of adult donor-conceived offspring from the 256 families that were eligible to receive identifying information, 85 (35%) contacted the clinic for this purpose. Many of those who contacted the clinic did so within the first three years after they turned 18, with the most common motivation to obtain information about their donors, including who they are as a person, their reasons for donation and their medical and health information. Third, recipients have a strong interest in knowing about the health risks their future children may experience based on the medical history of the donor.

Today, a woman writes – I’ve decided to conceive through a known local donor and my own egg. The child will know this man is their biological father. We are planning on meet up at least every 2 weeks from birth and he will receive plenty of pictures. He has also agreed to donate a second time in about 2 years so that my children will be biological siblings. (my note – that is certainly what my husband and I have as sons.) My question is, is there anything I’m overlooking in my excitement that I can do differently for the well-being of the child with this set up?

There are some details that sound like they haven’t been worked out yet. Is this an informal sperm donation or is it being arranged through a bank? Will he be listed on the birth certificate as the child’s father? Have you asked for perspectives from donor conceived people? Do you have a support system to help you raise the baby if he is not planning to be involved financially or practically? Has anything been drawn up legally? If he is not on the birth certificate as the father then he has no responsibility to help, participate or abide by your wishes. Sperm donors are not treated as the father of the child by law. No matter how much you may like and trust him today, things can change. To be clear, I am not against you creating a donor conceived a child. I encourage you to work out the legal details and to really think about the what if‘s no matter how unlikely they may seem now.

One response and some additional questions was this – The most ethical way to do this would be to list him on the birth certificate as the father and actually co-parent with him, not just let the child meet up with him every two weeks. Do you really think that would work out long term ? How would you handle it if the child tells you they want more time with their dad, overnights or to live with their dad or anything at all ?

Then there was this – What about when dad develops a new relationship with a woman who wants him all to herself?? To be with her and their “real” kids? Followed by an example – I actually know someone who was in this exact situation. She did what you are hoping to do, with a man who she thought would be in her child’s life forever. He moved across the country, married a woman who was/is extremely uncomfortable with the situation, they had kids together, and now he hasn’t seen his oldest child in over 2 years.

The woman in the question doesn’t want a romantic relationship and so that brings up another issue – You can forgo a romantic relationship, while also not procreating with a stranger. I do not understand why anyone would have a child with a man you do not know and then give that man access to your child. It takes a level of intimacy to trust someone to father your kid, doesn’t have to be romantic.

Again, more questions – what happens if you do meet somebody and fall in love, and your partner wants to take on the role of “dad” and feels threatened by the child’s relationship with its father ? And mentioned before – What happens if the father meets somebody and falls in love and she feels threatened by it, and tells him she doesn’t want him involved with you and your child ? What happens if he gets a job opportunity that moves him across the country, or even across the world ?

A woman choosing to donor conceive really needs to seriously think through the situation and there are situations where it does make sense and can be handled well. So just some final thoughts –

Both need to be absolutely certain on how that would work. Couples that intimately know each other can struggle to communicate well enough to co-parent, even within a marriage, and even more so when they live apart. You mentioned the specific of every two weeks having visits but what do you expect the visit to entail? How will you communicate changes in schedule? Are there financial obligations? Would your expectations change if his financial situation changed? What influence would he have on life decisions such as education, religion, place of residence, activities etc. What if someone needs or wants to move? Will you be able to control who else is included in the visits? How will his family be included or excluded? How will you handle inevitable disagreements on important issues? Do you have it legally planned out if something should happen to you and you are unable to parent or pass away? Planning to have full legal custody doesn’t guarantee you will make every decision on your own for the child. Are you financially prepared to confront additional legal barriers? You also mentioned having a sibling in two years which opens a new can of worms so to speak. I have watched so many of my friends struggle to work with someone they once loved navigating these issues. Some no longer recognize the person they chose (it happened) to father their child. Parenthood fundamentally changes people and it does seem you could set you and your child up for tremendous conflict. I think I would have multiple friends and family members write down every potential question they can think of and discuss how you can legally address these questions. I would also set up a prescribed procedure that should be followed when conflict does arise. I hope that is something attorneys can legally require. I’m sure you have thought a lot about what you expect, just be certain all of the potential legal issues are addressed to the best of your ability. In my opinion it would be a mistake to cross bridges when you come to them or rely on the donor to be a benevolent actor.

