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.

My Choice

If there is one thing that concerns me more than my own personal feelings from my involvement with adoption, it is how my son, Noah (an adoptee) may feel from his experience.  If I hurt as a result of my choice, then that is my punishment.  But if my child hurts from my choice, then that is my fought and often times, that is the root of a birth parent’s anguish.  It’s called guilt.

I fully understand that no matter how abandoned I felt from my children’s father, or how isolated I felt from my family, and how much pain I experienced as a result of my choice, it still doesn’t compare to the feelings that adoptees may experience at some point in their life, especially since they were not involved in the decision making.  The choice was made for them.

Another thing about adoption that troubles me is when I hear the term “gave up”.  I’ve read comments from followers on Facebook, blogs and community groups say things like, “She gave up her baby,” or “My mother gave me up,” or “I’m thinking about giving up my baby.”  Yes, believe it or not, unintended pregnant women still say this.  It’s an old term that some human being coined the phrase “gave up” as an appropriate term within the adoption industry many years ago.  I wish I had a copy of the legal documents from the 50’s – 60’s so I could see if that term actually exists in the legal papers.  I assume that what they meant is that the biological parent “gave up” their parental rights now more commonly known as relinquished their parental rights to their child.

Actually, per my legal documents, the birth parent(s) signs a “Placement Agreement of a Child” prior to the delivery and then after delivery, signs an “Affidavit of Relinquishment of Parental Rights to Licensed Child-Placing Agency.”

It does sound heartless for a parent to be able to choose to agree to give up or relinquish their parental rights to their child.  And often times it gets misconstrued as the parent “gave up their child” as if the parent did not want their baby boy or baby girl.  How else can a parent just sign away and terminate their rights?

You see most often, it is not about the child.  It’s about the parent feeling they are inadequate.  Often times, they have been told verbally or subliminally that they are not capable to parent this child.  As for me, I was parenting my first born son, Jaren.  I understood all too well the time, expense, energy and emotional toll it takes to parent a child.  Moreover, I had no relatives nearby and the biological father and his entire family who did live nearby showed no interest in helping me in any way support Jaren, so I expected more of the same response when our second child was conceived.

I remember watching the local news and seeing a story about some mother who killed her offspring’s as if a trigger went off inside her.  Unlike most people who were hateful and judgmental, I wondered how a woman, who had loved her children so much, could turn around and brutally kill her offspring.  What could have set this mother off?  What pushed her to her breaking point and made her mind snap out of control.  And that’s when I considered my options.  As much as I didn’t like the adoption option, I surely did not want to push myself past my limit and risk losing emotional control and possibly harming my kids.  No, I may have actually killed my children but I may have abused them.  And that is not a risk that I was willing to take.

Adoption is never easy for anyone.  I like being a single mother a whole lot more than being a birth mother.   That doesn’t mean I dislike being a birth mother to Noah.  It means that society is more socially accepting of single mothers than they are of birth mothers.  And I’ve shared with many women within the birthparent community and at my birth mothers support group who are filled with grief and sometimes guilt that it is an unnatural experience for a woman to let go of her infant.  For many of us, it goes against every grain in our body.  I imagine it is difficult to lose your child at an older stage as well, whether the parent was neglectful or not.

But what I can tell you for myself, I didn’t choose adoption because I didn’t want to be a parent to my second born child.  I chose adoption because given my circumstance at that present time, I wasn’t confident I could parent both of my children adequately as a single mother, the way they deserved to be parented.

Who knows if Noah’s life is better or worse than if I would have chosen to raise him with Jaren?  Personally, I don’t like to think in terms of better or worse.  I like to think Jaren and Noah both have had a good life but only they can say for sure.  I am certain once they have grown and matured into men, they will look back on their life and analyze it.  And I can only hope that when they do, they will look back fondly on the memories we have shared together as a family.

Most of all, I hope both of my sons understand and know that they are always loved and were always wanted.

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The Magic Show

Jaren has always been a unique and entertaining child.  There was never a dull moment in our household.

As a youngster, he had an inquisitive and peculiar mind which spawned him to say things that many times left me literally questioning his thought process.   When I brought an avocado home, he wanted to save the large round seed in the middle so he could plant it and grow avocados.  When we went to a craw-fish broil, he asked the host if he could take one home for a pet, which we did.  We named her Lulu.  Jaren also enjoyed singing, being on stage, and never minded being the center of attention.  He had a spiritual knowledge and insight far beyond his young years.  But all that creative energy sometimes left him restless and he went looking everywhere to exercise his mental interest.  On top of that, Jaren had asthma and allergies.  The medications he took to manage these conditions also contributed to his hyperactivity.

