“You have an older brother.”
When my mother uttered those five words, everything changed.
I was told throughout my childhood that I was an only child. That I was a wanted child. The first portion of what I was told made sense. The second one? Well, that made me wonder but I didn’t question it. I never questioned it. Then came a phone conversation that I had with my mother on November 1, 2010.
With those words, everything I knew–or thought I knew–about my childhood changed. I wasn’t the only child, I was the younger sister. I had a half-brother, which meant my mother, who was a proponent of abstinence until marriage, had been with someone else. I was a sibling to someone I had never met. I had a family member who I didn’t know existed.
My life fell apart. Literally. Figuratively. In more ways than I can ever explain. But it was a terrible and dark journey. In some ways, I’m still on that journey.
As time went on and I slowly adjusted to the New Normal, I began to do a little research. I Googled “adoption trauma” and sat in stunned silence: this was real. This was a Thing That Exists. There were women dealing with PTSD and other traumas after surrendering a child. There was real damage done.
My heart pounding, I kept clicking more links, peeling back more layers. It was hard to read but I kept reading. It made sense but it flew in the face of everything I had been told. Then I clicked on the term “Baby Scoop Era”. That changed everything.
Before Roe v. Wade, pregnant unwed mothers were forced to surrender their “illegitimate” babies to adoption agencies so that the children could be adopted by “legitimate” married couples. Most of the young women who were forced into this were white. These girls and young women were told that they could give up their babies and then conveniently “forget” that they had ever given birth. They could resume their normal lives with little to no repercussions.
It didn’t work that way.
There were repercussions and severe ones: the PTSD, idiopathic infertility, intimacy issues, helicopter parenting and problems bonding with later children. It explained things about my mother, why she kept me at arm’s length yet watched me like a hawk, why she wouldn’t let me have a “normal” childhood, why she got so upset when I was 17 and complaining of nausea in the early morning and had to come home from school. A lot of things made sense.
But suddenly, the ideal of “Adoption is the perfect solution for an unwanted pregnancy” didn’t make sense. Like a lot of things I had taken for granted and been told, I was forced to re-think this.
I have come to the conclusion that adoption isn’t a panacea. It’s been given glowing reviews and high praise but it has a dark side, a side that few ever see. I’ve seen it, was a victim of it and I can’t stay silent about it anymore. If a woman needs an abortion, let her get one. If a woman needs birth control, let her have it. Stop making the decision for her. It is her body and not yours; her decision will not affect you in any way. It is hers and hers alone. I’ve seen what it can do it a woman, being told that this is your one and only option to be a “good girl” again, to not be seen by society as someone who fell from grace. It’s not pretty, I’ll admit. I had a front-row seat to it, only I never knew that I did.
I didn’t have a choice in that matter. But now, it’s a different story. Silence is not an option. Not anymore. Never again.