Abortion Prevents Adoptions

I once had an abortion. The timing of my pregnancy was all wrong (and significant drug use was taking place), the father to be all wrong (not interested), the progression of the pregnancy was all wrong (see drug use above) as breakthrough bleeding was occurring. My sister-in-law gave birth to a son with severe birth defects. While I cannot know if her desperate attempts to hide her high school, out of wedlock, pregnancy played a role, it could have. I know when my first husband discovered I was pregnant at a time when he had an active case of hepatitis (most likely also drug related) he feared our child would be compromised. I stuck with that pregnancy and she is as close to perfect as any of us are (we do all have our individual health related challenges in life).

So, I was grateful for the ability to have a safe and clean, medically provided, mental health counseling included before the procedure, abortion at Reproductive Services in El Paso Texas in the mid-1970s. Honestly, it has haunted me. Not because I think it was the wrong decision but because abortion is such a contentious issue. For a long time, I didn’t tell anyone I had had one.

I am old enough now that whether abortion was outlawed or not, it would not affect me personally. I am wise enough to think, instead of trying to control women’s bodies, men could choose to control their own. For one by not promiscuously pursuing sex. Young men could be given vasectomies that are reversible when they become mature enough to be responsible as fathers. That’s a winning option in my perspective.

I loved the passion in Paxton Smith’s speech because I see my own self when I was that age. I have always been an outspoken person. I loved to debate the boys in my Algebra class in high school (I also had a coach for Geometry class who made it more understandable). I gave impassioned speeches at pep rallies on occasion. I am still outspoken as anyone who follows my Facebook page surely knows. Paxton has said the most meaningful reactions to her speech have come from concerned fathers who fear for their own daughters’ futures.

Paxton Smith had pre-written a speech on how TV and media have shaped her worldview, which had been approved by school administrators. But when it came time to address the graduating class of Lake Highlands high, she switched course. Her nervous emotions are plain to see before they reach that level of impassioned anger. I recognize how that feels.

Texas’s new “heartbeat” measure ranks among the most extreme abortion bans in the US, blocking the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy – before many women and girls even know they’re pregnant. The bill, due to come into force in September, doesn’t include exceptions for rape or incest and allows private citizens to enforce its provisions through what could be a torrent of expensive and time-consuming lawsuits.

Abortion or Pro-Life issues are the hot button for evangelical Christians. It is not lost on me, what the Salvation Army in El Paso Texas told me when I was researching my dad’s adoption through them – they had to close down their homes for unwed mothers (a method of channeling infants to prospective adoptive parents) after Roe v Wade passed because there were simply not enough clients to keep the enterprise going. Another factor is the societal acceptance of single mothers – I know more than one who is doing a fantastic job raising their children – both genders included in this number. I don’t know if the Salvation Army took “donations” from prospective adoptive parents in exchange for infants but it would not surprise me if they did. Adoption is a lucrative business at any level of charitable intent.

Evangelical Christians are very interested in taking heathen babies and converting them to the faith. True, it may simply be emotional, adorable baby feelings that they think causes them to be against abortion and Pro-Life. However, just like Mitch McConnell’s nefarious agenda for our government’s institutions, the powers that be in the Christian hierarchy seek to increase the number of the faithful in part through adoption.

(M)otherhood

As I was reading a review of this book, it struck me that these are issues that come up frequently in my all things adoption group. I am also personally familiar with secondary infertility and abortion. Looks like a good read. Here is the review by Viv Groskop in The Guardian titled – Motherhood: A Manifesto; (M)otherhood; The Motherhood Complex review – calling time on the cult of the perfect parent. Yes, she reviews 3 books, I’m only highlighting one here – (M)otherhood by Pragya Agarwal. You can read about the other two at that link.

In (M)otherhood, behavioral scientist Pragya Agarwal wonders if a book questioning the parental self and society’s attitudes to that self needs to define itself either as memoir or as political writing: “Does it really have to sit in a box?” Here is proof that it really doesn’t: this is an exhilarating, genre-defying read. Unsurprisingly, coming from the author of Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias, Dr Agarwal is especially concerned with issues of identity, which makes this a thoughtful, anthropological journey. What does it mean to want to be a mother? What will others assume about you if you choose that – and if you don’t? What do these assumptions tell us about who we are as a society?

She frequently wonders about the role of the judgmental words we use around female bodies. She is told she has an “incompetent” or “inhospitable” uterus. She writes movingly of the ambiguities of motherhood, secondary infertility (being unable to conceive after giving birth in the past), surrogacy and her personal experience of abortion as a single mother: “A contradiction: I was a mother, but I couldn’t be a mother. Not then.”

