Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thou Shall Forgive

It’s interesting how I take comments about needing to forgive myself.

There are those times, in an adoption forum, a heated bout of questions and answers, when I am told by someone to forgive myself, move on, and realize I did what was best for my son.

Whenever I see that, I instantly see it as someone trying to discredit what I have to say. Trying to silence me by suggesting that I am not one who has an importance in her words because I have problems, like needing to forgive myself and move on, that keep me from truly being taken seriously.

These are the ones I see as frightened of what I have to say. They are offering their suggestions of “forgiveness” not because they give a damn about me but because they are afraid that if someone . . . anyone . . . might actually hear me, it threatens the belief they carry about the “roses and sunshine” version of adoption. And they just can’t have that so they must do whatever they can to take away any and all belief in what I might have to say in contrast to what they want others to believe.

Hence, the old line . . . forgive yourself.

But there are also times when those I respect and listen to (even when they disagree with me or have different opinions) suggest I forgive myself. When I know they are not tossing the suggestion out there to silence my words or make themselves feel better. But are doing it because they really and truly believe I need to take that step for myself and my own peace of mind.

And it is those that get me thinking . . . again! Those that nudge me back to the whole issue of forgiveness and adoption and how both play such a major role in my life.

Perhaps it’s just me, but when it comes to putting the thought of forgiveness into play within my experience of being a First Mom in adoption, there is no easy answer. No black and white solution that dictates either I forgive myself or I don’t.

It’s just not that easy.

And there are many areas in my life where I have sought and found some forgiveness.

Compared to the emotional wreck I was before I sought help through a great therapist and found support in so many other First Mom’s who were, or had, gone through what I was, my ability to forgive myself in today’s world is a huge accomplishment.

The woman who sits here today, shares her feelings and experiences on this blog, opens up in areas she never would have dared just a few years ago, is one that has moved past some of her worst demons and has learned to find forgiveness for what happened over two decades ago.

But, that forgiveness still does not, and may never, come as a clear and absolving declaration for what happened back when I gave up my son. It does not suddenly free me from all guilt and regret, all knowledge of the past and the results of it.

Because there are still affects of the adoption mind games that linger, continue to jab painful fingers into the memories I carry.

And it’s hard to explain to others who have never been there. Hard to get them to see and understand just how well the “words” of the adoption industry can work in manipulating a pregnant woman into believing she is making a “choice” because she loves her child.

Being led to believe you made a choice makes it very difficult to fully forgive yourself for what you did, even knowing and realizing you truly had no choice at all.

I’m not a stupid woman. I wouldn’t even label myself as a foolish one.

I believe, in most areas of my life, I am intelligent enough to not simply believe because I’ve been told. To automatically take the words of others without question. To place trust without hesitation.

I like to research, learn and find my own answers before believing anything, or anyone. I want to know, for myself, that something is true. I don’t want to simply be told it is.

And when I take that woman and place her back in that time twenty-two years ago, it’s hard to believe we are even the same person. It’s difficult to imagine, in the most important decision I ever had to make, I was foolish. I was stupid. And I didn’t research and learn everything I could before blindly following those who told me adoption was the best thing for my child.

And by realizing and knowing that, I am, in turn, accepting that I gave all power to those who wanted me to believe adoption was my best and only choice.

I understand and have learned in all my research and learning, that it is exactly what they wanted from me. That they knew the tricks, the right words to say, to make sure I gave them and their “suggestions” the power over all.

But that still does not, and will never, be able to fully give me full forgiveness of myself.

Because there is still that small part of me, that lingering voice that insists I should have known better. I should have seen what they were doing. Questioned their tactics. Known, in the end, that it was absolutely crazy to ever consider the feelings of my son’s adoptive parents when it came to giving him away. To believe that anyone was better for him simply because they were married, had more money, or a better career.

