When she got a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis, her doctor wouldn’t stop suggesting abortion.

The author and her family.


Kaylen
Before Kaylen, my husband Darrin and I were happy to be average—to not stick out in a good or bad way. Darrin worked as a mental health clinician in a prison; I had quit teaching after our second child and was running an in-home daycare. Our two sons were school age, our daughter was still home with me, and we had just started considering a fourth child when I took a positive pregnancy test.

I was 35 and had two prior miscarriages, so my doctor considered mine a higher risk pregnancy. During the first ultrasound my daughter was amazingly active and I thought “Whoa—something is different with this kiddo.” I loved the chances to see her on ultrasound and hear her heartbeat, and she grew and measured as expected. Everything was proceeding in the average way we were comfortable with.

Since I was now of “advanced maternal age,” in the second trimester the doctor recommended a triple screen blood test. I felt that any additional information was helpful, so I agreed. Not long after, I received an almost tearful phone call from a nurse who said “I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, but your blood test shows elevated risk. We’re sending you to a perinatologist for more information.” She apologized repeatedly and sounded so upset that I ended up reassuring her that it would be okay. Some quick internet searches told me that false positive results for the triple screen were relatively high. In fact I had two friends who had received positive results only for their babies to be born without issues. They reassured me that it would all be fine and suggested I just enjoy a 4D ultrasound.

I went into the office of the perinatologist (I will call him Dr. X) fully prepared to receive good news and leave with some great pictures. I enjoyed the 4D ultrasound—I got to relax in a darkened room and see my baby in more detail. The technician measured body parts while answering all my questions about what she was doing. When she finished, she went to get Dr. X. He entered the room, and I knew something was wrong as soon as he started with “Unfortunately…”

They found that she had some “soft markers” for Down syndrome, such as shortened long bones and fluid in a certain part of her brain. I still wasn’t clear on the odds; I thought she had perhaps a 1 in 300 chance of having Ds, but Dr. X said it was more like 1 in 4. That was when I knew our life would be different. She might not even survive to birth, and if she did, my husband and I would join the alien group of “parents of children with disabilities.” The doctor gave me a long list of negative health conditions involved with Down syndrome and emphasized that carrying a baby with Ds increased my risk of miscarriage. He emphasized it shouldn’t be hard for me to get immediately pregnant after an abortion if I wanted to “try again for a normal baby.”

I hate uncertainty, so I asked about getting an amnio to find out for sure. Dr. X said there were three reasons people had amnios: if they (1) were considering terminating (I shook my head and said “We’re not going to do that”), (2) would be too stressed out by the uncertainty (“Yup, that’s me”), or (3) would change medical and birth plans based on the information, for example switching hospitals or doctors (“Yup, me again.”). He discussed the risks, including the risk of miscarriage, but also said he had never had a patient miscarry because of an amnio, and he had done thousands of them. I said “Well, this is still my first.” Still he said he could do it during that same visit, so I began filling out the paperwork. He emphasized that if I did decide to terminate, we’d need to find out quickly because I was nearing the cutoff date. I told him flatly that there was no way we were going to kill our child. He performed the amnio and said they had to mail the sample to the lab and we should have the results in about a week.

I rushed from the building to my car and burst into sobs. I felt as if everything comfortable and sure in my life was gone. My joy in carrying my baby was now replaced with stress and worry. I was angry at myself for needing the reassurance of the amnio, but I also had the grieving thought “Well maybe if she does have Ds and I miscarry, that would be sad but okay,” followed by the question “What if she doesn’t have Ds and I cause her to miscarry because I wanted to know for sure?” I was sickened and ashamed that I would even think that way, as if somehow her life was worth more if she had the typical number of chromosomes and less if she had one extra.

Eventually I was able to stop crying long enough to call Darrin, but when he answered I couldn’t even speak. I burst into tears again. He said “Oh wow. It didn’t go well.” I gulped “I think she has it. I did the amnio.” He said “She? It’s a girl?” I only then realized the doctor had referred to our baby as “her” when we hadn’t yet known the gender. I had been too preoccupied with thoughts of how our life was going to change in so many unknown ways. I asked Darrin “What are we going to do?” and he calmly answered, “Well, we’re going to love our daughter.” And suddenly I didn’t feel so alone in our new reality.

I collected myself and drove to a friend’s house. I told her about the testing and the amnio and she said “I trust a mom’s intuition about these things. Do you think she has it?” I admitted that I thought so. Somehow, admitting it to someone other than my husband gave me peace. She hugged me. We moved on to conversation about childhood memories and had a wonderful visit. Being able to mix conversations about my disabled child with “every day” topics was just what I needed—it was the beginning of adjusting to my new normal.

Over the next few days, Darrin and I researched Down syndrome as we prepared for how our lives might change. We picked out her name and kept our new secret from the world. Two days after the amnio, Dr. X called with the results. He again began the conversation with “unfortunately,” but actually finding out for sure that our daughter had Down syndrome made me smile. Now we had information and could move forward. Dr. X reiterated that if we wanted to terminate, we had to get scheduled quickly. I told him to stop mentioning abortion because we weren’t going to kill our child, and he responded that he just wanted to make sure that we knew all of our options.

My next perinatologist appointment was for a fetal echocardiogram to see if our daughter was in the 50% of children with Ds who need heart surgery. I was excited again, though with more caution. The technician did her work, but this time when the perinatologist entered, it was a different man (I will call him Dr. Y). As soon as Dr. Y walked in he congratulated me on my daughter. His response was a beautiful reminder that I was carrying a little person and not just a list of medical problems. He said that he had a sister with Ds and that raising a child with Ds would be more similar than different from raising our other children. He made sure we had a good support system and plenty of resources, and he invited us to an upcoming Walk for Ds fundraiser.

Dr. Y showed me the same list of medical issues that Dr. X had emphasized, but this time Dr. Y also pointed out that people with Ds don’t end up with all of these issues; some have just a few and some have more. He suggested we try not to focus on the negatives, pointing out that even ‘typical’ children have medical issues and parents just deal with them as they come up. He said those challenges do not define the child, and each person with Ds is an individual with his or her own talents, skills, and interests. Dr. Y’s support and encouragement made all the difference. He made us feel as if we had been accepted into an elite group: the group of people who know and love someone with Down syndrome.

We told our immediate family of Kaylen’s diagnosis but waited a bit to make a public announcement. Some family members prayed that Kaylen would be healed of her bonus chromosome before she was born. I believe that they were trying to be supportive and helpful, and that there response came from lack of experience with Ds and a desire to spare us from extra challenges that her diagnosis would bring. We told them we were okay with her having Ds, and asked them to change their prayers.

The rest of the pregnancy involved some poignant and pointed moments mixed in with everyday life. An online friend who had recently had a daughter with Ds signed me up for a statewide Ds group that sent a large box of information, resources, and books. I dug through it feeling thankful for all the resources, and then happy cried when I found an adorable little pink dress at the bottom. It was nice to have others acknowledge the ‘sweet little baby girl’ part of the pregnancy. At one point I sat in the doctor’s waiting room while another pregnant mama loudly spoke on the phone, telling someone how hugely relieved she was to have “passed” the test and learned her baby didn’t have Down syndrome. From time to time people would ask if we were going to find out the gender or didn’t have a preference “as long as it’s healthy.” How do I answer when I know most people wouldn’t consider my baby “healthy”?

