Is it a woman's right to surrender her child?
|photo credit: Stu Phillips|
I took part in a discussion amongst other adult adopted women. This discussion become very heated when a particular original mother entered the conversation. This original mother surrendered her child because, in essence, she didn't want to change her lifestyle and be a single parent. This original mother spoke of all the traveling she has done and blogs about her life as an original mother in open adoption.
I have never visited the blog, but I understand it offends many people, especially adoptees. Most of my fellow adoptees felt offended by this woman because we were "her child" at one time. We were left and we all have a visceral reaction to hearing a mother discuss why she left her child (especially when those reasons appear shallow or selfish).
Aside from that reaction, I asked the group why are women so hard on other women? Does this mother not have a right NOT to parent? It's not like it is any easy task to be a single mother in America these days.
One answer I received was that the child should have the right to his family of origin. I cannot disagree with that line of thinking. In fact this line of thinking is one of the main reasons my daughter is adopted.
She is a biological family member and we wanted her to stay with her family and the only way to protect her from certain other family members who might not have her best interests at heart, was to protect her legally through adoption. I always felt from day one our child has a right to her original family and we had a right to keep her with us.
I absolutely believe a child should be entitled to his family and every piece of information that belongs to him (birth certificate, medical history, narrative of his life) if he cannot have his actual family.
But that brings me back to my original question: Does a women have a right to surrender her child?
I have to say absolutely, yes.
Women are the ones who get pregnant and give birth and we are ones who should be able to decide about our own bodies when pregnant. Shouldn't the logic also continue after birth? What if the child is 5 months old and we realize we just can't do it? What if a woman decides her child deserves better than what she is able to give?
What if a woman is sitting in a YMCA with her child and believes with every ounce of her being that the child would be better off with someone else?
What if a woman has no family members who she would ever in a million years allow to raise her child? (I have two such friends).
These types of situations happen every day. Most women decide to keep, raise and love their child. But some women give parenting a shot and decide that they cannot do it. Some women know within themselves they are not up to the task and aren't willing to try. They know they will get a tremendous amount of flack because there is nothing worse than being a "bad mother" in America.
The scarlet letter in America should be a B for Bad Mother.
Women are "bad mothers" for surrendering their child; women are "bad mothers" for keeping their child under circumstances that are less than ideal (i.e. marriage or money). Women are bad mothers for using daycare and for not having a job outside of home. No matter what you decide, someone will say you are a "bad mother".
Speaking from an adoptee viewpoint, I believe it would have been ideal for me to be raised by my original family. I believe my orginal mother struggled with her decision, but she made that decision based on lifestyle choices similar to the original mother that is currently traveling the world. I don't fault her for that.
If she truly did not want to parent me, then I truly did not want her to.
Why? Because nothing is worse that being raised by someone who doesn't want you. I know so many people who were unwanted by either their original families or their adopted ones. To be a burden to someone would not be how I would want to grow up . . . .ever.
We cannot legislate women into keeping pregnancies they don't want or keeping children they don't want.
As painful as that reality is for me to admit (being unwanted by one woman and a mother myself), it just is the way it is.