Friday, March 20, 2009

Forgotten Mothers

This is the most important thing I've read in a while.

Shakesville: Breaking the Silence: On Living Pro-Lifers' Choice for Women

I'm the birth mother of an adopted child, vehemently pro-choice, non-Christian, very unsuited to motherhood, and after over a decade, have got some things to tell the world about adoption. It's been stewing since I heard about the recent rash of pre-abortion ultrasound legislation. While I am touched that so many men in such various states are so deeply worried about women possibly being all sad from having an abortion, I wish to point out to these compassionately bleeding hearts that the alternatives are not exactly without their own emotional consequences.

Keep in mind, this is from over a decade ago, and maybe things have changed - but I did four quick searches and found one site that says it's for birthmothers, and it turns out, it's to show them how easy it is to find a good family for your baby. It's a placement site; they don't care about anything but babies. I didn't find a single one for birthmothers who have already given up their kids. I'm sure they're out there. Somewhere. No need to go google for a half hour just to find me one site, okay. If you do, you've proved my point.
Read this. The whole thing.

I've made the observation before that anti-choice and pro-adoption people I have met seldom actually adopt any children of their own. They give birth to their own children, and want to force other women to give birth to theirs. But they don't adopt those children they're requiring be born. Not that I've seen. This is a problem for me, because hypocrisy is a problem for me.

But even I was only thinking about the babies, perhaps because that's the way anti-choicers have framed the discussion. Perhaps because mentioning women's wellbeing has no impact on people who are doing their best to erase women from the equation entirely except as vessels for babies more sacred than they are. Whatever the reason... I've been playing by the anti-choicers' rules, rules that state that there's no reason to mention the women making these choices (unless it's to blame them, which I don't do). They want us to forget that these women are real.

And I've been letting them succeed.

So, here's to talking about the mothers, and not just women who are facing an abortion. What about the women who give up babies for adoption? Who is thinking of them? Who is thinking of their needs as individuals, as humans, as women? Who the hell really cares about them?

I haven't been doing a good job of taking them into account when these things get discussed. I'm going to try and do a better job. This was linked to me by naamah-darling, and she commented with the following:
Adoption is painted as this thing that is supposed to be easier than abortion because it is more "right." It's painted as an emotionally weightless act, something that is easy, that doesn't leave marks, that holds no hidden barb or sting. And that simply isn't true.

I've lambasted anti-choicers before because as a whole, they do not care about children once they are born. I am ashamed to say that until I read that brave, anonymous woman's essay, it had never occurred to me that nobody cares about the birth mothers, either, once they've had their baby. It never occurred to me that there would not be a safety net there, ready to help women who have given up their children for adoption.

There are post-abortion counseling services, both pro-choice and pro-life, though the religious certainly has a leg up on the secular. There are support groups for women suffering from post-partum depression. There are infant loss support groups. But who stands for the women who let their children go? As if making the "right" choice and giving birth instead of aborting is enough to make the adoption process painless or without consequence.

It never occurred to me that adoption might be more psychologically damaging, on the whole, than abortion, and that by and large, nobody fucking cares.
And that about says it. I think I owe a lot of women an apology, and I've never even spoken to them.

Ladies, I'm sorry for being part of the problem. I'll try and do better.


Anonymous said...

I wanted to thank you for this post.

I am a birthmother and I've never been ashamed of the choice I made. Other people I have come in contact with through the years have wanted me to feel ashamed. Statements like "I could never give up my child" have been made to me by people who cannot even afford to feed the children they do have.

Not a day of my life goes by when I do not wonder, how she is and how her life is. I ask myself "Is she happy?", "What are her hobbies?" and "What kind of person is she becoming?"

Some people would say that by giving her up, I have no right to ask or wonder such things. Other people's judgments are not my reality... not in my heart.

My reality is that the love for your child never dies. It does not now nor will it ever make me less human...despite what the pro-life people want to portray by ignoring that birthmothers even exsist.

Cobalt said...

Thank you for commenting, and for sharing a little bit of your story here. I'm hoping to do better about remembering all the people involved with this.

Blessed be, and thanks for stopping by.