Consider for a moment the following situation. A 28 year old woman finds out she is expecting her third child. She is single and the mother of a 10 year old boy and a 3 year old girl. She lives with her mother and works in the laundry department of the local hospital. Her mother has been helping her raise the two children but she is now 60 years old. Her father passed away when she was just a little girl and money has always been very tight for them. In addition, she has a history of broken relationships with men which has left her somewhat emotionally unstable. This pregnancy resulted from a brief affair with a member of the armed forces who was temporarily posted to the town where she lives. By the time she learns of her pregnancy he has already returned to his home base and there has been no further contact between them.
According to Statistics Canada the majority of women obtaining abortions are between 20 and 29 years of age. What do you think would happen if this woman walked into a planned parenthood clinic or even her own doctor’s office seeking counsel? What would your advice to her be? Would you suggest she find a pro-life doctor? Would you perhaps take her to a crisis pregnancy centre where she would receive appropriate support? Would you talk to her about the development of the life within her? Would you try to find ways to help her financially so that she could feel more confident about her ability to raise this child? Most of us would be quite willing and comfortable offering to help in any of these ways and so we should. We also all know that there is always the option of adoption. Is it however an option we are truly comfortable in promoting? Do we as pro-life people know how to respond to the myths often voiced against adoption?
Society has somehow, successfully persuaded people over the years that it is unloving and unthinkable for a mother to consider releasing her child for adoption. They argue that, the child could be placed in an abusive home situation, that no one can love a child as much as the birth parents, that adoptees grow up to have serious psychological problems and that birth mothers suffer serious emotional problems. Just as there is no guarantee that abuse could never happen to biological children there is of course no guarantee it could never happen to adopted children. It seems however a quantum leap of logic to equate abuse and adoption. Good parenting is not a matter of biology. Neither does research support a link between adoption and psycho pathology. Most adoptees are well adjusted members of society who have grown up in a secure loving environment.
Adoptions today can be as open or as closed as the birth mother wishes. She can be very involved in the selection process of the adoptive parents allowing her to participate in ensuring that her child will be loved and cared for. She can also be granted as much access to the child as is deemed appropriate by an agreement between herself and the adoptive parents or she can choose anonymity. Releasing a child for adoption is a very difficult decision. The birth mother will experience grief. Sensitive, experienced counsellors and understanding friends are important in helping her work through her feelings. Ultimately however, there is peace and joy in knowing that one has given to another the greatest gift of all – LIFE. Although she may never know it she also has the gratitude of her child.
I am one who appreciates more than I can say the responsible act of love and concern expressed by my biological mother in releasing me for adoption. You see, the situation presented at the beginning of this article was that of my birth mother. Thankfully, it all occurred back in the days before abortion was legal in this country, or who knows what the outcome would have been. I grew up in a loving, stable, Christian home and have wonderful memories of my early years. From the time I was 7 years old I knew I was adopted. It was explained in such a way as to actually make me feel even more special. I can honestly say that other than a natural curiosity about the characteristics of my birth parents I have been virtually unaffected by the fact that I was adopted. What it has done however, is give me a passion for the pro-life cause and a strong desire to see adoption promoted in the positive way that it should be. I sometimes have the privilege of addressing high school classes on the topic of abortion and usually introduce my talk the way I have in this article. After providing the students with information about life in the womb, abortions history, statistics, complications and procedures I ask them to tell me what their advice to this woman would be. The average response is a 50/50 split between abortion and adoption. While it is a more positive response than I believe we would have found 10 years ago we need to give these unborn children of tomorrow better than 50/50 odds at life. It is always interesting to see the response of the students who identified abortion as the best option when they are told that the story is true and that I am the baby that resulted. They get the message.
You may all be familiar with the following poem but I feel that it bears repeating. My mother gave me a copy of this when I was a teenager and truer words were never spoken.
ADOPTION A Special Kind of Love
Not flesh of my flesh,nor bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, You didn t grow under my heart, But in it! (Author Unknown)
*Martha Jones was an Action Life employee . She now resides in another province.