It took us some time to decide how to announce Kaylen’s diagnosis—we didn’t want it to be her defining characteristic but also didn’t want to suggest we were hiding or ashamed of it. We announced on social media that our daughter would be born with an extra chromosome. There were a few “I’m so sorry” comments but overall the support and congratulations were encouraging.

I found a lot of support. I learned of old friends who also had children with disabilities, and our pediatrician connected me with two local moms of children with Ds. We also joined statewide and national Ds groups to hear perspectives from people with experience. And through online parent support groups, I connected with new friends from around the world who were in the same situation I was. To my surprise, the majority of comments in these groups were celebrating successes and offering support and encouragement. Most of these moms considered themselves part of “the lucky few,” and the most frequent challenge seemed to be trying to get society to value people with differences, especially those with visible cognitive disabilities.

My pregnancy continued with increased monitoring. We switched to a hospital that had an OB/GYN who specialized in high-risk pregnancies and a NICU so we wouldn’t be separated if Kaylen needed extra help after she was born. The OB/GYN was scheduled for vacation on Kaylen’s due date, so we scheduled an induction the day before. The drive to the hospital felt like a sweet farewell to our life’s familiarity and a journey into the unknown, but it wasn’t so scary as long as we were together.

I had read that babies with Ds sometimes have trouble nursing, so I chose not to have an epidural which might make her more sleepy and less likely to latch. I was induced and Kaylen was born 3 hours later. While they were cleaning her up and giving her oxygen, the nurses sang her “Happy Birthday” and my heart nearly burst with joy.

The next few years were more ‘typical’ than we originally expected. There were more medical appointments that first year, but we took each one as they came and learned as we went. One difference between raising Kaylen versus our other children was how we celebrated more of the little things. Milestones and accomplishments were HUGE because of all the step-by-step work it took to reach them. We also felt more relaxed and free to not keep up with anyone else. Of course, there were and still are some twinges of grief when we see a gap between where her peers’ development and her own. We try to embrace the idea that “comparison is the thief of joy,” but there are still moments of grief over the loss of the way that we thought life would be and over moments when people see her only for her disability, instead of getting to know her as a unique person.

Lilly
Still, overall the gap between Dr. X’s grim outlook and our joyful experiences inspired us to support other people in our situation. We decided to get our foster care license specifically to accept children with Ds. We were told it was highly unlikely a child with Ds would come into our foster care region, so we also got a private adoption home study and we registered with NDSAN (National Down Syndrome Adoption Network). NDSAN counsels families who receive a prenatal Ds diagnosis; it also matches families who want to adopt a child with Ds to such children available for adoption. NDSAN’s goal is to ensure every child born with Down syndrome has the opportunity to grow up in a loving family. We waded through paperwork and training and then waited… and waited. After about a year we began considering looking for another way to help, but then the phone rang and NSDAN appeared on our caller ID.

I felt like I had stopped breathing. I answered, and the voice on the other end said, “It’s a girl!” We had been matched with a baby girl to be born the following month in a neighboring state. We waited in nervous anticipation until we got the call asking if we could pick up our daughter.

When Lilly was placed in my arms, I wasn’t prepared for my reaction. I felt the same amazing love for her that I felt at the birth of our biological children, but I simultaneously felt heartbreak and overwhelming loss for Lilly’s birth mom. She chose a family she felt could better navigate caring for a child with Down syndrome; the magnitude of her love for her child still brings me to tears. We have since learned that adoption is not simply placing a child with parents, but actually melding two families. We feel as though we also adopted Lilly’s first parents. They love her fiercely, and we keep connected through email and social media.

I wholeheartedly believe our family is better and stronger for having children with disabilities. Most days are just a beautiful normal, and I feel as if I’ve stepped out of the ‘rat race’ onto a more peaceful, leisurely path that is filled with all kinds of beauty. It’s as if I never realized I was colorblind until I put on glasses that showed me color. Also my priorities have changed. Conflict was always uncomfortable for me, but having children with disabilities has brought my ‘Mama Bear’ much closer to the surface; I’m now quite comfortable standing up and advocating for my children. Growing up, I had never been around many people with disabilities, so I didn’t know how to act or what to say, but I am learning.

Parenting Kaylen and Lilly has mostly been like raising our other children. Lilly loves books, playing outside, dancing and singing, and playing with friends. Kaylen is now fully included in her 3rd grade classroom. She thinks Lilly is annoying when she makes loud noises and likes it when her older siblings play games with her. There is a stereotype that people with Ds are happy all the time, but the reality is that they experience a full range of emotions, like all of us. Kaylen and Lilly do seem a bit more honest and without pretense.

Parenting our ‘typical’ children alongside Kaylen and Lilly has had good effects too. I believe they are more likely to include people of all kinds because of their siblings. In fact researchers Richard Urbano and Robert Hodapp found that parents of children with Ds are more likely to stay together and medical geneticist Dr. Brian Skotko found that siblings find rich value in having a family member with Ds and nearly 99% of people with Down syndrome are happy with their lives. All of this data beg the question: why does society (and the medical community) encourage abortion in cases like Kaylen’s and Lilly’s?

Follow-up questions:
What are your thoughts on prenatal testing for Down syndrome?
There’s no one right answer. For me, prenatal testing was a tool to help me prepare and reduce the stress of the unknown. For a good friend of mine, the test results weren’t going to change anything for her, so she declined and got her daughter’s diagnosis at birth. I’m glad to note that prenatal testing is improving. Right after Kaylen was born, researchers developed a less-invasive blood test with very high accuracy and no risk of miscarriage. I don’t think prenatal testing is inherently a problem; the issue is how society uses the test results and doesn’t protect and value life.

What would you say to a parent who just received a Down syndrome diagnosis?
When I got our diagnosis, I immediately felt unqualified and feared I would be a bad parent. That’s not an unusual response. Find support teams—both online and in-person, if possible—to ask questions, vent to, and celebrate with. Know you don’t have to be a super-advocate. Your life can just continue on in the regular, everyday way it does now. There are days when we don’t even think about Down syndrome. You’ll learn to parent as you go, just like parents do with any other child. 

What would you say to someone who would be inclined to abort in the event of a prenatal Ds diagnosis?
I would want to invite them over for coffee and to meet our girls. I would encourage them to first learn about Ds and make sure they don’t have an ill-fitting stereotype in mind (as most people do). And then if they still believe that they’re not ready to parent a child with Ds, I would steer them towards NDSAN and encourage them to find a family for their baby.

Additionally, medical professionals need updated information on Ds and training on how to provide a diagnosis. It would be great if the person giving the diagnosis also had some awareness of what life as a person with Ds is actually like. I believe if expectant moms were given updated, encouraging information instead of doom and gloom, it would make a huge difference.

[Today’s guest article is by Kim C. If you would like to contribute a guest post, email your submission to info@secularprolife.org for consideration.]

We Asked, You Answered: Practical Ways to Support Foster and Adoptive Families

Silhouette of a family at sunset

We asked our Facebook followers: “What are the best ways people can support foster or adoptive families? If you have experience in these areas let us know what you think.” Here are few of our favorite responses. 

Karah E.: As someone who was both adopted and placed a baby for adoption I would beg people to refrain from using the word “real” in front of the word “parent.” Biological/birth parents are no more or less “real” than adoptive/forever parents.

Bekah F.: Get certified/approved with your county’s foster system to provide respite care for the occasional nights/weekends! In so many states, foster parents can’t just hire a babysitter or leave the kids with family for a break and it is so, so needed.

Aimee J.: When we adopted a baby a friend of ours donated her extra breast milk. It was so sweet and helpful! People also brought us meals and have offered to clean and babysit.

