Relinquishing (p.s. Grab Some Tissue)
I also decided that if an abortion was impossible, for whatever reason, I would never give up my child. I've always had this fear of this new human growing up in me, and then giving birth to it and knowing what it looks like -- and then having it taken away from me and I wouldn't know what happens to it after that.
Which is why whenever pro-lifers talk about adoption as the best option for expectant mothers who cannot keep their child, I get a bit antsy deep inside. I couldn't express why. Only that I knew that I could never give up an unwanted child for adoption. Which is why I'm such a strong proponent for abortion - I don't get to resent a child I never wanted, the child never gets to resent me; I don't ever get to wonder what happens to the child I never wanted but still care about anyway because well, fuckdammit, I carried the critter for NINE MONTHS and anybody who thinks that's a piece of cake can shove said cake up their arse; the child never has to wonder about their own origins and about me.
At Shakesville, there is a post which everyone should read. It is an anonymous post by a birth mother who gave up her child several years ago.
And has never gotten over it.
The birth mother is a very rarely considered viewpoint in the adoption angle of many prolifers - often it's just about handing off the baby to a family that wants the child, just so the woman wouldn't get an abortion. Very rarely do they care about what happens to the child and the woman after the adoption process is done. It's generally a viewpoint that adoption agencies tend to hide from prospective adoptive parents, because it raises many ethical issues about adoption.
In abortion, the possible suffering burdens only one person: the woman getting the abortion.
In adoption, the possible suffering burdens several: the birth mother, forced to relinquish her child and in many cases never knowing what happens after that and spends YEARS wondering; the child who may or may not have issues with their adoptive status; the family who has adopted the child, who has to live with the knowledge that their joy in life has come at the expense of another person's suffering.
It also doesn't help that for many birth mothers, the ONLY counselling they'll possibly get runs along the lines of: "You did the right thing" "your child is in good hands" "you'll get over it" "you can have another one".
I've been considering the idea of children as commodities in our societies today, and I can't help but feel that this angle is terribly important to the overall idea - that to many who have never given up, never been in that position, it is so easy just to give up a child for adoption, as if it were a kitten or a simple possession. We forget that that child is going to grow up a human being, with agency, sensitivities and all other issues involved in being human. Sooner or later the child will question their origins.
We don't own our children, our children own us. People say this about cats, but look, a fucking cat can't really compare to a child that will, under our guidance, grow up to become a part of our society - the onus is on us to deliver to society a well-adjusted adult who is capable of empathy, community and contribution. A child is of us, yet not ours.
Because I can't keep talking about this since I need to go to bed, I'm going to copy-paste some excerpts. Hopefully you'll be tempted to go read the whole thing yourself.
Post-adoption counseling turned out to be focused on getting yourself together enough to make yourself a new Christian baby so you could be a good Christian wife and mother. I kept getting the same thing. What if you don't want to have a New Baby (tm), or can't? Or you're not religious? And why the fuck are actual babies so disposable that you're expected to get over it after a suitable period of mourning (i.e., till you get a good Christian husband) in the case of adoption? It's odd how this does not apply in the case of aborting a blastocyst, when you're expected to wall yourself into a tomb away from decent society and gnaw on the bitter bones of your own despicable evil. Bad woman. BAD.
I'd also like to point out that every time I mention the adoption in public (including the Net), one of these things invariably happens:
1: metaphorical pat on the head: "you did the right thing", which helped at first, but rapidly came to sound amazingly condescending. Nobody asked me if I was doing okay or anything like that, ever, even though I quite spectacularly wasn't.
2: "what kind of a woman gives up her BABIES?!" - this is always said by exactly the kind of people I don't want to be having a conversation with in the first place.
3: "don't worry, you can have another one" - would people say this to a parent whose child had just died? That's what giving one up feels like.
4: a lecture on the evils of abortion, which seems grotesquely out of place in this context, and inevitably makes me turn extremely vicious in real life. I can pretty much guarantee that talking about the downside of being a birth mother on the Net will bring out at least one, regardless of where on the Net it's posted.