Kindergarten was a challenge for Jaren.  He suffered from some behavior issues that were mostly related to him not being able to sit still, focus, and follow directions.  And he was a talker.  At the beginning of the school year the students had a weekly chart that was marked daily with colored mood faces expressing each child’s behavior, that ranged from green(good), yellow(fair), orange(warning) and red(bad).  The charts were sent home daily so parents could acknowledge and initial the behavior noted for that day.   After the first couple weeks, Jaren rarely brought home a happy green face.  His charts mostly consisted of yellow and orange (with green and red being more rare).  It was somewhat discouraging.  Then I got the dreaded notice.  I needed to go to the school for a special parent/teacher conference.

Honestly, I was on defense at first.  I wondered if they were singling out my child for some social, political reason or if there was a real concern for my young son.

I drove to the school to meet with Jaren’s teacher, the counselor, and the vice principal.  I felt outnumbered.  I walked in sheepishly, trying to preserve my self-confidence and was ready to fight on behalf of my child.  Jaren’s teacher had all the examples that she recorded on paper of Jaren’s bad behavior moments.  The vice principal asked how Jaren was doing academically?  His teacher said he was a good student when he was capable of getting his work done.  Then, we were re-directed back to the issue of his class behavior.  They suggested I take Jaren to one of the local offices to have him tested for ADD/ADHD but maintained that it was my choice and that Jaren was still young and could very easily grow out of his challenging behavior.

Although I know ADD/ADHD is a real medical issue, I felt like the school was looking for an easy way out to help make their job easier.  Jaren was so young.  I thought it was too early to assess or label him as having ADD/ADHD.

I was hurt and mad and tried very hard to hold back my emotions.  As I was leaving, I walked with Jaren’s teacher down the hall.  I couldn’t hold back my tears any longer and told her that I was sorry.  I further explained that I had tried everything at home; talking to Jaren, punishment, taking privileges away, but nothing seemed to be making a noticeable or permanent impact.  I said, “I feel like a terrible mom.”

As single parents and working mothers, it feels like we do so much and no matter how much we do, we still can’t do enough, and our best isn’t good enough.  We have stretched ourselves to the max with little or no reserves for unexpected disruptions.  We are trying to uphold a family balance and sometimes the slightest breeze can throw us off course.

My child’s teacher’s response surprised me.  “You shouldn’t feel that way.” she said. “You are a good mom.  You’re here trying to help your son.  Think about all the parents who don’t show up.”  She put her arm around my shoulder and assured me that she and the school would work together to help Jaren.  I immediately felt comforted.

The counselor and Jaren’s teacher formed a new plan for my son.  From that day on, instead of Jaren getting daily charts and weekly rewards, they began giving him progress updates throughout the day.  He could look at his chart that was taped to his desk and see his behavior progress.  It gave him a goal to work towards.

One day, Jaren asked his teacher if he could perform a magic show for his class.  Jaren’s teacher thought it was a great motivational opportunity and told him that he needed to get a certain amount of good behavior reports.  If he did, he could perform his magic show for his classmates.

Jaren worked hard on his class behavior at school and practiced his magic skills regularly for me at home and all that hard work paid off.

To prepare my son for his magic show debut I bought him a cape and a top hat.  As I beheld Jaren standing in front of his animated audience, I watched a problematic kid be transformed into a charismatic star pupil that day.  He was focused and poised.  His classmates were truly entertained by his magic.Image

Thank goodness for teachers like this, the ones who allow all their students to shine in unique ways.

Magic Show

Adversity

When I look back on my life, it amazes me how far I have come in the face of adversities.

During uncertain times, we hope that no matter what, we can always count on our family for unconditional love and acceptance but sometimes it just isn’t so.  Such was the case for me when I was expecting my son, Jaren.

What began as a loving supportive family of my unplanned pregnancy, which included a distant baby shower for me (I lived in Texas, they lived in New Jersey) turned suddenly dreadful when my family learned of my child’s mixed ethnicity (African and European American).  My mother was noticeably distraught.  She seemed more concerned as to what she would tell all those who attended the baby shower and even wondered if they would want their gifts returned (by-the-way, they didn’t).  Apparently, they were okay with me being an unwed mother to a white baby.  But being a single mother of a bi-racial (half black) baby was another story all together.

I went along with the charade for my son’s sake.

After my baby was born, some of my family members tried to put their prejudices aside.  Going home was always a divide between love and hate, right and wrong and I strongly debated if I even wanted my son to have a relationship with these relatives whose love for him was initially tarnished solely based on the color of his skin.

I went along with the charade for my son’s sake.

