Families Belong Together

I have noticed a rise in adoption related media stories.  However, it is the same scenario, redundant, each showing the adopting side.  I can’t help but ask myself why.  Why are bio parents left out of the adoption story.  Should we assume that no one truly cares about bio/birth parents when it comes to adoption?  Do we believe that average folks may not be able to comprehend the grief of relinquishment?  Can compassion be felt more towards adopting parents than relinquishing parents? Media doesn’t mind showing the hardships of cancer patients, hungry children, abused animals, kids/adults with disabilities, but showing the suffering of a bereaved parent after adoption is non existent.  Why?

I was reading an article that had some adoption fluff.  It was about a couple who after fostering a baby boy for over a year, went to court to adopt him.  Their request was granted.

In the article, the following statement was positioned in the third paragraph, to help set the tone for the remainder of the article.

“Adoptive parents sometimes get to the hospital in anticipation of bringing their little one home, only to find out that the biological parents have decided to keep the baby after all.”

The part that gets me is the wording…notice how the statement has already given a title to people who should be correctly referred to as the PROPOSED adoptive parents.  The statement has also already erroneously assigned ownership, saying “their little one,” when no relinquishment, no adoption or legal guardianship has taken place.  From this statement, one may assume that the couple has not even held this newborn in their hands.

On the other hand, the article references the biological parent’s as “to keep the baby” instead of keep their baby, which was born to them.  This is how pro-adoption folks use their words in newborn infant adoptions.  They use this tactic on vulnerable expecting mothers and parents.  They will allow a stranger to claim what has not even been born or freely given yet.

This statement is degrading to the infant as well.  It ambiguously implies that if the newborn is adopted, he/she is fondly someone’s (their) little one.  He has belonging.  But if the new baby is no longer available for adoption, then the infant is reduced to “the baby” as a commodity; the dog, the couch, the table, the store, etc.  He is no longer a precious little one. You see?

The article leaves out the details of how or why the infant was placed in foster care at a week old.  It provides no details about the parents.  What happened?  I am wary of stories like this.  More so now, with the migrant families being separated.

I am all for protecting children and placing them in safe homes. I know wonderful foster and adoptive parents who love their kids and have provided a good and safe home.  But I am against forced adoptions, forced separations, government forced separations, coerced adoptions, migrant families separations, and any unnecessary adoptions based on ignorance and conspiracy.

When we have one-sided media stories about complex issues with incomplete information, as readers, we cannot make a fair judgement about either parent since we have only been given a partial story.  Too many of these articles make it appear that the birth parents are villainous while the foster to adoptive parents are saints.  That is very narcissistic.  Classic, really.  The adoption industry has operated on narcissistic attitudes for generations.  They play on our emotions to feel sorry for the mom and dad who cannot conceive or give birth while giving the birth parents a blank slate, as if they aren’t human, they have no story, no rights, no validity.  It’s good media advertising.

The adoption industry needs to have people feel sorry or root for one-side.  How do they do that?  Well, they take out the birth parents story or give worst-case scenarios which leaves room for average Americans to generalize birth parents and erroneously portray them as unreliable, addicts, poor, dirty, promiscuous, and possibly abusive and neglectful.  Or as illegal migrants with no rights.

Birth parents can’t all or always be bad or villainous and foster/adoptive parents can’t all or always be saints. This tactic is all too common in the pro-adoption social arena.

Right now, with all the migrant separations, Americans as well as the world around us are appalled and are highly concerned about keeping families together and reuniting migrant families.  Chances are all this media coverage with well-educated commentators speaking out about the impact and trauma of separation will inevitably impact how folks see family separation and how important it is for families to remain intact.  Furthermore, all this information may help those faced with an unplanned pregnancy to see their role differently and help them make a more informed, educated choice. Vital information, by the way, that adoption agencies and fake crisis pregnancy centers conveniently leave out of the adoption plan talk, while giving specific details on abortion, not all based on facts, or the possible pitfalls of parenting, which is based on fear.