And just this advice – for your own protection, talk with a lawyer first. I got a free consult with a lawyer with expertise in this area, and decided a sperm bank was a better choice. There are a lot of cases, especially in certain states, where your donor could be considered a father, and could take custody, even with a legal agreement in place. Or could prevent you from moving out of state, etc. Took me awhile to let that dream go, but it was the right choice for me.

And though there aren’t many yet (I have read an essay from one myself who recognized she would not exist otherwise, which I thought a very healthy perspective) here are some Thoughts From A IVF Donor Conceived Person (if you want to read some more from such a person’s perspective). With this one, I thought this was also a healthy perspective – “I have never doubted that I was wanted, I’ve always known I was meant to be here on this earth. My conception wasn’t down to mystical chance, I had purpose and meaning to both sets of my parents from the moment I was conceived in my little Petri dish.”

Personally, as a last word, I can relate to this as I experienced secondary infertility, I was simply too old to conceive naturally any longer, even though I did give birth to a genetically, biologically related child – “Finding that you need assistance in conceiving does not mean you have failed, and it doesn’t mean any child you conceive through assisted reproduction is in any way ‘artificial’ or different from naturally conceived children. I’m proud of both my biological mother and my mother. IVF doesn’t make them any different to other parents, and raising a child that was not her own biological material doesn’t make my mother less of a parent.”

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Shame

We feel shame when we violate the social norms we believe in. At such moments we feel humiliated, exposed and small and are unable to look another person straight in the eye. We want to sink into the ground and disappear. Shame makes us direct our focus inward and view our entire self in a negative light.

I came upon the powerful graphic above yesterday and felt there was more that I could personally say about it. On my Facebook profile page yesterday, I shared – I have owned up to this before. I had an abortion at the age of 23 or so – mid 1970s. I am glad it was safe and legal. I was not being reckless. I was driving an 18-wheeler with a partner. Our dispatcher didn’t get us home to where my pharmacy was in time and I ended up pregnant. Neither he nor his family were the kind of people I would be glad to have been tied to through a child today. At the time, I had breakthrough bleeding. My ex-SIL and ex-BIL had a child with serious birth defects. I just felt the pregnancy was not progressing normally. Also, to be honest – I didn’t want to commit my life to 7 more months of going it alone with no financial support. I’ve never regretted it but pro-Life propaganda has definitely haunted me. In writing this, I searched my memory for all of the reasons why I chose that course of action.

The mothers and women in my family, and to whom I am genetically related, chose other courses of action. Back in the 1930s, the mothers of both of my own parents, chose to carry their pregnancies, spent the first few precious months with their babies, and one way or another lost that first child to adoption. I wrote, and it was true, “I didn’t want to commit my life to 7 more months of going it alone with no financial support.” In some people’s minds I was simply being selfish and I will accept that judgment, though in truth I have no regrets about doing what I did and for the reasons I did it at the time.

Yet, I felt enough shame for having chosen a different path (both of my sisters carried unplanned pregnancies to term but also gave their babies up for adoption) that it was a long time before I admitted to anyone what I did earlier in life. It was my private decision which no one but the circumstances influenced. Maybe influenced in no small measure by the legality and safety of the choice at the time. Only as Roe v Wade has come under increasing opposition have I started sharing my own story of what it was like to have made that choice and my gratitude that I had it available to my own self when I felt I needed that.

The father of my own conception made it clear he would not stand by me if I chose otherwise but I don’t think that was my major motivation. In reflecting on my statement that I would have had to “go it alone” above, I also know my parents supported one of my sisters throughout the pregnancy and then, remarkable to me now that I know more about adoption in general, my own adoptee mom coerced my sister into giving up the baby she wanted to keep and then, encouraged a lie to me that the baby had died. Intuitively, I knew it had not and concocted fantastical stories about what had actually happened to the baby believing it had been stolen and taken into Mexico (my sister had delivered at a hospital in El Paso TX very near the national border). Because of this, my mom finally admitted her truth regarding the whole situation to me.