Pamela M.: In addition to all the suggestions of helping/supporting/loving on foster and adoptive parents let’s not forget the child welfare workers and the agencies that serve these children and families. Ask what they need: toys for visitation rooms, new socks and underwear for kids who enter care with very little to nothing, handmade blankets/quilts and/or a new stuffed animal to be given to children when they come into care, a “car” kit for kids to busy with during transportation to and from parental visits (books, coloring books, crayons, card games, etc.). Ask an agency if you could treat their staff by providing a lunch once a month or quarter, or at the holidays, etc.

Sarah C.: I haven’t read all the comments because . . . wow! There are a ton. But for me, the biggest thing is this: believe the parents when they say how hard it is and don’t give them trite parenting advice. Second to this: educate yourself about attachment disorders.

Heather B.: Be intentional (positive) with your words, and know proper terminology. Support fundraisers by sharing, donating, etc., or at the very least by NOT discouraging it. Bringing a child into a home is stressful, help with meals and cleaning is greatly appreciated. Don’t expect visiting time with the parent (although they may want you to stay). With newborn adoptions, it’s recommended that only the parents tend to baby, so help with EVERYTHING else is preferred.

Crystal K.: Don’t be afraid of our kids! Have your kids be friends with ours and offer to babysit.

Beth F.: Stop treating [adoption] like it is only for people who can’t get pregnant on their own. Acknowledge that any adoption story involves some degree of loss, but stop treating like a tragedy to be avoided. Celebrate families who choose adoption and recognize it as a valid choice regardless of fertility status.

Pamela M.: Another really simple thing that I didn’t see mentioned in a quick glance is for families to diversify their own children’s bookshelves with stories that include foster care and/or adoption themes. Normalizing the concepts foster care and adoption through children’s stories featuring children and even animals can help your children understand that families can be made in lots of different ways and that some families are for now and others are forever.

Becky M.: All of these suggestions are great. Respite care, help with meals and cleaning, use positive adoption language, offer to take any other/older kids out for a bit so mom and dad can have more one-on-one time with the new one(s). Also, give us grace. Some of our kids come with trauma based behaviors, so please don’t judge how we parent.

[Photo credit: Jude Beck on Unsplash]

Your Kinship Caregiving Stories

Last week’s article on kinship caregiving prompted a fantastic discussion on facebook, and many readers shared their personal experiences. In no particular order, here are a few of our favorites.

Cecilia B.: My family is an example of kinship care. I have temporary custody of my grandson because my daughter was unable to care for him. Of course it took me a few years to get that temporary custody even though he has lived with me since birth because we could not afford a lawyer. I had to do the research myself and do the paperwork and represent him myself. He is now 14 and he is still in my care. She was going to give him up for adoption to a family friend but when in Florida at the time we had what was called the scarlet letter law. She could not put him up for adoption without the father’s approval. The problem is that she didn’t know who the father was.


Misty P.: My sister-in-law became a teen mom; abortion was never on the table for her. My husband and I were initially going to adopt her baby, but at the last minute she saw some examples of that going very wrong, and the father was back in the picture, so she decided to try keeping the baby. They also went on to have a second one. Unfortunately that relationship was not very stable, and she has had a lot of trauma to work through. So we are now guardians of her two little ones until she’s healed and in a stable enough situation to take over care again. I think it’s going well, though it is challenging on several fronts!


Jenn Y.: My “sister” moved in one day when she was 16 from an abusive family foster house and she never left until graduation. She needed us for sure and we had the ability, so we responded.

Nicole T.: Me and my best friend were the products of teen pregnancy. My mom kept me, though most of my raising fell to my grandmother (kinship care). My best friend was adopted at birth. While I agree with some of the issues you have raised here for both the child and the birth mother and think that closed adoption, in particular, induces trauma for both, I assure you that I have the same “abandonment issues” as she did. Plus, the instability of being shuffled back and forth made me feel like my grandmother didn’t really want me either though, ultimately, her goal was to keep the mother-child bond intact. She recently reconnected with her birth mom and both she and her birth mom are happy functional and successful adults now. My mom is still floundering. So, kinship care has its own set of issues and no one answer will be right for anyone.

Annie G.: Polynesian culture embraces this. There is a word, “hānai,” for when someone has a baby and isn’t ready to parent, and so allows the baby to be raised by relatives until they get it together. There is absolutely no stigma, and all the kids, “keiki,” refer to all adults as “aunti” and “uncle.” I LOVED this aspect of living in Hawaii.

Marilyn M.: Years ago I remember that a neighbor took her friend’s child for several months as her friend was going through postpartum depression issues and would not even hold the baby. Over the course of 3-4 months, the mother and father visited the baby and the mother gradually began to bond with her baby. Eventually the mother was able to take care of the child more & more and then the child went home to live. My friend had bonded with the baby during this time and it was hard to let her go, but she always hoped her friend would heal and be the mother. I think years ago, families often times did help one another. Now we are all too often apart in actual miles, or emotional connections.


Beth H.: My daughter was pregnant at 17, so we are raising her daughter together. It saddens me that this is not the go-to solution for most families. BTW, all my my pro-choice acquaintances and family members said that I should kick her out. All my pro-life friends and family members offered to help.


Sarah T.: I’ve seen two foster family situations happen in exactly this way, and it’s beautiful. And the children—now back with their mothers—have two families that love and value them.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash. Image description: Black-and-white photograph of an infant being bottle-fed. The faces of the baby and caregiver are obscured. 

Your Kinship Caregiving Stories

Last week’s article on kinship caregiving prompted a fantastic discussion on facebook, and many readers shared their personal experiences. In no particular order, here are a few of our favorites.

Cecilia B.: My family is an example of kinship care. I have temporary custody of my grandson because my daughter was unable to care for him. Of course it took me a few years to get that temporary custody even though he has lived with me since birth because we could not afford a lawyer. I had to do the research myself and do the paperwork and represent him myself. He is now 14 and he is still in my care. She was going to give him up for adoption to a family friend but when in Florida at the time we had what was called the scarlet letter law. She could not put him up for adoption without the father’s approval. The problem is that she didn’t know who the father was.


Misty P.: My sister-in-law became a teen mom; abortion was never on the table for her. My husband and I were initially going to adopt her baby, but at the last minute she saw some examples of that going very wrong, and the father was back in the picture, so she decided to try keeping the baby. They also went on to have a second one. Unfortunately that relationship was not very stable, and she has had a lot of trauma to work through. So we are now guardians of her two little ones until she’s healed and in a stable enough situation to take over care again. I think it’s going well, though it is challenging on several fronts!


Jenn Y.: My “sister” moved in one day when she was 16 from an abusive family foster house and she never left until graduation. She needed us for sure and we had the ability, so we responded.

Nicole T.: Me and my best friend were the products of teen pregnancy. My mom kept me, though most of my raising fell to my grandmother (kinship care). My best friend was adopted at birth. While I agree with some of the issues you have raised here for both the child and the birth mother and think that closed adoption, in particular, induces trauma for both, I assure you that I have the same “abandonment issues” as she did. Plus, the instability of being shuffled back and forth made me feel like my grandmother didn’t really want me either though, ultimately, her goal was to keep the mother-child bond intact. She recently reconnected with her birth mom and both she and her birth mom are happy functional and successful adults now. My mom is still floundering. So, kinship care has its own set of issues and no one answer will be right for anyone.

