' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: What Happens to women who give up their babies for adoption?
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Monday, December 26, 2016

What Happens to women who give up their babies for adoption?

In today's New York Times: 

RE: Emboldened by Trump’s Victory, Abortion Foes Vow ‘Onslaught’ ” (front page, Dec. 12):

The increasing difficulties that women are likely to face in getting an abortion make clear that two things will inevitably rise in response: More women, denied access because of distance and cost of travel, lodging and so on, will try to self-abort, and many will be permanently injured as result; and there will be increased pressure for women to carry to term and give up their babies for adoption.

The short-term reaction to such a loss is expected, but the long-term consequences for a mother to lose a child to adoption are nothing short of disastrous. Poor grief resolution for a great many women leads to lasting
trauma that exhibits itself as a psychiatric diagnosis for depression, low self-esteem and self-punishment, difficulty in giving and receiving love, as well as a decreased likelihood of ever having another child.

In other words, the trauma of losing one child to adoption deters a goodly percentage of women from ever having another.

In large part, we — I am one of those women — do go on with our lives, but not without deep psychological consequences that affect our lives in myriad ways. Not only did I never have another child, I never see a child with a mother without immediately assessing to my own satisfaction whether the two are related by blood, or if an adoption was part of the story.

No credible research finds that an abortion leads to such life-altering, encompassing and cataclysmic reactions.

LORRAINE DUSKY
Sag Harbor, N.Y.
The writer is the author of Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption

READ IT AT THE TIMES
What Will Happen to Abortion in the Trump Era?

Story the letter is responding to:
Emboldened by Trump’s Victory, Abortion Foes Vow ‘Onslaught’

Trust me, it's not easy to get stories about what happens to us in major media. This is a victory for us.
I was told this might be coming, but until it happened, I held myself in check. 

46 comments :

  1. I speak up about woman's issues whenever they arise and often I come away feeling bludgeoned because society does not acknowledge the primacy and following that, the primal loss that occurs when the mother-child bond is broken at birth. And, as an armchair student of neuroscience, it is obvious to me that both mother and fetus soon to be born baby are mis-wired during the mother's nine months of stress, insecurity and anguish caused by the patriarchy based double standard. I cannot help but wonder if many of the emotional problems plaguing our society stem from the shaming of women. It is this shaming and lack of support that cause women to place children for adoption. I did not place my child. I was in grammar school and my child was taken, but I underwent severe psychiatric intervention to keep me from "pining" for my child, looking for my child, and speaking about the circumstances surrounding my loss of my child. Now that I am aware, I'll never stop talking about this.

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  2. Thank you, Lorraine, for telling the sad truth. I am a mental health professional, and for almost thirty years i have been working with women who lost babies to adoption and I can attest to the devastation caused by the traumatic loss of their babies. I am glad you had the courage to speak out.

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    1. Oh Joe, a little too condescending I fear. You had your mother denied you. And you have had to go through your own re assembling of what you thought was true, and what you later became aware of. Much of your education came from listening to eye witness reports from mothers. kidnapping, and abductions are crimes. Women did not loose their child, taken is not loosing, blackmailing and bullying, by those who's job it was to be supporting us, in the difficult stages of life we were in, and exploiting us, stealing our children! they were never lost and we didn't loose them, they got taken off of us. If you are having connections with women who had their child taken off them, please speak with words that describe those of us most harmed. Awake and tortured, our babies felt abandoned. That is why you cannot speak for us Joe Scoll. You just can't go far enough to describe the crime committed against MOTHERS = sorry to be hard on you, and please think about it. Most mothers did not agree to their babies being taken from them. Many had their baby removed during the birthing process and never held them. How can that be loosing them when they never got to hold them? Long before any adoption had been agreed to nor could it have been, for days after birth.This is not consent. This is malpractice and unethical and a crime against humanity.

