Every month I go to a meeting at Planned Parenthood. It's part of my job. I work on a research project that deals with People Living with HIV/AIDS, and I have to report monthly to the Ryan White Part A Steering Committee, who funds our study. The Committee has its meetings at a Planned Parenthood office because it is centrally located and has a nice meeting room that is big enough.
Today, for the first time, there were abortion protesters outside.
The first time I went to a meeting at Planned Parenthood I wondered whether I would see protesters, but it's been a year and I'd never seen any, so it was a bit surprising. I wasn't scared because there were only a few of them and because of the way the building is situated, they can't come near the door. Mostly, they looked pathetic, standing on the other side of a snow bank holding their signs.
Signs that said, "Choose adoption, not abortion."
That made me mad. I was tempted to approach the protesters and ask them not to protest in my name. But then I started thinking about the birthmothers I've known and I realized how really stupid that sign is.
Anti-choice people like to bring out women who were traumatized by abortion all the time, but they never talk about birthmothers.
In adoption, we speak of the triad. Every adoption consists of three parties: the child, the birthparent(s) and the adoptive parent(s). The general public (adoption protesters included) likes to think of the pretty part of the triad: the happy adoptive parents raising the grateful child. When people do think of the birthparents (which isn't often) they like to think of them as unlucky teens who get a fresh start now that they are absolved of parenting responsibilities. Sometimes we talk about adult adoptees who search for their biological families and face mystery or rejection or bad news, but we don't worry about them too much because after all, they've got parents.
When we were in process with Boo (that's an adoption term: "in process." It means we were going through the process of adoption) I was very active on an online support group for adoption. This support group was for people in all parts of the triad, and although there wasn't a whole lot of mixing, I got to know a few birthmothers. Now, I realize that these were birthmothers who chose to join an online support group, so they aren't a representative sample of all birthmothers, but I'm not trying to generalize. Many women choose adoption and go on to live happy, productive lives. Most probably think about their children from time to time (or every day) and wonder how they are, and where they are, and feel sad as we all do about people who are no longer in our lives, but are able to resolve their feelings and move on in a healthy way.
But some do not. Some birthmothers feel a connection to the children they have placed for adoption that is overwhelming. When I was active on this website, one birthmother killed herself because her child's adoptive parents would not let her see the child even though they had a written agreement that said their adoption would be open and she would have a relationship with the child.
She died. Not from complications during her pregnancy (which can happen) or domestic violence (which happens to pregnant women too) or poverty (which happens all too often.) She died because she chose adoption and she couldn't handle the reality of it. And because the law does not give birth parents any rights. Even with a written adoption agreement, this woman had no legal recourse when her child's parents decided to change the rules.
So when I see people suggesting that adoption is a good alternative to abortion, I think, "Maybe. For some." I don't know if the woman I knew would still be alive if she had chosen abortion. There's no way to know. But every time I think about abortion rights, I imagine myself making my own choice. I can't imagine having an abortion. I can't imagine placing a child for adoption. If raising a child was not an option (as it wasn't say, when I was a teenager) then I would find myself in an impossible place with three terrible options. I would have to choose one of those options, though, and live with that choice.
That's why I can't stand these people blithely suggesting that they know which choice is better. A triad is a complicated place to live, and shouldn't be entered lightly. All three corners can be painful at times. So stay out of women's bodies and women's choices and leave adoption out of your argument.