All these moments are seamlessly interwoven with statistics, quotes and scientific evidence to clever narrative effect: the personal and the universal aspects of motherhood are illuminated as interchangeable in a way that is reminiscent of Olivia Laing’s writing on loneliness or the body. The science writer Angela Saini sums up (M)otherhood perfectly in her cover quote as “a step towards a literature that acknowledges the breadth and the variety of the parenting experience and its cultural meanings”. The whole thing adds up to the most thoughtful, empathic and inspiring science of the self. (Not that I can see Waterstones – a bookstore in the UK – adopting this as a shelf category. But perhaps it should.)

The reviewer ends with these thoughts – Overall this trio represents a side-eye question: “Haven’t we all had enough of trying so hard?” As Eliane Glaser points out in Motherhood: A Manifesto, many of the current stereotypes of mothers “symbolize our failure to improve the experience of motherhood.” See TV’s Motherland, books like Why Mummy Drinks and endless “hilarious” jokes about wine o’clock: “The only suggestion we can offer is to just drink through it.” Melissa Hogenboom’s conclusion in The Motherhood Complex? We are so obsessed with being “perfect parents” that we set ourselves up for failure. Better to be “selfish” (actually, sensible) and leave children to their own devices more often. I’ll drink to that.

What does this have to do with adoption ? If we can address what drives EVERY woman to believe she needs to have children, we can lower the demand by infertile women for other women’s babies and perhaps address the core issue of providing financial support and encouragement for mothers to keep and raise their own children. So yeah, it IS relevant.

When Circumstances Change

Expectant mothers considering a surrender of their not yet born child to adoption who end up in my all things adoption group are often counseled “don’t choose a permanent solution to what is actually a temporary situation.” Case in point, in today’s story.

So a woman had a baby when she was 19 years old. She surrendered him to adoption because she felt that she could not support herself and so by extension, could not support a child either.

5 years have passed and the original mother recently graduated from college. Throughout his young life, the adoptive mother has allowed the boy and his original mother to have contact with one another.

In a definitely misguided perspective, the adoptive mother encouraged her adoptive son to think of his original mother as a cousin or a friend. The complication here is this is a kinship adoption. The original mom is the adoptive mom’s cousin. 

Well, his original mother can now support herself. At the moment, she wants MORE contact with her son and for him to stay with her a few nights a week.

The adoptive mother is a stay at home mom and she claims her concern is that his original mother would utilize day care for him and only spend time with him at night.

The original mother and adoptive mother are now at opposite ends – the adoptive mother claims that if the original mother loved him so much, she would not have given him up 5 years ago.

The original mother claims it is cruel of the adoptive mother to refuse her request for a few nights a week with her son.

When the original mother brought up her financial struggles at the time the boy was born, the adoptive mother came back with “You don’t get to abandon your child and then decide you want him back 5 years later. I am his mother now.”

The original mother believes, given time, the two of them will bond with one another again and he will begin to think of her as his mother also. It has been proven that children are able to comprehend of more than one woman as being equally both of his mothers.

Now, the adoptive mother has threatened the original mother saying – “If you continue trying to steal him from me, I will stop letting you see him at all.” The reality is – the original mother can not legally undo a finalized adoption – so it is not possible for her to physically steal the child back from the adoptive mother.

One can certainly agree with the concern about putting him in daycare but this “stealing” language is very destructive. No one “owns” their own biological child, much less someone else’s child who one has adopted. He should be allowed to bond with his mom as often as he wants. The child should set any boundaries regarding the rebuilding of a disrupted mother child relationship.

There really has to be another way to satisfy both women. The original mother could pick her son up for the evening and drop him back off with the adoptive mother before work. Rigidity often prevents viable solutions to sticky issues from being considered. Always, the child’s best interests and well-being should be what governs decisions.

The truth is, the original mother did not abandon her child but was doing her best to do what was best for her baby at the time. Unfortunately, whether conscious of it or not, every adoptee has an abandonment wound. Because their original mother did leave them. Pure and simple. Understanding adult complications is not possible until a person is mature and living the realities of life’s hardships themselves.

The honest truth is that visits for the original mother and her child will promote a connection that is critical for the child after having been relinquished. Seeing that no harm comes of it would ease the mind of the adoptive parent. This is a situation in which a professional therapist acting as an intermediary might head off some horrific results. The child will grow up eventually and will know the truth. Better to keep things harmonious during his childhood.

Whatever Happened To The Village ?

Modern life can be very isolating.  In adoption circles, it is recognized that the reason many parents, and especially single mothers, lose custody of their child is a lack of support – financial, familial and mental health.