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    2. Starlight85 A LOT of biological/bith/first mothers refer to it as "lost a child to adoption"

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    3. Ket--I use all the words in different situations. But when you want a lot of people to read you, I choose the words that more people use and are likely to search for. And in the context of the letter, "give up" seems to suit the situation better than "lose to adoption" because that implies that no women make an actual decision and it is completely out of their hands--and I accept that that is not true. Drugs, older mothers who can't see how to raise another child, women who had conceived with men other than their husband but wish to stay married, etc., also do give up children. That doesn't lessen their pain and sorrow, but saying all birth mothers lost" their children would unnecessarily put some readers off and make them think: What did they expect? Lost? They are not saints to begin with.

      By the way, there was another letter published with it, about how a lack of uncomplicated and inexpensive abortion access disproportionately affects minority and poor women. Which is so true. The wealthy or well-fixed will find a way.

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  3. Thank you for your good, long work on behalf of first mothers (and fathers), Lorraine. Here's my response: flashbacks, waking up in convulsions, bargaining with God to take my life in exchange for my not having made that decision, phobias, panic attacks. Full-blown PTSD. Thankfully, I had a very good therapist a couple of years ago with whom I worked for two years and now the initial separation feels like it happened 36 years ago rather than 10 seconds ago. All best to you. -- Catherine

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  4. Brava! Thank you for your continued vigilance.

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  5. Because I led a birth parent support group for 12 years I am still reminded of the pain some still suffer because of the adoptive parent or parents. I met with a mother from our group the other day. Finally in 2009 after so many years she was contacted by her daughter and reunited. A few years into the relationship her daughter decided she had to back out, in order not to hurt her adoptive mother who, was aging and not well. She has been through hell after a second rejection from her daughter.

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  6. Lo, it's wonderful your letter was published in the Times. A real tribute to you. Getting our message beyond the adoption community is the only way we can make changes in adoption practice.

    I encourage our readers -- when you have an opportunity, send a letter or post on a blog and let folks now what happens to the "noble" mothers who "think of their babies and not themselves".

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  7. The NY Times is a great victory indeed - Congrats Lorraine. Often times I can overcome the grief of separation by telling myself some awareness has come out of such a traumatic event as relinquishment.

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  8. Life doesn't begin at birth; it begins at conception. It may be less traumatic for a pregnant woman to have an abortion when she's eight weeks pregnant than to bring a baby to term and then give it up for adoption, but does that make aborting a fetus morally right? Many women in distressed circumstances are let down by their boyfriends/husbands, by their parents, or by their churches. Is the moral solution for women to treat the lives within them as inconsequential? I don't understand how the response to being marginalized or abandoned is to demand the right to demand or marginalize someone else.

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    1. If you haven't walked in my shoes . . . . Any woman who has had the brutality inflicted on their lives of separation from their newly born child, exploitation by those they trusted, and betrayal of a whole society that judged them, knows abortion would have helped them, their families, their subsequent children. RIGHT TO LIFE PEOPLE have dismissed the very life of the precious child's MOTHER. Stop killing mothers and support them. It is in the best interests of the child to nurture and care for a struggling young pregnant woman. ADOPTION is the theft of an individuals identity. It is ownership.

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    2. Utah, how do you feel about Plan B, which works mainly by preventing/delaying ovulation or by avoiding fertilization? Of course, it may also inhibit implantation. But that can happen anyway. It is not uncommon for fertilized eggs not to get securely implanted - or not to implant at all.

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    3. I'm pro-choice though I obviously didn't choose abortion for myself. In my experience, many in the pro-life circles are adamant that the unborn are people with full rights. But when the babest are born they don't want to provide affordable childcare, or affordable living and look down on the "welfare moms" and try to cut their benefits, making it harder and harder to keep their babies. I'd have more respect for the pro life circuit if they not only advocated care for the unborn but also care after birth and family preservation, not defaulting to adoption and stealing of babies.

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  9. We--Jane and myself--are pro choice for women, and that includes the right to have an abortion. Not all first mothers are. We are and we do not pretend otherwise. Bearing and giving up a baby has vast consequences while, for most women, having an abortion does not. No statistics show that women who have abortions are too traumatized to have another child, while the statistics clearly show that this happens to a large percentage of women. The statistics of women who never have another child after losing one to adoption vary from close to a third to less than 20 percent, but they stats are still there, as well as studies that bear out the other residual issues I include in the letter. Many of those women most likely would have gone on to have children they kept and raised.

