Can I live?

I imagine that finding out you are going to bare a child is an overwhelming moment. I’d think that would be true whether this was a child the mother was pining for or an “oops” baby. That moment must be filled with a variety of emotions. Maybe one day I’ll know them for myself.

Even though I have had a number of close friends and family members have babies in the past couple of years, I can’t say I’ve given these feelings as much thought as I have recently. For the most part, most of the people I know were of age to have babies (and I don’t mean that in the “The Color Purple” sense), so even if they weren’t in the place they wanted to be in life (including out of  college) they have rallied and made it work.

This is going to seem like I’m going off on a tangent, but I promise I’m going to tie it all together.

I started back at the soup kitchen. I love being there because I feel like I am always learning something new from someone I meet there (that’s another post I’ve been meaning to write). The thing I love about the volunteers are that they are pretty consistent. Even though it had been more than a couple of months since the last time I’d been there, people who I’d met when I first volunteered there and people who I’d never met before made me felt like I hadn’t missed a day.  One group of people stood out to me. They were all pregnant…and they were all teenagers.

When I say teenagers, I mean fresh-faced, likely no more than 15 or 16. When I say pregnant, I mean they looked like they could pop at any minute. I was amazed at their selflessness. If all the things I have ever heard pregnant women say about pregnancy are true (and NO ONE is telling me that it was a pleasant time in life) then I can’t say I would be doing the same thing.  It got more amazing for me when I got a little background on the girls.

I started asking questions. Now, I won’t lie. One of the reasons I started asking questions is because one of the girls seemed to have on the same outfit every time I saw her – a pink Power Puff Girls/powder puff football T-shirt. I don’t think it would have stood out to me so much if it wasn’t a NEON pink shirt and if the other girls she came with didn’t have on different outfits each time.

Come to find out these girls are in a program that sets their children up with adoptive families. Some of the girls have been turned out of their homes because of their pregnancies. For some of the girls this was s temporary situation, while for other girls it was a transient stop on a road to a destination as yet unknown. The program was a last chance of sorts, as some of the girls had been in and out of trouble, and their parent(s) felt the pregnancy was the last straw.

Hearing that blew me away. For me, it undermines the fact that you can never look at someone and know his or her story. While knowing their children would be provided for must have been comforting, I can’t imagine that it wasn’t scary at the same time. Finding out your pregnant, going through the upheaval that news brought into your life (not even considering the boy that you made this life with), getting into this program and basically serving as a surrogate. As the adoptions are closed the girls don’t get a change to make any other impact on the life they have nurtured and no doubt bonded with for at least 9 months other than serving as a vessel for his or her birth. I can’t imagine how I could handle that as a woman in my 20’s. I have no earthy idea how I could deal with it in my teens.

On  one hand, these girls get something of a clean slate. Rather than being saddled with the additional responsibility of caring for a child and herself, the girls get a chance (if they chose to take it) to get back to school or try to get their lives back on track. On the other, I would argue that an adoption can be as hard (if not harder)  on the psyche of the mother as an abortion, as the mother has borne a child and STILL may always wonder what the child grew up to look like, might wonder about the impact that he or she would have on the world, or wonder how both their lives might be different if she’d had the opportunity to raise the child.

I wonder if the potential benefits to both parties outweighs that loss in the eyes of either mother or child.

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