To combat this new mass social awareness about family separation, the pro-adoption industry feels like they are under attack.  What has been kept hidden for decades to average folks has now been exposed and revealed on news channels, major newspapers, video clips, and social media memes.

Socialized and sensationalized adoption stories are being created and shared to bring folks back in.  The Adoption industry needs to gain the trust and favoritism of average Americans again.  Social media is their one source for getting that information out to the general masses, using people as protagonist or antagonist to help send their message of the adoption story.  It is a well written script but one that can have lasting trauma and emotional impact for those involved.

Advertisements

Abortion and Adoption, Ethics and Morals

It seems when we talk about abortion and adoption, ethics and morals seem to be high on the discussion topic.  But let’s really talk about that a little deeper.

If there is one thing I can say about the abortion industry as compared to the adoption industry, I have never seen an advertisement endorsing abortions in the media, magazines, on commercials, highway billboards, website pop-up adds or any other free-open market place trying to promote abortions over giving birth (the internet and commercialized media is loaded with adoption trollers seeking women to relinquish their parental rights).

I’ve never had one person at the abortion clinic try to coerce me into choosing to abort or convince me that having an abortion was my best option over parenting or relinquishing.   I never felt like my body was an investment nor did I feel I was being used for a money making scheme.

And like the adoption agency, the abortion clinic counseled me before having the abortion.  However, the abortion clinic’s approach to counseling was a little different.  If I was having second thoughts, this is where I could stop, check out and go home without feeling guilty.  My body, my right, my choice.

When I went to the adoption agency, Pro-Choice campaigners (who support all woman’s choices) were not out there with signs trying to stop me from going in, making sure that no one was coercing me to proceed with my adoption plan, asking me if God really wanted me to give my baby away.

To be fair, I have included two studies below.  The first link relates to abortions.  The second link relates to birthmothers.  As you will see, there are so many factors.  This is not a black and white issue.  It’s not just about a woman making a choice.  It’s more complex than that.

http://www.stopforcedabortions.org/docs/ForcedAbortions.pdf

http://www.originscanada.org/adoption-trauma-2/trauma_to_surrendering_mothers/adoption-trauma-the-damage-to-relinquishing-mothers/

Dear Unexpected Pregnant Woman

First, let me say how sorry I am that you are going through this experience.  I truly do understand.  Having an unplanned/unexpected pregnancy can sometimes be distressing with uncertainty; and possibly even more so in your tender teenage years.

I have made three different choices.  I have chosen to abort, I have chosen to single parent, and I have chosen to relinquish my parental rights.  Speaking from my own personal experience, all of these choices come with some sort of consequence.  As for your choices, I don’t want to persuade you one way or the other but I will share some of what I have learned and give you some things to consider.

If you are considering having an abortion, I do support a woman’s choice to abort for whatever her reasons are.  Women react differently to abortions, while going through the procedure and in the days and months following the procedure so I am not sure I could give you much more information that is not already available online.  But you should do what you feel you need to do to move forward in your life.

As for the choice to parent or relinquish, there are many factors to consider.  Here is a list of questions that you may want to answer to help with your choice and plan for the future:

  • Is the father of your child supporting you?
  • Is your family supporting you?
  • Does the father want to help raise this child with you as a couple or as two single parents/co-parents?
  • Is his family being supportive?

Having some sort of support system will benefit you (and your baby) greatly especially if you are still in school.

As for the adoption choice, if you feel you are unable to parent your child and are not being pressured or coerced by loved ones to make this choice, then review the various adoption plans closely and do what you feel in your heart is best.  I do believe that some adoption choices are necessary.  However, know that a richer/wealthier life for the child does not mean a better life for the child.  This is what I hear from adult adoptees all the time.  Love and security are the most important things a child needs.  I chose an open adoption.  For me, that has helped in many ways.  Know that the emotional pain from relinquishing your parental rights can be overwhelming at times.  It’s not impossible to heal but healing after your child leaves your womb and your arms can take a long time, sometimes a lifetime.