    Uta Hagen is of course the real name of an actress who premiered the part of Martha in Edward Albee's play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe, and a aborted or otherwise missing child is a part of the dialogue. Albee was adopted. Ms. Hagen died in 2004.

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  10. I think that both adoption and abortion stem from the same idea - that the woman doesn't want the child. I think that at some deeper level (except in cases of rape or incest) that the woman who gets pregnant really does want the child but is suddenly scared by the responsibility, the shame, the people hovering over her telling her what to do or whatever and becomes vulnerable to people telling her "if you don't want the child - abort it, give it up for adoption..." Pretty soon she starts believing what they're telling her. I think the best approach, that causes the least trauma and moral problems is for the woman's desire for her child to be recognized and for her to get support to keep and raise her own child. Maybe that is just Polyanna wishful thinking for the world to be like that though.

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  11. "Not only did I never have another child, I never see a child with a mother without immediately assessing to my own satisfaction whether the two are related by blood, or if an adoption was part of the story."

    Thank you for writing this! I do this too but it was all automatic and I didn't realize I always do it until reading your letter. Adoption loss of my baby when I was a teenager in 1965, affects so many facets of my life. I am now 69 and my baby is 51 years old. I grieve for him everyday and my anger at society grows.

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    1. Nene, it actually took me a long time to realize I was doing this and had been doing this since I gave my child up in 1966. It's like--Oh, the little girl looks just like her mother; Oh, the teenager shopping with her mother, they have the same body type, the same hair; Or, they have some obvious mannerism that is alike; Or, does that child look like either parent?

      It's constant.

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    2. How strange. I too had my child taken from me in the early 1960s when I was a teenager, but I have never thought that way, unless it was glaringly obvious. I guess we are all different.

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    3. I am so sick and tired of people putting adoption and abortion in the same category. It shows how effective the rightwing ideological campaigns have been in twisting public perception and discourse.
      An abortion is an artificially induced miscarriage. The evangelical Christian neighbor moms my child plays with who are against abortion have all had miscarriages, as most women going through trying to get pregnant have I think its like 30% chance or something, and no they did not feel or act like a baby had died. I have given birth, had miscarriages, and had two abortions, and believe me, giving birth is quite a different experience than a miscarriage or abortion. One shakes your soul. The other two are kind of depressing and gross and take a couple days to get over. Imagine the difference between finding your newborn baby dead in the crib and having a miscarriage. No comparison.

      First, why can't we have an epistomology, meaning logic frames underlying thinking, that put women's UNIQUE bodies and selves into real law, ethics, and policy. Women and pregnancy and infants have a fused self that is not two people OR one person in the usual Western philosophical sense. Recent research just showed that birth and infant nurturing rewires women's brains in fairly dramatic fashion then changes again after weaning age. They are a symbiotic system.
      Adoption really was developed in its modern form as humanitarian response to INFANTICIDE after the wars in Asia. Rightwing propaganda now conflates infanticide with abortion when it is not the same thing. **SO ANNOYED**

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  12. Those of us who did go on to have more children have our own issues with dealing with having surrendered. I have three more sons, and have always feared they would somehow be taken from me or something awful would happen to them. I also felt I did not deserve to be a mother, although I am and my adult kids are loving and supportive, even the one with whom I am reunited. He turned out to be a very fine man too, despite his crummy adoptive upbringing. I never wanted an abortion so that was not an issue for me, but I know women who have had abortions who are fine with it, and others who grieve. We are all different. I do not feel it up to me to make that choice for another woman. I do feel that surrendering my firstborn adversely affected my parenting, and I do not recommend it unless there is no other way.

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    1. Thanks for that perspective, maryanne. I'm hoping that the short letter--which normally wouldn't get much attention--at least informs some that giving up a child--or losing a child to adoption--is not a one-time act. It's a change of perspective, a life-altering act, no matter what we call it or how it is done.

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  13. If this article would do any good I would be happy. However the controllers of the status quo have taken it and shoved it into the basement and put their propaganda out there for all to see, as usual. I refer to an article I found titled, Writer Complains That, Under Trump, More Babies Will Be "Given Up For Adoption" Rather Than Aborted. Your article Lorraine is nowhere to be found today in searching -Adoption News-. But this article comes up 1st or 2nd page. Go figure. It's always the same. Shut down the painful truth just as fast as possible and put adoption fairy tales and falsehoods and misinformation in it's place.

