Embracing the positive option

by Annette Milanowski, birthmother

Every day abortion destroys lives, hearts stop beating, death comes uninvited to unborn children. There are some children who survive an unplanned pregnancy; their life was spared because someone chose hope over death. Who are these courageous people saving lives? Could they be a loved-one, a co-worker, a neighbor, maybe the cashier at the local store?

These individuals I write of are, like myself, birthmothers. They are women of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, and from all walks of life. Although different in many ways, they have one important thing in common: they are courageous individuals. They are individuals who regardless of the situation leading up to the conception of their children have chosen life.

The word "adoption" is a necessary part of our vocabulary. It's not unusual to discuss the adoption of a child. It's talked about on park benches, at social gatherings, Sunday mornings at church, even on radio and television shows. Congratulations are exchanged and beautiful blessings are directed toward the baby. What we seldom hear, however, are conversations about birthmothers.

In a crisis-pregnancy situation we too often, as a society, tell a young girl, "This is life existing in you. You have no right to terminate the pregnancy." Instead of bringing her close, we tend to push her away; we forget that it is birthmothers who make the decision to place babies into loving homes for adoption. At times when the adoption process is done, women who chose life over death are left to feel hopeless and discouraged.

There are few services available to support birthmothers. Because of the situation leading up to the pregnancy, whether premarital sex, rape, affair, or incest, we shake the finger at the "sin," and she is forced to believe the hopelessness and despair is the "lifetime punishment that she deserves."

The majority of the time a young woman in an unplanned pregnancy believes she has two options: terminate the pregnancy or raise the child. Abortion is believed to be a "quick and easy out."

The alternative, the choice to raise the child, is inconceivable for many young mothers. The reality of the consequences such as telling parents, interrupting lives, fear of hurting others, shame of the pregnancy, are enough to make abortion look like the easiest option.

But what if placing a child for adoption became a more viable third option? What if there was no shame or disgrace attached to being a birthmother? What if we, as a society, let go of the identity associated with a birthmother and focused on the choice she made to give life? Wouldn't this option be worth embracing if it meant the difference between women choosing to bring children into this world?

In the midst of all this admiration, what if women didn't fear the humiliation and rejection of adoption? Can you imagine the doors that would be opened, the wounds that would be healed, literally the hearts that would be saved, both that of the birthmother and of the unborn child?

If we are to take a stand for life, we must also be willing to take a stand for those who bravely choose it. We must embrace these women with acceptance, acknowledging them for their unselfish act of love. If we are to hold birthmothers in the utmost respect for the choice they have made, we must be willing to acknowledge and encourage them to seek the hope and peace that only the Lord allows.

Any loss in our life triggers grief. This is normal whether we are talking about the loss of a loved one or even a family pet. When one experiences the pain due to loss, it is essential that the grieving process begin in order for healing to take place. This is also true for a birthmother who releases a child for adoption.

When a birthmother is directly or indirectly forced into suppressing the feelings associated with the loss of releasing a child, she may begin to withdraw. Anger and bitterness may set in and, if not dealt with, could lead to such issues as depression, drug abuse or alcohol abuse.

It doesn't matter if a child is placed in an open or closed adoption; the feelings associated with releasing a child remain the same. It is not uncommon for women to experience some or all feelings associated with the loss of a close loved one.

If a birthmother is able to work through the feelings associated with the releasing of the child, she will have peace about the adoption. When she is unable to work through the entire grieving process or gets "stuck" in the grieving process, that is when depression may set in and the self-destruction and abuse may begin.

Although each woman is different and for some it may take months, even years to work through, one thing remains the same: unless the process is started, the healing cannot begin; and the peace cannot be found.

I believe that as we recognize and support birthmothers, they will find the strength to seek healing and step forward on behalf of those who choose life. I also believe that as these women begin stepping out it will encourage others to seek healing as well. Adoption, the positive option, will become a choice that more will consider in a crisis pregnancy.

As this acceptance evolves it will inspire other women to see a crisis pregnancy as something other than a black and white situation. If we can help to open the door of adoption by seeking out these courageous women and commending them for choosing life, why not start today?

© RIGHT TO LIFE OF MICHIGAN, 2340 PORTER ST SW, PO BOX 901, GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49509-0901, (616) 532-2300