UNWANTED

A pregnant woman

A pregnant woman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I find the whole Pro-Choice, Pro-Life debate frustrating at times. I don’t believe there are any other political issues in this day and age that draw greater polarities of opinions than this political topic. But this post is not about the debate, nor is it about the adults who are arguing over the debate but rather the children. They are the ones in the cross fire.

As much as the debate frustrates me, there is one thing that bothers me even more and that is when I hear the term “unwanted.” This term seems to get easily thrown around by both sides of those debating Pro-Life and Pro-Choice with no apparent consideration of whom it may offend or hurt. I’m curious about these people who sometimes crudely debate this issue; who make their harsh judgments and careless comments about the “unwanted” kids? Who are they? Have they themselves ever felt unwanted? Were they born out of wedlock? Were they adopted? Were they raised by a single parent? Did they grow up poor or homeless? Were they abused or abandoned by one or both of their parents; or bounced around from family to family or foster home to foster home? I would like to hear from the voices of these children.

There are several birth mother groups popping up on the internet and Facebook, some of which are wounded, angry birth mothers who would like to abolish “newborn” adoptions as much as Pro-Lifer’s want to abolish abortions. They believe there are those who try to take advantage of the misfortune of an unplanned teen pregnancy and feel women are being used to supply the needs for the childless parents. At times, I do understand how they feel. As a woman, to have a society judge you for getting pregnant in the first place, then tell you that you are a baby killer if you choose to abort, to telling you it is unfair to raise a child as a single parent, to coaxing you into relinquishing your child; only to have society then tell the birth child he/she was “unwanted” by his or her first/birth parents.

People say it’s different now. For some, it is. But after reading the birth mother blogs, they say that the changes are not genuine but rather a marketing (open adoption) ploy by adoption agencies to get more birth parents to relinquish their parental rights, which turns into more dollars for them. Adoption agencies are playing match maker, representing both sides (birth family versus adoptive family) and will coach or persuade as they feel appropriate, sometimes beguiling one party to benefit another. I will say that my own experience with my birth son’s adoptive parents has been nothing more than positive, open, respectful, and loving for which I am very grateful. I do believe that we are the exception though and not the norm. I’ll let you make your own judgments on this.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 10 million single mothers raising children and 24 million children live in a biological father-absent home. These statistics are alarming and show us that too many women are facing their unplanned pregnancy independently. Men are abandoning women every day during the unexpected prenatal period and somehow we as a society accept this behavior. We allow men to go out and sew their wild oats and then walk away from their responsibility. Society tells women, “Well, you should have known better.” “A man is going to be a man.” Or my personal favorite, “Men can’t help themselves.” Really? Are we talking about children or are we discussing grown mature men. Do we need to remind men that sex was not created for just an orgasm; sex was created to produce life. When girls and boys become men and women, there is no “one” gender to blame for an unplanned pregnancy.

I have heard some men say, “She said she was on birth control.” We all know that birth control is not 100% effective. Even so, it’s not okay to leave the responsibility on one partner. If you do, don’t blame someone else for any consequences. Think of it this way. Your friend handed you gun. You decided to play make-believe Russian roulette. Your friend assures you that they removed all the bullets so you don’t have any worries. Do you aim and shoot? Do you consider the adverse consequence? Do you trust your friend well enough to risk your life?

In my memoir, One Woman’s Choice, I share that my own existence was based on an unplanned “accidental” pregnancy in 1963. My biological father went to prison when I was four years old and was absent for most of my adolescent years, causing my mother to shoulder the responsibility for my every need. I’ve had my fair share of teenage boys and adult men use me for their sexual hunger with no consideration for the unforeseen consequences of their sexual desires or deviances. Even my son’s father refused to take responsibility when he learned of our unplanned child, except to offer to pay for the abortion. And I’ve listened to countless women tell a similar story that resulted in abortion, adoption or single parenting because their male partner couldn’t handle the consequences of sex and walked away. Yes, you might say I am somewhat frustrated by how men can think about sex all the time without thinking about the consequences. Yet still, we continue to blame women for unplanned pregnancies. To borrow a line from the film, Philadelphia, “Can someone please explain this to me like I’m a five year old?”

