Monday, December 17, 2007

Why I'm not a proponent of adoption

I've perused a lot of message boards lately, just reading stories of child loss and stillbirth. I haven't decided if its a 'good' thing or not. But I cope by reading and writing, and reading the stories of others gives me some perspective so even though it puts me in a sad weepy mood, I think its a positive way for me to cope. One thing I've realized is that child loss is not uncommon. Stillbirth is much more common than I think most pregnant women realize, but in general, people lose children at every stage in the lifecourse. One post that really caught my attention, however, was the post of a woman who 'lost' a child, but the child didn't die. She was forced into an adoption when she was a teenager.

Reading this post was an epiphany for me. You see, my mom flipped when all of this happened. Don't get me wrong, we were all knocked on our asses when Myles died. My mom, however, was literally knocked on her ass. She couldn't function. She was dazed, and nonresponsive, and basically she became a zombie. And I was annoyed with it at the time, and other family members I think were pissed because she didn't hold up better for me. And they were right in the fact that I didn't need to be worried by my mom when I still had to give birth, etc. But what I realized afterwards, what I've come to understand so clearly now, is that there was a reason my mom acted that way. Why it shook her to her core, perhaps more than even me. My mom has experienced what I experienced. And in a way, she had to experience it all over again when I lost Myles. You see, she gave up a baby for adoption in 1970, when she was 16.

I think what disturbs me the most when I compare our two experiences is that my mom got more time with Myles' dead body than she got with her very much alive baby girl. Can you imagine? She had more time to say goodbye to my dead son, her grandson, than to her own newborn healthy little daughter. I think about all of the momentos given to me to remember him by, and the care and support I've received from countless people. Do you think my Mom got these things? Her arms were just as empty as mine when we left hospitals 25 years apart. She got her milk, like I did, she had to see other pregnant women and other babies just like I have to see. And goddamnit, she experienced an infant loss. And just like many women who have experienced a stillbirth will attest to, many people want you to move on, have another baby, etc., etc., much sooner than we're ready to. With my Mom's adoption, take that times 10. She had to do it, and be ashamed about it, and then she was told to MOVE ON. She didn't have any support, or any closure, just the assurance that it was for the best. It breaks my heart and boils my blood just thinking about what that must have been like for her.

And you know what? Giving up her baby probably wasn't 'for the best'. Because my mom is a great mom, and she would've been a great mom to that little girl. She didn't have big plans for her life, she was in the working class, she had no plans for college, no bright and shiny middle class dreams she was aspiring to. Her life tanked after that adoption; drugs, prison, etc., until she met my Dad and had my older brother in 1975. That baby would've saved her life. If you've read 'promises I could keep' than you know what I'm talking about. The only thing my mom didn't have was a father to the baby, or resources to support herself. But in the most important sense, she had everything she needed to be a good mom to that baby, because my Mom has the biggest heart in the world.

Which brings me to another point. Even today, especially for women in the middle class, having a baby outside of marriage is seen as a dream destroyer. And we can argue all day about whether it is or not as many single moms have achieved their dreams. But this perception, this aversion to babies (BABIES!!!!) I think is quite telling in our society. Why is our society structured so that for the majority of women, a mistimed pregnancy is feared as much or more than many STD's? Baby's don't just naturally destroy your life. They are not inherently good or bad, it is the social norms that surround that new baby that are met with approval or disapproval, and MORE IMPORTANTLY, with love and support and other important social resources or the denial of all of those things. And because of this, adoption seems like the ultimate coercion to me. Because our society doesn't want to support pregnant women, but we also don't want women to have free will and therefore the freedom to abort the children they have no personal or social resources to support. So we march out infertile couples who meet all of the standards, individuals who are 'deserving', and we take babies from the undeserving and hand them over.

And the whole time we're doing this, we convince these pregnant women that the baby that is growing inside of them is 'better off' with someone else. And when they birth that baby and hand that baby over, do they really have a choice? Aren't they losing their baby they've MOTHERED for 40 weeks in their womb, just like I lost my baby Myles?

I'm all for adoption in a world where women really have a choice. But my mom didn't have a choice. She was just a teenager who got pregnant and then was convinced to give her baby away. It haunts my mom to this day. And how many adoptions today are freely entered into? How many adoptions just wouldn't be if we as a society weren't structured so that the lives of 'undeserving' (whether they are teens, or a unmarried, or poor, or whatever) women are ruined for choosing to keep and care for the babies they carry.

I am 100% pro-choice, no ifs ands or buts. I also believe that the fewer mistimed pregnancies and abortions we have in our society the better our society is. And therefore, logically, I think the fewer ADOPTIONS we have in our society, the better. I know there are many childless couples out there, but they are not entitled to the babies of the young, poor, and/or uneducated. Because taking babies from these mothers is wrong. Period. Because we as a society are doing to them is what happened by chance to me. And I have a hard time believing that women walk away from coerced adoptions happy and healthy. And truly how many adoptions in the US can we honestly say are completely free of coercion?

So, I am not a proponent of adoption. Despite knowing that the individuals who adopt babies just want so bad what I want; a tiny little baby to call their own. I know their pain intimately, I long for what they long for. And I don't know what to tell them about my opinion, because in a perfect world, my arguments ultimately lead to the conclusion that the vast majority of infertile couples would be childless. But I'm not going to pretend that it is okay to remedy what happens by chance (infertility) by purposefully doing to women what happened by chance to me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sending me a link to this article.

I'm sorry for the loss of your sister in your life, and in your mother's daughter. All that you write here is true. Even today, adoptions are coerced, even in the Brave and Free US of A.

Thanks so much for sharing!