    It would be great if someone who has the strength and information and studies available could educate this author.

    It's always the same. It's pointless to fight such a repressive system. Decades have elapsed and nothing changes it all just gets more treacherous. Mother's keep losing their babies. Babies keep losing their mother's. There is no point. Too many want to believe that it is a beautiful thing to separate children from their mother's. It's really not at all beautiful. It's horrendous and promotes continued suffering for generations but too many want to believe in stupid lies and horrible fairy tales.

    There's no point in even trying to get them to hear. They don't and won't. If they heard they would have to stop taking other mother's children and they don't want to do that.

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    1. Well, I am glad to see that I am rattling some anti-abortion cages. When you did some internet searching, what did you find it under?

      I wrote the letter and will continue to write because every now and then I get something in print. I've had a piece on this subject accepted but held for over a year at a respected publication.

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    2. I found Lorraine's letter under this heading in Opinion:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/26/opinion/what-will-happen-to-abortion-in-the-trump-era.html

      The original article is still accessible too.. You just have to google the title to find it.

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    3. Actually the link to the story in the Times is in the blog itself at the end.

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  14. From the story referenced above:
    The writer’s point is that more children will now be “give[n] up for adoption,” a particularly outdated way of talking about making an adoption plan that is a blessing to the birth mother, the adoptive family, and the child.

    Looks like I'm rattling cages on several levels!

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  15. From the story referenced above:
    The writer’s point is that more children will now be “give[n] up for adoption,” a particularly outdated way of talking about making an adoption plan that is a blessing to the birth mother, the adoptive family, and the child. [Emphasis added.]

    Looks like I'm rattling cages on several levels!

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    1. I found it myself under "LifeNews.com" and most remarkably the story has been shared 3.6 K times. The truth obviously got under some skins.

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  16. I am a dispossessed parent. My daughter was taken for identity reassignment 10 days after birth. i didn't sign anything. I never expressed any desire to have her removed from me. I consistently, for months leading up to her birth and afterwards for those ten days, told everyone i wanted to keep my baby. I never considered an abortion and neither did my partner. We always said we were going to get married, we named our daughter months before she was even conceived and we fully intended to be a family. i was studying P.E. at university at the time of her birth and i have since gone on to gain 2 masters degrees, international awards in my profession and medals in international sport events. i am not trailer trash. It has been nearly 37 years and there is hardly a second in a day that I do not think about my stolen daughter. I believe i suffer from some form of depression or post-trauma stress disorder but no-one wants to acknowledge that or consider that the removal of my daughter might be in any way associated with my mental condition. I strongly believe that the spectre of adoption leads many women to abortion. I have thought this through from so many angles and i can come to no other conclusion than adoption is a mask for a pathetic emotional paedophilia. In order for adopters to indulge their emotional paedophilia, the pay a third party to source appropriate product and to then enforce social shizophrenia on all parties, so that all can "pretend" that this is normal and real and acceptable. It isn't any of those. it is sick - adoption practitioners enforce mental health issues upon those from whom they harvest product, upon those who are the harvested product and this idiotic arrangement then enforces deep psychological neurosis upon those who receive said product - all in the name of career longevity for sociopathic professional meddlers who masquerade as social workers.
    I pine dreadfully for a relationship with my daughter. We had a reunion almost 19 years ago but it went horribly wrong because i was rather too emotional for her to handle it, and the adoption agency got involved and told her i was nuts and to stay away from me. i am not psycho - i am actually quite coherent if anyone would care to listen. And the feelings i have are actually quite normal and understandable if anyone wanted to accept the fact that I am a human being and not just some provider of sapien spare parts for others to enjoy.
    Even the worst of mass murderers are allowed their day in court, but those who have their babies forcefully removed are not allowed to even mutter any word of concern about their treatment.
    I must confess however, that i do have one insurmountable handicap that means i will never be listened to - and that is, i do not have an X chromosome. i do not have a womb. So therefore, I am not allowed to have an opinion or a soul or a heart that bleeds.
    Now - go back and think about all the assumptions you made as you read up to that penultimate sentence. And then think about the assumptions you made after reading that penultimate sentence.
    dear adoption industry - dear adoption "help" industry ... i am not the scum you tell me I am.

