Curiosity

Morgan Hannah with her mom

Researching Russell Moore for my blog yesterday, I somehow stumbled upon Morgan Hannah with a Medium article titled – I Was Adopted. I’ll share some excerpts and then, if you feel so inclined, you can support her writing by clapping for her piece there.

Morgan writes – “The difference between me and the rest of my family is that they will never know the curiosity of their personal history.” I think this one statement gets to the heart of the issue as to why most people do not understand this passion for a person impacted by adoption to know their origins and family roots. I wasn’t adopted like Morgan was but both of my parents were and it was like there was this black hole or void stretching out into infinity beyond them. So much we didn’t know – cultural background and family medical history. I once had a writer friend as me why adoption matters – then as I tried to explain, in her own words, she understood. She said, “Whether I am interested in my own family history or not, I know I can uncover it.” Precisely. These issues have been behind the effort to force states here in America to open up the sealed adoption records. Each state has its own laws and just under half allow adoptees access when they reach the age of maturity. My parents died clueless about their own origins.

Continuing on with some excerpts of Morgan’s own thoughts about all of this. She notes that New Jersey had passed a law to open access to original birth certificates for adoptees. “Then I read in the article that birth parents were sending requests for anonymity. Parents have every right to conceal their names, request no contact, and avoid letting the public know that they had a child given for adoption.

She states, “But why the hell would anyone do that?”

Morgan goes on to share – According to the article, state organizations such as New Jersey Right to Life and Catholic Conference worry that birth mothers will feel betrayed. The enactment of this law could cause an increase in abortions due to women fearing their pregnancy might be discovered.

There it is again – it is about how Christianity promotes adoptions as a counter to abortions.

Morgan had read that The Donaldson Adoption Institute released a report in November 2016 that looks at the thought process and influences that determine a mother’s choice to give up a child to adoption. She goes on to share that – According to the report, many new mothers say they felt social stigmas related to their religious beliefs, fear of being judged or being a single mother, along with emotional and self imposed physical isolation.

To balance her article, she adds this about why women have chosen abortions. Severe health related issues can make abortion the only choice, another report says. The Guttmacher Institute’s 2004 survey reports that “among the structured survey respondents, the two most common reasons were “having a baby would dramatically change my life” and “I can’t afford a baby now” (cited by 74% and 73%, respectively)… Women also cited possible problems affecting the health of the fetus or concerns about their own health (13% and 12%, respectively).”

Morgan did eventually find her original mother and so writes – “I am appreciative of knowing who my birth mother is and of having a deeper understanding of my identity. I fully believe that adopted children have the right to know the full details of their life, including genealogy and medical history.”

She is also Pro-Choice, writing – “I also believe women should have authority over their lives and their bodies, and I encourage everyone to be open minded about the difficult choices young women have to make about childbirth. With more people understanding the issues associated with adoption and abortion, the more support a new mother will have.” I absolutely agree with Morgan.

Women’s Rights

The topic of abortion and it’s intersectionality with adoption comes up often in adoption groups as it does in religious groups, especially those that are strong anti-abortion.  Because every baby that isn’t aborted is a potential baby for sale to someone, usually a couple, who can afford to buy the baby.  And money is always involved.

Throughout history, men have made decisions about what a woman is allowed to do.  It goes back to biblical texts that support a patriarchy.  Most women of at least a certain mature age have spent a great deal of their life dealing with men who feel an entitlement to a woman’s body in one manner or another.  And throughout history, men have impregnated woman with no sense of responsibility for any conceptions that occur afterwards.

Abortion often comes up in conjunction with infertility.  Infertility has EVERYTHING to do with adoption. Abortion is also a topic discussed in a pro-choice adoption community group. Hopeful adoptive parents use their infertility to complain about abortion.

The most enlightened point of view is just because I can’t have kids, doesn’t mean another woman can’t decide whats best for her body, mind and soul.  I will always defend a woman’s rights – not just to determine whether to carry a pregnancy to term but for equal pay, for the right to be respected when she refuses to have sex with a man and to be free of the violence of domestic abuse.

In response to someone clearly pro-Life in my adoption group, one woman wrote – I am an adoptive parent who had fertility issues. While I would never choose abortion for myself, I will never judge a woman who does. That’s not my job. I leave all judgement to God.

As someone who had an abortion, that I still think actually was the right choice for my own self and for my male partner at the time, it is not an easy thing to live with.  It’s not “God” who judges me, but my own self, and I have reflected on it deeply many many times.  The pro-Life narrative that one can’t avoid doesn’t help with the paradox of believing in a human life developing in the womb and still making the decision that the life is not what is best for one’s self given one’s personal circumstances.

One woman wrote – I’ve been struggling with infertility for three years. It sucks. But I’m still very pro-choice. My struggle to get pregnant will never mean anyone else should be forced to go through a pregnancy.