Annie G.: Polynesian culture embraces this. There is a word, “hānai,” for when someone has a baby and isn’t ready to parent, and so allows the baby to be raised by relatives until they get it together. There is absolutely no stigma, and all the kids, “keiki,” refer to all adults as “aunti” and “uncle.” I LOVED this aspect of living in Hawaii.

Marilyn M.: Years ago I remember that a neighbor took her friend’s child for several months as her friend was going through postpartum depression issues and would not even hold the baby. Over the course of 3-4 months, the mother and father visited the baby and the mother gradually began to bond with her baby. Eventually the mother was able to take care of the child more & more and then the child went home to live. My friend had bonded with the baby during this time and it was hard to let her go, but she always hoped her friend would heal and be the mother. I think years ago, families often times did help one another. Now we are all too often apart in actual miles, or emotional connections.


Beth H.: My daughter was pregnant at 17, so we are raising her daughter together. It saddens me that this is not the go-to solution for most families. BTW, all my my pro-choice acquaintances and family members said that I should kick her out. All my pro-life friends and family members offered to help.


Sarah T.: I’ve seen two foster family situations happen in exactly this way, and it’s beautiful. And the children—now back with their mothers—have two families that love and value them.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash. Image description: Black-and-white photograph of an infant being bottle-fed. The faces of the baby and caregiver are obscured. 

Instead of abortion or adoption, what about kinship caregiving?

Ask any midwife to list a book she read on her journey towards birth work, and she will undoubtedly mention Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery. Those who aren’t the naturalistic hippie types will definitely raise a brow at her use of “psychedelic” language and philosophy, but her work as a midwife can’t be dismissed. She and her team uncovered the lost American tradition of midwifery and home birth, using their humble practice on “The Farm” (their commune) to jump start a birth revolution that has helped women regain bodily autonomy and self-confidence in the maternity ward.

Within Spiritual Midwifery, one account shared in her collection of empowering birth stories involved something like a kinship adoption. It was one of a few such stories in entire book, but I was engrossed in this particular case for a single, profound reason:

The adoption was temporary, and the birth mother was heavily involved.

At the commune where Gaskin works and lives,
it’s common practice for neighbors, friends, and family to help one another
raise their children. If someone needs help, it is—quite literally—next door.
This was the case for baby Celeste. Her mother, Ginny, had for unexplained
reasons allowed the Farm midwives to place the baby in the care of Lois. Ginny
and Lois named their daughter together, and Ginny slowly reintegrated herself
into Celeste’s life from the time Celeste turned one until she was a little
over two years of age. The transition was seamless: Ginny even lived with Lois’
family on and off until she was ready to move out on her own. To this day, the story explains, they all continue to
have a “warm relationship.”

Similar stories of open adoption can be found
today—that is, the birth mother receives updates and communication about her
baby and the adoptive family. A favorite example of this kind of close contact
is the story of teen mom Kaleena, who pumped and
shipped breast milk to the family, knowing the health benefits for infants.
Even after the parents decided to wean the child, they assured her that they
would all keep in touch.
With that said, open adoption is still vastly
different from the experience of mothers like Lois and Ginny. In fact, even
with the significant improvements we have seen in terms of rights for birth mothers and their children,
there are still many who find themselves traumatized by the adoption process.
Sometimes it is a birth mother who was manipulated and pressured by a private
agency into “giving up” her baby. Other times, the
adopted children themselves
feel disconnected from their
past, due to incomplete information and possible trafficking cases that lead to
their “adoption.” Breaking stigmas and abuse surrounding adoption is
crucial to saving lives—for both parents and their children. But with
limitations and ongoing problems, what can we offer that is more holistic
and healing?
Click to enlarge
I find a part of that solution in the story of
Celeste and her two mothers. I prefer to call their arrangement “kinship caregiving” because, unlike adoption, the set up is temporary, and the phrase evokes an idea of domestic partnership and support. Neighborly
love, if you will. 
Adoption has paths and choices
worth defending and talking about, but it’s not perfect. It’s not the best
solution for every unplanned pregnancy where the birth mother is not ready to
parent, yet is traumatized through separation from her child after bonding
through pregnancy and birth. Or, perhaps the mother truly does want to keep her
child, but her immediate circumstances—even with help—could not allow her to parent responsibly. There are
horror stories of families being unjustly torn apart by the system, much of it related to systemic oppression of minorities.
One has to wonder—would a different kind of caregiving be a healthier
and safer approach for these families in need? Whether the child is newborn or
a teenager, there needs to be a better option than this trauma that occurs.
In those hard cases, it is not right to claim
that birth parents are selfish for wanting to keep their children. They are not irresponsible or cruel to want to be in their children’s lives as
their primary caregivers. To go against these natural, biological yearnings and
coerce people into placing their children for adoption is reminiscent of the days
of decades ago, during the “baby scoop” era. The prevailing
practice was “You’re an unfit parent? Then we’ll literally rip the baby from
your arms and you’ll never see them again. Yay adoption!” We still see this attitude. In fact, some people see it as such a
problem that they form
organizations to fight against it.
I firmly believe—not just as a pro-lifer but
also as a mother who has faced the threat of poverty and illness—that placing a
child for permanent adoption is not always the answer. It is preferable to abortion, but that doesn’t mean we should overly romanticize or downplay it. Of course a living
baby and safe mother are better than a dead baby and injured mother—but that should be the bare minimum, not the bar we live up to. In those
cases where a parent clearly wishes to be in his or her child’s life but can’t
do so for a while, the answer should be to allow a compassionate and friendly
person close to the parent to step in as guardian.
Women and girls in crisis pregnancies each
have their own reactions and unique fears to their situations.
One fear many share is the fear of birthing and parenting alone. They often don’t
know about the charities and organizations willing and ready to help,
and thus step into the abortion clinic or the adoption agency with little
bearings. With such harsh choices, they may also face the stigma from their inner
circle—a circle that fails to truly step in and help them with their
situation in a way that is healthy. This lack of support leads to unwanted
abortion and coerced adoption.
With all the legal systems and formal
exchanges found in traditional adoption, we are missing an option with more
heart and neighborly love. Our society is an individualistic one, and it hurts
families in ways that echo throughout our culture. This is an emptiness that no
legal system can ever heal or fill. It can only be filled with humanity, and that humanity should be found in the pro-life movement.
Even if we aren’t all in a position to adopt a
child (temporarily or permanently), there are ways we can implement a soft
type of kinship caregiving into our lives. Make the single postpartum mother
some frozen meals as she adjusts to parenting. Offer to clean and babysit for
that student parent so she can study and take a break. Donate breast milk
or formula to the family who can’t breastfeed but can’t afford formula. If you
are a close friend or family member to a parent in need, open your home and
heart to them, their children, or both. Guide over that little bundle of joy
while their parent is off preparing their hearts and minds
for their child. “Adopt” their child, but adopt the parent too.
This option is not the
answer to every problem we see today, but it could be what saves, nourishes,
and grows a life—lives like Ginny and Celeste, who had a Lois to adopt them.
May this one day be the new definition of a true kinship caregiving.



Today’s article is by guest author Virginia Pride.

Instead of abortion or adoption, what about kinship caregiving?

Ask any midwife to list a book she read on her journey towards birth work, and she will undoubtedly mention Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery. Those who aren’t the naturalistic hippie types will definitely raise a brow at her use of “psychedelic” language and philosophy, but her work as a midwife can’t be dismissed. She and her team uncovered the lost American tradition of midwifery and home birth, using their humble practice on “The Farm” (their commune) to jump start a birth revolution that has helped women regain bodily autonomy and self-confidence in the maternity ward.