I don’t know if society has brainwashed men for thousands of years or men have brainwashed women. Maybe a little bit of both. But brainwashing doesn’t make it true. Does society really believe that men are incapable of controlling their own sexual needs or that their desires are stronger than a woman’s desires? I don’t. I think this is an excuse. But that’s not the issue. It’s what happens after those desires are fed that result in an offspring that causes the debate which women and children seem to get caught in the combat zone while men sit on the sidelines observing from afar.

Now I already know that some of the men reading this may be thinking I’m bashing all men. I’m not. I personally know a few good men who didn’t abandon their partner when an unexpected pregnancy occurred and I highly respect them. But you have to admit, even when this happens, we’ve heard some people blame women again and say, “She tricked him.” Just for the record, I’m not saying that all women are saints. But statically, more women are carrying the load and responsibility of an unplanned pregnancy from the time of conception. Society watches her every move, her every decision and is ready to fire back with quick accusations, assumptions and sometimes unfair judgments.

With the exception of forced sexual contact, I don’t think that an abortion or an adoption should take place without the consent of both biological parents. I hope one day it will be illegal for any parent to walk away from his or her responsibility once a child is born unless their parental rights are legally relinquished. I truly believe that if more men supported their partner during an unplanned pregnancy, we would see fewer abortions and adoptions because many, many women chose these options when all other hope is gone, as a last resort. If we don’t begin to educate our youth and re-educate our society, we will continue to fall into the same repetitive cycle over and over again.

But I’m getting side tracked. Back to the “unwanted.”

I can tell you from personal experience that although I have chosen abortion and adoption, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t want my children. Have you ever “wanted” a new car but couldn’t afford it? Some of us know to leave the dealership before we get cornered by some smooth talking salesman who begins to talk us into agreeing to something we know we shouldn’t be doing. Some salesmen can be very persuasive when it comes to getting what they want. Sound familiar? Somehow the salesman gets into our psyche and convinces us into buying a new car. We skip a few payments (you could replace this with “periods”) because of our financial hardship and now the salesman is no longer sweet or charming but rather standoffish and unapproachable. For some of us, our car gets repossessed. It still doesn’t mean we didn’t want the vehicle, it just means we couldn’t afford the vehicle. Some may ask their family or friends for help while others may ask someone to take over payments to avoid repossession.

My point is the vehicle was not unwanted. Just like children are not unwanted. I would say most parents “want” their children whether or not; emotional, physical, or financial hardships prevent them from carrying out their obligation and responsibility. Broadcasting that a youngster is “unwanted” puts the emphasis on the innocent child which is unfair.

No child (or human being) is ever “unwanted” because we always have God, whose love is boundless, endless, and timeless.

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13 thoughts on “UNWANTED

  1. I’ll be honest Karen I never really gave the word any thought.Thank you for giving me something to think about. I will make a more conscious effort to use the word “unplanned.”

    I do have to disagree with you on one aspect though. I believe as long as we live in a society where it is so easy for men to walk away from an unplanned pregnancy, where women most frequently shoulder the responsibility AND the judgement of others – the ultimate decision to terminate a pregnancy should rest with the woman.

    Even when the father chooses to be involved – it’s still the mother who must shoulder the majority of the responsibility, risk and completely change her life in almost every way. A few hundred dollars a month and every other weekend is a drop in the bucket compared to a child’s needs.

    That said, in the cases where a father truly wants the child and wants to be an equal partner or even have full custody – then I hope the woman takes that into consideration. But the ultimate decision should always rest in the woman’s hands. imo
    Tori

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  2. Karen, you are such an eloquent writer and you make a very apt point. I, too, will be more careful in my choice of words in the future. And I of all people should know the difference between unwanted and unplanned! You’re a clear voice in this muddled debate and I appreciate your insights.

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  3. I completely disagree with you about requiring both partners’ consent for an abortion. It doesn’t matter how many it took to start the pregnancy, the pregnancy is only borne by the woman. If a man wants to have children he needs to find a woman who will carry them to term. No one gets to take over my body and my medical decisions just because the latter makes them feel yucky.

