Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Choice: Part Two

Read Part One here.

Why am I telling this story in two parts?  Because this is the part I didn't know if I could tell.

I've said before that part of the reason I placed my daughter for adoption was because I felt guilty that I could get pregnant so easily when there were women out there who desperately wanted babies but couldn't get pregnant.

But I felt guilty for another reason.  I had already had one abortion.

I was sixteen years old and on track to be valedictorian of my class.  Then, I found out that I was pregnant.

I was captain of the soccer team, a part of choir, president of the school's community service club.  I was working hard to make the best of high school so that I could hopefully go to college on a full scholarship.  I couldn't have a baby.

I had a boyfriend.  We were in agreement.  I would have an abortion.

I didn't tell anyone I was pregnant.  In fact, if anyone who knows my real identity reads this blog today, they will be the first people I know in real life to find out.  I went to court to get permission to go ahead without my parents' consent.  I got my dad to switch my bank account over to my name only so I could withdraw the $300 I needed.  I was lucky to be a good student.  My dad called me out of school whenever I wanted so it was easy to miss the days I needed.

A girl I barely knew took me to the clinic.  I was put to sleep.  After, I went back to my boyfriend's house to recover.  Life went on.

I have no regrets.  I don't feel sad about it.  I don't feel guilty.  My abortion was a million times easier to get over than the placement of my daughter.

I kept playing soccer, played the lead in the school musical, and I did graduate as valedictorian of my high school class.

I did fantasize sometimes about walking at graduation with my baby.  But I wasn't stupid.  A baby was the last thing I needed.  I'm so thankful I had that choice.

Choice: Part One

If I got pregnant today, I would have an abortion.

I don't want to be a parent.  I have never wanted to be a parent.

I have bipolar disorder.  At the time of my daughter's conception, it was undiagnosed and untreated.  I had been off and on antidepressants, but they didn't help and made me gain weight so at that time I was off.

I loved the energy, but I hated the downs.  I was suicidal and unstable.  Most Sundays were spent in fits of tears and rage.  If I was upset, I resorted to cutting.  It was my release and had been since I was twelve- before self-harm was recognized anywhere outside of a therapist's office.  It was also my little secret.  I never cut where anyone would see.  

I was 24 when I got pregnant after a week overseas. I knew I was pregnant before going to the doctor's, but I waited until a Friday when the work week was over to confirm.  I asked where I could get an abortion.  The doctor told me I still had time to decide and gave me a list of obstetricians.  I threw it in the trash.

I couldn't bring a baby into my world.  My baby's father lived overseas.  I was estranged from my family.  I would be doing it alone.  I was in no condition to parent a child.  I feared that I would be abusive.  I feared that I would resent my child.  I didn't want a lifelong commitment that I didn't feel equipped to deal with.  I didn't want to be a parent.  No one should have the right to force that on me.

But the seed had been planted that adoption was a choice. I was an adult. I didn't think that adoption would disrupt my life.

So I made careful plans. When my daughter was born, I handed her over to someone else even as every cell in my body screamed that I was a mother.  I wouldn't wish the pain of adoption on my worst enemy.  It did disrupt my life.  After my daughter's birth, I was more depressed than ever.  The pain doesn't go away.  It comes and goes unexpectedly.  A song, a word, an ignorant portrayal in a book, TV show, or movie, holidays, and of course any contact with my daughter and her family.

Adoption permeates your life.  It's not just my daughter and me who are affected.  She and I both have entire families who will forever feel the ripples of my choice.  It's forever.  And by placing my daughter for adoption, I didn't fix an unwanted pregnancy, I added a lifelong responsibility.  I changed my life forever.  No one who doesn't want to be a parent should be forced to parent.  No one who doesn't want to parent should be fed the lie that "adoption is the loving choice."  There is nothing sweet and happy about adoption.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I love my daughter.  I love her family.  I'm glad to have her in my life. I don't wish that she had never been born.   But I don't think women should be fooled by the lie that adoption is the cure-all for an unwanted pregnancy.  It is life-altering.  I wouldn't want to go through that again, but I don't wish I had parented instead.  

