Chances are, you’re not going to like everything I have to say in this blog post.
I may even regret posting it in the first place, but earlier I trimmed my left eyebrow hair short enough that 1/3 of it is simply not visible, so the day is already shot to hell as far as I’m concerned.
When I was a little girl, I would read through the monthly magazine published by the adoption agency through which I was adopted (Holt International) like it was Teen Beat. I loved the stories, the pictures, this inextricable connection I had to the hundreds of people whose faces appeared throughout the pages. But there was this one section that I read almost as punishment — it was the train wreck from which I couldn’t look away: “Some Children Wait.”
It took me a surprisingly long time before I realized this section was specifically about children with physical or mental disabilities or were considered high risk or, knowing this will sound callous but sometimes that’s just how life is, less desirable. When people have the option to choose their baby, they want the perfect ones. The ones with good health, perfect little faces, all ten fingers and all ten toes. I vaguely recall many of the infants and small children from this section — cleft palates, enlarged hearts, Downs, delayed motor skills — but one girl stuck out to me, this girl who has been imprinted on my heart the last couple decades.
She was sixteen years old, still waiting for a family to want her as badly as she wanted them. She had a little sister, a girl who was fourteen, and they were a package deal. But sixteen was the last year she’d be eligible for adoption; upon her seventeenth birthday, she’d officially age out, having never been adopted, a little girl moved through the Korean orphanages and foster care system till she had to move out, get a job, and support herself. I went straight to my mother with the magazine, I begged her to adopt these two girls, I cried and cried at their plight. Adopting two teenagers wasn’t an option for our family for several reasons, and the logical part of me understood that, but my heart still ached. I still wonder, from time to time, if someone else was in the position to adopt these two girls, to give them a loving home, or if she aged out, and her sister was adopted alone, sent to a foreign country with foreign people speaking a foreign language. Or if she, too, aged out when she turned seventeen, her older sister waiting for her so they could live together knowing they at least had each other.
I’m religious. I believe in God and Jesus and an afterlife and eternal families and a Holy Spirit that will comfort me whenever I stand in need of it. I believe the evil will get theirs, and I believe the humble and meek will receive innumerable blessings. I believe life is fragile, sacred, and important, and I believe that we all have been given the unmistakable right to make our own decisions. And with that knowledge, this understanding that (major consequences notwithstanding) we can do whatever we’d like in the short blip we’re on this earth, I try my damnedest to not judge lest I be not judged (and trust me, there’s plenty about which to judge me on a daily basis).
But unlike many of my Christian counterparts, I find myself wanting to fervently defend and stand with Planned Parenthood. There are several reasons for this, many of which are far too private to share on the Internet for strangers (or even friends and family) to read, experiences I keep hidden away in these small, dark boxes that I occasionally open only to close them back up again and hope they get lost in a corner to collect dust. My friends who have children know I don’t understand, that if only I had a child of my own I would have an entirely different viewpoint, and perhaps that is true; I won’t deny that because if I were a parent, literally everything about my outlook on life would be altered, but a child is not in the cards for me, so this is the outlook with which I am stuck till I die. My decision to not have a child is not based upon infertility (though it occurred to me that I may actually struggle with it without knowing since we’ve never attempted to have a child), but it is based almost entirely on health-related reasons.
I’m crazy, for starters. I take pills that lead to birth defects. I have disorders that could harm a baby in my womb. I have physical problems that could lead to nine months of bedrest and hell. I have a depression that envelops me so deeply that some days I cannot get out of bed, I forget to feed the dog, I ignore the cats, and I have what I consider to be a founded fear that my children could potentially be taken away from me because of crazy-induced neglect. Blame that on the paranoia. Even adopting a child seems too far out of my reach because superseding all the genetic malfunctions that could occur, I’d still probably have days during which I do not want to have another human in my bubble of craziness. I am not equipped to be a mother. And I’m going to tell you right now, before you start feeling too sorry for me, that I’m entirely okay with that. Some women are supposed to be mothers, some aren’t. I make up for it by rescuing all the cats and dogs.
