“One size fits all doesn’t apply to adoption, any more than it does to abortion.”

June 19, 2009 at 5:48 am (By Amba)

My purpose was simple: I want everyone to know that giving up a child can hurt (and hurts me) like nothing else.

(Anger alert.)

Found through the related, intense discussion here.



  1. Rod said,

    I followed the links and read some of the comments. I know a woman who gave a child up for adoption. (I probably know several, but in those days people didn’t talk about such things.) The woman I know expressed a little wistfulness about the child she never knew, but then, she candidly admitted she was not ready to raise a kid at that time and, as it happened, the right time never came up.

    Both of the links were to pro-choice websites and, while I don’t seek out pro-life websites per se, I am more likely to run across them. So, I got an unaccustomed taste of the anger and condescension expressed by some pro-choice commenters. The vitriol and lack of understanding of the “other side” pervades this issue on both sides.

    I was struck by one pro-choice commenter who said she had never heard an adoptive parent who was pro-life. More likely, she did not realize had self selected friends who shared her views; that those of us who take on raising somebody else’s children come from all over the political and cultural spectrum.

    The more I think about it, the more I believe the abortion debate is about autonomy and social responsibility. The reasons for supporting unfettered rights to abortion, as expressed by commenters in the second link in the entry above, generally involve interference with career choices, economic stress, remaining a less encumbered in the marriage pool, and not wanting to tell others that you got pregnant. They all involve remaining free to act as if you never got pregnant.

    It is not surprising that first wave feminism quickly picked up on abortion rights as a central program. Women were getting clobbered at that time with the club of social responsibility. Escaping that trap was probably why the movement was also called Womens’ Liberation. The “New Woman” would be autonomous, freed from all social bounds.

    But alas, absolute freedom for one ultimately impinges on the freedom of others. We are tied in webs of social responsibility in ways we do not even understand. Every new parent experiences a direct curtailment of freedom. Autonomy ends beside the cradle.

  2. amba12 said,

    On every post about abortion, along with the appreciative and open-minded responses from both sides of the debate, and the extreme pro-life hate comments, there are always some in this vein:

    I have never once regretted it. I look at it as I would with any other legal, medical procedure. It’s not hard to think about or talk about any more than a root canal or appendectomy.

    I don’t regret it at all . . . I knew I wasn’t ready for it. I think that was the smartest decision I could make. It’s responsibility in the highest degree. I trusted my instincts and they didn’t let me down. I don’t think its a matter of easy or hard decision to make, hard implies you didn’t really want to do it…easy implies it doesn’t matter to you.

    This should give us pause, because we are all of woman born. We were all at the mercy of a woman’s choice for our existence. One truth that legal abortion has usefully revealed is that women aren’t automatically “nice” and “nurturing.” That’s a good myth to dispel (like all false idealization), for one thing because in the past women who weren’t were forced to pretend they were to survive, and they wreaked awful havoc on their offspring, often in insidious, not obvious ways. Among the scars inflicted are to create a daughter (whether or not already genetically so predisposed) who is not “nice” and “nurturing.” It’s passed down the way male pedophiles were themselves frequently abused.

    But in overreaction to the cloying motherfication of all females, after Roe we developed a culture in which self is ALL that counts. Women’s autonomy becomes an absolute for some, and a pregnancy nothing but interference with it. This, I think, is a cultural sickness. People who proudly display this attitude don’t realize they are, in principle, placing their own precious lives on the same moral thin ice.

    I do not understand why women who are absolutely sure they don’t want children don’t have their tubes tied. Some will rush to tell me it’s not that easy to find a doctor who will do it; others will say they have the right to keep their options open. It’s all about them being “free” and having the “right” to get whatever they want whenever they want it. (Perversion of the “pursuit of happiness” clause) I would reply that if they have a change of heart later on they can have tubal reversal surgery (or IVF) — depending on maternal age and tubal ligation method, the reversal can be from 50 to 80 percent successful right here on our street in Chapel Hill — or they can adopt.

    The point is, it’s scary to realize the power women wield. There is a vengefulness in some women about wielding that power, because of the many ways that women were powerless for so long.

  3. Rod said,

    I am not letting men off the hook in all this. On this Father’s Day, as on so many others, I heard a sermon about fatherhood. The best preachers begin by acknowledging that some of us had fathers who were nothing but “birth parents,” who were never there for us. Others had fathers who were worse, abusive or exploitative. Some of us had fathers who threw away their marriages for the fun of chasing another woman, and left their kids split between homes, an afterthought to be haggled over, like the big couch in the living room. Most of us had fathers who were not professional parents; they had a day job, and it all but consumed their energies.

    Guys were into the autonomy thing long before feminists got a hold of it. We have a society that elevates autonomy above all else. Then we don’t understand when our lack of responsibility has consequences.

  4. amba12 said,

    Guys were into the autonomy thing long before feminists got a hold of it.

    I think that’s right. It was one of the ways that the male way had power and glamour and freedom that women coveted and imitated. Women both were hurt by male freedom and envied it. We used to laugh bitterly at the notion that it was penises we envied. It was the more exciting and prestigious, less vulnerable life we thought they were the ticket to.

    The longer-term effect of feminism could be that there’s a happy medium for both sexes — not exactly identical to each other and not one-size-fits-all, but a better balance of autonomy and commitment for both.

  5. Rod said,

    I always thought penis envy was a crock, but then, I never wanted to kill my father and marry my mother, either. Guess I was just a 19th Century peg in a 20th Century hole.

    So here is Rod”s Rule regarding intellectual fads: examine skeptically. For the most part, educated people are just lemmings with a better vocabulary.

  6. amba12 said,

    Guess I was just a 19th Century peg in a 20th Century hole.

    And you can imagine what Freud would say about that!

  7. Rod said,

    I almost held back for that very reason, but hey, we’re among post Freudians. I find that as I approach 60, I spend less time worrying what other people will think.

  8. amba12 said,

    Must be why Althouse was shocked! shocked! when I tweeted about my bladder: she’s not 60 yet!

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