A pregnancy is a long term commitment – 9 months – which is almost an entire year.  It impacts one’s ability to live their life according to their own trajectory.  If a woman carries the baby to term and then given it up for adoption, the impacts of that decision last a lifetime for the woman and for her child – and they are not happy impacts, even in the best of circumstances.  Like any horrific trauma, both may learn to live with it.  When a woman chooses an abortion, it is not the preferred choice, which would have been not to become pregnant to begin with.  In my case, work that kept me away from my pharmacy, meant I was late beginning that month’s birth control.

I also support society coming to the financial and emotion aid of any woman who carries a baby to term and wants to parent that child.  That is the intersection point where the trauma of mother and child separations could be prevented.  If one’s belief is in God, then perhaps the best perspective for a pro-Life woman dealing with infertility is that God chose not to make them a parent.  Acceptance, in other words.

 

Better To Have Been Aborted

It may surprise a reader to know this, but many adoptees actually wish they would have been aborted.  That is how painful it is to be given up for adoption and doubly painful if the adopting parents prove to further damage an already damaged soul.

I am pro-Choice and pro-life.  Not pro-Life like most of those are.  They are only pro-Birth, truth be told.  They are not willing to fund adequate financial support to struggling mothers so that they can keep and raise their children.

The world has enough people already.  We do NOT need to be fruitful and multiply any more.  In fact, we have not needed to do that for a very long time.  The population explosion first occurred on a small scale and with a relatively moderate intensity in Europe and America, more or less between 1750 and 1950.  Enough is enough.  If a couple wants to have children and is willing to fully support raising them, I’m all for it.  Otherwise, trust women to make the best decision and stop stressing over the babies you imagine they have killed.

I fully understand what it feels like for a child to be born into this world unwanted and unprepared for. My maternal grandmother never had any other children because of the shame and guilt she felt at having surrendered a child for adoption. She died too young and I fear what happened to separate her from my mom haunted her for her entire life.

I am a woman who chose to have an abortion. The timing was wrong, the father was wrong to make any kind of commitment and the pregnancy was not developing normally.  I am grateful I could go to a clean clinic, where I received counseling and good treatment.  It still haunted me.  I had a child before the abortion who I am forever glad I kept (even though some circumstances at the time of her conception suggested I should not have – I knew she would be just fine and she was/is).  I am a woman who went on to have two very wanted sons when I entered into a marriage to a good man who wanted to be a good father and he is.

Life

This is an annual event and I have done a lot of thinking about it.  I am in favor of access to abortion being safe and legal.  I believe it is always an unfortunate choice but I continue to believe the choice should be there.  As a spiritual person, I do not believe we can make a mistake.  I believe that the Divine knows what we will do before we do it and uses that.  I also believe that every life is precious, should be valued and cared for.  I believe this makes me pro-Life but does not make me anti-abortion.  Many pro-lifers are simply pro-birth but not concerned about the quality of the life they insist needs to be born after it emerges from the womb.  They also seem to be totally unconcerned with the impacts of an explosive population growth on our environmental quality.  This is just how I see it and I do not need for anyone else to see it the same way I do.

In 1956, economists Christopher Cundell and Carlos McCartney designed the quality-adjusted life year, also know as QALY.  Health-care systems have used it extensively ever since to evaluate the costs and benefits of various medical interventions. It takes the number of remaining years someone would be expected to live, and, if that person is expected to live in perfect health, multiplies it by one—and by a smaller number if the person will be, for example, paralyzed.

Quality of life is certainly an important issue with me.  If I were to be diagnosed with a cancer that would likely end in death, no matter how it is treated, I would prefer to make the most of my remaining time and forego treatment.  I would prefer not to torture myself with medical interventions if the result will be the same and my quality of life will be worse before I die.  That is just the way I see it.  I probably won’t have to face a cancer diagnosis but will probably be fortunate enough to meet an irrevocable end (ie a heart attack as my parents and grandparents did).

Both of my parents were adopted and until recently when I learned about my original grandparents we had no idea what our family health history included.  It appears that all of my grandparents most likely did die of heart attacks, though my paternal grandmother was just being released from the hospital after successful breast cancer surgery when she had her fatal event.

And I am grateful I wasn’t aborted or given up for adoption.  I am grateful I have had a decently good life.  I did have an abortion in the late 70s (I believe that was the time frame).  It was safe and I didn’t have to face a bunch of protesters going in.  It was emotionally traumatic and I struggled with my own personal ethical misgivings.

One day, in my heart’s mind, I heard “I am coming.”  I did believe that was the soul of the child I gave up in the physical sense.  Eventually, my son did arrive and he does not carry my genes but he did grow in my womb and nurse at my breast.  I will ever think of him as my atonement child.  He has also allowed me to prove to myself that I can raise children (as I gave up my daughter to her father when he wouldn’t pay child support and I could not financially provide for us).