From that moment on, I would not be invited to another holiday dinner or family event due to my step father’s prejudices.  My family made it very clear that they didn’t want to be caught in the middle.  My mother would provide halfhearted excuses and say things like, “That’s the way your father is and he isn’t going to change.”  My older brother and sister would personally tell me to my face that they didn’t think it was fair how I was being treated.  And like our mother, they were unwilling to stand up for me.  Whether they feared openly debating their perspective with our father or whether they were masking their own prejudices internally is unknown to me.  Either way, they all had it in their mind that since I didn’t play by the rules (no interracial dating), that I should have expected this reaction and be happy with what they were offering.

I went along with the charade for my son’s sake.

When Jaren and I flew back home, my step father would go away for a few hours or an overnighter at their summer home so my mother could bring us home for a short visit.  We were on a tight schedule.  Orders were…me and Jaren needed to be out of my parent’s house and out of sight by the time my step father returned home.  I can remember the nervousness my mother had trying to get us packed, out of the house and into the car so she could drop us off at my brother’s or sister’s home.  She had a great fear of running into her husband before we left.  It’s a sad way to live, in my opinion.  And it always left me feeling slighted.

I went along with the charade for my son’s sake.

Whenever we went home, the other grandkids would talk about Poppy, and Jaren would ask questions as to who Poppy was.  Jaren was curious about Poppy.  Often times, my mother would evade questions from Jaren, sometimes becoming flustered by his inquiries.  I remember on one occasion, she responded that Poppy was her husband, for which I gave her a sharp look.  I had to bite my tongue so many times; I’m surprised it didn’t literally fall off.  Truth is, Mom didn’t have any plausible excuses for her young grandson.  She would send pictures either by mail or email to us in Texas of Poppy and the other grandkids, depicting a wonderful loving grandparent and I wondered why my mother felt the need to share them with me and my child.  I finally had to request she not send pictures to avoid confusion.  No child deserves that.

I went along with the charade for my son’s sake.

I remember on one visit back home, me, my sister, her daughter, and Jaren stopped by the local custard stand.  We were sitting at a picnic table when my sister saw our parents in the parking lot.  My sister egged me to go over and introduce my son to his grandfather.  I think my sister wanted to end the divide in our family.  We walked over and stood alongside my father’s car window.  I had Jaren sitting on my hip and said, “Hello.”  My father looked straight ahead.  My sister did most of the talking.  He glanced once or twice at my sister and my niece but never acknowledged me or my son.  My mother sat in the passenger side, eating her desert, saying very little.  Once I returned back to Texas, far enough away, I learned how hateful, prejudice words were said about me and my mixed-race family by some family members and close friends.

Yes, I went along with the charade.  It was a game that I learned to play very well by their rules.    Any disturbances from the rules would have jeopardized the ties that bond and at that time, I was trying to hold onto whatever was available to me.  I thirsted for the love of my family and did not want to be left alone in a world with no family ties.  I wanted my son to have his extended family, even if they were fifteen hundred miles away, even if they were prejudice, even if they were willing to stand and watch one of their very own blood relatives be rejected and rebuked.

For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’  “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’  “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  Matthews 25:42-45

Twelve years later, my step dad finally had a change of heart.  My younger brother and his wife were vital in the evolution of our family restoration.  I had the idea of having a 70th surprise birthday party for our mother.  I proposed the idea to my brother and sister-in-law.  They liked the idea and my brother said he would talk it over with our dad.  We needed to make sure he was on board.  I had gone along with the charade for a very long time, but to ask me to help plan something and then say that me and my mixed-race family would not be welcome, well, that’s another story.  I don’t know what my brother said to our father that day but our dad agreed to go along with the party.  This event was the first time that my son and I were at a get-together with our whole family and long-time friends in one place at the same time.  After twelve long years, I felt like a member of this family again.

If you asked me today if I am totally healed from this experience, I will tell you no.  I swallowed my pride and quieted my voice for many years as my wounded heart broke and my eyes filled with penetrating tears.  The ill treatment we received by the ones who were supposed to love us without seizing, with no apology or remorse still haunts me.

I wonder how much one person can bear, how many times one wounded heart can break and how much one soul can withstand before its spirit is weakened.  These are the questions that I may never know the facts and the answer may lie within each lesson.

In the end, I’ve learned a great deal as a mother.  But I would say what I learned from having my biracial family has taught me much more than I could have ever imagined.  It’s taught me to be strong in the face of adversity.   Image

Thrift Store

You know times have changed when a song about shopping at a thrift store (Thrift Shop, by Macklemore) wins Billboard’s rap song of the year 2013.