    My daughter’s father still sometimes grouses about a former girlfriend whose abortion meant he only has one child instead of two and I wonder if he has ever stopped and listened to himself. We’re human beings, not life-support machines. If it were men who could get pregnant, no way in hell would I ever impose that upon them that they had to stay pregnant on my say-so. That’s incredibly cruel.

    I’ll add an angle to what the other commenter said: I would never want to have a baby only to hand it off to its father. That’s a heck of a lot of time and resources and my personal health that went into bringing the child into the world and I’m just going to let that walk away? No. He can grow up and get along with me instead. His investment, as it were, was not equal to mine. All other things being equal I would rather that both parents were involved in the child’s life. That means putting the child first and not being selfish about it. So far my daughter’s father and I have managed that. I don’t see either of us about to drop dead from it, either.

    You could say the same for adoption actually. I’m sorry that people have trouble conceiving but I didn’t make them infertile and it’s not my job to fix them. It doesn’t really fix them in any case. Adoption doesn’t cure that. Again, why am I willingly going to risk my health and put all my physical resources into bringing this life into the world and then send the child away? That’s insane. Then the child is turned into a second-class citizen, doesn’t get to know their natural family hardly at all (seeing them once a year doesn’t cut it, sorry, and most adopted kids don’t even get that after the first few years, if they ever got it), can’t even answer basic questions about medical history, and so on. Foster to adopt can be great in terms of kids who are permanently severed from their families but I notice these families that so desperately want kids only want them if they’re brand-new and malleable. No, I don’t want to trust my children with that. So the first time something goes wrong with my child, are the adopters going to bail? Some adoptees have shared with me that that has indeed been their experience. It’s still a pretty prevalent cultural belief that women lose kids to adoption because we’re flawed, so when the child doesn’t turn out Just So, they’re believed to have inherited those flaws. It’s sad.

    I definitely agree with you about the “unwanted” moniker though. I am SO tired of hearing that.

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    • Hi Dana, Thank you for commenting and sharing your honest feedback. I can see your points and I agree that the best or ideal solution is for both the mother and father to support each other in raising their child.

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  4. Crazy that I think of the adoption agency as the car dealer, and I always have. At 16/17 years old, I believed that I couldn’t change my mind from a decision I had made early in my pregnancy. From that day forward I experienced heavy denial. It was the only way I could make my way throughthis whole nightmare.

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    • I can see the car dealership in that role as well. Especially after the adoption is complete, the agency doesn’t show the same interest in us (birthmothers) as much as they did prior to our delivery. I continue to struggle and heal from my choice as well.

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  5. Pingback: Re-birth of our Parents? | Dina's Daily

  6. It’s fine that a woman has a choice. It still irks me that fathers don’t have a say. True, it’s her body-but not just her baby. But then, how could they have a say? It’s unethical to force a woman to carry out a pregnancy. But then why? By law, if she reaches a certain point in the pregnancy, she has no choice then. If she’s too far along, she can’t up and get an abortion. She is then being forced to give birth. Whatever. That’s too much to get into. Anyways, the comparison to the car dealership rubbed me the wrong way. I knew what you were getting at, but a baby is not a car. Just like women should not be compared to cows and getting the milk for free. If we want to carry on with the car comparison, then we can. It’s not bashing anyone. I’m not making anyone out to be a bad person. But at the end of the day, the baby was unwanted. You can go back and get that car. They make more than one of the same kind after all. That baby? No. That baby was one of a kind. And because it was inconvenient to the mother’s situation, the baby is aborted or given up for adoption. We just don’t like to use those terms “unwanted” or “inconvenient” because it makes the person feel guilty and uneasy. The baby was not left so that they could be picked back up at a later date like the car. No. The baby ceased to exist after the abortion.

    Thanks for the post. I like reading the ones that get people thinking and talking.

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    • Thank you Ms Raven Marie for stopping by and commenting. I wrote this because growing up, I had felt unwanted. I was born to a mother who was still legally married to her first husband but he was not my father. It’s been a personal journey for me. Also, as a mother, I never want my sons to ever feel unwanted, no matter what the circumstance of their conception and birth.

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