It is more difficult for some parents to tap into support than others. Parents who may be new to a particular community; parents who are raising a child with some sort of mental health or behavioral challenge or health concern; parents who are barely scrapping by from pay check to pay check and who may not have the financial resources to sign their kids up for extra-curricular activities that might otherwise bring them into the orbit of other families; parents who are working unpredictable schedules that make it hard to make plans. All those factors can make it extra challenging to find – let alone connect with – your “village.”

If you’re a parent who is finding it hard to find support in your community, start out by looking for that support online.  Online social networking has been a godsend for me because we live a rural wilderness isolated existence.  Therefore, my mom’s group (formed 17 years ago) keeps me in contact with other mothers sharing some unique and similar impacts of daily living.  Our children are all turning 16 this year and our group started as email exchange threads and eventually migrated to Facebook.  Another useful group for me as I discover the effects that rampant adoption has had on my family is a group that is made up of mothers who lost custody, adoptees, former foster care youth and adoptive parents.  This group is especially helpful for unwed mothers considering the surrender of their baby to adoption after birth.

Once you’ve tapped into online support, you may also find groups focused in your own town, city, county or state that bring with them opportunities to create in person relationships in your community. Maybe you can find an online group for parents and kids in your local vicinity – this offers the best of both worlds.  There you may find instantly accessible online support when you’re looking for that.  And advice in the midst of a really bad day (or even longer night!) which every parent faces at times.  You may find in person events, get-togethers that provide opportunities to meet online acquaintances face-to-face.

For many people, that village of yesteryear simply no longer exists.  Happily for many of us, we have discovered that modern technology is allowing us to find a new way.  Even in dire financial emergencies, there are now online methods of fund raising.  In smaller communities, such as the one I live in there are often jars set up near the cash registers of sympathetic businesses to help some local cause.  In community Facebook pages, one can even inquire about jobs or temporary needs for furniture, appliances, clothing etc after an unfortunate event in a family’s life.

All this to say – it is still out there – support for families in need.  It just looks different now.

CoParentaLys

This is something I did not know existed before today.  However, I belong to a mom’s group, all of whom conceived their children by some method of assisted reproduction.  In our group are more than one single woman who was aging and gave up on waiting for a suitable partner to mother a child and these women – each and every one of them – is a strong, capable, loving and effective parent.

In this age of on-line dating, it should not surprise me that since 2014, an internet site has existed to facilitate several unconventional kinds of yearnings.  There is the Co-Parenting by Choice aspect for a single person wishing to meet another person of the opposite sex that is willing to become the parent of a child with the seeker.

There is the aspect of someone who both wants to conceive a child but also find love as part of that effort.  In this case it is a kind of dating site that pre-selects for a willingness to start a family.

There is an aspect for men willing to donate sperm so that a single woman can conceive a child.

There is finally an aspect for homosexual co-parenting in which a gay couple who want to have a child team up with a single person or another homosexual couple.  Suggesting, they surround that child with love by becoming three or four parents together.

I find this very interesting.  They say they have 25,000 members.  It is noted that since the creation of their site, thousands of families have been created and hundreds of children have been born (maybe even thousands …).

There are YouTubes related to the effort and Facebook page.  There seems to be a strong international component to this community.  You may wish to consider this woman’s experience in a video sharing – The Life of a CoParent.

St Anne’s in Maryland

Some charitable organizations endure. When I saw this article, I thought of Porter-Leath in Memphis but the outcome for my grandmother (losing her infant, for which she was only seeking temporary care until she could get on her feet) was not so good.

St. Anne’s Center for Children, Youth and Families in Hyattsville Maryland has existed for 160 years. They were originally an orphanage and a maternity hospital.  The organization founded during a crisis has reinvented itself time and again since.  The same could be said for Porter Leath as well.

The organization was created in 1860 to serve women and children during the Civil War and it continued to do so through the 1918 flu pandemic, both World Wars, the Great Depression and now, a new pandemic.

Over the years, it has changed its name and purpose. It went from “asylum” to an “orphanage” to a “center” that now houses mothers and children, sometimes for years, if that’s what they need to successfully escape homelessness.

In recent times, they have seen incredible successes like they had not seen before in terms of families leaving them and going into permanent housing. It’s nothing short of incredible how these families are doing that.

When a single mother with a young child comes to St. Anne’s, she and her daughter are given a furnished apartment complete with a bookshelf filled with children’s books. They share a kitchen, laundry room and playground with other families, but otherwise have their own space.

One such mother said –

“I used to say, ‘I don’t want her to remember any of this stuff,’ ” she says of her daughter. “Now, I want her to see where we were, and how we are in a much more amazing place. I want her to see, ‘My mommy did it, my mommy figured it out, she took care of what we had to take care of.’ ”

When they move into their new house, she says, she wants her daughter to know that from these hard times, her mom created something better for them.

