Monday, May 18, 2009

Protecting Woman and Child

Trying to clear through all my Google alert emails the other day, I came across a very good, thought provoking post, A Heartwrenching Issue On My Mind by Rambling Mother .

It was one of those posts where the responses began clicking, one after another, in my head before I ever reached the end. And I knew, just leaving a comment wasn’t going to work as something close to a novel was taking shape in my mind.

And so, Rambling Mother has agreed to let me link to her post and respond here on my blog.

The topics in her post and in my response here can sometimes work up a lot of discussion, agreement and disagreement. I think that is fine and encourage as much input, thoughts and answers as possible. BUT, with that said, I ask very strongly that anyone who travels to her blog from mine, will remain respectful if they leave a comment and understand that she didn’t have to agree to allow me to link to her post and I would hate for it to become an agreement she regrets.

And, in that same process, for this post, I will be watching very closely the comments left here on my blog as well. I do try very hard to practice a “no delete” policy but because of some of the triggers that can come up when discussing certain topics, I do not want this to turn into a “beat up and attack” fest and I will, for this single post, delete any responses that do just that.

I hope everyone who posts here and/or on Rambling Mother’s blog with follow the rule of being able to disagree without being disagreeable.

So with that said . . . on to my response to A Heartwrenching Issue On My Mind . . .

When I first read this post, I expected to be able to respond by that night or the very next morning. But I realized I wanted more thought put into it. More time to properly address the points and questions that were made and maybe, just maybe, create a dialogue between not just first/natural moms, adoptive moms and adoptees. But between everyone who wants to see changes in what happens to women facing unexpected pregnancies. Everyone who has questions or concerns, wonders what more or less should/could be done.

And so I want to start with one point that struck me right away – the myth of adoption preventing abortion . . .

---“The workers may feel that if there isn't an adoption plan the woman in crisis pregnancy will abort”---

I fully understand why some believe that if you offer adoption it might keep a woman from having an abortion. This has been a BIG arguing point in so many discussions. But the problem is, the facts that are out there continue to prove this isn’t true.

Even the FRC (Family Research Council) and the NCFA (National Center For Adoption) with all their research had to admit that a woman DOES NOT make a choice between abortion or adoption . . .

**Researchers found that the first decision these women make is whether or not to carry their pregnancies to term. Later in the pregnancy, they vacillate between raising their children and placing them for adoption.**

When a women faces an unplanned pregnancy, the first choice is whether to even be “pregnant” in the terms of showing and carrying a child for nine months. This choice alone carries fears and desperation for a woman.

Carrying a baby to term and giving birth is a completely different decision. In all my time, with all the many different first/natural moms I know, I have never come across ONE who didn’t have an abortion because she knew adoption was an available choice. Not once, has any women ever said to me, “I wanted an abortion but then somebody encouraged me to think about adoption and that is why I changed my mind.

For women facing unplanned pregnancy, there is more often than not, no connection between continuing a pregnancy and actually giving birth. It’s either a “I do or I don’t” process . . . Either I remain pregnant, or I don’t.

Her fears and desperation leading her to abortion are not addressed in encouraging adoption. By that choice she has to continue the very pregnancy she feels she must end. And in many ways it implies that she hasn’t already struggled with her decision. That those long, agonizing nights of being up and terrified of what you are going to do never came for her. That she is supposively taking the “easy way out,” and should have nothing stopping her from carrying her pregnancy to term.

And for all the decades that it has been believed that encouraging adoption will stop abortions, it has never affected the number of abortions that happen each year. After over thirty years, I think it is clear that adoption does not solve the rise of abortions among pregnant women.

I do whole-heartedly agree though that it is just as disgusting that anyone makes a profit off of abortions as well. Just like in adoption, when any kind of profit is involved, you are setting the scene for corruption. It sickens me to know just how many billions of dollars come from taking advantage of women facing unplanned pregnancies.