Adoption fucked up my head far worse than abortion. I've googled over the years about the psychological aftereffects of giving up a baby, and what little I found is astonishing. Depression and suicide rates ridiculously high, comparable to PTSD - and beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is no way you can cook any post-abortion trauma study to come anywhere near post-adoption trauma levels. Strange how peer-reviewed studies on this are damn near non-existent; strange how nobody mentions any of this when it's not just your mind on the line, but also that of your kid or kids (more on that later).
Also, read the comment thread, because there are some heart-wrenching stories. In particular this one made me break into tears:
"When I met him, I told him that it was like standing on a railway bridge, late at night, halfway across the span, when you realize there's a train coming, and no way to escape. So you fling the baby wildly out into the night and hope that he lands somewhere soft."
And another from a different perspective, that from an observer of the pain:
"I was training as a midwife at the time, and she was sitting in one of our clinic rooms, wailing. She had milk leaking out of her breasts, lochia coming out of her vagina, and her ankles were still swollen from her nine month pregnancy. She had previously worked out an agreement with the adoptive parents to have an open adoption, but I don't think it was going to still be an option, since she was frantically calling them over and over, and sleeping in the hotel parking lot where they were staying with the baby in her car. She sobbed to me, saying "They told me not to get an abortion! No one told me how hard this was going to be!" I wanted to say "I wish you had asked me first," but of course that was not productive then, and I didn't say it."
"So my friend, still half doped by the drugs they had given her, signed what she believed was a semi-open adoption for the baby she delivered. Still reeling from the realization of what happened, she believed that she would be able to know this child somehow, receive pictures and updates. She was deeply depressed, down on herself for not knowing, and grasping at straws trying to find a way to cope w/ a secret she could tell no one, all while trying to figure out a way to find a relationship w/ this baby and his new family.
The agency her mother contacted told her a few months later that she had in fact signed a closed adoption, and I can't believe for the life of me that someone still on drugs in a hospital can be expected to make permanent, legal decisions. Even though she was in no position to raise a child, she just wanted contact in a quasi-anonymous way, hoping that someday the shock of who she was to him wouldn't be so harsh b/c she would be a familiar face. She was shut out faster than a blink, and left w/ no one to talk to (except apparently me), b/c in the end, she was forced to keep a secret out of shame."
A quick comparison between abortion and adoption, this one's up for discussion:
"Remember: 'adoption' is an alternative to 'safe, cheap and legal abortion' like a snorkel tube is an alternative to a skateboard. They are just two very different things that don't substitute for one another at all."
A very snarky, but spot-on criticism of the criticisms that all parties involved get:
"Everyone seemingly is just expected to forget. Adopted children are criticized for not forgetting they were born to another. Adoptive parents are expected to forget they didn't do the birthing themselves (yeah right!). Parents who give children up are expected to forget they ever had a child, get over it, gone and done with. This entire system lacks compassion."
Here's a radical thought I'd never considered before this:
"***ADOPTION ABORTS MOTHERS!*** It saves the baby and throws the mother away with the bath water, like the wrapping on a gift. And, it ABORTS, destroys and severs FAMILIES...often for no decent reason. Adoption should only occur when there is no one in the entire extended family of kin who are willing and able to provide safe care for a child. And even then, there are alternative ways to provide that care without destroying the family/ kin ties.
Adoption enslaves the children it purports to help by teated them forever as second class citizen in about 45 of our 50 states - disallowing them the same access to their own birth certificate as non-adopted citizens take for granted. If it's such a wonderful thing to be promoted, why is it STILL shrouded in secrecy and lies?"
(And she's right too... which is why I think the nuclear family model is such a failure, and the worst thing that came out of the Industrial Revolution. Yes, let's isolate a couple and make them raise their child themselves without benefit of extended familial support. This model works for uncaring capitalist companies that find it convenient to have workers that can be mobile and are willing to move across the country, away from aforementioned family support, and the parents are literally bound to their jobs in order to provide and care for their children. It's a tough system.)
There're so many things to consider in an adoption, but I'm more convinced than ever that adoption isn't really the shiny alternative to abortion that pro-lifers seem to think it is, because in the end, it still disregards the pregnant woman and denies her her agency, her choices, her life.