Within Spiritual Midwifery, one account shared in her collection of empowering birth stories involved something like a kinship adoption. It was one of a few such stories in entire book, but I was engrossed in this particular case for a single, profound reason:

The adoption was temporary, and the birth mother was heavily involved.

At the commune where Gaskin works and lives,
it’s common practice for neighbors, friends, and family to help one another
raise their children. If someone needs help, it is—quite literally—next door.
This was the case for baby Celeste. Her mother, Ginny, had for unexplained
reasons allowed the Farm midwives to place the baby in the care of Lois. Ginny
and Lois named their daughter together, and Ginny slowly reintegrated herself
into Celeste’s life from the time Celeste turned one until she was a little
over two years of age. The transition was seamless: Ginny even lived with Lois’
family on and off until she was ready to move out on her own. To this day, the story explains, they all continue to
have a “warm relationship.”

Similar stories of open adoption can be found
today—that is, the birth mother receives updates and communication about her
baby and the adoptive family. A favorite example of this kind of close contact
is the story of teen mom Kaleena, who pumped and
shipped breast milk to the family, knowing the health benefits for infants.
Even after the parents decided to wean the child, they assured her that they
would all keep in touch.
With that said, open adoption is still vastly
different from the experience of mothers like Lois and Ginny. In fact, even
with the significant improvements we have seen in terms of rights for birth mothers and their children,
there are still many who find themselves traumatized by the adoption process.
Sometimes it is a birth mother who was manipulated and pressured by a private
agency into “giving up” her baby. Other times, the
adopted children themselves
feel disconnected from their
past, due to incomplete information and possible trafficking cases that lead to
their “adoption.” Breaking stigmas and abuse surrounding adoption is
crucial to saving lives—for both parents and their children. But with
limitations and ongoing problems, what can we offer that is more holistic
and healing?
Click to enlarge
I find a part of that solution in the story of
Celeste and her two mothers. I prefer to call their arrangement “kinship caregiving” because, unlike adoption, the set up is temporary, and the phrase evokes an idea of domestic partnership and support. Neighborly
love, if you will. 
Adoption has paths and choices
worth defending and talking about, but it’s not perfect. It’s not the best
solution for every unplanned pregnancy where the birth mother is not ready to
parent, yet is traumatized through separation from her child after bonding
through pregnancy and birth. Or, perhaps the mother truly does want to keep her
child, but her immediate circumstances—even with help—could not allow her to parent responsibly. There are
horror stories of families being unjustly torn apart by the system, much of it related to systemic oppression of minorities.
One has to wonder—would a different kind of caregiving be a healthier
and safer approach for these families in need? Whether the child is newborn or
a teenager, there needs to be a better option than this trauma that occurs.
In those hard cases, it is not right to claim
that birth parents are selfish for wanting to keep their children. They are not irresponsible or cruel to want to be in their children’s lives as
their primary caregivers. To go against these natural, biological yearnings and
coerce people into placing their children for adoption is reminiscent of the days
of decades ago, during the “baby scoop” era. The prevailing
practice was “You’re an unfit parent? Then we’ll literally rip the baby from
your arms and you’ll never see them again. Yay adoption!” We still see this attitude. In fact, some people see it as such a
problem that they form
organizations to fight against it.
I firmly believe—not just as a pro-lifer but
also as a mother who has faced the threat of poverty and illness—that placing a
child for permanent adoption is not always the answer. It is preferable to abortion, but that doesn’t mean we should overly romanticize or downplay it. Of course a living
baby and safe mother are better than a dead baby and injured mother—but that should be the bare minimum, not the bar we live up to. In those
cases where a parent clearly wishes to be in his or her child’s life but can’t
do so for a while, the answer should be to allow a compassionate and friendly
person close to the parent to step in as guardian.
Women and girls in crisis pregnancies each
have their own reactions and unique fears to their situations.
One fear many share is the fear of birthing and parenting alone. They often don’t
know about the charities and organizations willing and ready to help,
and thus step into the abortion clinic or the adoption agency with little
bearings. With such harsh choices, they may also face the stigma from their inner
circle—a circle that fails to truly step in and help them with their
situation in a way that is healthy. This lack of support leads to unwanted
abortion and coerced adoption.
With all the legal systems and formal
exchanges found in traditional adoption, we are missing an option with more
heart and neighborly love. Our society is an individualistic one, and it hurts
families in ways that echo throughout our culture. This is an emptiness that no
legal system can ever heal or fill. It can only be filled with humanity, and that humanity should be found in the pro-life movement.
Even if we aren’t all in a position to adopt a
child (temporarily or permanently), there are ways we can implement a soft
type of kinship caregiving into our lives. Make the single postpartum mother
some frozen meals as she adjusts to parenting. Offer to clean and babysit for
that student parent so she can study and take a break. Donate breast milk
or formula to the family who can’t breastfeed but can’t afford formula. If you
are a close friend or family member to a parent in need, open your home and
heart to them, their children, or both. Guide over that little bundle of joy
while their parent is off preparing their hearts and minds
for their child. “Adopt” their child, but adopt the parent too.
This option is not the
answer to every problem we see today, but it could be what saves, nourishes,
and grows a life—lives like Ginny and Celeste, who had a Lois to adopt them.
May this one day be the new definition of a true kinship caregiving.



Today’s article is by guest author Virginia Pride.

We asked, you answered: What are the top facts you wish people understood about either foster care or adoption?

We asked our followers what they wish people understood about adoption and foster care and got some insightful answers:

On differences between adoption and foster care:

Honestly, just getting across the fact that they aren’t the same thing would be a step in the right direction. – Michael B.

They aren’t the same thing and aren’t meant to be. – Jamie J.

Foster care is not there for adoption and adoption is a long, expensive process with a waiting list. When putting a baby up for adoption the mother picks the family while she is still pregnant. You can’t just walk into a foster home and be like “I want to adopt that child.” They would tell you no because they are working to get that child back to their family. Foster care and adoption are not the same thing. – Desere O.

I would say that giving up a baby for adoption does not mean foster care. It means a private adoption agency, and everything is taken care of. One can choose to pick the parents or not, and one can choose to have an open adoption or not. I think most pregnant women fear that the child will go to foster care. – Shannon F.

If you’re pregnant and don’t want to raise your baby, you can handpick a couple to adopt him or her. He or she is not going into the foster care system. That’s not what it’s designed for. – Jamie L. (foster mother)

There are over 30 couples waiting to adopt for every 1 child that is put up for adoption. Babies generally do not lack homes and do not go into foster care at birth due to lack of a home. – Carissa J.

On adoption:

Adoption isn’t a magic wand. It hurts. Your first reaction when someone is facing a crisis pregnancy shouldn’t be to pressure them into adoption any more than it should be to pressure them into abortion. Whatever your intent, pressuring pregnant women to do what you think is best is harmful and unsupportive. – Sarah Y.

Adoption is a lot harder than people think. Honoring the birth parents is the right thing to do for the children as well as the birth parents. You can honor the role the birth parents played even if they weren’t great role models. They gave life to your kids, honor that. – Karis J.

Adoption is not a simple alternative to abortion. Many birth parents were instead torn between parenting and adoption, not adoption or abortion. Stop thanking birth moms for choosing life without knowing their story just because you assume the only other option was abortion. – Amber J.