If you decide to parent your child, please honor that choice.  Make your child your priority.  A child should never feel like you gave up your life because you got pregnant.  What I am trying to say is, don’t place shame or guilt on your child for showing up unexpectedly or that you had to give up your dreams so you could parent him/her.  Nor should a child need to be unnaturally grateful that you decided to keep him and parent him.  As I said previously, having a good support system is beneficial but many of us have done the single parenting thing alone without our partner or family.  Nothing is impossible if you believe in what you are doing.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask for public/government assistance.

I truly hope that your loved ones are supporting you during this time.  But more importantly, I hope you understand that this is your decision about your body, your baby, and your life.  Do not allow anyone to tell you what is best for you.

I know you have a lot to consider.  And I trust that you will make the best choice for you.  Sending you much needed blessings and prayers, asking God to guide you in this choice, and wishing you all the best as you move forward in your life.

Supporting Women

When I say I support women and their reproductive choices, I mean it, wholeheartedly,

Recently, I received a personal message from a woman, who was in the midst of a dilemma, in a group I follow in BabyCenter.com.  She had seen one my comments that I shared on a post where I touched briefly and lightly on all three of my choices.  She asked me to elaborate.

At first I was hesitant.  I waited a couple days before replying.  I needed to gather my thoughts.  Since I have made three different choices due to unplanned pregnancies with three varying outcomes that led to a multitude of emotional residue, I didn’t feel it would be fair to build up one choice as a better alternative than another.  I also didn’t want to convince or persuade her in one way or another of what she should or shouldn’t do.  That’s not my place.  It would be no more fair of me to glorify open-adoption then it would be to glorify single parenting.

I strongly believe that I have no right to evoke a thought that may persuade any woman to make one choice over the other.  However she decides to move forward in her pregnancy, she is the one who will live with her choice for remainder of her life.

I know what it’s like to have others pressure you into making a choice that is their preferred outcome.  It makes one feel insecure and inadequate.  When someone forces or coerces another person or tries to paint a picture that is not based on facts but on their own limited perception, it’s all about control.  It’s one person trying to take another’s power away.  For some, they want to create their version of the perfect outcome of someone else’s life, as if they are God.  While others are conveying  from a personal point of view, as if this had happened to them, this is what they would choose or maybe have chosen.  But the truth is, it’s not happening to them.  It’s happening to the woman who is pregnant and is faced with a choice about her future.

Who am I to tell another woman what is best for her.  I have no right to tell another human being that she should end the life that is in her womb.  Neither do I have a right to influence her to surrender her newborn infant.  And I surely don’t want to guilt someone into parenting.  My intent is to provide as much information as possible for a well-rounded image.  Not all rosy, not all dark.  Not all positive, not all negative.  But always the truth.

I will say that I do understand and sympathize with the women who have become anti-abortion or anti-adoption because of their own personal experience and emotional trauma more so than coming from a man or woman who has never experienced a similar circumstances or choice in their life.  Woman who have lived through these experiences and life alterations are biased because of their involvement.  As sisters, we may not want another woman or mother to have to endure the gut wrenching pain that becomes a part of the aftermath of such turmoil.  We feel it’s our duty to protect other woman from this heartache and emotional mind game.

I guess that’s why I wrote One Woman’s Choice.  And I’ve had people upset with me because I discuss abortion and they do not approve of abortions.  Others who didn’t know me or my story before reading One Woman’s Choice said they were sad when they came to the page that told of my signing relinquishment papers because they were hoping that I had decided not to go through with the adoption.  While others felt I glorified adoption as a wise, religious choice.

The three most important things that I want people to understand after reading One Woman’s Choice are these:

  • Men are equally as responsible for unplanned pregnancies as women.
  • No one has the right to suggest, force or coerce a woman to make a choice (aborting, parenting or relinquishing)
  • God is a loving God.  And despite what some think, even after abortion, God is a loving God.