And I think what so many of us are missing in the debate is that manipulation or pressure for either is wrong. There can’t be an excuse of why one is better than the other. I know both sides of the argument have very strong feelings as to why one should at least be better than the other but aren’t we wasting a lot of time fighting for that when we should be fighting for more support for pregnant women. More help so they can keep and raise their babies.

I don’t think the argument should be abortion or adoption. I think it should be why should a pregnant woman ever feel like either one is her only choice? Why are we not as a society doing more to allow a woman to keep and raise her baby so that she doesn’t walk into either scenario?

And most of all, a pregnant woman has EVERY right to know the risks that come with both abortion AND adoption.

There are laws in some states, and a push to create even more, that require a woman to be informed of the risks of abortion. I agree with this. I think a pregnant woman SHOULD be told of any and all risks. She needs honest counseling about what she might experience after having an abortion. She should know everything that is out there so that she is fully informed beforehand. I also believe the same should be required for adoptions.

---“If there is a woman already adoption minded, then the conversation continues along the way of the already adoption minded woman.”---

Which sounds acceptable, right? And it is something I, and others, hear many times . . . “She knew she wanted an adoption. She made the choice and contacted the adoption agency herself.”

Except the minute she walks in the doors of the adoption agency, she is sold the same “happy” story of adoption that is encouraged in the “how-to” manuals of how to get a woman to choose adoption.

It’s all about the “great” act she is doing. About her being a hero, a wonderful, selfless person for giving her child a better life. It’s more encouragement of how she would be unable to parent. More of the same, your child will be so grateful for what you have done for them.

They don’t tell her about the risks. They don’t mention what so many other first/natural mothers suffer with – depression, damaged self-esteem, persistent guilt, shame and a self-hatred for giving up your child. They don’t mention anything about the emptiness, the loss, that no other child can ever take away. The difficulty with intimacy and trust. The chance of experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder and for some, even suicide.

They tell her that her child will always love her and know what a great thing she did for him or her. But they don’t tell her about the adoptees who are angry with their first/natural parents for giving them up. They don’t say a word about adoptees who face abandonment issues, fears of if they aren’t good enough, others will leave them too. They don’t mention that the baby experiences a loss being separated from his mother at birth. That some adoptees become depressed and angry around their birthdays because it is a reminder of the loss. Nothing is said about adoptees who have their own fears of intimacy, inability to trust.

And they sure as heck don’t tell them that when their babies grow into adults they will be denied basic human rights simply because they were adopted.

And something else, very important to remember in this is that just because a pregnant woman walks into an adoption agency, that does not always mean she has her mind set on adoption. Many women, like myself, are given “marketing” materials the adoption agencies send out to high schools, colleges, hospitals, etc. They offer help in making a decision. A comforting hand, a knowledgeable counselor who will go over all the options a pregnant woman has.

Pregnant women walk into these agencies believing they are there for them. That they care about them and only want what is best for them and their child. And yet, the minute they are in the door, the counselors repeat the same script, the same words to each and every one, fulfilling their goal of convincing her that adoption is her only option. The disgusting act of marketing for pregnant women brings them in the door, leads them to believe they can trust these people without ever being aware of their true intentions.

Whether a women enters an abortion clinic or an adoption agency, for any reason, she should be told EVERY truth, EVERY risk, EVERTYHING there is to know about what is about to happen. Not just the good so she will continue on, but the bad as well so she has the information she deserves before going any further.

But this doesn’t happen and so it circles back around to the same question – where are we really and truly helping pregnant women in any area? What are we leaving them – abortion or adoption, both full of pain and grief.

This post touched me because I heard the same confusion, the same desire to try to find answers. To make sense of where we are now and what can be done in the future.

I understand the thoughts expressed through the post. I really do. Just because I don’t agree with all of them, doesn’t mean I don’t feel that same desperate wish to make changes somewhere and to keep the child as always the most important one.