And that is, in every way, the true mind games the adoption industry has played, and continues to play, with mothers facing unexpected pregnancies. They know, without question, that the best way to go about their desires is to make mother’s feel as if they made their choice. To take every risk, every consideration, into account, and plan ahead for it so that a mother who has lost everything will still feel as if she made a “choice” in what happened and will find only herself to blame when she realizes the true horror of what happened.

And it works. Trust me, it works!

Here I am, twenty-two years later. My oldest son is back in my life in every way possible. I have a great therapist, a wonderful support system of other First Mom’s who share the same experiences. I have read the adoption industries own disgusting research on how to convince mother’s to give up their children. Have found, way too often, the same old script, the same repeated words, they said to me still being used to convince mothers to give up their children.

And yet, I still have not found full forgiveness for myself because I still battle against what they made me believe so many years ago.

I am, in many ways, their greatest product of success (if you take out the fact I am not still their robot, repeating their script for all to hear.) Because I have come to learn different from what they told me. I know now, the lies they told, the manipulation they used, the coercion that became the final act in losing my child, and yet, I still cannot find it possible to fully forgive myself for that because I still hold on to the fact they were able to make me believe them, trust them and go along with them without question or hesitation.

My hesitation, inability, to not only forgive myself, but to realize their manipulation and coercion, in truth, left me nothing to forgive myself for, is exactly what they hope for when it comes to us poor, poor souls who might actually turn around and realize just what bullshit it all was that they fed us.

Because we give them the doubt they need to declare that we are the ones in the wrong. We are the ones who had some failure, some wrong twist of reality inside of us. We’re just bitter, regretful and really shouldn’t be heard at all. I mean, after all, if we truly believe they had been wrong in what they did to us, we wouldn’t fight to forgive ourselves. We would know that the blame rests on their shoulders only.

But because we still struggle with our own forgiveness, then we must, obviously, be absolving them from any and all wrong doings on their part.

And if you think, for even a minute, that isn’t something they count on, prepare for, then I have plenty of readings and research for you to check out, from their own words, their own findings, to guarantee First Moms like myself face such struggles and questions so that they won’t be held to blame.

And it has worked so well for them that they haven’t changed their tactics, their ways, in many years.

Even today, I hear it. In the voices of new First Moms (or birthmothers as they have been told they are to be called) who say and repeat, word for word, what I said over and over again so many years ago.

Who were guided and counseled in the exact same way I was. Always being careful to make sure that they will always believe it was their choice and their choice only.

It hasn’t changed. And it won’t change. Because they are good. Because what they said to me over two decades ago still has power. Why would they ever try to change that same direction with the new First Mom’s they create.

They wouldn’t. Not when they have gone so far, spent so much money, done all the research, to know, without question, their manipulation works, not only in convincing a mother to give up her child, but in keeping her believing that it was all her choice in the first place.

Forgiveness is a hard thing in the world of adoption. It’s been carefully crafted and created to be that way. Like I said, there is no black and white, at least not in my world. And I don’t know if there ever will be.

Because, as much as I hate to admit it, as hard as it is to face the fact, there are still powers from the adoption industry that loom over me, restrict me from ever taking that full and final step.

And, I know, without doubt, without question, that there will be First Mom’s in today’s world, who will face the same struggle, the same understanding that forgiveness is not as easy as some think it might be. Because they too are products of the mind games that are played against mothers in the world of adoption.

They too will become, as I have, the proof of what it means to do such horrendous things to another human being for no other reason than to have another baby to supply to the demand while pretending it is all the mother’s choice.

They are proof of what happens when you lead a mother to believe giving up her child means loving her child. And that every thought like that comes from only them and not from the heavy pressure of society, media, and the very well researched “counseling” the adoption industry piles onto them day after day after day.

Forgiveness . . . I would love to know it in its full power. I would love to never again have to waver between the truths and realities I know from who I was then compared to who I am now.

But the reality is . . . that is my life now. That is what was planted inside of me, just as it is planted inside of so many others, even today.