I am a big fan of thrift stores.  I don’t get embarrassed to shop there.  And after becoming a single parent, I have shopped there whether I could financially afford to shop elsewhere or not.  My first memory of a thrift store was when I was a kid.  My mother, a single mom of three at that time, didn’t have a lot of extra money.  I remember one winter, us kids wanted to go ice skating.  Mom took us to the Goodwill Store to shop for ice skates.  They had a black pair that fit my brother but had only one other pair that my sister and I could fit into.  Mom said that my sister and I would have to take turns.  No problem.  We were just happy to be able to go ice skating.

My mother continued to shop at thrift stores all my years in school and still shops at them to this day, although she surely does not need to shop there.  She loves a good bargain.  I’ll admit there were times when I was in high school I was a little embarrassed for someone to see my mother shopping at the Salvation Army.  After all, my mother had remarried and although my parents weren’t rich, they weren’t poor enough to necessitate shopping for second-hand merchandise.  What would people think?  Teenagers are so self-centered.  Well, some of us.

Earlier this year, my son wanted to go to the Lady Gaga concert.  I had treated him to the Nicki Minaj concert six months prior and informed him that I wasn’t able to afford another set of concert tickets.  One concert ticket purchase per year was more than fair.  His response, “Then I will try to win them.”  He just knew he was going to win those tickets somehow.  I love his optimism!

The weekend before the concert, I went online to search the local radio stations so I could verify if and when they were having Lady Gaga concert ticket promotions or contest giveaways.  Most of the radio stations were doing the usual “10th caller” contest.  My son listened all weekend, calling every time the DJ announced, “Tenth caller wins Lady Gaga concert tickets,” with no luck.

One station did their contest a little different.  They were having a drag queen contest.  The contestants entered online and described to the radio station how they would dress up in their best drag queen costume.  I submitted my idea:  mobster pin-striped suit, a gangster hat and high heel shoes.

One day before the concert I got a call from the radio station.

I answered, “Hello.”

“Hi, this is Nick from i93.”

He told me they liked my idea and invited me to come down dressed in my drag queen outfit for a chance to win the Lady Gaga concert tickets.  I was overjoyed.  However, there was just one small problem; I didn’t have a pinned stripped suit hanging in my closet.  I also didn’t have the money to go out and buy a new one.  I mean heck, if I could’ve bought a pinned stripped suit, then I could’ve bought the concert tickets in the first place.

Luckily we have a local thrift store that I have visited many times over the past few years.  I prayed to God that they would have the item I needed on one of their racks.  It seemed like it was a lot to ask.  I mean, really.  I needed a suit, a pin-striped suit, a suit that would fit my size, and be priced reasonably.  But I was faithful.

I walked into the store and went right to the men’s section.  I figured I would have a better chance of finding the suit I needed in the men’s section than in the women’s section. Since this was more for a theatrical costume rather than for an evening out on the town, I didn’t need it to fit exact or perfect. A little big and roomy was fine.  Actually that was the style I was going for anyway.

Thanks be to God, I found the perfect pin-striped suit for $5.00. But wait, then I get up to the register and they inform me that the suit is on sale and was marked down. What? You are kidding me! How wonderful is that?

Not only did Nick from i93 hand me two Lady Gaga concert tickets for the first level, the DJ’s even interviewed me on live air for my unique drag queen costume.   All the while, my son had a look of amazement and an endless smile on his face.

As parents, we don’t get opportunities like this often.  At that moment, I felt like a great mom.  I’m reminded of that old credit card commercial:

Pinned striped suit, $3.00

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Gansta Hat, $12.00

Lada Gaga concert tickets, Free

 

Look on my son’s face, Priceless!

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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.

Mary, The Unexpected Mother

The Madonna in Sorrow

The Madonna in Sorrow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I often think about Mary, mother of Jesus, and how she might have felt when she learned of her pregnancy. It was a little different back then. In modern times, we have a blood test or a pregnancy kit to help us decide the fate of our future. Mary had an angel. However, even with that, hearing it and knowing it are two very different things.

When God chose Mary, she was a single woman. I find this to be interesting. Why did God choose an unmarried woman? Some may say that God needed a virgin. Well, if this is true, God could have chosen any virgin bride to conceive the prince of peace, right? Nothing is impossible for God. He is the great creator. If God needed Mary specifically, why not wait until Mary’s wedding night? Mary was already promised to Joseph. So I still ask myself, why God chose Mary, an unmarried virgin.

Did you know that Mary is considered to be one of the most righteous women in the Islamic tradition? And she is mentioned more in the Quran than in the New Testament? This historical fact is also very interesting to me. She must have been an amazing woman. God thought so; Joseph thought so, and her family must have thought so. Furthermore, I believe that Jesus thought so. And when the writers were keeping their records for the Bible and the Quran, they apparently thought so as well.