If I got pregnant today, I would abort.  I still have bipolar.  It's treated.  I am stable now, but a pregnancy means going off my medication or risking harm to my unborn baby.  There is no guarantee that the same medication would work after the baby's birth.  It took me years to find one that did work.  I can't go through that again.  I need my job.  I need to be able to take care of myself.  I need to do what I can to keep my marriage healthy, and if I did have that child, I would need to be stable enough to parent.  And there is still the same issue that I do not want to be a parent.  Being a parent is forever.  Being a parent involves a commitment I'm not willing to give.

Call me selfish.  Call me heartless.  Feed me with the guilt of "if my mother had aborted me."  You know what?  I don't care what someone else thinks.  It's my choice.  It's my body.  It's my life that gets changed.  It's me who has to deal with whatever the consequences are of going through a pregnancy and bringing a baby into the world.  If I don't want a baby, I shouldn't have to have one.  And if I don't want to be a parent, adoption shouldn't be the only other option.

If people really cared about reducing abortion, they would support sex education and contraception.  They would give teenagers a way to get birth control without going through their parents.  They would offer more support to women who do want to parent, but can't.  This country would offer paid maternity leave and  affordable daycare.  But the same people who cry out that abortion is murder are against all of those things.

Some people say that having a baby makes women turn anti-choice.  For me, it was the opposite.  I am more pro-choice than ever.  The decision of whether or not to continue a pregnancy should be up to the woman.  She is the person that lives it.

I support a woman's right to choose under any circumstances.

Read part two here.

Monday, January 21, 2013

What I Don't Need

I don't need anyone telling me I did the best thing for my daughter, but I also don't need people telling me that clearly I could have parented.  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I Can Hate It, but Still Be Glad for It.

I'm feeling a bit out of sorts.

Some people I really respect are coming out against adoption.  No matter what.

I don't understand.

I don't regret my choice.

I miss my daughter.  I know my daughter misses me.  I feel bad about moving so far away that I can only see her once a year.

But I don't regret my choice.

I don't subscribe to the view that adoption is so harmful that it should no longer be allowed.

For that reason, I have been afraid to speak.

I feel like there are no more people that can acknowledge adoption loss yet still support the choice.

I find myself cringing at the new job one of my adoption mom friends got.  She's going to be helping hopeful parents create their profiles.  But I also cringe at the articles and statements other friends are making that adoption should be abolished.

I do think the system is corrupted.  I do think things need to change.  I do think some mothers would be able to parent if given more support.  But I'm still glad I had the choice.

I recognize that my daughter will have some scars related to her adoption.  I know I do.  But I don't think I should have been forced to parent.  I don't think I should have been given a choice only between abortion and parenting.

I'm pro-choice.  Had adoption not been an available option, I would have aborted.  Is that really a better solution?  Is my daughter really going to be harmed so much that she should never have been born?

Answer me that, internet.

I feel so alone.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Time

I'm miserable today.

For some reason, my first couple of years away from my daughter didn't bother me a ton.  Or if it did, I guess I've pushed the memory down.  But today I'm missing the anticipation of a trip to see her for Christmas.

I want to be there when she opens my gifts.  I want to talk to her about why I picked them.  I want to sit beside the tree with her and pose for our holiday photos.

Christmas is about kids, and I won't get to see mine.

I got their Christmas card in the mail yesterday.  It's the first year that it wasn't a picture of her on Santa's lap.  I guess this was the year the truth of Santa was revealed.  She's 10.  Makes sense.

Today, the holidays seem meaningless.  Yes, I'm looking forward to seeing the little bit of family I have here. Yes, I enjoy the joy my husband brings to a holiday he wasn't allowed to celebrate as a child.  But without my daughter, the holiday just feels wrong.

I spent a couple of actual Christmas Eves and Christmases with them when I still lived close.  A few other times I turned down the invitation and did my Christmas visit in January.  I wish I'd never turned down those invitations.  I'd give up a lot to get to spend another Christmas with my daughter.

So, my adoptive parent friends, give your babies an extra hug and kiss this year for the birthparents that are missing them.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Join me.

I'll write a new one, but here's what I had to say in 2006.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Birthmarked Trilogy

WARNING:  I may ruin the Birthmarked trilogy for you by giving away some key plot points.  If you plan to read them, don't read this.

