One of the interesting things about adoption is that, upon mentioning you are considering/have adopted/waiting/finalizing you instantly find yourself part of a brand new subgroup. As members of the adoption triad (adoptees, first/birth parents, and adoptive parents) we can take a lot of comfort, relief, and guidance from our new community. To our friends and family on the outside, however, the new community looks like one thing: New Ways to Send Us Weird/Offensive/Scary/
I get the underlying kindness; I know that no harm was intended. I understand that, in a perfect world, there would be a home for every wanted baby and we would all have money trees and frolicking unicorns that make us rainbow soft-serve cones. But make no mistake—this sentiment is unkind at its core.
First off, I wonder if the creator (and multiple senders and posters) know any birth parents. Do they know any women who have chosen to have abortions? I kind of doubt that they do, because they would immediately understand that, while choosing to abort a fetus is an incredibly tough, personal, heartbreaking choice for any woman to make, it is not the same choice as carrying a child to term, choosing parents to raise that child, giving birth, and then placing that baby into the arms of, essentially, strangers that you hope will remember you in their new lives. Not the same choice at all. Any woman who makes a tough choice like these will be changed forever, will carry a tiny ball of grief somewhere inside her heart forever. But they are not the same choice, and one is not better or easier than the other.
Second, I wonder about the politics of those who post and forward and bumper sticker this sentiment: Do they know that funding access to contraceptives and reproductive health is the quickest and most sure way to decrease unwanted pregnancies? Do they vote for comprehensive sex-ed (not abstinence-only) classes to be taught in schools? Do they rally for programs that would help pay for women to have prenatal health care options, should she choose to carry her child to term? What about after that child is born? If they truly value adoption they are electing representatives who increase the social safety net to cover social work, mental health and crisis counseling, and adoption tax credits.
Finally—and here I tend to unleash my rage—I wonder about what my sweet birth mama and daddy friends think when they see this meme. Do they feel like the sacrifice that they made is viewed as nothing more than a bumper sticker sentiment? Do my friends who have agonized over terminating a pregnancy see this posted to my wall and think “There’s another person I need to keep this experience hidden from” because they assume I feel the same way as the poster? Do my friends experiencing the ache of infertility see this meme and feel comfortable boxing first parents and unplanned pregnancy and all of the choices and heartbreak into a tidy corner where they will never have to make hard choices? I worry that they do—and I look forward to the time when they join our triad and we get to teach them to know better.