Will I ever know full forgiveness . . . who knows.

Especially since, the truth of what is adoption and what mothers are told in adoption . . . it shouldn’t be about forgiveness but about seeing and realizing how we were, and are, used to create the supply for the demand that just keeps getting greater and greater with every passing year.

So maybe, the answer, for me, and others who have been there or will be there, isn’t about forgiving ourselves but instead, about fully knowing and accepting that the situations we were in, the choices we were restricted, offers nothing of forgiveness because forgiveness means choice and in the world of adoption and First Mom’s there really isn’t any choice to start with.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Where's The Pride

Years ago, almost two decades now, I would have told anyone who asked that I was proud of myself for giving up my oldest son.

That was back during the years of my deepest denial, when I believed that I was even less “worthy” of being a mom because of the fact I had given my son up in the end because of the feelings of his adoptive parents over anything else.

To me, that was a sure sign of someone who did not deserve, in any way, to be a mother. How could they when they allowed such a thing to be the deciding factor in the life of their own child. It was wrong, it was sick, and it was further proof that I would have failed miserably if I had tried to keep and raise my son myself.

So, yeah, all those years ago, I would have told anyone that asked that I was proud and would have desperately fought against anyone who suggested otherwise.

And yet, today, twenty-two years later, I find absolutely no pride in giving up my son. There is nothing, not a scrap of what happened back then that gives even an inkling to such a feeling. In that part of my life, in the reality of what happened when I placed my oldest son in his adoptive mother’s arms and walked out of the hospital, all I feel now is the realization of just how much I failed him in so many ways.

How could anyone ever feel pride in giving away their child instead of keeping him and doing everything possible to create the best possible life for them? Where is there pride in giving up and walking away over standing strong and fighting for the most important person in your life – your son.

See, in my life, in what I have learned and experienced in the twenty-two years since I became a mother – and yes, I believe without question, I became and remained a mother the moment I became pregnant with my oldest son – there are areas in my life where I do carry pride in not only myself, but also in my own mother who became pregnant with me at eighteen. But that does not, and never will, change the fact that there is nothing even close to pride inside of me when I look back to the time when I gave in, gave up, and walked away from my responsibilities to my oldest son.

And yes, I am stating that in the most harshest, and honest of ways. Because when I first stepped into this adoption journey, in those early months of my pregnancy, not only did I not see the truth for what it was, but those who were working hard to convince me that adoption was the “best choice” also didn’t bother to give me the darker, truer side of what it meant to be a mother who gave up her child.

Because keeping your child, working hard, sacrificing, giving all you have to be the best to your son or daughter you can possibly be, is something worthy of making you proud of what you have done. But believing others, believing it’s better not to even try but to instead just give your child away to someone else without fighting and sacrificing to give them the benefits yourself is far from anything that builds pride in your ability as a mother.

I know, because I’ve been there, as a mother and a daughter. I’ve lived both sides of the equation and have no question in what I believe, from my own experiences.

I’m a mother from the generation when society believed woman facing unplanned pregnancies actually had a choice when it came to giving their child up for adoption. And I’m a child from the generation when women truly had no choice if they found themselves pregnant outside of wedlock.

And, I can see now, where pride is a part of my life and where it remains absent.

My mom will be fifty-eight this March. I’m her only child. I can remember when I was younger, around fourth grade, when she was still in her twenties, she had to have a hysterectomy. Not by choice but by doctor’s orders. At that point, she was only a few years into her new marriage to my amazing stepfather, would have more than likely had at least one more child with him. But that wasn’t to be for her. Nature had its own destiny laid out for her, and better or worse, I was the only child she would have.

And yet, all beliefs, all statistics weighed against her just for the mere fact she became pregnant with me while she was still so young, before the thought of marriage ever even entered her mind. I was doomed to make nothing of myself. My mom would never accomplish anything. Would forever be held to a life of suffering simply because of when she became pregnant with me.

