Friday, September 19, 2008

It's Complicated

Last evening on our nightly visit to the park I was speaking with a mom who I have become quite friendly with over the summer. She is a great person, a former school teacher with a darling 2 year old boy who my kids love to play with. As we sat in the sandbox watching her son and my daughter, she told me about how her sister, a single mom, adopted a little girl through foster care just a year ago. The baby was 8 months old when she came home to her, born to a drug addicted mom who supported her habit through prostitution. New mom and baby are both doing very well now. The kicker was when my friend said, "but the birth mom is probably pregnant again by now." I acknowledged that this was possible, perhaps even probable. My KC's birth mom placed two children with the adoption agency. He has a half brother in NH as a result of this. My Lissa is the 7th child born to a woman whose addictions made her unable to parent any of her children. The others are being raised by various family members who simply could not take on one more. My Rob's birth mom had another baby 2 yrs ago. She went on to say that she thought that such women should be sterilized so that no more children would ensue. "I'm just thinking of the children", she said. And i do believe that. I know her to be kind caring and compassionate.

It is such a thorny issue. I wrestle with the fact that hard and sadly painful conversations are in my children's future. It isn't easy to learn of other siblings raised by family ("why wasn't I?") or to learn of the circumstances of birth. (How do I share with KC that he was a result of rape, possibly when Mom was under the influence of drugs?") It isn't going to be any easier for Rob to learn that the mom who couldn't parent he and his other 3 siblings has gone on to have another baby who she apparently is parenting at this point. I grieve for my children in this. It seems unjust to be so young and innocent and have this to deal with out of the starting box. And I am sure to the marrow of my bones that there are many many children who are not given up for adoption who are forced to live years or their whole childhood in frightening dysfunctional families where their little spirits are warped and their little bodies are not nourished but endangered.

On the other hand, I am selfish. I would not have the 4 beautiful children i have today if mandatory sterilization existed. I might have my eldest as he is the result of international adoption, but all the other children would never have been in my life. I would have missed smiles and tantrums, joys and sorrows, and i am so very very selfish because I know my life would have been much poorer as a result. I am not saying children should suffer so that "nice" people can adopt them. I also don't believe in taking away human rights by doing things like mandatory sterilization or forced abortions. A woman has a right to choose. For me, her choosing ends when her choices emperil her child. That is when the balance changes. But if we said we would sterilize drug users, or prostitutes, do we then sterilize people with a lower IQ? Where do we go from there? It is a slippery slope at best and a worst a big step toward a society I could never live in.

I grieve for my children and the loss of their first families. But I rejoice in the family we are making together and i hope with all my heart that as a parent i give them enough strength and inner courage that they can meld their pasts, and their presents into a bright future.

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