I love YA dystopian novels.  It started out with Lois Lowry's The Giver when I was in high school, and then I was reintroduced to the genre with Scott Weterfeld's Uglies series.

It seems like all dystopias have their own take on reproduction and parenthood.  For many, you just have to have a thick skin if you're related to adoption in some way (The Giver's Birthmothers, anyone?).

So when I read the first book in the Birthmarked trilogy, I wasn't too bothered.  In the first book, there is an elite town of people separated from the rest of the community by a wall.  Outside the wall, the first three babies born in each sector are taken by the midwives to be "advanced" inside the wall.  Inside the wall, the babies are adopted by one of the elite families.  The book opens with a birth outside the wall after which the mother does not want to give up her baby to be advanced.  The baby is advanced anyway.

Throughout the first book, the loss is acknowledged.  The adoptive parents aren't painted as bad guys, and the birthparents are painted with loss.  The protagonist's parents light a candle each night for the two babies they lost by advancement.  Originally, the babies weren't taken until they were a year old, but babies kept getting injured or sick so they started to take them at birth.  Of course, the biological parents were hurting their children on purpose so they wouldn't lose their children.  In fact, the protagonist finds out that her own parents purposely burned her face so that she wouldn't be advanced.  They had already lost two children and didn't want to lose their third.  At the end of the book, birthparents and adoptees are both searching for their biological roots.

So far, not bad.  Yes, it can be triggery, but the characterizations are respectful enough that I wasn't bothered by the adoption content.

Then, the next one came.  This one takes place in a different dystopian community with the same protagonist.  Here, there is a shortage of women due to infertility issues among the men.  Women are expected to marry and bear ten children in the hopes that one will be a girl.  Women who choose not to marry, have babies out of wedlock, or choose not to have ten children are exiled.  If they have children, the children are taken from them and adopted by a married couple.  The protagonist thinks this is wrong.  Again, the birthparents are shown to not want to give up their children.  By the end of the book, women are allowed to keep their children and all the restrictions are removed.  Everyone is again on equal footing.  

Adoption wasn't as big of a theme in the second one, and again, it wasn't offensive to me.

Then, there was the third one.  I almost put it down.  Do not read this book if you are easily triggered. In this book, the two communities come together.  In the year that has passed, the original community has gotten more desperate for healthy babies, and are doing DNA testing to find ideal babies.  People on both sides of the wall have figured out how to track the babies, and adopted children from inside the wall are venturing outside the wall to get to know their biological families.  Here's the kicker:  the leader of the community has set up "The Vessel Institute."  Women from outside the wall are being paid to bear children for wealthy families inside the wall.  The women are taken inside the wall, given every luxury, and are impregnated.  They can leave after the first baby, or for maximum profit stay for three babies.  Officially, the women are allowed to change their mind, but if they do, they lose all compensation and will be denied medical care.  In reality, as if the official punishment wasn't harsh enough, the women will be killed for their babies.  

The protagonist finds out, and is horrified.  In addition, she discovers that some of the "vessel women" don't want to give up their babies.  They are bonding with their unborn children.  There is a scene at the end of the book that takes place at an adoption party.  The first "vessel mother" has given birth, and a party is held to transfer the baby to the adoptive parents.  The "vessel mother" is clearly upset.  The book does a good job of showing that this is devastating for the birthmother.

As I write this, I'm trying to figure out what bothered me so much.  Yes, it's triggery for anyone touched by adoption.  I think what bothers me though is that some women are happy to place their babies for adoption, and these women are not treated with any compassion at all.  So it is implied that the ones who voluntarily placed don't care about their babies.  The ones who bonded could never give them up, so what does that say about the others?  

Maybe this is accurate.  Plenty of my fellow bloggers would argue that given the right support and absent coercion, no woman would willingly place her child for adoption.  Many would also argue that it is morally wrong to place your child for adoption.  I disagree, though.  As a birthmother, I was offended by the implication that I didn't love my daughter.

I messaged the author on goodreads to ask if she had a connection to adoption.  Her best friend growing up was adopted, and she has friends who have adopted.  I wish I would have asked for more information, but I feel like I would just be being nosy.  Based on the desire of the characters to know their biological roots, I'd be interested to know if those friends of hers have open adoptions.

Overall, the last book was just too much for me.