  • Open adoptions are not legally enforceable and have been known to be closed by insecure adoptive parents. [Editor’s note: this can vary by state.]
  • Adoption causes trauma to the child and mother and extended family (siblings, grandparents, etc) even if the child is placed with the loveliest family.
  • You will grieve the loss of your child placed for adoption. 
  • There are a lot of organisations that will help you keep your family intact – help you finish school, help you with child care, help with accommodation. Adoption should be the very last resort before all possibilities of parenting the child yourself are explored, because there is much grief in family separation.

This is a good list by Saving Our Sisters – who helps families considering adoption explore all the options and be fully informed of their decision before making the very permanent decision to sign away parental rights to their children: “Facts professionals don’t disclose to expectant parents.” – Malessa B.

All adoption starts with loss. For the bio parent and for the child. All my kids are adopted so I know this first hand. You have to stop just tossing it around like it’s the easiest thing in the world to go through. And if you are an AP or FP [adoptive parent or foster parent] you better be educating yourself on all these issues and more. You owe it to your babies. – Louanne M.

People don’t give away a child. You make a plan for the best life for your kiddo. Sometimes that plan includes other people full time and forever. Open adoption let’s a person be a small part of the plan. No one is disposable. – Jennifer M.

On foster care:

The idea that no one cares about foster kids is a huge misconception. There are people waiting to adopt older kids (not just newborns). Kids in foster care are matched according to their specific needs with adoptive parents. It’s not like when they first come into foster care where their first priority is just finding them a safe place to sleep. A lot of thought goes into ensuring that they get the adoptive match right so that they make sure it’s forever. Kids are waiting, families are waiting, it’s not a simple process. A lot of children in foster care aren’t even legally free for adoption. You don’t just decide to adopt from foster care and pick a kid out of a catalog. – Laura R.

Your politicians taking kids from situations that are objectively better than the foster care system is neither something to be proud of nor justification for killing babies. – Jarland D.

Many children in foster care should not have been taken from their families. Those children suffer as if they had been kidnapped. – Rita G.

Foster kids aren’t in care because they did something wrong. I was shocked that people thought this until we announced we were adopting. I was surprised how often we were asked what was wrong with them. – Emily C.

Like (almost) everything else, the foster care system has many good people with great intentions to love and care for kids. – Karen T.

Being part of a successful family reunification (as a foster parent) is one of the most satisfying things you could ever do. – Lori S.

Birth parents still have legal rights over a child in foster care, so they can’t simply be adopted. – Stephanie R. (This point was echoed by many commenters.)

Foster kids are awaiting the return of family that did not abort and did not give up on them. Typically in treatment or doing time. It’s temporary and they are not up for adoption. – Kelly F.

There aren’t “thousands of abandoned, unwanted and available children” in foster care. The vast majority of children in foster care are there temporarily. One of the major goals of the foster care system is to reunite children with their families. I’m an adoptive mom, in an open adoption. – Louise C.

And lastly…

So many people never mention that they were adopted or spent time in foster care as a child. It just doesn’t come up or they don’t want to talk about it or might not even know themselves. But pro-choice people talk like no one adopts and no one fosters. As a child my cousin, a neighbor, and then my middle school best friend were adopted. My high school best friend had been in foster. My husband was adopted. These people are everywhere, adoption and fostering touch so many more lives than some people ever notice. – Emilie M.

We asked, you answered: What are the top facts you wish people understood about either foster care or adoption?

We asked our followers what they wish people understood about adoption and foster care and got some insightful answers:

On differences between adoption and foster care:

Honestly, just getting across the fact that they aren’t the same thing would be a step in the right direction. – Michael B.

They aren’t the same thing and aren’t meant to be. – Jamie J.

Foster care is not there for adoption and adoption is a long, expensive process with a waiting list. When putting a baby up for adoption the mother picks the family while she is still pregnant. You can’t just walk into a foster home and be like “I want to adopt that child.” They would tell you no because they are working to get that child back to their family. Foster care and adoption are not the same thing. – Desere O.

I would say that giving up a baby for adoption does not mean foster care. It means a private adoption agency, and everything is taken care of. One can choose to pick the parents or not, and one can choose to have an open adoption or not. I think most pregnant women fear that the child will go to foster care. – Shannon F.

If you’re pregnant and don’t want to raise your baby, you can handpick a couple to adopt him or her. He or she is not going into the foster care system. That’s not what it’s designed for. – Jamie L. (foster mother)

There are over 30 couples waiting to adopt for every 1 child that is put up for adoption. Babies generally do not lack homes and do not go into foster care at birth due to lack of a home. – Carissa J.

On adoption:

Adoption isn’t a magic wand. It hurts. Your first reaction when someone is facing a crisis pregnancy shouldn’t be to pressure them into adoption any more than it should be to pressure them into abortion. Whatever your intent, pressuring pregnant women to do what you think is best is harmful and unsupportive. – Sarah Y.

Adoption is a lot harder than people think. Honoring the birth parents is the right thing to do for the children as well as the birth parents. You can honor the role the birth parents played even if they weren’t great role models. They gave life to your kids, honor that. – Karis J.

Adoption is not a simple alternative to abortion. Many birth parents were instead torn between parenting and adoption, not adoption or abortion. Stop thanking birth moms for choosing life without knowing their story just because you assume the only other option was abortion. – Amber J.

  • Open adoptions are not legally enforceable and have been known to be closed by insecure adoptive parents. [Editor’s note: this can vary by state.]
  • Adoption causes trauma to the child and mother and extended family (siblings, grandparents, etc) even if the child is placed with the loveliest family.
  • You will grieve the loss of your child placed for adoption. 
  • There are a lot of organisations that will help you keep your family intact – help you finish school, help you with child care, help with accommodation. Adoption should be the very last resort before all possibilities of parenting the child yourself are explored, because there is much grief in family separation.

This is a good list by Saving Our Sisters – who helps families considering adoption explore all the options and be fully informed of their decision before making the very permanent decision to sign away parental rights to their children: “Facts professionals don’t disclose to expectant parents.” – Malessa B.

All adoption starts with loss. For the bio parent and for the child. All my kids are adopted so I know this first hand. You have to stop just tossing it around like it’s the easiest thing in the world to go through. And if you are an AP or FP [adoptive parent or foster parent] you better be educating yourself on all these issues and more. You owe it to your babies. – Louanne M.

People don’t give away a child. You make a plan for the best life for your kiddo. Sometimes that plan includes other people full time and forever. Open adoption let’s a person be a small part of the plan. No one is disposable. – Jennifer M.

On foster care:

The idea that no one cares about foster kids is a huge misconception. There are people waiting to adopt older kids (not just newborns). Kids in foster care are matched according to their specific needs with adoptive parents. It’s not like when they first come into foster care where their first priority is just finding them a safe place to sleep. A lot of thought goes into ensuring that they get the adoptive match right so that they make sure it’s forever. Kids are waiting, families are waiting, it’s not a simple process. A lot of children in foster care aren’t even legally free for adoption. You don’t just decide to adopt from foster care and pick a kid out of a catalog. – Laura R.

Your politicians taking kids from situations that are objectively better than the foster care system is neither something to be proud of nor justification for killing babies. – Jarland D.

Many children in foster care should not have been taken from their families. Those children suffer as if they had been kidnapped. – Rita G.

Foster kids aren’t in care because they did something wrong. I was shocked that people thought this until we announced we were adopting. I was surprised how often we were asked what was wrong with them. – Emily C.

Like (almost) everything else, the foster care system has many good people with great intentions to love and care for kids. – Karen T.

