Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Abortion Post

Here's my personal take on the issue.

Just so y'all know, I'm adopted.

According to the records, my birthmother was 18, and my birthfather was in his forties. According to my mom (who, while she has always been open about where I came from, may be trying to paint a prettier picture of things), she was the babysitter for his 9 year old son, things got out of hand, and she "went to visit an aunt" with only her mother and the guy knowing (and, supposedly, him supporting her financially throughout all this).

This wasn't a life-or-death situation. She chose not to abort me and to give me up for adoption. Yet whatever I accomplish in my life, I could not, would not be so fucking selfish as to DEMAND that that 18 year old girl give up 9 months of her life, her education, risk her life and well-being, undergo the permanent bodily changes of pregnancy, go through labor, give up her born child, in all likelihood suffer horribly every Mother's Day and my birthday for years, have to hide her burden from the family it was kept secret from....

All that, just for the potential, not reality, of my life. I wouldn't have known any different. And it probably would be better for her (possible) other kids if she didn't have me floating in the back of her head. Again, I'm not selfish enough to be glad she made this choice. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy my life (although reading political blogs and slogging through classes sometimes makes it difficult, heh) , and, no, I don't have any sort of self-loathing regarding all this. I'm here, and I'll do the best I can during my time on Earth. But I have a lot of empathy for that poor girl, and I wouldn't hesitate to council another girl in the same situation to do what is best for them.

This is why I'm pro-choice.


SunflowerP said...

The courteous how-I-found-you: You made an irresistible quip on BitchPhD about Orwell not writing instruction manuals. Next thing you know, I was looking at polyhedra!

Though your post is a few weeks old, I can't not comment. Y'see, one of the reasons I'm pro-choice is that I'm a birthmom. I deeply value having been able to make my own decision, when I was faced with unplanned pregnancy; I know from the inside that it's a choice no one else can make.

I'll likely take to stopping by from time to time; I've enjoyed what you've posted so far.


Falyne said...

Thanks for stopping by, and (cliche as this sounds) for sharing. I'm glad you were able to make the choice that was right for you.

If you don't mind my asking, do you have contact with the child? I'm debating whether to try and get in touch with my birthmother, now that I'm a few years over 18. I'm worried about her privacy; that if, say, she's gotten married and hasn't told her husband, for example, or if along the way I accidentally tip off heretofore-unknowing family members... yeah, I don't want to do that.

Family lore says that most of her family was religious/conservative and wasn't informed when she "went away". Then again, I don't know how much of family lore was actually the background adoption info and how much was Mom telling me stories to a.) make me comfortable with who I was and where I came from and b.) inculcate her (fairly conservative) family values. Like, I'm fairly certain that Mom's insistence that my birthfather supported my birthmother financially through the pregnancy (since I doubt that info would have been made available) was to make me feel I half came from a decent guy, and to point to a positive example of the fulfillment of a moral obligation. The "good girl who made a mistake and is now hurt by it but did the right thing... please don't get pregnant yourself it sucks" was part of that narrative, too.

SunflowerP said...

I don't mind at all - I enjoy sharing my story, particularly with adoptees, adoptive parents, my fellow birthparents, and others who have close connections to adoption.

My son searched for me (I have the good fortune to live in a jurisdiction where it's so easy that "search" is almost the wrong word) and contacted me shortly before Christmas a year and a half ago. (Best Christmas present ever!) He and I hit it off so well on the phone that we went for coffee immediately, and have kept in touch since.

I have to say I'm pretty skeptical about your family lore. The whole "go to visit an aunt" thing, and it being kept secret from everybody else, is straight out of '60s YA lit. (Not moralistic stuff - there was a whole branch of YA fiction in the '50s-'80s that focused on young people facing and meeting tough challenges; that was the tough-challenge reality of teen pregnancy in those days.) By the time my son was born, in 1980, it was a whole 'nother world, especially for a young woman who was past her 18th birthday. I won't say it couldn't have happened as your family lore describes; there'd be some variance based on rural/urban, regional culture, your birthmom's family culture, and so on - but it'd be the exception, not the norm.

Your birthmom not telling her husband - mostly part of the same chronoculture. It's tied to a bunch of false assumptions about adoption - in particular, the idea that a birthmom "puts her mistake behind her, forgets about it, and gets on with her life". Again, it's possible, but would require your birthmom to have been subject to a sort of shaming that was no longer the norm at the time, and to still be so strongly influenced by that shaming that, even in a world where adoptees routinely seek their birth families, she's relying on hoping you don't rather than reveal her secret herself.

And even then, there's a factor weighing in the other direction: birthmoms don't forget. It's unlikely she "suffered horribly" on Mothers' Day and your birthday, but it's almost certain she grieved, wondered about you and how you were doing, relived the decision-making process. There are things she wants to know - above all, she wants your affirmation that she did the right thing, because it was you that she was trying to do the right thing for. And odds-on, even if she hasn't told anyone about her "youthful indiscretion", her privacy is a price she'd be willing to pay to hear that affirmation.

From what I know, most systems for tracking down birth families won't lead you to tip any previously-unknowing other relatives off unwittingly - they wouldn't be aware of the search itself; it'd be dependent on you actually making the contact. First and foremost it's your birthmom you'd be looking for, so I figure it's unlikely you'd make contact with another relative unless you couldn't track her down.

Your best first step, I think, would be to get in touch with support sources in your area - that might be an adoptees' support group, or a birthmoms' group, or even an adoption agency (depending how much they're support-oriented and not just a baby-broker - the ones here are very much the heart of the "adoption community", but I hear that's not always the case). That will give you a chance to hear other people's stories, and get a better idea what getting in touch will involve. (If there's a birthmoms' group that organizes something for Birth Mothers' Day, the day before Mothers' Day, I guarantee they'd be thrilled to have an adoptee turn up at the event and want to hear their stories.)

This is long, but barely scratches the surface. You're completely welcome to keep asking questions; as I said, I enjoy doing this (in fact, I have trouble shutting up about it, as you can see!).