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.

6 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree with you more my dear..You took the words right our of my mouth, once again..

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  2. Why doesn't everybody just stop blaming teen pregnancy on single Mothers. It was the hippie age that started sexual liberation in females-and our culture hasn't changed a bit since the 60's-it has just gotten more intense-sex on tv, sex in movies, sex due to drinking and drugs-and if America really wants to blame someone-blame Elvis-HIS hips threw young girls into "indecency"! Lol :)

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  3. What if ind interesting about the whole debtae about teen pregnancy is that it talks as if the mothers got pregnant on their own, without any male involvement. The woman again shoulders ALL the blame.

    Most of the fathers of babies of teen mothers are in their 20s. Do we hear of campaigns against "20-Something Fathering"? No, because those adult men are left off the hook. It is much easier of society to shame and blame young women -- especially those of lower social and financial status which young mothers typically are.

    Why not look at *why* young women are getting pregnant at young ages. Besides it being normal and part of a woman's natural fertility as Nature/God/whomever intended (at a time when people got married at younger ages than today), there are social factors: (1) Lack of careers and well-paying jobs for young women (2) Lack of access to birth control and info re contraception, and (3) Generational/cultural patterns -- in some cultures it is normal to be a young mother.

    We also have to look at recent studies that show that young motherhood is a positive developmental event, and that educational facilities should provide for young mothers' needs (on-site free daycare, parenting classes, nursing rooms, etc.) to capture the increase in educational interest/success that accompanies young motherhood.

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