Being part of a successful family reunification (as a foster parent) is one of the most satisfying things you could ever do. – Lori S.

Birth parents still have legal rights over a child in foster care, so they can’t simply be adopted. – Stephanie R. (This point was echoed by many commenters.)

Foster kids are awaiting the return of family that did not abort and did not give up on them. Typically in treatment or doing time. It’s temporary and they are not up for adoption. – Kelly F.

There aren’t “thousands of abandoned, unwanted and available children” in foster care. The vast majority of children in foster care are there temporarily. One of the major goals of the foster care system is to reunite children with their families. I’m an adoptive mom, in an open adoption. – Louise C.

And lastly…

So many people never mention that they were adopted or spent time in foster care as a child. It just doesn’t come up or they don’t want to talk about it or might not even know themselves. But pro-choice people talk like no one adopts and no one fosters. As a child my cousin, a neighbor, and then my middle school best friend were adopted. My high school best friend had been in foster. My husband was adopted. These people are everywhere, adoption and fostering touch so many more lives than some people ever notice. – Emilie M.

The people whose lives you suggest aren’t worth living? They can hear you.

[The original FB post where we collected these answers can be found here.
We’ve since created a FB album with more such perspectives here.]

Recently, “The Good Place” star Jameela Jamil tweeted the following:

Text reads: “I had an abortion when I was young, and it was the best decision I have ever made. Both for me, and for the baby I didn’t want, and wasn’t ready for, emotionally, psychologically and financially. So many children will end up in foster homes. So many lives ruined. So very cruel.”
As we’ve discussed before, it’s one thing to argue for abortion for the sake of the woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant/bear a child; it’s quite another to argue abortion is in the best interest of the human being aborted. But Jamil is definitely not alone in believing abortion is a mercy. We hear sentiments like her own frequently:
Text reads: “Ending abortion will bring nothing but pain. Not only for women, but for children. Children will be born to parents who can’t afford them, parents who aren’t ready, or they will live their lives in foster care. More poor kids, more abused kids, more traumatized kids.”

Text reads: “hi there are thousands of neglected children in foster care, it’s more brutal to put them into the system than to abort them before they’re even a life.”

Text reads: “Unpopular opinion: I’d rather have my tax dollars fund a $600 abortion than my tax dollars support a child growing up in the system for 18 years never knowing what it’s like to be loved or cared for.”
These views prioritize abortion over foster care, but we’ve seen similar sentiments prioritizing abortion over a life with disabilities or generally being poor, etc. Those advocating for abortion as mercy rarely seem interested in the voices they are allegedly advocating on behalf of–the very people who have grown up in foster care or lived with disabilities or poverty. So in this post we try to amplify some of those voices.
Video of Frank Stephens’ testimony before Congress regarding abortion in the case of Down Syndrome. “I don’t feel I should have to justify my existence.”
Text reads: “I was put up for adoption by my birth mother because she knew she couldn’t financially care for me. She ignored the pressure from family to abort, and chose to give me life. I thank god for her selflessness every day. Because of her my two beautiful girls exist.”

Text reads: “My mom was told to abort me because she got pregnant with me at 19 with no job, and the doctors insisted I would be severely disabled. The nurses essentially begged my mother to abort me after saying I would be ‘slower than the other kids.’ She didn’t, and it turns out I am autistic. But I’m about to graduate university with a first in physics and a grad scheme already lined up. I’m the first in my family to go to university for a STEM subject. My mom tells me I’m the best thing that ever happened to her. F*** those nurses and doctors who thought me being disabled made me worth less. I’m not better off dead!”

Text reads: “I was a textbook abortion case…child of rape. Mother couldn’t afford me, dad not in the picture. No money. No family. Failure to thrive in the womb. I get to write this Tweet because my mom chose life. I thank God every day for it. Murder is not a human right. #AlabamaAbortionBan.”
Text reads: “As a product of the statutory rape of a 14 year old…and also adopted…I can assure you that comments about what an atrocity, a burden and an injustice it must have been for my birth mother NOT to have killed me…and then laughing at the solution of adoption…is extremely dehumanizing and hurtful. It sends a very loud message that my life is less valuable than others, and that not only was the pregnancy unwanted but that I as a person am also not wanted.”

Text reads: “I’m a 20-year-old woman with spina bifida myelomeningocele. I live with chronic pain & illness, which have helped me to love more deeply. While I’m not obligated to prove that I deserve the right to life, I’m happy to say I live a beautiful one, and I am not better off dead.”
Text reads: “As an adoptee, don’t you dare presume to speak for me. Knowing the true, self-sacrificing love my birthmother had for me has only strengthened by pro-life beliefs. My life was never an option for her. It’s appalling anyone would believe another person’s life is optional.”
Text reads: “‘Abortion is better than leaving these kids in the foster care system.’ Well, I was in foster care. Are you saying my birth mother should have killed me instead?”
Text reads: “Having spent my entire childhood in foster care, I feel physically SICK every time I see a tweet saying we are all basically better off dead.”
Text reads: “‘Feminists’ have been telling my autistic little sister and I all day that we aren’t convenient enough to exist right now, because we were born to a drug addicted single mother and different fathers. But our biological mother chose LIFE. I will not stay silent. #Adopted.”
Text reads: “You know, I did actually hear ‘But how much of that suffering would you have been spared if your mum *had* decided not to have you?’ How do you even respond to that? It was meant with all the care in the world, but…damn.”

Text reads: “As a kid in foster care, I can tell you I would rather be where I am right here with my foster family rather than being aborted and not being able to love. To live. To meet new people and to grow.”

Text reads: “People are saying my mom should have aborted us so we wouldn’t have went through foster care and that’s absolutely crazy. Never kill a baby because you think their life will be tough. Give them a chance. That tough life has made me a strong and wise young man.”

Text reads: [Jameela Jamil’s original tweet followed by] “Wow. I was a foster kid. Even though I have some deep wound, my life has turned out beautifully. I’m truly saddened by this and just so disappointed. My wounds are so sorth the life I live – and *love* – today. Just so worth it.”

Text reads: “Best decision?? You have ever made? That is not right. I was adopted into a rough home with a lot of mental illness – but I am so glad I’m alive, and turned it around to bring two other great people into the world. Thank you to the mom out there who didn’t think like you.”

(Click to enlarge.)
Text reads: [Original “unpopular opinion tweet, followed by multiple comments:]

“Wow I’m sure every kid in foster care feels great after reading this…”

“Eh this post is kind of embarrassing and offensive. Pro-choicers are starting to make it seem like all kids in foster care have lives that are complete shit and don’t grow up to be great people and do great things. They have aspirations, hopes and dreams and desires just like anyone else. Many of them find great families and wouldn’t change their lives for anything. Those kids and adults that are or were in foster care have to keep seeing stuff like this that is basically strangers saying they would rather them be dead.”

“I’m a foster child and I feel highly offended.”

“I am pro-choice, however, as a child raised in the system, who was constantly moved from home to home, this post is so off base. If you’re so concerned about children living in bad homes and not feeling loved, go be a foster parent and show those kids love and what a good home is.”

