Of course the answer is yes.
Let me be clear. I love my birth mother. I’m deeply grateful she gave me
life. I found her in 2016 after years of looking. Because I was finally ready.
My mother is seriously gush-worthy. A remarkable woman filled with love and
grace and indomitable strength. Smart, funny, one of the most thoughtful people
I’ve ever meant. I couldn’t ask for a better mother-child reunion.
And with my spectacular mother came three half-siblings, two aunts, an
uncle, cousins, nieces, nephews and family friends. A close-knit tribe
who embraced me from day one. No questions asked.
I’m not overstating. These reunions can go south pretty fast. People don’t
trust intentions, someone gets jealous, drama ensues, who they hell are you
after all these years? Ugliness. But these are some really nice people who
I’m proud to share DNA.
I’m lucky to carry my mother’s genes. I see myself in her. Passionate,
chatty, curious, always up for a laugh, animal and nature lover, enthusiastic
She was only 17 when she had me. A thriving senior in high school headed to a
top-ranked college. Her whole life ahead of her. The time was 1964, long before
abortion was an option. Even if it were an option, my mother was too far along.
I won’t get into the grit of her story because the details are hers. I will
say that before we met, before I even knew my mother’s name, I requested information
about her and my father (apparently longtime friends) from my adoption agency.
And to my surprise, three detailed pages, without names, showed up in my mailbox.
But even before I knew anything about my mother, I was vehemently
pro-choice simply because my adopted father told me I’d been given up for
When I was old enough to understand what being an unwed mother meant, I
pictured a young woman (I guessed) and all that she had to endure in 1964.
My adopted family was socially liberal. My father a Republican and agnostic,
my mother a Democrat and Methodist (later Presbyterian). I had zero hell fire
conservative brimstone growing up. Nare a story about the sanctity of the fetus
or the non-sanctity. My brothers and sisters all just knew: don’t get knocked
up. College awaits you or else.
The adoption agency paperwork revealed that my mother took care of me in a maternity
home for ten days before I went to a foster, then adopted family. I can’t
imagine caring for my daughter for 10 days then handing her over. Until the pain
softened I’d probably wish I were dead. I’d never recover.
For as long as I can remember, a woman’s right to choose has felt
monumentally important to respecting women as half the population.
The issue makes me stomping mad because of the absolute gall of men
(and women) to decide a woman’s body and her livelihood. The patriarchy of the
whole thing infuriates me into near madness.
It launched me into my first bumper sticker in my late 20’s, “My body, my
choice” that my fiancé begged me to remove. “Oh you’re definitely getting
keyed,” he’d warn.
The right to choose speaks through me as if I’m speaking through my
mother. Fortuntely I’ve never had to make the choice.
It’s an issue that speaks to me through all the unwed mother whose peers and
teachers and parents branded them with a scarlet slut in 1964.
This happened to my mother. Teachers gave her dirty looks. No one
“knew” because my mother was sent away, but they whispered and
pointed in the high school hallway when she returned.
My father (an amazing man who I met in 2016) was also a senior with his
whole life ahead of him. The report made it clear that my paternal and
maternal grandparents were of course, horrified.
But for men it was different back then. A stupid mistake, but you
know boys. Wink, wink, hush hush.
But for women, they allowed it to happen. Ladies don’t do such
things. And God knows, they don’t get pregnant.
So yes, I wished my mother had the choice to abort me without anyone knowing. If that’s what she wanted. I never felt abandoned by her. She was 17. But I wouldn’t feel abandoned by a mother of any age who was ill-equipped to care for me. That’s love, that’s not abandonment.
I still mourn what my mother went through. Pregnancy. Banishment. Missed
high school. The hell of labor and delivery. The ghosts of her child haunting her over
the span of fifty years. Shame thrown at her like a village stoning.
There’s been a few times when a loved one realized I was pro-choice and said to me genuinely perplexed, “But if your mother had an abortion we wouldn’t know you.”
Of course I thanked them. I know they meant well. They were telling me, listen
you nimrod, it’s good that you were born so we can know you and love you.
Otherwise we wouldn’t know you.
Just this weekend a male friend, very pro-life, told me after we briefly
discussed the Roe overturn, “But aren’t you glad you were born?”
Well yes, but that’s never been the point.
The truth is if I wasn’t born I wouldn’t know I wasn’t born. Loved ones
wouldn’t know I wasn’t born.
You’re not missed when you’re not known.
And if you believe in this sort of thing, I think I’d be born eventually. I mean no disrespect to my mother. My lip quivers and I tread carefully here. But I think eventually, I’d enter the realm of existence.
Much of what I write about explores accepting two opposite feelings, that if
you allow them, can co-exist peacefully.
I love my mother for giving me life and I wish she’d had the option to abort me. This doesn’t feel remotely at odds or weird.
I promise I don’t hate myself. I’m not grappling nor have I ever, with an
My half-sister is this beautiful, open, spirited warm soul. She calls it
like she sees it with humor but no meanness. She joked with me a few
months ago at a wedding that “You know, it’s because of you that my mom is so
pro-life.” I laughed and said, “Well, it’s because of her that I’m so
That’s all we needed to say. I still don’t know where my sister stands on
the issue. I don’t need to.
For obvious reasons I don’t talk to my mother about abortion. I knew from
day one how she felt. I know her heart and her religion call her to stand
firmly behind her position and are foundational to who she is. As my heart and
my religion call me to stand behind my position.
So yes of course I’m grateful my mother had me. I also wish she’d had the
option to abort me. Then. And now, for the future of all girls and