Truth is, there are no easy answers, no common outcome.  The issues are too complex and every circumstance is unique.  And if we choose abortion or adoption,  the road to recovery is experienced in many different ways.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve or heal.  My experience may be very different than someone else’s.  It doesn’t mean that either one of us is right or wrong, or weaker or stronger; we’re just different in our human experience.

In the end, I respect woman enough to know that with honest feedback, knowledge (pro’s and con’s), and compassion, we are very capable of making a well informed decision.  And when all is said and done, I will be here to support my sisters as best as I can, no matter what choice they decide to make.

The Blame Game

I’ve had many conversations with my teenage son about the blame game and taking responsibility.  I think we all, at one time or another, have looked for someone to blame when something hasn’t gone our way.  We start pointing our fingers, “You’re to blame, and you’re to blame.”  It’s understandable, especially when the incident causes a ripple effect that sometimes creates added stress, hardship or disappointing consequences.

Most of us have seen someone driving recklessly on a freeway, rubber necking on someone’s bumper to urge them to move out of their way because they are in such a hurry.  The frantic driver will torture some other driver on the road, trying to bully them into getting out of their way because in their mind, if that one driver would move, they could get where they needed to be so much quicker as if the blame belongs to that one driver in front of them.  The truth is, more often, it has nothing to do with the car in front of them.  The frantic driver didn’t allow sufficient time to get to where they needed to be and the innocent driver just happens to be the subject of this frantic driver’s irritation and rage.

That’s what I call misguided blame.

A friend of mine relinquished her parental rights two times.  It was during the late 70’s to the early 80’s.  I don’t remember her telling me why she chose to carry her child instead of choosing to abort, as abortions would have been legal at that time.  She told no one of her pregnancy.  When she went to give birth for the first time, alone and scared, she was only fourteen years old.  She said the nurses were very cruel to her, which back then was not uncommon for nurses or society to harshly scold and blame women as the problem for unintended pregnancies.  They chastised her for getting pregnant and told her she should be ashamed of herself for sleeping around at such a young age.  But what the nurses didn’t know is that my friend was not sleeping around and was not to blame for getting pregnant.  You see, her own father was having sex with her.  He made her pregnant.

That’s what I call misguided blame.

I was visiting a birth mother’s community group page the other day and read a post from a new mother reaching out with her deepest emotions.  She was struggling as to whether she should go through with relinquishing her parental rights or not.  Many concerned individuals commented (from birth moms, adoptive parents to adoptees) with similar advice, “Do what you feel is right.”  I, too, did not try to convince her to parent her child or to relinquish.  However, one poster became very angry with her.  The poster was harsh in her comments that I felt were irrational.  She gave no consideration to this fresh new mom whose heart was heavy with a choice.  The poster tried to guilt this woman for wanting to keep that which was naturally given to her and was rightfully hers to keep.  Then she made assumptions about the hopeful couple and began blaming this new mother for the anguish the hopeful couple had surely endured while waiting to adopt and the grief that was surely to come.  But maybe, just maybe this poster herself has been waiting to adopt and now she needed to disperse her anger and bitterness towards this innocent young female as if this new mother was to blame for the childless couples who have no baby to hold in their arms and no child to parent.

That’s what I call misguided blame.

Likewise, just as the driver wishes to remove the vehicle from his path, and the pro-life campaigners wish eliminate the abortion clinics; there are also many birth parents who desire to eliminate adoption agencies.  Some birth parents blame the adoption industry for relinquishing their parental rights of their newborn baby.  And while I don’t defend unethical adoption practices, I know that the adoption industry itself is not to blame for mothers and fathers choosing to relinquish their parental rights.  Aside from the baby scoop era, women now-a-days have options.  Based on our unique circumstances and support, we can choose to abort, we can choose to continue our pregnancy for the next nine months and then parent or we can choose to give birth and relinquish our parental rights.