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    1. I believe there are many men who are suffering deeply from having their children taken from them. My heart goes out to you.

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    2. Thank you for commenting. We do not hear from fathers often, but there are some who do comment here. I am sorry for your loss, and I hope you will return to comment again.

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    3. Thank you so much for putting this into words and posting publicly. I reunited with my father several months ago and he is only just becoming able to express the complex grief he has experienced through losing me many years ago to a closed adoption. Like you, he was given zero say in the matter. He was told he had seriously wronged his first love, my mom, by 'getting her in trouble.' He was prevented from putting his name on my birth certificate, threatened with 'the police' by mom's family and the AP's. He was shamed by social workers. When he confided in others about his daughter and showed them photos of me, he was told he was lying and making up stories. No one in his family ever spoke about me to him. The only way for him to move forward in life was for him to tell a public story that raised doubts about him being my father, and to carry out his grieving and his searches in secret. Like you, this has led to years of mental health challenges. Since we reunited (he responded to my first email with unbridled joy) I've sometimes shared with him articles about adoption but have been frustrated too at how little is written with reference to fathers' experiences. I think it's so important that more is done to encourage first fathers to express their experiences too. So many have suffered so much. Your post will mean the world to others who are struggling to put the same feelings into words for themselves.

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    4. At age 69, i am beginning to realize i may never have my 52 year old son or grandchildren in my life, i consider suicide now as a very real alternative, i may not outlive his 84 year old mother, I feel invalidated by his reactions and actions, i have no idea of how to proceed at this time of my life, never counted on things ending up like this, one can only cope so long.

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    5. Marsha, please, please don't give up. Your son may be selfish, immature, and under the control of his adoptive mother, even at 52. Don't let his actions direct your life. Perhaps a counselor would help you see his behavior differently.

      Although my daughter never cut me off, there were some dark times in the first years of our reunion. I forced myself to cast her aside mentally. I got involved in other things and found myself not thinking about her or us nearly as much and feeling very comfortable. Of course this is me and every one is different.

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  17. p.s. I used to have a talk with my 8th graders about unplanned pregnancy. To the boys, I would say something like this: "You have no rights. If your girlfriend gets pregnant, here's what you can expect. If she decides to give the baby up for adoption, you will have great difficulty keeping your child, if that's what you want to do. If she decides to have an abortion, you have no right to say she can not. You have no rights." I was always deadly serious and those boys heard me. I also told them that when they're in college, they might see ads for sperm donation. I warned them that though that might sound like easy money, if they did it, they might have, some day, 50 children out there they didn't know. Young people are so vulnerable. I wanted them to be

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    1. Catherine--You are doing good work! telling boys what it means to be a father and have no rights. Most importantly, you are talking to them at a young age and presenting a reality they probably have never thought about. Good job!

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  18. Who's to say that your experience of trauma in giving up your child to adoption is more viable than someone else's trauma of abortion. My daughter of 17 (who is now 32) has never recovered from her abortion. She drinks to cover her pain, and cannot even discuss the decision she made at 17. A high percentage of young women are still legally children (under 18) when they are guided into an abortion by a well meaning school nurse, family member, friend or family planning counselor. They are not considering the long-term effects either. Sad thing is that parents are excluded from the decision altogether by law, as we were. But the data doesn't lie, and studies are showing overwhelmingly, that post-abortive women are also experiencing debilitating emotional, psychological and physiological trauma after abortion. Especially if that "choice" was made during turbulent teen years. That is so sad. Our daughter would never have experienced your pain of adoption or abortion, if only we would have been involved in the process, because we would have helped her keep and raise her child. But that is just my story, I realize. Seems to me that nobody can foresee how a woman will react long-term to either having abortion or adoption. Both are not optimum, but at least one allows life and will not place a mother in the “I'm a baby murderer” category (my daughters words, not mine). And then of course, you have a plethora of wonderful grown adopted children who continue to make the story worth telling. Unlike you, I'd rather land on the side of life! Women were never created to end the life of their unborn child or to abandon them. Both are poor alternatives for what we were designed to do. http://www.colorado.edu/studentgroups/studentsforlife/cost.html I will be very surprised if you are brave enough to post my comment! Blessings and peace to you.