I want that too. I just don’t want it with the horrible affects that come with it at the moment. More does need to be done and we have to start standing up and taking action, not to fight one against the other, but to protect pregnant women and their unborn child. That is where we are failing in everything. We are failing them by not encouraging parenting above all else. By not getting the support out there these women need to continue their pregnancy and raise their children.

It isn’t right to believe abortion or adoption is the right answer. I don’t believe either one are. The right answer is to address the fears and desperation a pregnant woman goes through. To be willing to give or do more to help her and her child stay together. To demand our government take notice of what is happening to pregnant women from all sides and work to change it.

We need to be pro-parenting in every way that is possible. Until then, nothing will change in the world of abortion or adoption. Both will go on. Both will continue to cause damage. And both will place all women, who should be standing up together to fight, against one another instead of using our amazing strength and power to fight for a change all the way around.

Until we stop picking sides and seeing one as better than the other, I fear we will never get anywhere. But if we can come together and listen to each other, find solutions and realize it isn’t about us but about the pregnant woman and her child who is being terribly cheated in today’s world, I firmly believe we will make a huge difference for everything both sides are fighting for.

If we don’t, I fear, more and more women and children will continue to be hurt. The different sides will battle, both fighting on the pain both options cause without stepping back to realize no woman, no child, should ever be expected to go through such pain for ANY reason, no matter what side of the fence you might sit on.


  1. You have explained some things that I wasn't totally aware of with grace. Thank you and I agree we need to be pro-parent. Really we should focus on getting kids out of foster homes first esp if courts have termed parental rights. That is def harmful to children, talk about abandonment issues and pain for the kids.

  2. I do think this post and the other one are both very good and provide a lot of insight and reasons to think but I'm not so sure about believing that both choices are not good for women. I know someone who had an abortion years ago and she has regretted it and hated herself ever since. I also have a young girl at our church who just placed her baby for adoption and she says it was the best decision she could have made.



  4. Rambling Mother - Thank you. Not only for your comment here but for your post that brought up so many good points for discussion. I worried so much about answering you with respect and kindness. My heart, too, breaks for the many children in foster care who wait for a family. I don't know the answers there either (don't know many answers actually, just lots of questions) but I do think there is so much more that can be done to protect and help them as well.

  5. Anon - I know it is common for others to know somebody who is unhappy with one choice while knowing another who is happy with the other choice. For myself, I can say I know some who had an abortion and put their child up for adoption and they say the adoption caused them more pain and grief.

    But that still brings it down to the argument of which is "better" when I fully believe neither is for a pregnant woman. And yes there will be women who say they are happy with both choices, but should that mean we then give up on making changes for the many others who have been hurt through abortion or adoption? Is their grief, their pain, less important because they aren't seen as "Happy" with what happened to them?

    Yourstruelysincerely - sorry about that. I changed the colors. I hope it helps. And you were right the red on red was difficult to see.

  6. Too bad Obama didn't read your blog before giving his speech this weekend. It makes me wonder why those in power in our government continue to spout this "solution" to abortion. I know the NCFA and the FRC have their lobbyists in Washington glad-handling everyone to sell the myth of adoption, but really, shouldn't some of them have their own brains to be able to look into the facts for themselves before repeating the lies they have been told.

    Adoption hurts and destroys lifes too! Women have committed suicide because of this pain. They have spent years in agony, wishing, praying for the hurt to go away. Adoptees too, have their own struggles - ones I will let them define because I always worry about being wrong in what I say there - and our own president wants to endorce this pain because it will help lower another pain.

    Sorry, that just doesn't work for me. Help the woman! Stop punishing her!

  7. Cassi,
    I think I read in one of your posts that you were Italian. That is me. My family is an Italian, Catholic family so I was raised pro-life my entire life. When I became pregnant during my freshman year of college, there just seemed to be no question that I would put my child up for adoption. That's what happens when you face an unplanned pregnancy, right?! That's what I thought at the time.