Many women bear a cross – maybe they suffer their whole lives knowing their child is out there somewhere out of their own reach. Many of these original mothers suffer a secondary infertility and never have another child. Many struggle as single mothers to keep and raise their child. Our society does nothing to help them. My sister actually sought financial support during her pregnancy but was denied it based upon our parents financial condition. It was not my parents seeking financial support but my sister and not in increase my parents financial condition either.

After I divorced the father of my first child, I had to go to work and that meant child care. When one “family style” child care that she loved at first became a tearful battle, I left work to check on her and discovered through the window of a half door, an older child bullying her and no adults in sight. I pulled her out that day. I often had to go to my mother to beg $20 to make it through to payday. She never denied me but financially it was always difficult. At the time I divorced her father, he told me he would never pay me one cent of child support because I would just party with the money. Such a horrible perception he had of my own integrity and ethics. I didn’t want to spend my life in court fighting him for it even though the judge insisted in awarding me $25/mo “in case” I changed my mind and wanted to seek an increase. I never did. Instead, I left my daughter with her paternal grandmother while I tried to build a financial nest egg for the two of us by seeing if I was capable of driving an 18 wheel truck cross-country.

I always intended to return for her and would have never given her to her father to raise but his mother did that. He remarried a woman with a child and then they had a child together. Unintended consequences of financial desperation. And now, in a sense my story has come full circle, my shame – not even listed above – is that I gave up raising my child for financial reasons. Back when she was in day care, I couldn’t hardly answer the pediatrician’s questions, because she was away from me all day. After her father and step-mother raised her, I struggled to find birthday cards for her that reflected the lack of a daily, physical relationship I had with her. There were no role models for an absentee mother back in the mid-1970s, even though the absentee father was a standard reality.

Shame. Oh yes, I am well acquainted with it. As my daughter knows, I have struggled to find peace with not having “stuck it out,” as my own mother said to me that she would have done, to do the right thing by my daughter. It is a work in process. Recently, I reflected on all the things I did right by her in the brief early years she was physically under my care. I told her, I realize that when I was mother to you, I was a good one. And the abortion ? I atoned for it, by giving up my own genetic connection to have two egg donor conceived sons (same donor both times), that my husband might be able to have the children he desired, even as we both realized I had gotten too old to conceive naturally. Even so, they are now almost 18 and 21 years old. They have proven to me that I can “mother” children 24/7 throughout their own childhoods. At least I have no shame in that. I even breastfed both until they were just over 1 year old. I also have the knowledge that I didn’t put adoption trauma onto the fetus I aborted early in that pregnancy.

Baby Remains In Mother

No matter what happens to separate you, your baby becomes a physical part of you always. I find this knowledge beautiful.

While pregnant, the cells of the baby migrate into the mother’s bloodstream and then, circle back into the baby. It’s called “fetal-maternal microchimerism” – the presence of a small number of cells that are genetically proven to have originated in another individual. Not directly originating in the mother.

For 41 weeks during pregnancy, these cells circulate and move, backwards and forwards. After a baby is born, many of these cells will stay in the mother’s body, leaving a permanent imprint in the mother’s tissues, bones, brain, and skin. Every child a mother has will leave it’s imprint in her body.

Studies have shown, cells from a fetus could be still found in a mother’s brain, even 18 years after the baby was no longer present in her. Even if a pregnancy doesn’t go to term or the mother has an abortion, these cells are still present in her bloodstream.

A mother’s body is designed to protect her developing baby, regardless of the physical cost to her personally. This effect goes both ways, the baby’s cells help repair the mother, while the mother’s body builds the baby. If a mother’s heart is injured, fetal cells rush in and change into different types of cells to assist in mending her heart. It is known that sometimes a mother’s illness will vanish during pregnancy.

This is all part of nature’s plan that allows a baby to develop safely and survive.

And those crazy cravings you have while pregnant ? What were you nutritionally deficient in, to make your baby cause you to want to eat that ? I had gestational diabetes with my two late-life pregnancies. The fetus was craving sugar and that made it difficult to control my blood glucose. I found it surprising how the body inside my body could take over control.

So, if you have intuitively felt your child, even when they are not physically present, that is because they are still in you. Science has found this much proof that this is a reality. A mother carries remnants of her child within her for years, maybe forever, after they are no longer within the mother’s body.