I do NOT believe any person should put their values upon other people whose shoes they have not walked in.  Bottom line.

Complicated

I’ve been following threads this morning that touch on a topic that I have struggled with before.  It is complicated.  I am pro-Life in a pro-Choice way.  I believe it is a woman’s right to choose and I am deeply concerned about efforts to overturn Roe v Wade.  I just read yesterday that an amicus curie brief was released in which 205 Republican lawmakers, including 39 senators, have asked the Supreme Court to consider whether the 1973 protection of the right to an abortion “should be reconsidered and, if appropriate, overruled.”

Personally, I once resisted the suggestion to have an abortion.  My husband was a heroin addict and had developed hepatitis.  We had a nephew with severe birth defects.  My husband was concerned that our baby would also have negative impacts.  I don’t know why but I just knew she was perfect and defended her life.  She is perfect.

Yet, then I became pregnant under worrisome conditions.  I was taking exotic drugs of a psychedelic nature frequently.  My partner was not the kind of man who was going to be a supportive father.  I was not in a financial position to raise a child on my own.  I had already voluntarily surrendered my daughter to her paternal grandmother while I tried to get on my feet financially.  Shades of my maternal grandmother and how she lost my mom to adoption.

I had an abortion because it was safe and legal.  It was not an easy decision to live with, I will admit that.  It haunted me a bit.  I remember a message coming into my awareness that my son would come back when the timing was better.  It would happen 25 years later.  A son was born into a stable marriage with good circumstances.  Interestingly, my daughter had a similar experience with a still birth and when she became pregnant again, had the same kind of knowing that this was the same son’s soul that was lost before.

I have some concern about a missionary zeal that takes babies from vulnerable young women in order to indoctrinate them into evangelical Christian orthodoxy.  Yet, I also recognize that homelessness and drug use and a lack of financial and familial supports are a serious issue.  I have concerns that Roe v Wade will be overturned and young women will return to back alley abortions in their desperation.

I don’t really have answers to any of this.  Just concerns that are on my mind this morning.  Personally, I believe we live these lives to learn and develop at the soul level and that there are no mistakes, no death and an eternity in which to expand our awareness.

Adoption is not the solution to Abortion

The argument is wrong on so many levels that it is hard to know where to start.  One thing that really irks me is when people and organizations use adoption as an excuse to be anti-choice.  Being pro-choice is not the same as being pro-abortion.  Abortion is often a difficult decision and sometimes haunts a woman for the rest of her life.  She should not be forced into back alleys and dangerous procedures when she sees no other way to end a conception that she never intended.

Adoption is not a solution to abortion. Adoption is a choice about whether or not to parent. A lack of family support is often at the root of a decision to abort or surrender to adoption.  The separation of a child from its mother has wounds that well-meaning people neglect to understand.  The bonding of a child with its mother begins in the womb and no substitute mother is similarly prepared by nature.

How much of a choice is abortion or adoption when you don’t have any other choices?  3 of the 4 children in my family line surrendered to adoption were because there was no other viable choice.  Only one intentionally chose to surrender and intentionally chose the adoptive parents.  Due to a mental illness that manifested quite strongly after that event, I am grateful she made that choice – the young man has grown into a phenomenal person within a nurturing environment.

I am a believer in Reproductive Justice.  Access to safe, legal, and free or affordable contraception and abortion, informed and sensitive adoption policies, comprehensive sex education, and ethical and compassionate immigration policies that don’t criminalize asylum seekers are all examples of reproductive justice issues. Reproductive justice is a framework for considering your ability to control your reproduction and your destiny, safely and with dignity.

Fair Responsibility

The way things are going, it seems like this idea would be fair, if at least this was the law of the land. My mom’s mother lost her when she was exploited by Georgia Tann, because my mom’s father did not take financial responsibility for her life. There is no other perspective I can see as valid. I think he was a good and kind man but why did he abandon them ? That is a question I will never have an answer for.

Though unwed, the married man who impregnated my paternal grandmother did not take any responsibility for his existence either.  I don’t know that the man ever knew he was a father, though my grandmother was clear enough about it to give my dad his father’s middle name and keep a head shot photo of the man with his name and the word “boyfriend” next to a photo of her with my dad on her lap.

People who are pro-life are usually only pro-birth.  They don’t consider either the prolonged gestation, during which a woman may not be able to work, nor the life-long commitment that having a child entails.  Condemning a woman and her children to poverty is not being a supporter of life that has any good qualities beyond love (and of course, love is very important) but that it is okay for them to starve and not have shelter or clothing.

Regardless of the personal hell they will live through, that baby must be born.  The new Jim Crow ?