    I was one of those women who believed she knew what she wanted to do. In my mind, the logic was - abortion hurts, adoption saves.

    And you are right, they do just reinforce how "great" you are for choosing adoption, except they did warn me of one risk. They told me I would grieve for the first few months afterwards. That it was normal but that it was something birthmothers got over after a few months, especially now that the adoption agencies offered post-adoption counseling.

    That was three years ago and my grief is worse today than it was on the day I placed my child. My post-adoption counseling started in the hospital because I wasn't so sure anymore than I wanted to place my child. My adoption counselor visited me there and reminded me of all the good reasons why I had chosen adoption.

    And it's been the same kind of counseling since. Their, post-adoption counseling consists of reminding us why we made the loving decision we did. It allows us to grieve but only under the belief that we did the best thing.

    Except that isn't working for me anymore. I can't stop hurting and I don't know how to make it go away. I have an open adoption and do get to see my son twice a year but even then I have to be somebody else because I can't be unhappy there either or my son's parents might cut me off from ever seeing him again too.

    As much as pro-lifers want their changes, I want them. I deserve them! I believed in their rhetoric, believed abortion was terrible and adoption was great. I know different now but not a single one of them is wiling to step up to help me now. As long as I carried my baby and gave him away, that is all they care about. I could kill myself tomorrow and they wouldn't give a damn because they got what they wanted - my son.


  8. Sarah,

    The type of counseling you are receiving is disrespectful at best and abusive at worst.

    Unfortunatley, this kind of phoney counseling is what it typically offered in the adoption arena.

    I'm sorry for your pain and hope you contiue to see your son and work through the challenges created by adoption.

  9. Cassi,

    Thank you for changing the colors, so much easy to read, here.


  10. Sarah,
    Your comment is gut wrenching to read. I am so sorry that you have been abandoned by the people who promised to help you. It is shameful that they told you healing would occur within a few months.

    Praying that the adoptive parents will open their hearts to allowing you more time with your son in order to build a deep and meaningful relationship.

  11. Hi,
    Visiting from Nice blog here. :)

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. I was 16 when I got pregnant(my parents were crack addicts). My mother wanted me to have an abortion. I wanted adoption. The father of my child wanted us to keep our child. We did, and we married. Our daughter is 14 and we are still married. Please remember you had a choice. I was offered abortion and adoption at every turn. Please stop blaming everyone for the choice you made. By the way, I am in the midst of an international adoption if a little boy who is hiv positive. He was left at the hospital when he was born. They finally found 'mom' when she went to prison 10 months later and terminated her rights. Thank God for adoption, Thank God he will have a chance. I am so sorry you were not offered the support you felt you needed.

  14. I was directed here from first/birthmother forum. You make some good points with this post, there is pain for some mothers in both abortion and adoption, but from what I have seen of those who have done both, there is more regret over surrender. All mothers who have experience either abortion or surrender should be able to express their true feelings about their experience, not used as propaganda by those for or against abortion or adoption, and not censored for feeling the "wrong" way.

    My feeling is since I do not believe in abortion I never had one, but do not feel it my place to make that choice for other women. I did give up my first child for adoption, but never wanted or considered abortion and am glad he was born. However, I feel I was ill-advised by the adoption agency I was sent to by the hospital clinic, and neither I nor my son whom I have since reunited with benefited in the long run.

    Mothers in crisis pregnancies should be told the real consequences of abortion, surrender, and parenting, both the good and the bad, and supported in a freely-made, uncoerced choice, no matter what their choice is. Those who opt to carry the pregnancy to term should not make any "adoption plan" until after they have given birth and had some time to recover. Those who had considered adoption should be able to change their mind in a legal time limit with no adverse consequences. Those who choose to raise their child should be given just as much support to do that as those who choose abortion or adoption. I agree that the real choice is between abortion and raising the child, adoption does not really enter into it for women making that hard choice, nor should it.