In Defense of Adoption

For almost 50 years, Roe v. Wade has been where the debate and complexities that surround abortion have ultimately ended.

Texas placing limits on abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and House Democrats then countering with the ‘Women’s Health Protection Act‘ have again pushed the debate into the legal and political forefront. Some are suggesting the door has been cracked open for the courts to eventually overturn the landmark case or revisit the merits.

For as long as I can remember, I have lived with the knowledge that the parents who raised me and whom I have always known as ‘mom and dad’ had adopted me. They are the only parents I have ever known.

I was born on May 9th, 1982.

‘Your birthday fell on Mother’s Day that year,’ my mother said in a phone conversation last week. ‘For me—I just don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think that meant something’

In 1982, Ohio law allowed for ‘sealed’ adoptions, meaning I never knew my mother’s or father’s legal names.

Growing up raised Catholic, adopted through Catholic Charities, it is perhaps inevitable that I would have a somewhat Pro-Life viewpoint and a positive view about adoption. I do not believe that adopted children lead some sad life or that adoption is a cruel decision to make.

My adoptive parents divorced when I was nine. It would be possible to sing a sad song about it all but that’s just fruitless. And this is not a sad story.

As a male, abortion, adoption, and childbirth are not subjects I’m currently allowed to discuss. It’s a women’s rights issue they tell us, and we usually agree. So, 50% of the population is barred from the conversation before it even starts.

‘You can argue a person’s opinions all day; you cannot argue their experience,’ a friend of mine would say.

In 2009, my own adoption experience led me to contact and then visit Catholic Charities in Parma, Ohio, in my twenties, when Ohio still required a court order to unseal documents identifying parties involved in a pre-1996 adoption.

In October 2009, though, Catholic Charities gave me a packet containing ‘non-identifying information.’ It includes a subheading titled ‘Couple and Decision to Place,’ which reads:

Initially, your birth mother thought that your birth father was someone she had known for 3 years and had dated for a year and a half. They had planned to marry in December of 1981. This did not occur as your birth mother discovered that he was dating another woman at the same time he was dating her. ... After your birth, it was discovered that this man was not your birth father due to your race. This man was African American.

I am under the impression that my emerging as a white baby took a few people by surprise that day. As for my birth father’s identity:

Once this was determined by medical staff, your birth mother then named your birth father. She had met your birth father at a bar around Valentine’s Day.... She saw him only a couple times in the early spring and then not again until August, when he invited her to a party at his home. Your birth mother said that at the party she was intimate with your birth father. This was the only time that it occurred.

The document shows my birth father realizing that he might be the father and offering to pay for an abortion to end the pregnancy—and, consequently, me:

Your birth father would go to the bank where your birth mother worked and on occasion asked her if she was pregnant and if he was the father. He offered her money to terminate the pregnancy. At the time, your birth mother did not believe he was your birth father and told him he was not. Your birth mother had no ongoing relationship with your birth father.

Bullets and abortions dodged—I don’t know that I wish to demonize abortion as much as honor and be grateful for the fact that I am here.

I am so grateful my mother chose life and chose adoption.

I am certain it was not an easy decision.

I will admit it is odd to see people champion or celebrate their abortions and I inevitably think of it from the standpoint of my circumstances and gratitude.

It’s strange sometimes to see women attribute their good fortune, their fame, or their career, in large part, to an abortion.

I love Fleetwood Mac. A year ago, I learned lead singer Stevie Nicks told an interviewer she attributed her and the band’s success to her abortion. She told The Guardian how, in her mind, having a child would have ended the band:

If I had not had that abortion, I’m pretty sure there would have been no Fleetwood Mac. There’s just no way that I could have had a child then, working as hard as we worked constantly. And there were a lot of drugs, I was doing a lot of drugs. … I would have had to walk away.

Certain articles leave out that last part, about the drugs.

Recently, Megan Rapinoe and other female athletes co-signed a legal brief defending abortion, stating, ‘the physical tolls of forced pregnancy and childbirth would undermine athletes’ ability to actualize their full human potential.’

‘Forced Pregnancy’ sounds a lot like rape as opposed to an unwanted pregnancy resulting from consensual sex.

Yet, by and large, no one forced women who choose abortion to get pregnant.

Rape-related pregnancies account for roughly just 1% of abortions and incest accounts for .5% of all abortions according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization.

The latest available numbers from the CDC suggest that, in 2018, more than 600,000 abortions were performed in the United States. That’s roughly equivalent to the number assigned to all Covid-19 deaths for the entire pandemic.

That number is staggering—except when you consider that abortion is trending downward. Abortion numbers peaked in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when an astounding approximately 1.4 million abortions occurred per year. For perspective, the United States averages 3 to 4 million live births per year.

Comparatively, abortion numbers are currently four to five times the number of adoptions per year, and the Adoption Network estimates that approximately 135,000 children are adopted annually.

Indeed, I am one of the lucky ones in that my birth mother afforded me the opportunity to live:

Your birth mother felt that the best option for you was adoption. She was not going to marry your birth father or the other man she dated. Your mother shared that she would not have been able to live at home with you and she would not have been able to care for you by herself. She felt that you should be placed with a happily married couple who had the ability to care for you.

For my adoptive parents—particularly my mother, who could not have children—my brother, born three years later, and I were the answer to her prayers.

‘Some people don’t look to adoption as an option or as an alternative they would choose. If they can’t have children naturally, they don’t want to adopt,’ she explained. ‘For me, it did not matter. I did not care. I just wanted a child.’

My birth mother provided that.

I owe everything (indeed, I owe my life) to a strange series of events and to my birth mother. What if she had taken the easier or quicker way out? Taken the money and the offer to pay for an abortion?

I would not be here, and I certainly would not be telling this story.

I consider myself fortunate, blessed... teetering towards the miraculous for just being here.

I had zero control over the matter and no voice at all at the time.

Perhaps it’s appropriate to speak up now, for the ones that still have no voice—if only to advocate for adoption and say I am so grateful my mother chose that.

Rapinoe can fight for the ‘right’ to terminate a pregnancy.

Stevie Nicks can celebrate hers and cite it for the success of Fleetwood Mac.

Me?

I am just happy and grateful to be here.

Image: Family by Geralt. Pixabay license

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