Should I ever accidentally get pregnant, however, I would not have an abortion. I’d spend the next eighteen years and nine months in a complete panic, and I’d probably lose my mind, and my child would be extremely lucky to make it into adulthood with even an iota of normalcy, but I’d make it through, and I’d love that child because I’m not a sociopath — aka, I’m not a child hater. I have feelings. [And just as an aside, if you ever meet other people who claim to hate children, I assure you that their feelings are rooted entirely in fear, so cut them some slack.]
But. (Of course there’s a but.)
I imagine women with unsupportive families, without spouses, without good paying career-type jobs. I imagine women who are not religious, either by choice or because they’ve lived the sort of lives that almost dictate to them that a God couldn’t possibly exist, and if He does, He doesn’t have the time to consider them. And when you strip away love, support, and an end game like spending eternity with God, when you’re left alone and scared and feel like there’s honestly nowhere to turn but Planned Parenthood, well, as much as I hate to say it and you hate to read it, sometimes abortion feels like the right choice.
It’s easy to say, when you wanted your children, when you craved them, when you wake up every morning to their sweet faces, their healthy bodies, when you attend church on a weekly basis and learn about the importance and sacred qualities of families in this life and the hereafter, that women who opt for abortion are entirely in the wrong. It’s easy to throw pamphlets in their faces about how adoption is the best choice, to tell them they’d otherwise be murderers, that their souls will be condemned to hell, etc. etc. Would I have an abortion? No. Would I understand if a woman in a similar situation to mine decided to? Well, perhaps.
And I wonder if these women who have, as of late, been vilified by the conservative right-wing branch of society, who’ve been forced (along with the rest of us, thanks ever so much, social media) to look at photos of miscarried fetuses every time they open their Facebook apps (and let’s not get me started on how I feel about the gross exploitation of miscarried fetuses in the name of religious fervor to fight the good fight against abortion. It’s absolutely sick, and shame on every person who’s perpetuated that.), who are watching their Planned Parenthood get defunded city by city so they can’t get gynecological exams or preventative screenings to save their lives … I wonder if they, too, think about that sixteen year old girl in Korea who could not find a family who wanted her, and think, “There are worse things than being dead.”
I’ve heard women all over social media talk about all these babies who could have had loving homes, who would have been adopted, whose perfect, happy lives never came to fruition, and I want to scream because there are thousands and thousands of babies who become toddlers who become children who become pre-teens who become teenagers who grow into adulthood without ever being wanted in the way they hoped for.
I get it. Adoption is expensive and difficult and there are legal hurdles to jump over and it’s not like you can walk into an orphanage and say, “I’d like that one.” You can’t drive by a foster home and grab a child from the front yard and shower him with the love he deserves. I once met a woman at an adoptee get-together who shared her personal experience of being passed through the foster care system, family after family, whose first name had been changed three times like she was a rescue pet, so don’t tell me foster homes are a great option, either. The system is flawed and governments are greedy and these precious commodities that help boost their economies come at a price. And what almost everyone fails to consider is that adoption, for the child, is nothing short of a traumatic event, especially when it’s international. Does that mean it’s bad and wrong? Certainly not. Adoption quite literally saved my life, and I was raised by the parents I was always supposed to have.
I don’t say all this to be offensive, to start a fight, to make you think I believe my opinion is the only one worth having. I say it because I feel like I need to before I burst. It’s simply not our place to tell women when abortion is right (rape, incest, the mother’s life at risk) and when it is wrong (everything else). I tell people I’m pro-life and pro-choice because the two aren’t mutually exclusive; I believe every woman should have the right to decide what is best for her, but I also believe they should opt for something other than abortion, and in the same breath I believe VERY firmly that defunding Planned Parenthood is sending us back into a world where women and their bodies and their health DO. NOT. MATTER. Shutting it down won’t stop abortions, but it will absolutely increase the likelihood of extremely dangerous abortions, not to mention all the healthcare women have fought for the right to have.
As a religious adopted woman who essentially cannot have children, I’m making a stand. And I stand with Planned Parenthood.