When I chose adoption, I had already experienced an abortion.  I had already experienced being pregnant, giving birth and parenting my first born child as a single parent.  I consciously made the choice to consider adoption for my second born.  The adoption agency or the adoption industry is no more to blame for me choosing to relinquish my parental rights than the abortion clinic is to blame for me choosing to abort my unintended pregnancies.

The truth is, there are too many people and politics involved to disburse blame at one target.  I’m not saying it is wrong to experience the blaming emotion.  But what I am saying is that sometimes, we don’t have all the facts.  Other times, we refuse to acknowledge our own misguided judgments.  And occasionally, we deny our own choices that resulted in the consequence.  We cannot control others who wrongfully throw blame at us but we can control how we choose to blame.  Blaming someone or something else can make us feel better.  I get that.  But when we hold onto the misguided blame and resentment, we become stuck in a place and our mind becomes a prisoner of our past.  If we want to heal and grow, we must be accountable for our part of the choice and the process.

Rally In Austin

Last week, my son and I headed south to Austin, Texas.  The prior week, Senator Wendy Davis stood on her feet for thirteen hours to block a bill, if passed, would have affected women’s health issues, restricted women’s choices, and closed 37 of the 42 clinics in Texas.  As women, whether we support the Pro-Life campaign or the Pro-Choice campaign, we should not let our campaign choice impair our judgment of a fellow comrade who is a resilient, courageous woman that was willing to stand for THIRTEEN hours for her belief and her right as an American citizen.

I will tell you that I tend to lean more towards the Pro-Choice campaign.  Just by my past choices, I am by default, a Pro-Choice specimen.

I, myself was an unplanned (illegitimate) child of the 1960’s, during a time of heated debates.  Even though I was too young to rally and protest injustice for the Civil Rights and the Women’s Rights Movement, it seemed the seed was planted inside me waiting for the moment to sprout.  When Wendy Davis called for supporters in Austin, I eagerly wanted to stand with my sisters and fellow supporters.  After all, this is what historical moments are made of and I wanted be a part of history.  I wanted to show my support and honor all those women who came before me; the ones who fought for my right to vote and my right to choose.  I wanted MY voice to be heard that day.  No, I wasn’t on any stage and I wouldn’t have a microphone in my hand.  Nevertheless, my voice and applause was in collaboration with all those others souls who were standing in support to honor the lone, Wendy Davis who stood on her feet for thirteen hours!  I mean thirteen hours, on your feet with no meal breaks, no bathroom breaks, and no leaning on your desk, all the while, talking non-stop about one topic.  This one woman along with others by her side did this remarkable task all because she believed that every woman should have the right to fair treatment and the right to choose.

As an author of a book that conveniently is titled, One Woman’s Choice, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share my book information.  I had post cards printed up with the book cover on one side and added my Twitter account at the bottom along with a one line sentence at the top that read, “Supporting women and the choices we make.”

Just outside the gates, protesters were standing and holding their creative, political signs, sharing their potent words.  As we walked through the capital gates, Planned Parenthood had tables set up just inside along with other Pro-Woman advocates, handing out flyers and requesting for us to sign in so they could get a head count.  Without hesitation, I leaned over, grabbed a pen and signed my name to be counted for their roll call.  Apparently those supporting Pro-Choice and Wendy Davis were supposed to wear orange clothing.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get the memo.  I had on a navy blue polo shirt.  So they gave us a little orange sticker dot to place on our shirt to show our support.  Cool, we’re all good now.

My son and I trek down into the crowd, looking around in amazement.  I take a deep breath and I begin to hand out my flyers.  I’m met with some reluctance and a little resistance.  I understand that these activists have lots of campaigners asking them to look at something, take something, sign something, or sign up for something.  I am somewhat of a meek person usually.  I don’t have the car salesmen personality and I am better at servicing customers than attracting customers.  Hey, we all have our strengths and weaknesses.  But sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zone especially when we need to accomplish a goal.  This was one of those times.

