Monday, November 10, 2008

So THAT''s What Adoption is For!

I recently read American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld, a novel loosely based on the life of First Lady Laura Bush. I noted in my Books Read log that it was “way too long, 200 pages could have been cut. Not well written.” (The New York Times agrees with me; it’s currently absent from the Hardcover Fiction Best Seller list).

Early in the book Alice, the narrator, suffers a tragedy during her senior year of high school that leads to an even greater tragedy: she becomes pregnant and obtains an illegal abortion. This same Alice eventually becomes the wife of the President of the United States. Decades later, Alice’s secret is revealed and she braces herself for the possible consequences of that secret becoming public:

If Ella [the first lady’s 28 year-old daughter] finds out I had an abortion, when she finds out, how will she react? On the one hand, I like to think she’s an essentially compassionate person; she is also, presumably, sexually active herself. On the other hand, like Charlie [the President], Ella considers herself a born-again Christian, and as an adolescent, she stuck a bumper sticker on her dressing table mirror the read, ‘IT’S NOT A CHOICE, IT’S A CHILD; she’d acquired the sticker from the leader of her youth group. When I noticed it, I said, “I don’t think any woman wants to have an abortion, honey, but some of them feel that it’s more responsible than giving birth to a baby they aren’t prepared to take care of.” Ella looked at me in horror and said, “That’s what adoption is for.”

Hmm, I thought, so THAT’S what adoption’s for! I actually chuckled to myself when I read that line; it made the book worth reading. I’m sure that FMF readers could debate this passage for hours, if not days. And, honestly, I think we’d all be right--who’s to say whether prochoice or prolife is ultimately right or wrong? I wanted to hug President Elect Obama during one of the debates that addressed abortion. He remarked that women don’t make the decision (to have an abortion) casually and trusted that they can make their own choices with their families/doctor/clergy. He also noted it was a “profoundly difficult decision.” Then I wanted to kiss him when he addressed the issue that everyone agrees on, i.e., that we need to move forward in our efforts to reduce teen pregnancy so that women will be less likely to find themselves in the circumstances where they anguish over these decisions. Sign me up for that!

The preceding paragraphs will generate enough food for thought for one blog, but I also wanted to share another “hmm” moment I had over the weekend. While making the hour’s drive to a dentist appointment (he’s worth the drive) I was listening to a radio interview with Carly Simon. She was discussing her song “It Happens Everyday” from her Hello, Big Man album. She said it’s the one song people always tell her they relate to.

It happens everyday
Two lovers with the best intentions to stay
Together they decide to separate
Just how it happens
Neither is certain
But it happens everyday

It happens everyday
After you break up
You say these words to your friends:
"How could I have loved that boy?
He was so bad to me in the end"

Well, you make him a liar
Turn him into a robber
Well, it happens everyday

But I don't regret that I loved you
How I loved you I will never forget
And in time I'll look back and remember
The boy that I knew when we first met

Still it happens everyday
Two lovers turn and twist their love into hate
But am I so different
From those young girls you used to date?
You used to adore me
You used to adore me
Still it happens everyday

Obviously it’s a song about a romantic break up, but as I listened to it I started to tear up, because it was just as easily applicable to failed reunion relationships. Carly also mentioned that even though she and her ex, James Taylor, have two adult children and now a grandchild between them, he has no contact with her; she has no phone number or e-mail address for him which she said saddens her, but since it was his choice, he must be OK with it. Carly, we know how you feel.

1 comment :

  1. Dear Linda,

    Two profound things going on in this excellent post. How anyone can think a woman makes the decision to abort lightly. I believe it's no less wrenching than the decision to surrender, however different the aftermath. Of course, I can't know for sure, but I believe that most women who forgo an abortion intend to keep the child if at all possible.

    I appreciated the Carly Simon lyrics. I get melancholy when I think of lost relationships, the could-have-beens, any one of which could set my life on a different course. And how two people who once loved each other can simply sweep each other out of their lives, or even become cruel, is so, so sad.

    ReplyDelete

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