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.

Parent/Child Sex Education

English: sex education

English: sex education (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I, like most parents wondered how to talk to my son about sex. Do I begin when he is young? Do I wait until he is a teenager? Do I bring up the subject or do I wait for him to ask me? Truth be known, all this sex talk makes some of us parents squirm? It can all be very confusing, and intimidating. But after reading a few books, I learned that who better to teach my son about a loving relationship than his own mother.

Since my parents never had the talk with me, I decided I would do things differently. I didn’t have any blueprints as to how I was going to introduce sex education to my son. However, I did know that I didn’t want my son to ever feel awkward about anything, most importantly, coming to me for answers. I am the one who has been teaching him since the moment I gave birth to him. Why would I stop now?

As a single parent mother, I don’t think I ever planned to have the full version of the birds and the bees talk. That’s the one talk I was saving for his father. I gave my son the basics. I was laying down his foundation from which his father could build upon. I believed as a man, his father could provide details about his body that I could never fully understand. After all, I was born female. I understood females.

It all started when my son was five years old. We were sitting at the dinner table and my son informed me that he knew how he was born. He said it in a kind of matter of fact way as if “I” had been withholding information from him. One of his classmates told him how she came out of her mommy’s belly. “I was cut out of your belly, Momma.”

I pondered for a moment.

I had heard on one of those day-time talk shows that parent’s should not call their child’s private parts by a nick-name or code name. Previously, I referred to private parts as wee-wee and pee-pee. But after watching the talk show, I made the conscious choice to use proper reference names when referring to a male’s or female’s private area. I also explained to my son that women have breast and men have chest. I know this is not medically correct but I needed to let my son know that God made him different than He made me.

“No honey, some babies are cut out of their mommy’s belly. It’s called a cesarean. But you weren’t. You came out of my vagina.”

My son gave me this look and then said, “EEWW!”

The next round of questions from Jaren began with, “How did I get in your belly?”

This is a tricky question. How much should I really divulge to a five year old? So my explanation went something like this, “Daddy’s have the seed. Daddy’s put the seed into the Mommy. The seed grows into a baby until it’s ready to come out into the world.”

“How does the Daddy put the seed into the Mommy?”

“Hmm.” That’s another good question for which I have no good answer at this time. “Well I can’t explain that to you right now but when you are older, I’ll explain more.”

“Okay, Momma.”

I provided short honest answers, and he was okay with these limited explanations.

Fast forward a few years…. my son opens the front door and walks in with a condom in his hand that he found in the parking lot of our apartment building, “Momma, look what I found.”

Thank goodness it was unused.

Once again, he thinks he has discovered some top secret information and announces, “I know what this is used for.”

“Oh really?” I replied, “Please tell me.”

“It’s for sex and the woman uses it.”

“Actually the man uses it and it is for protection.” I remain quiet and wait for a response. Jaren draws a blank stare for a moment and then looks up as if the light bulb just turned on, “Oh!” He giggles.

From that point on, as questions popped up in my son’s mind, they popped out of his mouth too. Jaren felt comfortable asking me about anything and I felt more confident explaining what I felt was an appropriate answer. No, he didn’t know all the minor details but I began feeding him information on an as needed basis. When he came home from school and discovered some new particulars about sex from one of his classmates, I requested for him to repeat the new information he learned so that I may either validate or educate.

My son recently told me how several of the students became embarrassed in school during a lesson/discussion in his Sex Ed class.  One student even walked out.  Love and sex are both a very natural part of life and the human experience. All living species on our planet participates in sexual relations or procreation in some way. By parents discussing this topic with our children, it makes it less taboo. Do we want them getting misguided information about sex from their friends, classmates, other adults or teachers who may not share the same values as we have? Do we want them experimenting with their immature bodies and uneducated minds?

Not all of our children will participate in illegal behavior and yet we teach them right from wrong so that they will make the proper choices. We teach them about stranger danger and about inappropriate touching. Teaching our children about sex, in my opinion, is no different.

My son is now a freshman in high school and he still comes to me with questions or topics about sex.  Now I will tell you that some things are off limits and I tell my son, TMI (too much information); so we each have our boundaries. But I know that one day, my son will engage in a loving relationship that will most likely include sex. Personally, I hope he waits until he is an adult and moves out of my house; maybe until he is married. I’m just saying. Ultimately it will be his choice. I’ve explained that sex comes with great responsibility and sometimes consequences (i.e. pregnancy, STD’s), and that “No”, means NO! As parents, we can take this time to bond and connect with our child so they know that they can talk to us about anything. After that, it’s up to them to make the right choice at the right time, cautiously, and respectfully.

Share your thoughts and comments.

How Many Children Do You Have?

I always feel awkward when someone ask me “How many children do you have?” or “Is he your only child?” I never knew how to answer these questions, especially coming from a complete stranger. You see, I have given birth to two sons. One, my first born, I am raising as a single mother. My second child, who is twenty months younger than my first born, I chose to place for adoption.

Now the positive side of this whole experience is that I have an open relationship with my son’s family who adopted him. Part of that decision was based on the fact that my sons didn’t make the choice to be disconnected. Both families wanted both of our boys to be able to maintain contact and have somewhat of a relationship. My oldest son always knew about his younger brother. There were no secrets back then and they are no secrets today. As a result, he told teachers, classmates and friends about his baby brother. And if the question was presented in the grocery store check-out line, well, you guessed it; my youthful son quickly blurted out, “No, I have a brother but he was adopted. He doesn’t live with us; he lives with his adopted family.” This remark most often prompted a confused look at first, and then a pre-conceived notion. Then, what started out as light conversation fell suddenly short into awkward silence.