I was saved – and yes, I mean that in every way – from adoption because my father and his family, did not go into duck and deny mode, as was known to happen back then, and leave my mom having to face her pregnancy alone, knowing she’d be sent away, disappearing like other girls had, only to come back with a vital part of herself missing.

Instead, at eighteen, in what I now guess must have been a wedding planned in the quickest of ways, my mother became a wife only months before having me. Not because she wanted to marry my father, or had any opportunity to voice her desires. But because, it was decided for her. Either she married or she went away until after I was born, returning empty handed.

Such great choices for a young woman facing one of the hardest times of her life.

And yet, in all the people in my life, those who have touched me the most, my mom is my greatest hero. My pride in her, my love for her, is something that can never be matched. I still, even less than a year from forty, want to be just like her when I grow up. And I’ve lived my own life of being a mother, hoping to offer my children the same unconditional love, support and encouragement she has always given me.

Whether she gave a damn about what statistics predicted for her life, or not, it obviously never held her down, kept her back from being everything she was meant to be. I know my life didn’t start out with a silver spoon in my mouth. I know my mom struggled, fought and worked her ass off to provide me with the best life possible while continuing to improve her own life, not for herself, but for me.

Today, she is not only, in my opinion, one of the best mothers and grandmothers around, she is also a CFO. She is well known and respected for her reputation in the financial field here in our section of the country. She is the kind of person who would make a poster child for one who beat all odds. Who pretty much took what others predicated for her and snubbed her nose at it, instead becoming the best she could be for herself and for her family.

And as her daughter, my pride in her and all she is and has done, is at the top of the list. When I look back to what she faced when she was pregnant with me, knowing, from experience, what was thrown at her, believed of her, I find myself in awe at how absolutely different she is from what others expected from her for no other reason than she became pregnant with me before marriage and while still so young.

She fought, for me, for herself, and in that fight I find the greatest pride I could ever hold in a person.

A pride I lack when I look back on my own first step into finding myself young and pregnant out of wedlock. Back when I didn’t have a knowledge of my mom’s own experience. When, because of what happened to her, being denied any and all choice, she remained silent when I faced the same situation, believing she was doing right by avoiding, in all ways, any chance of forcing me in the same way she had been.

And, in complete opposite of my mother’s strength, I gave up and gave in.

But, two years later, when I gave birth to my second son, knowing, without doubt, I was never going to lose another child, still only eighteen, I found a fraction of the same strength my mother has always had. And today, twenty years later, I can look back at that and at the birth of my third son, only two years later, when I was twenty, and find pride in myself.

Because, though I was far from perfect, and never quite matched my mom’s accomplishments, I didn’t give up again. I fought, just like my mom, to offer them the life I believed they deserved. My husband, the father of all my children, and I worked hard, never gave up, and tried as best we could to create the kind of life we wanted for our children.

Always knowing though, that we didn’t do the same for our first born. That he, too, deserved everything we were working so hard to offer our younger children.

Yeah, and live with that one and then question why it’s simply impossible, in any way, to have pride for giving up my oldest son.

See, that’s the catch. In today’s world, in the change that happened from the Baby Scoop Era into the world we see today, it’s a selling point to tell a pregnant mom that she will be proud of herself for giving up her child because she can’t offer him or her what they deserve. And yet, moms, like myself and so many others, go on to have more children and realize, that what they told us was bullshit. Because we could have, would have, been great mothers to the children we gave up. And it wasn’t money or material possessions that made it possible. It was ourselves. The love and instincts we held inside as their mothers that made us capable of being good mothers to ALL our children.

In the beginning we might doubt it, doubt ourselves, believing, even in the children we have after the child we gave up that we are failing and not being a good mother, because that is what we expect of ourselves.