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    1. Blessing and peace to you also. I hope your daughter finds peace and sobriety.

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    2. Dear Grace in Oregon,
      You sound like a person who isn't afraid to look at data and facts. Please check out this website: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/10/how-i-lost-faith-in-the-pro-life-movement.html
      I will be very surprised if you are brave enough to click the link and read the article. Blessings and peace to you but also, Respect.

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    3. Grace--I am not getting into a long term debate about abortion or spending time finding the sources that are readily available via google, which is what you asked in comments we are not posting. I will give you one: Abortion Is Found to Have Little Effect on Women’s Mental Health
      Google that at the New York Times.

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    4. Funny, but the pill and IUD cause abortion, but NOBODY seems to have long term trauma from that. Sounds like more of a social construct then anything else. Damn, just stop getting pregnant its not rocket science.

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  19. It is true that some women have lasting repercussions after an abortion. But the overwhelming evidence is that this is rare. Research emanating from religious institutions about the widespread, disastrous fallout of an abortion is not validated by non-religious, more rigorous studies.

    Abortion is a divisive issue in this country but America is not a theocracy. We believe a woman's right to choose her own reproductive path outweighs rights of the unborn. We who have given our children up to adoption have a right to make our reality known. You have no idea what your daughter would go through had she chosen to carry to term and have the child taken from her.

    A large percentage of birth mothers never give life to an individual who is enjoys staying with their mother and family of birth, and not grow up among genetic strangers. Choosing a path that frees these women emotionally to have other children who will not have to be adopted is choosing life also.

    Note: My letter in Monday's New York Times was widely disseminated in anti-abortion blogs and websites.

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  20. I too am a first/birth/ natural mom. Unbelievable how we have to be so polite, not to offend, about what we call ourselves. I relinquished not happily through coercion .. my daughter in 1970 pre roe vs wade. Sent to a home for unwed mothers and went on to have 4 more children. I am not pro or against nor can I judge.. judgement is up to the gods. What I do know there is a sense of loss, from my experience, with abortion as well adoption. Adoption affects a living child. We have yet to know about how abortion affects the spirits of the unborn. But none of these issues should be about birth parents. It should be about Adoptees who are denied their rights and are and continue to be lost in the paperwork of sealed records. It's about selling womb fresh babies torn from the arms of their mothers. It's about adoptees who have life long complications due to adoption. Children are not puppies to be easily discarded of... .nor should adoption or abortion be a means of birth control. Only in a perfect world would we not have so many sad decisions to make. In a perfect world moms would get pregnant and babies would stay with their moms.
    In a perfect world we would live problem free and moms and babies would have the help, support and education needed so adoption and abortion were not Needed. Yvonne curri
    https://www.amazon.com/Yvonne-Curri/e/B00OWOQUGS

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  21. If you follow the link above and then click on a story that changed the blog writer's mind, you find this:

    ROME, Oct. 11 — A comprehensive global study of abortion has concluded that abortion rates are similar in countries where it is legal and those where it is not, suggesting that outlawing the procedure does little to deter women seeking it.

    Moreover, the researchers found that abortion was safe in countries where it was legal, but dangerous in countries where it was outlawed and performed clandestinely. Globally, abortion accounts for 13 percent of women’s deaths during pregnancy and childbirth, and there are 31 abortions for every 100 live births, the study said.

    The results of the study, a collaboration between scientists from the World Health Organization in Geneva and the Guttmacher Institute in New York, a reproductive rights group, are being published Friday in the journal Lancet.

    --the New York Times

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  22. Here's what happened to one adoptee:


    https://www.mail.com/news/us/4901648-teen-slain-rape-murder-fantasy-was-friend-to-lonel.html#.7518-stage-hero1-1

    Devastating. We face these incomprehensible possibilities when signing away our babies. This was beyond my comprehension when I lost my infant, Joanna, to adoption.

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