Although I was not ashamed of my choice, I still didn’t always feel comfortable telling every Tom, Dick and Harry or Sally about my choice. This information was usually reserved for family and close friends and a handful of co-workers. And maybe a counselor, if need be. So when someone asked this question who did not personally know me or my family, I didn’t know how to respond. In addition, I didn’t want to discourage my son from talking about his younger brother. But how much does this person on the street really need to know or for that matter care to know about me and my family? Usually, these questions are for light conversation. After a few episodes of being met with confusion and discernment, I learned my lesson and proceeded with great caution when the subject of children arose.

Then I read a Dear Abby letter from a birth mother who was asking the same questions. Dear Abby responded, “Technically, you don’t “have” your birth child any more so it is okay if you say you don’t have any children.” This actually made sense to me.

I have never denied either of my children. Even though one lives with me and the other lives with his family who adopted him, I know I gave birth to both children and I love them both. So if I respond to your question, “I have one child”, it doesn’t mean that I am lying to you or denying my birth son. It just means I’m sparing you the minor details. If by chance we become better acquainted, I promise to tell you my WHOLE story.

Adoption in the Perfect World

English: Globe icon.

English: Globe icon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently read some blogs from a birth mother site. I was surprised to say the least for so many reasons. Birth mothers, who were hurting and very angry, were attacking adoptive families. Adoptive families were backlashing with ridicule towards the birth mothers. One adoptive mother even said she was sparing her child from telling him that he came from “bad stock”. Really? Have we come to this? Or maybe I have just been shielded and naïve to this birth/adoptive community. No loving parent would ever want to bad mouth or say derogatory things about a child’s family; loving being the operative word here.

I was born out of wedlock in 1963. My mother chose to keep me and parent me as a single mother. She already had two mouths to feed, my older brother and sister from her first marriage. Four years down the road, my father went to prison for murder. She never told me that I came from “bad stock”. She actually allowed me to maintain contact through letters and an occasional phone call with my imprisoned father. At times, I felt like a second class citizens for being born out of wedlock, for not having my father in my life and then finding out later about his crime and prison sentence. If I had been told I was from “bad stock” or was made to feel guilty for something my parents had done, it would have made me feel horrible and like less of a human being.

The only reason a person would choose to portray someone as “bad stock” is if one person wants to make another person look bad so they can make themselves look better. So in essence, it has nothing to do with the birth parent or birth child but in fact with the voice who is speaking the hate and judgment.  Isn’t that called bullying?

My mother told me that she decided not to tell me anything derogatory about my father because one day I would grow up and I could decide for myself what kind of man he was. She said if she tried to make me hate him, I would end up hating her; smart woman.

I agree that too often, expecting pre-birth mothers don’t have the resources to consider their other options, like single parenting. And many times, post birth mothers were forced, coerced or convinced that placing her child for adoption was the best choice. But one thing that really bothers me is all this blame going back and forth between (what appears to me) birth mothers and adoptive mothers. Let us not forget that most of these women (birth mothers) had consensual sex. The real reason this child is made available is because too many men are shirking their responsibility and the expecting mother is alone many times without any support of family and friends. So yes, her choice is made in a desperate state. Once she hands over her child (if she was allowed to do so) to the adoptive parents, her grief begins.

It does seem like at times, that some of our society would like a perfect world. But remember, in a perfect world, no pregnant woman would be left to fend for herself without the contributing male donor that helped her conceive “their” expecting child. Couples who are unable to conceive biological children would remain childless. In a perfect world, no woman would be raped by a man but decide to carry her child nine months to be placed for adoption. In a perfect world, no father would molest his daughter. And the daughter would not be shamed again and judged by an adoption agency, a nun, a hospital nurse, or a society claiming “the birth mother” was easy and a slut. IN A PERFECT WORLD!!!

I am a single mother and a birth mother. My first born, I am parenting and my second born I chose to place for adoption. I have an open relationship with my son’s family. And although we have hit bumps in the road, we have worked through them for which I am most grateful.

We may not live in a perfect world and I may not have a perfect solution. This is God’s world and I believe He guides us so we may all work together in a loving way to support each other; to respect each other; to find common ground for the good of our children and for all humanity. I live in the real world.

Unexpected Mother

 
We shared our love so gingerly
As many times before
With smooth strokes and soft kisses
A heart beats for more.
 
My eggs were patiently waiting
They had a hungry need
You generously left your legacy
You deposited your seed.
 
I waited and I waited
For that special time to come
Until I finally realized
The deed had been done.
 
I called you and told you
We conceived our first child
The words that came out your mouth
Were now words of denial.
 
You loved me so generously
So many times before
How could you not love me
When God has provided us more?
 
I now have a choice to make
God, what should I do
This man that you created
I’ve learned is untrue.
 
He denies me his love
He denies his own child
What kind of life can I create
God looked at me and smiled.
 
Dear child, do not worry
About the one who refuses
For my love is greater
Then any man who bruises.
 
This child you have conceived
This child is My creation
This child you have given life
This child is a new generation.

1998 Jaren's birth

__ Written by, Karen Whitaker