But in time, as the years pass and we begin to see our children grow and flourish and realize we weren’t perfect and that we might not have done the “perfect” thing by them, we realize that we did our best and offered everything we could and take pride in the fact that we did so. Knowing and understanding how important such acts are.

And seeing, for the first time, how believing, or allowing others to let us believe, that we would not have been able to offer the same to the child we gave away, is the worst sin we could have committed. Against our son or daughter. Against ourselves.

Because, by then, we understand, we see, what so many know and yet nobody told us when we faced one of the hardest, most confusing, times of our life . . . being a mom doesn’t mean having money or offering tons of material things. It isn’t about our age or material status. Our homes or the cars we drive. It’s about us, and our love, and our determination to work hard, give all we have to our child.

But that love, that determination, is used against us. Is set up for us to believe that it means giving up our child to someone better instead of fighting, struggling and working every day of our life to be better, ourselves, for our children.

It’s a realization that hits hard when it comes. A moment when all you believed in from way back when, shatters and makes you realize the harsh truth . . . there is no pride in giving away your child when you know you could have fought, worked hard, and been the one to provide your child with everything you wanted for him or her.

It’s the truth that should have been seen the moment any mother even thought of sacrificing to the point of giving their child away. The evidence that any woman, willing to live her life with such a loss, is one who would, without adoption, do whatever it took to provide the best life possible for her child, because she has already proven that strength in the very fact she is believing, through society, through others, that giving away her own flesh and blood is the only chance she has to give her child everything she believes he or she deserves.

And then expecting her to have pride in herself for doing so when there really isn’t a true way for her to do so. Not when the years have passed and she steps back and looks at the truth of who she is, how she loves her children, and realizes she held the same qualities, love and dedication for the child she gave up.

Where is the pride in that?

There isn’t any.

It just doesn’t exist.

I have four amazing children, from twenty-two to twelve, three boys and one girl. And I can see it now, on this side of my adoption journey. I can feel in my heart what I wasn’t supposed to know all those years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest son . . .

Loving your child does not mean losing them because you can’t provide better. It means doing all you can so that it is you, and no one else, who provides them with the best you can.

It’s about being there for them, never turning away, even in the hardest of times, because they are a part of you. A part nobody should ever try to take away.

It’s about realizing that vacations, private schools, fancy houses and designer clothes, do not make a mother. Unconditional love and a desire to give your child everything you can, is the key. The reason to fight and be there for your own flesh and blood, without every giving up, or giving them away.

The best way I could have shown my oldest son I loved him. The way I could have looked back now and been proud of myself as his mother, would have been to walk out of that hospital with him in my arms. To fight, struggle, and sacrifice for him just as I did for his siblings, as my mother did for me.

That was my love for him. That was the love he deserved.

In giving him up I never had or deserved pride, because he deserved better from me, not from the strangers who I was led to believe were more deserving, loving than I could ever hope to be.

It should have, was meant to, come from me.

Just as today, the many young woman who give up their children, believing it will someday make them “proud” of their decision, should have been given the help, support and education, to realize that gaining “pride” as a mother means knowing you never gave up, never let others beat you down and that you fought, with every ounce of strength you had, to protect your child, keep them in your arms, and give them everything they deserved . . .

Through your own means . . . not the means of another.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dear Lilliput . . .

Dear Lilliput,

I am sorry that it has taken all this time to respond to you.

I, just tonight, read the questions you posed to me back in May 2009, on my very first post, Adoption Warfare.

It seems like a lifetime since I wrote that post. But in truth, it’s been a little less than two years since I first dared to put to words, and share with the public, my feelings of adoption. And yet, in that time, and in the many ways my life and my relationship with my son has changed, there are so many things that have remained the same, including my original view on how the darker truths of adoption have, and continue, to affect my, my oldest son’s, and my entire families, life.

And so, though I know, my answers are bound to vary from what I would have given almost two years ago when I first wrote that post, and even nine months ago when you first asked, I will answer in the best way I can from where I am today and from what I have learned along this journey I have traveled so far . . .