About twenty minutes after arriving, the music stops, one of the guest speakers gets on stage, the mood of the crowd shifts, and the rally begins.  The crowd roars in unison with every valid point the speaker makes.  After a brief respite, the crowd quiets down and I continue to hand out my post cards.  But the activists now seem less friendly and less interested in what I have to share.  I’m wondering what it could be.  I’m feeling a little insecure because neither Jaren nor I have on orange clothing.  Are they judging us by our colors?  Seems crazy right?  All these years we have been drilling into our American society to “not judge a person by their color but rather by the content of their character” and here we have a protest between two opposing sides suggesting that their followers wear a specific color so others can tell what side you represent.   As I walk among the orange shirts, I feel somewhat like an outsider.  But hey, I have on my little, round- orange sticker.

I pull my chin back up, muster up some more courage and begin to hand out more post cards.  That’s when I met this one young lady.  I handed her a post card and she replies, “You do realize my uterus is my property?”

At first, I was taken back and to be honest, offended.  When she saw me, she made her quick inaccurate assessment and judgment.  I replied, “Yes, and my book is called One Woman’s Choice.  I’ve made the choice to have an abortion.  I’ve made the choice to give birth and raise my son who is right there (pointing to Jaren) as a single parent, and I’ve made the choice to give life and be a birth mom.  That’s what Pro-Choice is all about, isn’t it?  Supporting all choices women make?”

She said, “As long as we are on the same page.”

I said, “I have on an orange sticker.”  To which she replies that the “others” were also wearing the orange sticker so they could mingle among the Pro-Choice activists and get their Pro-Life campaign pamphlets out.

As Jaren and I walked away, I was fuming.  Jaren tried to smooth over the situation.  I said we came here to support this cause and this is how we get treated just because we didn’t have the right color shirt on.  I wanted to shout out to her and ask her what choices has she made?  Has she ever had an unplanned pregnancy?  Has she ever struggled as a single mother to support her child?  Has she ever had an abortion?  Has she ever had to say good-bye to her infant baby because no one in her family offered to support her?

I am thrilled that so many Americans came to support Senator Wendy Davis.  But I also know that not every man or woman who supports Pro-Choice has ever had to make a life changing choice or experienced an unplanned pregnancy.  I respect all those who gather to support a women’s right and freedom to choose the path she feels is best for her when an unplanned pregnancy occurs.  But don’t come at me with your premature judgments.  I don’t just believe it.  I don’t just speak it.  And I don’t just protest it.  I have actually lived it!Image

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.

Abortion

Do I dare even attempt to discuss abortion in a radical sense? Or for that matter can any of us discuss abortion in a sensible debate? Those who openly discuss abortion are those who either have never had an unplanned pregnancy while others proudly display their ethical crown and openly express their hate towards those who chose to abort and maybe the ones who regretted their choice to abort then later lash out in a hypocritical protest. And then there are the ones who are afraid to speak out, some of which had an abortion and now fear the backlash and judgment that will be thrown at them hastily so they quiet their voice for fear of ridicule.

As many of you know who have read my book, I have had abortions. I am not proud of this fact. When I had my very first abortion back in the early 1980’s, I truly believed that my only two choices were to either single parent or have an abortion. Adoption never even came up. The thought never entered my mind and I don’t remember anyone bringing up the adoption option. However, to speak frankly, I can’t say that if someone would have offered this option, I would have chosen it. I had no idea what it was like to be pregnant or for that matter to be a mother. My maternal instincts were very immature.

In my book, One Woman’s Choice, I acknowledge that my own existence was based on an unplanned pregnancy in 1962. My parents didn’t have the option to abort me. Well, legally abort me. They basically had two choices. Keep me or leave me. They chose to keep me. But this choice didn’t come without sacrifice. And too often, I became the sacrificial lamb.