What Is Wrong About Adoption ?

As a society, we don’t really take care of one another.  Lately, it may seem to people hoping to adopt that the whole possibility has been hijacked and beaten up.  Adoptees and their original family feel they were sold out and ripped to shreds by those who’s financial interests took their parents or children away from each other.

The methods by which adoption has been practiced in this country are a shackle upon the most vulnerable members of the triad.  Sealed adoption records, hidden indentities, have kept people genetically related apart and have treated adoptees like second-class citizens who are denied the same basic civil rights so many people without adoption in their family history take for granted.

The rainbows and unicorns IDEAL of the adoptive experience is scarred now by battles waged by those who the practice has hurt the most.  Families formed by adoption are only seen through the smoke of lies and deception.  But that is changing and in no small part because of adult adoptees who are speaking out about the damage and about their rights to a genuine and authentic identity, even if it is a sorrowful and tragic beginning to their own life.

Back in the late 1980s, the origins of an adoption story may have started this way – An 18 year old girl becomes pregnant from an affair with her employer.  She denies she is pregnant until it is too evident to conceal.  Maybe she looked in the Yellow Pages, where she found what looked like help for her situation.  She moves to a large city and lives with a “host family” (strangers who she’ll lose contact with once her baby is born).  At birth, her child is handed over to a couple she knows only as a photograph.

By moving this young woman to a different state, she was isolated away from family and friends – those who cared about her and may have allowed her a different outcome.  Though she knew who her baby’s father was, the agency may have advised her not to tell him about his child.  She was encouraged to surrender her child by being told how deficit she was to raise that child.  This kind of practice went on for many decades, certainly in the 1930s when my parents were surrendered to adoption and as recently as the late 1980s, when Roe v Wade and the emergence of single mothers as an accepted aspect of society reduced the number of babies available for adoption.

So if you have begun to sense that there is simmering an anti-adoption movement you are not mis-interpreting the noise.  One could even call this the next frontier for reproductive justice.

Supporting Mothers and Children

It is not surprising that more women are delaying motherhood in our current time.  It can be difficult to find the kind of support that gives a woman confidence in becoming a mom.  In my mom’s group, we also have women who chose to have children without a spouse, having given up on finding the quality of person they felt would be a supportive parent.

After I met my husband, I told my doctor that he was the kind of person I would be willing to become a mother again with and after ten years of marriage, we made the decision to add parenthood to our life as a couple.  Previously, I had a child who I still adore and found there was no support for myself as a single mother after I felt compelled to divorce her father.  So, I was understandably reluctant to go into motherhood again but this time it worked out.  There are always bumps along the way in any relationship but we have made it through them so far and our two sons are almost grown.

70% of all moms are working mothers.  25% are the primary breadwinner in their family.  Almost half of all two parent families find both parents employed outside the home.  The realities of modern life are – it is difficult to support any family on one employment option.  And our society only cares about the unborn and not children once they are born when a woman has to support her family without any financial assistance from a partner.  That I think is a real tragedy.

In a Pew Research Center analysis – there were 9 million mothers living with a child younger than 18 without a spouse or partner. Solo motherhood is particularly common among black mothers (56% are in this category). By comparison, 26% of Hispanic moms, 17% of white moms and 9% of Asian moms are solo parents. (Solo parenthood is far less common among fathers: 7% of dads are raising a child without a spouse or partner in the home.)

For my own self, Pro-Life would be full support for parents raising children if the available resources fall below what is adequate to provide the basic necessities.  Until then, I believe we fail the morality test as a society.

Where There Is Demand

In the decades after World War II, there was a huge demand for “adoptable” babies.

If the demand for adoptable babies continues to exceed the supply . . . if the laws and courts continue to emphasize that the “rights of the child” supersede the “rights of the parents”, then it is quite possible that, in the near future, unwed mothers will be “punished” by having their children taken from them right after birth. A policy like this would not be executed nor labelled explicitly as “punishment”. Rather, it would be implemented by such pressures and labels as “scientific findings”, “the best interest of the child” and “rehabilitation of the unwed mother”.

~ The Baby Scoop Era

Once unwed mothers in the United States began to chose to keep their children, international adoptions became all the rage.  Without strong familial support, it was generally not possible for a single mother to really support herself and her child because the self-reliant tradition in the United States does not believe in financially supporting such mothers.  I was such a single mother after divorce who was not supported by my child’s father.

Back in the 1970s, growing up, I knew a girl who kept her child but mostly it was the grandmother who raised it.  Even more recently in the early 2000s, I know of a similar case.

But in my own family, where both of my parents were adopted, there was no familial support for their daughters keeping a child if they were not married.  Adoption was suggested as the solution.  The results speak for themselves.