**You were obviously an unmarried teenage Mom when it wasn't fashionable to be one.**

Okay, so I know what I am starting off on, that comes from the beginning of your comment, isn’t exactly a question . . . but, for me, it is the first thing I feel needs to be addressed because there is a misunderstanding, or misconception, about the culture and acceptance of single moms back when I was pregnant with my oldest son.

Because there are two different parts of who I am in relationship to the start of your comment . . .

I am the daughter born to a mother who became pregnant with me out of wedlock during the years of the Baby Scoop Era - when it was not “fashionable” to be an unmarried teenage mom.

I am also the mother to a son who I was pregnant with in the decade after this era when the choices offered to women threatened all that the adoption industry had survived on for so long.

Because in my day, it was not always the ultimate shame to a family if a woman became pregnant out of wedlock. Though it was, like it still is today, something that some families looked down on and judged, it was no longer the overall dominating factor in forcing a pregnant woman to give up her child on the desire of her parents and their desperate attempt to cover up the family “shame.”

Abortions had also been legalized for well over a decade by the time I became pregnant and women had reached a point in their deserved freedom where no one could deny them birth control as they had in the past.

So, back in the time when I became pregnant, the atmosphere and attitude was much different than the time I believe you were referring to.

That does not mean it was any easier on pregnant moms or that, by any means, we suddenly had choice when it came to the world of adoption. It just means that some attitudes in society changed and, in answer to that, the tactics of the adoption industry began to change too.

**Since then times have changed and writing this from London, I can tell you that we have the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe. Children of teenage parents are disproportionatly higher represented amongst the prison population, substance abuse and more likely to have teenage pregnancies themselves. This has lead to a call back to the old time values of shaming teenagers into better behaviour.

I wanted to know from you what you think about the situation - what would make it better?**

Well, since I am not from London or Europe, I hope it goes without saying that my answer will not come from direct knowledge of being a teenage, pregnant mom on that side of the ocean. I also want to say, in that regard, and, yes, in what some may see as a morbid response . . . congratulations . . . because even with London having the highest pregnancy rate in Europe, you are still doing better than we are here in the states.

And so how about we start with that fact and the understanding that I know only the reality that happens here in the states . . .

Why there is a spike in teenage pregnancy rates over in London is something I don’t know about, but, here in the states, there have been reports and statistics (which should always be taken under the assumption they are going to favor whichever group is currently using them for their own benefit) that have shown there is also the same rise in teenage pregnancies as you have experienced in London.

And to me, from what I see happening here in the states as someone who truly has no government, political or media influence, that spike can be attributed to the fact that we still haven’t figured out that we need to completely change our way on how and what we teach our children.

Here in the States, we still seem to be so concerned about teaching our children in the “biblical” way that we completely fail teaching them in any way that reflects the truth of reality that they face every day in the world they are surrounded by.

Whether you believe in God or not, there is no excuse not to prepare your children for what they “may” face outside of those beliefs.

Sex is there, no matter how we might try to believe it isn’t. Our children, just as we did, understand from a very young age what it is about, even if we are not the ones to tell them. Young girls are still left with little to no self esteem to give them the power to walk away from the peer pressure that pushes them into such relationships and young men are still left with very little guidance to help them steer away from the age-old belief that it proves their masculinity to get as many “experiences” under their belt as they possibly can.

And there is such a strong belief that teaching abstinence over protection is the answer that we, still, even in this day and age, leave our children without the ability or understanding of how important protection is.

And in all of that, and in all we might try to do, or end up not doing, there is still nothing to fight against the fact that, we are, as determined by nature, created to be more fertile and create new life during our teenage to young twenty years.

No matter how we, as civilized societies might try to fight against or deny this fact. It exists. And there is absolutely nothing we can do to change this. It’s part of nature. It’s part of who we are, as women. Part of what our bodies were created for long before society came into play and dictated that we must be of a certain age, certain marital status and career point to become pregnant.