I remember when I was around four years old, my older brother and sister would get picked up by their father or by their paternal grandparents for the weekend; I was left behind with our mother. My father had recently moved to Florida and my paternal family had no plans of picking me up for the weekend. I was sad to see my siblings leave home without me and even sadder that my own father wasn’t coming to pick me up. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes it was great hanging out with mommy. No sharing attention with my older siblings; just me and mommy by ourselves was fun. However, other times, it was quite a different story, like when my mother was forced to take me on her dates. My mother made it very clear that the only reason I was going out with her and her date was because she had no one to watch me, no place to drop me off. Basically, she was stuck with me. I remember how this made me feel. I had strict orders to keep quiet and make no sound. It was very apparent that I was not going out with my mother and her date because they wanted me to join them; I was going as a last resort choice.

As a mother myself and a single mother at that, I couldn’t imagine making my son feel like he was a burden or an unwanted guest. And sadly, this is exactly how I felt; unwanted, uninvited, and unaccepted. My father didn’t want me, my mother didn’t want me at that moment and her date surely didn’t want me ruining his plans. Wow, now that’s a heavy load.

From the moment I arrived, my delivery into this world was based on lies and deceit. My mother was still legally married to her first husband when she gave birth to me and with the approval of her separated husband, led the hospital to believe I was his child so his insurance would pay for my delivery. And if that’s not enough, I overheard my mother on a rare occasion give the impression to an old friend that I was from her first marriage. Guess that’s because she was afraid that if they knew the truth, they would judge her. Does that mean I am a shame to the family?

At four and five years old, we can’t really decipher the entire scenario and make reasonable or for that matter practical judgments. At four and five years old, our heart and mind is developing and we are learning about the world around us. We learn from our parents how to love and honor each other; what is acceptable behavior and was is not acceptable. It was during these times, I was very confused about my place in this family, my existence to my environment and my worth as a human being.

I’ve confessed to my son about my abortions and he is aware that he and his younger brother were both unplanned pregnancies. He also knows what influenced some of my decisions. I told him that I myself was unplanned and at times, because my childhood pain was so deep, back then I “sometimes” wished that I was aborted. I know that this may sound horrifying to many of you. But in my mind, I felt like I could have still been in a spirit form hanging out with God my father rather than in this human form with pain and suffering. Of my mother’s five children, I am the only one who was born out of wedlock or illegitimate. I mean who wants to feel like you were given birth because there was no other option, no other choice. Who wants to feel like a burden or that your life has brought shame to your family?

With tears rolling down my face, I said to my son, “I believe that if abortion was legal when I was conceived, I would have been aborted.” You may ask why I feel this way. Well, besides what I described above, my mother suggested for me to abort my first pregnancy, she suggested to abort my second born son who was later placed for adoption. And lastly, upon finding out my first born son was bi-racial, (and too late to suggest abortion) she wanted me to place him for adoption. Why would I think anything else?

I reassured my son and admitted, “When I got pregnant with you, I had a choice. I chose abortion before you were born and after you born and could have chosen to abort both you and your brother. I gave birth to you both because I wanted you both. That’s one thing you can be sure of. ”

I will tell you of the three choices I have made; choosing adoption was my hardest choice both before and after the adoption took place. This choice brought about such pain that I would not wish this on my worst enemy. You can ask other birth mothers and just about all of them will tell you the same. Single parenting was by far my easiest choice. Although it is a lifelong commitment and can be very stressful at times, as a parent, we get so much in return. The love of a child is like no other love I had known before and something that I had longed to feel. As for the abortions, who knows how life would have turned out if I chose to give birth to the children I aborted? Would I have felt like they were a burden to me and mistreated them solely because they came at an inconvenient time, or because I was not married nor did their father want to marry me or parent or for that matter co-parent the unplanned child?

I am a single mother and more often a single parent, and a birth mother and I accept that I am not a perfect mother or for that matter a perfect human being. I know we all have our shortcomings. And I have confessed to my sons and apologized for any wrong decisions or poor choices that I may have made.  But I want them to know that I had a choice and my choice was to give them life. Not because I had no other choices, not because I felt pressured or needed to satisfy their father (who didn’t want any more kids) or a society or my family or my friends or my religion or whoever else wanted me to choose something other than what I felt I needed to choose.

My sons were chosen and they are loved.