Abortion can be difficult for adoptees to ponder because that ultimately leads to an awareness that they could have been aborted. I had to explain to my daughter how my trying to have an abortion--when it was illegal--was unrelated to any maternal feelings and the deep, consuming connection to her once she was born, and the soul-shattering sadness of losing her to the adoption that was inevitable. I changed--everything changed--beginning in the months just before birth, and then, her birth. Perhaps the worst day of
my life, knowing that I would be losing her. When I talked to my daughter Jane about this, she seemed to understand (but how could she really?), and she was pro-choice herself when she lived.
But what if I had had an abortion? Maybe I would have had the baby hunger of women in their late thirties that we know is so common. Had I not had Jane, maybe I would have had a child later, a child who would not have been adopted.
The sorrow and emotions of losing a child to adoption apparently shuts down the desire in many of us--including me--to ever repeat the experience of birth. Some early research backs up the power of the "love" hormone--oxytocin--that is released at birth, propelling some of us to resolve never to experience a birth again because that is so closely associated with our terrifying loss. All I knew is that I would never, ever have another child. I rationalized what my mind and body knew this way: Doing so would be "unloyal" to the daughter I gave up; how could I keep one, give another away? Never again is something that I immediately internalized. No children was an absolute condition of my marriage to my first husband, two years after Jane was born and relinquished, and he said he did not want children either. He was so sure that he had a vasectomy. By the time I married a second time, I was 38, and my husband had two children and wanted no more. It also was a tacit condition of our marriage.
How many of us fall into this category? Thirty percent of the women who give up a child to adoption never have another. And if we had never lost a child to adoption, it is entirely possible we might have had children--children who were not adopted. Reliable abortion studies show that having an abortion has a little to no long-term effect on the woman's mental and physical health, while the opposite is true for mothers who relinquish their children. A study still in progress, the Turnaway study, of mothers who were turned away from an abortion clinic and gave up their children to adoption show that these women do not fare well.
Not all adoptees have such theoretical feelings about abortion as the one who posted on Facebook--if I had been aborted, I wouldn't be here. Of course if you weren't here, thinking about any of this wouldn't occur. Adoptee memoirists Jean Strauss and Sarah Saffian wrote about their own abortions and seemingly had them without deep misgivings or pondering the theoretical.
While abortion remains a still controversial issues in some quarters, any theoretical consideration of it needs to reflect on the children not born from those mothers who path was adoption, not abortion. Those children would be individuals who would have not had the burden of adoption laid on them. They would be children raised by their own mothers, without all the conflicting, troubling, painful emotions that being given up for adoption involves. One can love one adoptive parents, but still wish not to be adopted. I know my daughter felt that way.
The trauma of adoption following birth for a mother appears to guarantee that other children with fewer burdens in life will not be born. My first husband, so positive he would never want children? He did change his mind, had a reverse vasectomy and had a daughter with his second wife, who coincidentally shares a name with my step-daughter. But she is not the daughter I might have had.--lorraine
Second Choice: Growing Up Adopted
By Robert Andersen, M.D.
He pulls no punches and speaks truth. Chapter Nine is called: I am, Therefore I Search.
The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child
By Nancy Verrier
Always popular explaining the psychology of adoption. Many adoptees find it helpful in understanding their own emotions.
Beneath a Tall Tree
By Jean Strauss
The touching follow up to Jean's first memoir. Exciting as a detective story.
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