Reflections On Choice
Happy Birthday Roe V. Wade!
Forty years ago today, the Supreme Court stepped up to legalize abortion.
I don’t particularly give a shit what you think about abortion. This is not a conversation about abortion. This is a conversation about legal abortion. If you take nothing else away from this post please take this one fact. Whether or not abortion is legal has no effect on the number of abortions that happen. Let me put it another way. Legally banning abortion will have exactly zero effect on the actual number of abortions that happen. Or even a third way. If you consider yourself pro-life and you oppose legal abortions your are lying to yourself. You’re working to kill women. Own that or change your position.
When I was 19 I “fell pregnant” as they say. I love that phrase. I imagine myself tripping, which happens a lot, regaining my balance and looking down to find 9 months worth of belly. I made the choice to place my child for adoption. Please do not admire this decision over the decision to terminate a pregnancy. Each choice is difficult.
In my case I was coming out of an abusive relationship with an addict who shortly landed himself in jail. I also had undiagnosed borderline tendencies, (not BPD myself but I grew up with a BPD mother and you learn to mirror that crazy in order to survive) mild OCD, and depression. I would have made an awful mother. THat was obvious to me from the start, but you know what? I still agonized over the decision. Right up until the night he was born I wasn’t totally sure. It was absolutely hard. Like, the hardest thing I’ve ever done, ever. There is no word in the English language to express how hard it was. But it was the right decision because I was not anything close to acceptable parent material back then.
My family made it harder because they kept telling me that instead of, and I’m quoting directly here, “dumping my responsibility onto someone else,” I should keep my child. But um…yeah. Rolling with a pile of crazy, birth father in jail, me on food stamps with no job, is not a situation into which I thought I should bring a kid.
They felt that with their help I would be able to magically get a job that would support me and my son, go to college, overcome my emotional issues and convince my son’s father to get off of the drugs he was on and selling so he could be a good parent. This after somehow springing from jail on a magical pony.
The problem with that way of thinking, I mean other that a good deal of it relies on someone’s spell casting ability or something, is that I knew their help came with a lot of strings and a time limit. Eventually, I would either have done something for which they would have removed their help or they would have decided that I didn’t need their help anymore and withdrawn it. Keeping in mind that I was 19 when I gave birth; I’m thinking the flatline on help would have happened by the time I was 21 at the latest.
At that point my, and more importantly my son’s, life would have turned into an After School Special and I feel that’s always something to be avoided.
While I’m giving some real talk on choice don’t ever let anyone get away with pointing to abortion or adoption as the easy way out. I’ve actually heard this argument; that it would be easier to just see the pregnancy through and then pass it off to the families these people imagine are waiting in the wings.
Yeah, that’s fantasy on multiple fronts. Neither choice is easy.
Totally aside from the possibility of screaming and maybe armed protesters, judgement and rejection from various loved ones based on what should be a private medical decision, and the hurdles that various groups have put in the way of women’s and their ability to choose there are the personal, mental and emotional ramifications of the choice to terminate. Don’t get me wrong, the whole, “OMG, you’ll regret it!” assertion is a canard. Some people regret it, some people don’t but I would posit that the number of people who regret placing their child or keeping said child is roughly the same. And don’t pretend that no women has ever regretted having children.
As for the ease of adoption; I was sick as hell during my pregnancy, in no small part I suspect, because of the stress of carrying an unwanted pregnancy. Given that I was living on my own, and I wasn’t able to work to the extent that I had been working, I lost wages, there were travel costs involved in seeing the parents, dealing with the birth father and going places to sign things. There were also medical bills for the period previous to my decision to place my son, food (better food than I had been eating previously) and vitamins. In my situation I was 19, working a menial job and living paycheck to paycheck so every dollar that had to go out for something other than food and rent was a dollar that I simply did not have.
While I was trying to figure out how to eat food and not be homeless I was also searching for a family to take my perfectly healthy, mixed race, male infant. How many families do you think were lining up? The answer is three and they did not come panting after me. I had to seek them out. Part of that was the father’s criminal status. Part of that was the difficulty in adoptions period. Part of that was race. None of that particularly matters except to illustrate that adoption is no kind of easy.
I still think about him a lot. I wonder about him. I hope he knows that I love him and that the fact that I love him is the reason that I had to put him with a family that could take good care of him. I’m worried that he’s grown up thinking that he was unwanted rather than that I did what was best for him.
Mine was a semi-open adoption that got less open as his parents responded less and less. I’m on every registry possible in case he ever wants to meet me when he’s old enough.
I hope I meet you some day kid and I hope when I do I’m someone you can be proud of.