|Basketball MVP Kevin Durant and his Mom|
As I watched this moving scene, I thought of Sydney Syverson whose essay about giving up her daughter for adoption appeared in the "Less Travelled Roads" column in the Spring edition of Portland, the quarterly alumni magazine of the University of Portland, a Catholic college in Portland, Oregon. Syverson, white, middle class, educated, in her 20's proudly explained that she surrendered her newborn daughter to biological strangers "not only the best
parents but the right parents" because she was "not ready to parent." Syverson whose essay reads like an adoption agency marketing ad, tells us that after holding her newborn daughter whom she named Freya--she had not shared her daughter's name with anyone previously--for a few minutes, she "handed her over to her mother and she became her daughter, her Greta."
JUST NOT 'READY TO PARENT'
Syverson, who now works as a counselor, gives no reason for "not being ready to parent" other than she was unemployed and had no help from Freya/Greta's father. Contrast Syverson's wimpy "not ready to be a parent" with Pratt's willingness to give all for Kevin and his brother, Tony. "'I was 21 with two small children,'" she told ABC News. "'I had to figure out how we were going to do this, how we were going to make it. I decided early on that my desires and wants and even needs came second to what they needed and wanted. That was my mindset.'"
While Syverson considers herself not ready to be a parent, she will in fact be a parent, the difference being that she enshrined genetic strangers to do the day-to-day nurturing of her daughter while, as Syverson writes, she "stays in touch with her and her parents."
WHO ARE THE 'RIGHT' PARENTS?
What does "ready to be a parent" mean? Like all mammals, human mothers are endowed with natural mothering skills and learn others from their mothers and often from other mothers in their herd or tribe. If that's not enough, there's a plethora of books to guide them plus baby classes galore through their county health department, the Red Cross, their hospital, their church. What comes across in Syverson's self-congratulating mantra is not that that she was not ready to be a parent but that she was unwilling to be a parent. She can tell herself that the adoptive parents were "the right parents" but of course what's right for one child is often not right for another. Nature endows us not only with skills to nurture our children, but also biological connections that help in bonding. Children are not blank slates that can be passed seamlessly from one set of parents to another. The husband of the adoptive couple is transgender, a fact which might make some natural mothers pause. (I confess surprise that the University of Portland, a Catholic Institution, would have published Syverson's essay if she had mentioned the unconventional adoptive parents.)
Syverson appeared in Season One Episode 3 of I'm Having Their Baby. A clip shows her at a table with her friends, basking in their attention as she tells them she's placing her baby for adoption. She also appeared in a Rickie Lake episode on adoption. It's hard not to think that her article in the Portland is yet another attempt to convince herself she did the best thing.
The day will come, I predict, when Syverson's confidence will fade. Perhaps it will be when Freya/Greta asks why her why she didn't raise her. When Freya/Greta receives an award and embraces the mother who raised her while Syverson hovers on the sidelines hoping for a glimpse of recognition, tears of sorrow in her eyes. We've seen this with Heidi Russo, the first mother of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Her once open adoption closed and her son will not respond to her entreaties to meet her. What's more worrisome to me, though, is that vulnerable women will read Syverson's piece and be influenced to give up their children.
|Durant in action/poster|
Meet the Amazing Mom NBA MVP Kevin Durant Was Talking About
Kevin Durant's Acceptance Speech
Portland, Spring 2014 p. 48
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NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick's mother speaks of her love for him--and he can't take it.
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Cast Off: They called us dangerous women. So we organized and proved them right. by Lee Campbell
"Cast Off is a moving and engaging account of the journey of a brave woman, who gave birth to both a son and an organisation. Her son was adopted into another family and the organisation which she created continues to bring comfort and support to those whose lives have been affected by adoption separation. In Cast Off, Lee Campbell relates how she translated her personal pain resulting from the separation from her son, into a public issue, through her activism and support for others. Cast Off carries the reader through the parallel journeys of both the mother and the support group, which she named CUB (Concerned United Birthparents)."--Evelyn R at Amazon