Is this saying that my view is that we should just let all teenagers go out and become pregnant because that is the way our bodies have been created?

No. Of course not.

But there are realities we not only must admit to but teach our children.

And one of those very real realities is that women are more fertile, more likely to become pregnant during their earlier years. You really can’t fight it or deny it. That is the way, if you believe as I do, that God meant for it to be. And if not . . . than it is the way of whatever belief you might hold . . . or not hold.

Either way . . . it is the basic truth of who we are as women . . . plain and simple.

So then, in all of that, what are my thoughts of the situation you brought up . . .

We are still failing, GREATLY, as a society.

If there is a rise in teenage pregnancy and a result of that is that there is a higher percentage of teenage parents represented in your prison system (and in ours) and more accounted for in substance abuse, and IF these numbers are actually TRULY presented in the reality they are and not altered to reflect the cause of whatever organization is trying to fight their latest fight, than I see it as a great failure on many parts, not just that of the teenage mom.

Because there is nothing . . . NOTHING . . . that dictates a mom of a younger age will instantly be a failure. And there in nothing . . . NOTHING . . . that shows that a mom of an older age makes a better parent.

What there is, in my single, simple vision and experience as a teenage mom, is a lack of help to build the esteem of teenage girls. A continued expectation for teenage boys to make their next “conquest” and a quick and eager need to brush off the important lessons of teaching our children the realities of sex and fertility and protection to someone else so we don’t have to be the ones to venture into that area with them.

And I see a reluctance to help those who do become pregnant before society deems it necessary. A belief that teen moms, older moms . . . any moms . . . who face unexpected pregnancy, do not deserve help because of whatever wrong, or sin, we have determined they committed.

And so, NO, my answer would never be to agree with “shaming” anyone for becoming pregnant, no matter what situation they may or may not be in. To me, that is archaic, cruel and abusive.

Education, protection, support and help are my answers.

We aren’t going to cut down on teenage pregnancy with shame, anymore than we are by teaching abstinence or denying protection.

We will cut down on teenage pregnancy once we open up and allow our children to live in the reality where sex is a natural part of life. Where it is something that surrounds them in so many areas of their life.

And we will cut down on those who remain in poverty, become a statistic in prison, drug use and whatever else offense you can throw at them, once we begin to reach out and help them before jumping up to condemn them.

Shaming them will only take us backwards to a time we don’t want to return to. Denying them education, self-esteem and protection, leaves the blame on our shoulders, not theirs. And refusing to reach out and help those that do become pregnant leaves us, as a society to blame, long before placing that blame on the shoulders of the individuals who needed so little from us and yet were denied so much.

To me, to the beliefs I carry from my own experience, what I can guess from my mother’s experience, and what I see now in the world of my children, I see an answer that can never be as limiting and naïve as “shaming” girls who face teenage pregnancy.

I see a need that is greater than that. A response that requires more than the, “she screwed up, why should I help.”

A belief that needs to get past the ancient view that educating our children and providing them protection is what will encourage them to have sex.

We need to be aware of the reality our children face whenever they walk out the door. Offer basic human kindness to those who do find themselves pregnant. And put a stop to projecting the belief that only a woman who has “everything” is worthy of parenting.

I believe if we try just about everything BUT shaming women who become pregnant, we will see a difference. If we again find that kindness inside of us to help when it is needed, that ability to understand reality as it exists, and that courage to stand up and make a difference without judgment or unnecessary punishment, we will make a difference and we will see a change.

But going backwards, no matter what side of the ocean we may live on, will not help and will definitely not contribute to any change. We learn from our mistakes, and it is long past time for us, as a society, to embrace this simple fact, move forward, and change the ways of things so that our children, our grandchildren, will never be treated in the way women from the past have been, or shamed into the “behavior” others expect from them.