I have come to the conclusion that Mary must have been very special. I sometimes wonder what it was about her that God loved so much. What did Mary possess within her that the other virgins or women did not? Of all the women in the world at that time, God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus. What made Mary different? She must have had some unique inner quality that God saw, right? Maybe it was her faith or maybe it was her inner strength? God knew the task He was placing on Mary was going to be one of her most important and challenging roles as a human being and as a mother. God knew that Mary would be faced with opposition and disbelieving antagonists. Can you even imagine?

I wonder how I would react if God sent an angel to descend upon me. How would I feel knowing I was carrying a child that would be known as the Son of God? How do you parent this child? How do you explain to your child his conception? How do you prepare this child for what is ahead or expected? How do you encourage him to make a new path, to see a new vision, to listen to a higher voice and to teach a new lesson? And upon doing that, your child leaves home to become the master teacher, sharing God’s message, leading by example and you breathe a sigh of relief only to witness your child’s fate, his prosecution and his sacrifice.

Yes, Mary had a great task placed upon her. But God must have known she was up for the challenge.

As mothers, we have all been given a gift. No, they may not have been conceived through an immaculate conception but they are still one of God’s creations, a gift of the most high, a spiritual being with unlimited possibilities. As mother’s we have been called to grow and nurture mystical souls that came through us or came to us.

Don’t be afraid of what lies ahead of you. Be strong and courageous but most of all, be faithful. Know that God has a purpose for you and your child. Whether you’re a married mother, single mother, birth mother, adoptive mother, step mother, foster mother or a widowed mother, God chose you, of all the women in the world, to be the mother of one of His tender souls. You must be very special!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Single Mom

I was thirty four years of age and not married when I discovered I was expecting a baby. I was also heartbroken when my partner informed me that he did not want to be a dad. This is when I made the choice to become a single mom. But for some reason, I wasn’t stressed out about the notion. Little did I know at the time all that was required to be a single mother or in my case a single parent to my son.

After the first six weeks, I returned to work.  Life became a whirlwind. I got very good at multi-tasking. And mothers of my generation had a lot more set of rules than our mothers from decades before. We safety proofed our house from unforeseen accidents, we buckled up our child in their car seat, we didn’t leave our kids unattended in a car to run into the store to pay the cashier for our gas and in most cases we couldn’t let our children play outside alone or walk or ride bikes in the neighborhood without adult supervision. We had more rules to remember, more guidelines, and many times more consequences to consider.

Father’s Day was the toughest day for me. Jaren’s daycare had a breakfast with Dad every year and I would sometimes go into depression mode, feeling guilty and thinking that my son was missing out on something. A few years later, once I became known as a single working mother, my peers and friends began to wish me Happy Father’s Day. I thought, “Yeah, I do two jobs, so why not get two holidays.”

My child was strong willed, outspoken, and hot tempered at times. Trying to get Jaren dressed in the morning was challenging. Jaren wanted to do things his way and had no sense of time yet. Occasionally he would struggle to get his pants on, kicking his legs back and forth, trying to get his leg into the right pant leg. Seeing his frustration, I would try to help him. “No, I do it!” he would yell out to me. And he would repeat this over and over. On these days, I really had to learn “patience is a virtue.”

But even though being a single parent is double the duty and I’m not going to sugar coat it, a lot of work, the return benefit is so worth it. A child is pure love. It’s those unexpected moments that happen and touch your life forever, like the unexpected hug or kiss, the smile that says, “You’re my hero,” or the fresh daisy picked just for you.

One Christmas morning, when Jaren was two years old, I had one of those unexpected moments. All but one of the presents under the tree was for Jaren. I hadn’t even thought about putting some presents under the tree for me to show Santa didn’t forget mommy. After opening only a few of his gifts, Jaren didn’t seem to understand why all the gifts were for him. Did Santa Claus forget about Mommy? My son walked over to the tree, found the one gift for me, picked it up and said, “Momma, here. This one’s for you.”

At two years old, my precious baby boy sat there and watched me as I unwrapped my present and then marveled at the gift I received.

Momma and Jaren 12.1998

It’s moments like this when you say to yourself, “I hope he learned this from me.”

My son is now a freshman in high school and I’m very proud of the man he is becoming. I know that parents are here to teach our children and help them become loving, responsible human beings. But I can tell you from personal experience, my son has taught ME so much more about love and life and what truly is important than what I had learned on my own.

I’ve also learned that as long as my son has a loving parent it doesn’t matter if he is being raised by one parent or two.

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.