“I was in foster care most of my childhood. It’s not all bad. I’m happy to be alive, thanks.”
Text reads: [Original “ending abortion will bring nothing but pain” tweet, followed by:] “I was terribly abused and grew up in a single-parent welfare home. Stop using lives like mine for validation. Because I like my life, warts and all–and you know what would’ve helped when I was a child? If pro-choice people stopped insisting people like me were better off dead.”
Often when people speak out about their lives and their worth, pro-choice people will respond with something like “No one is saying you’re better off dead. We’re only saying that women should have a choice.” But if you read through these conversations again, you can see that’s not the case. The argument is not merely that abortion is necessary for the sake of the woman; the argument is also that abortion is better for the sake of the human being aborted. If abortion is supposed to be a better outcome for the child than being born into poverty, disability, foster care, etc., then the argument very much is that these people would be better off dead or having never lived. And it makes sense for all people in these circumstances to take that argument personally.
Further Reading:
Top recommended:
More:

The people whose lives you suggest aren’t worth living? They can hear you.

[The original FB post where we collected these answers can be found here.
We’ve since created a FB album with more such perspectives here.]

Recently, “The Good Place” star Jameela Jamil tweeted the following:

Text reads: “I had an abortion when I was young, and it was the best decision I have ever made. Both for me, and for the baby I didn’t want, and wasn’t ready for, emotionally, psychologically and financially. So many children will end up in foster homes. So many lives ruined. So very cruel.”
As we’ve discussed before, it’s one thing to argue for abortion for the sake of the woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant/bear a child; it’s quite another to argue abortion is in the best interest of the human being aborted. But Jamil is definitely not alone in believing abortion is a mercy. We hear sentiments like her own frequently:
Text reads: “Ending abortion will bring nothing but pain. Not only for women, but for children. Children will be born to parents who can’t afford them, parents who aren’t ready, or they will live their lives in foster care. More poor kids, more abused kids, more traumatized kids.”

Text reads: “hi there are thousands of neglected children in foster care, it’s more brutal to put them into the system than to abort them before they’re even a life.”

Text reads: “Unpopular opinion: I’d rather have my tax dollars fund a $600 abortion than my tax dollars support a child growing up in the system for 18 years never knowing what it’s like to be loved or cared for.”
These views prioritize abortion over foster care, but we’ve seen similar sentiments prioritizing abortion over a life with disabilities or generally being poor, etc. Those advocating for abortion as mercy rarely seem interested in the voices they are allegedly advocating on behalf of–the very people who have grown up in foster care or lived with disabilities or poverty. So in this post we try to amplify some of those voices.
Video of Frank Stephens’ testimony before Congress regarding abortion in the case of Down Syndrome. “I don’t feel I should have to justify my existence.”
Text reads: “I was put up for adoption by my birth mother because she knew she couldn’t financially care for me. She ignored the pressure from family to abort, and chose to give me life. I thank god for her selflessness every day. Because of her my two beautiful girls exist.”

Text reads: “My mom was told to abort me because she got pregnant with me at 19 with no job, and the doctors insisted I would be severely disabled. The nurses essentially begged my mother to abort me after saying I would be ‘slower than the other kids.’ She didn’t, and it turns out I am autistic. But I’m about to graduate university with a first in physics and a grad scheme already lined up. I’m the first in my family to go to university for a STEM subject. My mom tells me I’m the best thing that ever happened to her. F*** those nurses and doctors who thought me being disabled made me worth less. I’m not better off dead!”

Text reads: “I was a textbook abortion case…child of rape. Mother couldn’t afford me, dad not in the picture. No money. No family. Failure to thrive in the womb. I get to write this Tweet because my mom chose life. I thank God every day for it. Murder is not a human right. #AlabamaAbortionBan.”
Text reads: “As a product of the statutory rape of a 14 year old…and also adopted…I can assure you that comments about what an atrocity, a burden and an injustice it must have been for my birth mother NOT to have killed me…and then laughing at the solution of adoption…is extremely dehumanizing and hurtful. It sends a very loud message that my life is less valuable than others, and that not only was the pregnancy unwanted but that I as a person am also not wanted.”

Text reads: “I’m a 20-year-old woman with spina bifida myelomeningocele. I live with chronic pain & illness, which have helped me to love more deeply. While I’m not obligated to prove that I deserve the right to life, I’m happy to say I live a beautiful one, and I am not better off dead.”
Text reads: “As an adoptee, don’t you dare presume to speak for me. Knowing the true, self-sacrificing love my birthmother had for me has only strengthened by pro-life beliefs. My life was never an option for her. It’s appalling anyone would believe another person’s life is optional.”
Text reads: “‘Abortion is better than leaving these kids in the foster care system.’ Well, I was in foster care. Are you saying my birth mother should have killed me instead?”
Text reads: “Having spent my entire childhood in foster care, I feel physically SICK every time I see a tweet saying we are all basically better off dead.”
Text reads: “‘Feminists’ have been telling my autistic little sister and I all day that we aren’t convenient enough to exist right now, because we were born to a drug addicted single mother and different fathers. But our biological mother chose LIFE. I will not stay silent. #Adopted.”
Text reads: “You know, I did actually hear ‘But how much of that suffering would you have been spared if your mum *had* decided not to have you?’ How do you even respond to that? It was meant with all the care in the world, but…damn.”

Text reads: “As a kid in foster care, I can tell you I would rather be where I am right here with my foster family rather than being aborted and not being able to love. To live. To meet new people and to grow.”

Text reads: “People are saying my mom should have aborted us so we wouldn’t have went through foster care and that’s absolutely crazy. Never kill a baby because you think their life will be tough. Give them a chance. That tough life has made me a strong and wise young man.”

Text reads: [Jameela Jamil’s original tweet followed by] “Wow. I was a foster kid. Even though I have some deep wound, my life has turned out beautifully. I’m truly saddened by this and just so disappointed. My wounds are so sorth the life I live – and *love* – today. Just so worth it.”

Text reads: “Best decision?? You have ever made? That is not right. I was adopted into a rough home with a lot of mental illness – but I am so glad I’m alive, and turned it around to bring two other great people into the world. Thank you to the mom out there who didn’t think like you.”

(Click to enlarge.)
Text reads: [Original “unpopular opinion tweet, followed by multiple comments:]

“Wow I’m sure every kid in foster care feels great after reading this…”

“Eh this post is kind of embarrassing and offensive. Pro-choicers are starting to make it seem like all kids in foster care have lives that are complete shit and don’t grow up to be great people and do great things. They have aspirations, hopes and dreams and desires just like anyone else. Many of them find great families and wouldn’t change their lives for anything. Those kids and adults that are or were in foster care have to keep seeing stuff like this that is basically strangers saying they would rather them be dead.”

“I’m a foster child and I feel highly offended.”

“I am pro-choice, however, as a child raised in the system, who was constantly moved from home to home, this post is so off base. If you’re so concerned about children living in bad homes and not feeling loved, go be a foster parent and show those kids love and what a good home is.”

“I was in foster care most of my childhood. It’s not all bad. I’m happy to be alive, thanks.”
Text reads: [Original “ending abortion will bring nothing but pain” tweet, followed by:] “I was terribly abused and grew up in a single-parent welfare home. Stop using lives like mine for validation. Because I like my life, warts and all–and you know what would’ve helped when I was a child? If pro-choice people stopped insisting people like me were better off dead.”
Often when people speak out about their lives and their worth, pro-choice people will respond with something like “No one is saying you’re better off dead. We’re only saying that women should have a choice.” But if you read through these conversations again, you can see that’s not the case. The argument is not merely that abortion is necessary for the sake of the woman; the argument is also that abortion is better for the sake of the human being aborted. If abortion is supposed to be a better outcome for the child than being born into poverty, disability, foster care, etc., then the argument very much is that these people would be better off dead or having never lived. And it makes sense for all people in these circumstances to take that argument personally.
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