Sunday, June 9, 2019

Being Adopted and Pro-Choice are not Mutually Exclusive

Adoption in the United States is seen as a cure-all for many of society's problems and as the political climate has changed significantly from the 70's and 80's when I came-of-age, I have watched with confusion as the pro-life community has idealized the power of adoption as a cure-all for abortion. 

As a woman who a) is adopted; b) has had an abortion; c) has given birth and d) adopted a child, I just don't see any correlation at all between wanting an abortion and relinquishing a child for adoption.  

Let me first set the record straight:

I believe my birth mother had an absolute right to abort me had she chosen that route.  I told her that once.  I am glad I exist; however, the fact that I am adopted does not change the way I feel about a woman's constitutional right to decide about her own body.  

In fact, having been pregnant when I didn't want to be, gave me more empathy for my birth mother's situation.  She lived in an era that it was absolutely unacceptable to be pregnant out-of-wedlock and parent as a single mother.  She also lacked access to safe and legal abortion. 

At the time I was pregnant and did not want to be, adoption never entered my mind.   I was single, in college, and had just ended a long-term relationship.  I couldn't imagine giving birth, let alone, what would happen after that.

As soon as I showed the first signs of pregnancy, I called the abortion clinic-there were 3 to choose from in my area at the time-and set an appointment. At that time, it was affordable and easily accessible.  (Being relatively young and naive, it would never occur to me that this right to decide whether to remain pregnant could ever be in jeopardy at some future time.)  

I was raised with the idea "women can do anything" and the expectation in my community was that we would finish college and have a career before we settled down to start a family.  I was not psychologically ready to parent in any way, shape or form.  

In the late 80's, the main form of abortion was vacuum aspiration.  This is the kind I had, although had I been pregnant at a time RU-486 had been available, I would have been a perfect candidate.  

The procedure itself was not traumatic; however, what was traumatic were the picketers waiting outside yelling horrible things at me and my ex-boyfriend as we walked back to the car.  That I will never forget: the judgement and shame that the picketers intended to create. 

I will also never forget the time my friend and I were shopping and this guy started following us around.  He was the head of a very vocal anti-abortion group and he literally was harassing a friend of mine who worked at an abortion clinic.  He followed us around the store yelling things at my friend, followed us out to the parking lot, and gave us a book on the horrors of abortion.  

This same guy, several years later, become my indoor soccer coach on an adult league I played for.  We used to have a beer after the game and one evening, we got on the topic of abortion.  He told me he was a teacher at a public school and did his anti-abortion activities on the side, and that he went to jail numerous times over his picketing and aggressive antics.  

I shared my story with him.  I told him I remembered him from the store stalking and explained my personal reasons for getting an abortion.  Reasons aside, I believe women do not need to explain to others why they chose to terminate a pregnancy.

Amanda Woolston recently covered how many confuse adoption as a solution to abortion in her recent article as it relates to testimony heard in Alabama HB 314:

"One adoption counselor's testimony on Alabama HB 314 stated that adoption solved a list of problems ranging from spina bifida, to prison re-entry, to addiction, to living in a trailer park.....

Children with spina bifida don't need new parents. They need lifelong disability support. Children who live in trailer parks don't need new parents. They need us to stop judging them. Children whose parents are re-entering society don't need new parents. They need parents who are supported in parenting them through effective re-entry support services. Let's challenge this and flesh out the missing variables. One phrase to the testimony was key. 
“In every one of these situations we had not one, but multiple families step up and say that they were willing to adopt these babies born to women in difficult medical and social situations."
This statement is why this testimony did not belong at an abortion legislation committee hearing. The medical and social risks noted were not about pregnancy. Adoption was not an adequate replacement for abortion for clients who did not wish to continue pregnancy. These pregnant people made a choice to give birth - and only then did adoption address the subsequent concerns. These children, once born, had parents who could not or did not want to continue to parent them. And that's why the counselor was able to present adoption as any form of solution.

Adoption cannot help women who do not wish to continue pregnancy.   Period.  Adoption cannot mitigate the health risks to women who wish to give birth.  A woman is 14 times more likely to die giving birth than she is to die during an abortion.  

I firmly believe a woman has a constitutional right to decide whether she is willing to take that risk to her life or not.  Women have a right to family planning and to make decisions about who they want to create children with and how many children they are capable of caring for (or want to care for).

Once a woman decides she will give birth, adoption can be introduced as an option, if the mother does not want to parent.  Most women who decide to give birth, will also parent.  Many women who don't want to parent, will allow a relative to parent.  A tiny percentage of women will relinquish to non-relative adoptive parents.  

The fallout of allowing the state to dictate our fertility and family planning is scary (Watch Hulu's Handmaid's Tale for more on the horrors of how forcing women into giving birth and relinquishing their children effects them and others around them). 

I also believe that the mess with foster care, family courts, separation of children at the border, and the lack of support for parenting small children, and our current political climate will result in more women aborting.  Women have good reason to fear that their rights are being chipped away. Women with resources will find a way to get an abortion.  Poor women will suffer under these new oppressive abortion laws.  

I am adopted and pro-choice.  I support every woman's right to decide for themselves what is appropriate for their bodies.  

Being Adopted and Pro-Choice are not Mutually Exclusive

Adoption in the United States is seen as a cure-all for many of society's problems and as the political climate has changed significantl...