Photo by PedroSimoes7 via Creative Commons
I know a young woman who’s about to give birth.
She is not married.
She made the decision early on to keep the baby and raise it with or without the father.
Some of her family members are not in support of her decision.
They have called her silly, misguided and disillusioned. Not to her face, but to one another. Why? She is not married. According to the family’s faith, babies should not be reared outside of wedlock. Period. In fact, the sin began before the point of conception. She should have remained chaste until her wedding night. That’s the order of things. Their words, not mine.
While I agree that entering motherhood as a single woman cannot be the easy route, I admire her decision to take responsibility.
When her family does things like call her foolhardy,when they do things like boycott her baby shower because “the whole thing is inappropriate,” I ask two questions:
1. Why punish an innocent baby because you hold the mother in judgment?
2. Would you approve of the alternatives: adoption or abortion?
There is no choice once an egg is fertilized and implanted in the uterus but to make a choice. You either go forward and commit, go to an adoption agency, or go to an abortion clinic. Well, I guess there is a fourth option, but I won’t go there in this post.
I know that I would not have been ready to be a mother at 20. I was barely able to wrap my mind around the idea at 29. Once I knew I had a beating heart inside my body, I knew I had to make a choice. I chose to keep my baby and raise it.
Was I married at the time? I was. Does it sound odd that I considered alternatives? Being within the bounds of marriage did not guarantee anything to me. I was not concerned about sinning. Maybe the sin, if you want to entertain that idea, was being careless in a marriage that was on unstable ground. What good to a baby is a bad marriage? What good to a baby is a father who’s more interested in continuing his college-student lifestyle? What good to a baby is a mother in a low-paying job who has no choice but to relinquish her child to strangers for 8 hours a day? What good to a baby is a marriage where the mother and father fight rather than show love? The way some people think, a bad marriage with a lazy father and an unprepared mother is far superior to a single mother who is ready, willing and able.
Would this young woman’s family be happier if she’d placed the baby for adoption or elected to abort? These choices keep things tidy for the extended family for sure, but not for the baby or the mother.
Adoption is not a closed door. I have my beautiful baby No. 2 thanks to her birth mother and father. Their pain is my gain. Not a day goes by that I don’t acknowledge that my joy has an emotional price tag. Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder when my Girl from the East will ask where her Chinese mother is. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her Chinese mother gazing at the horizon outside her rural village, or at the hazy skyline outside her high-rise apartment, wondering where in the world her baby girl is now.
Abortion ends a pregnancy but it does not negate its existence. While I have not made the choice to end a pregnancy — nature did that for me — every January 21st I wonder about the baby that got away, the one that would be 9 years old today, the one I am convinced would have been a boy. I remain pro-choice, but that experience changed my view on the procedure. One day you are pregnant. The next you are not. You do not go back to who you were before that. A clean uterus is not a clean slate.
They say she has no idea what’s in store for her. I say even the most prepared woman with an amazing partner, financial security and the means to deal with any contingency can be sucker-punched by the arrival of a baby.
All I see is this young woman filled with optimism and joy over the impending birth of her baby. She has, thankfully, some family members and friends committed to helping her in this transitional period.
Happy Mother’s Day to this young woman and to mothers everywhere, no matter what choice you made in this life.