Sunday, February 6, 2011

Me and the girls

There was a show on a few years ago called the Gilmore Girls. My daughter Sarah and I would be glued to this show every Tuesday night for 7 seasons. The main characters were Lorelei and Rory - mother and daughter, and it was about their relationship. At the time the show was on Sarah was about the same age as Rory so there we were mother and daughter watching mother and daughter. I also have to confess that we love the show so much we now have all the seasons on dvd and the boxes travel from my house to Sarah's and back again and we're still not tired of watching, much to our husband's dismay. The show had really great writers, it was smart and funny.

Anyway, the point is, the mom/daughter relationship wasn't the only reason this show resonated with me. In the story line Lorelei was 16 when she got pregnant, didn't like the plan her parents made for her, which was to marry her boyfriend so she left with her baby. She was taken in by a woman who gave her a place to stay and a job that would let her have some flexibility so she could care for her baby. Basically she had support, she had some help so could keep and raise her daughter. The writers on the show never mentioned the "adoption option" and I often wondered why. Maybe they thought it would be too deep emotionally, although they did get into other tough topics. They also got into Lorelei's struggling relationship with her parents - the after effects of her pregnancy and running away. There was plenty for me to connect with in this story.

During the years of watching I often fantasized about what it would have been like to have had that kind of support. What would it have been like if I had just been given a chance? I know it would've been hard but maybe I would've ended up sitting there on Tuesday nights with both my daughters watching the show. When I see girls now talking about the reasons they surrendered their babies to adoption or why they're thinking about surrender I just want to cry. I want to warn them, I want to shake them awake. The main reasons are usually.....

"I can't give my child the life he deserves"

"The adoptive parents are better off financially"

"My child should have 2 parents"

"I'm not ready to parent"

So, the first one - what exactly does that mean - the life he deserves? What a child deserves is the mother who gave birth to him. He deserves to be loved by the woman who nurtured him in her body for 9 months, the one who loved him before he was born. He deserves to know where he came from, to grow up seeing the faces of others who look like him and have mannerisms like him, who walk like him and have similar tastes as him. He deserves to know the other folks in his tribe.

Reason number two - they're better off financially. Well, there's always someone better off financially. There's always going to be someone who has more money than you. It's all relative. Money comes and goes, situations change. Adoptive parents can lose jobs too. They're not immune to crisis. Mothers should not lose their children because they're poor. Children should not lose their mothers because their mothers are poor. Ask about resources. Ask for help.

Number three.... having 2 parents. In a perfect world maybe but we don't live in one of those. Adoptive parents get divorced or one of them dies. There's no guarantees in this life. Single moms can and do raise children every day. So do single dads. No, it's not easy but the really hard stuff in the beginning is temporary. Your status as a single person could possibly change too.

And finally - not ready? Honey, no one is every ready for being a parent. Those 9 months of pregnancy is you getting ready. Your body is preparing and during that time you can be getting your environment ready, putting a plan into action. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world and the best job in the world and you don't want to miss out on it. It's day by day and that's how you learn. The joy of having your child with you and watching her grow will far outweigh any hardship you encounter.

Adoptive parents are not superhuman. They're people just like the rest of us - some split up, have problems, some are loving and some are not. With some support to get started you are capable of taking care of your child. You have no idea what you're in for when you surrender a child. No, it doesn't get easier over time. When the agencies tell you that it's a lie. The grieving goes on and on. Having an open adoption doesn't mean it will stay open. That's also a lie. Don't get all your information from adoption agencies and their counselors. Don't base your decision on pretty brochures with lovely photos of smiling PAP faces, picket fences and puppies. These are nothing more than ads designed by marketers. All they're saying is "pick me, pick me". Don't allow yourself to be matched with a couple and be pushed into a relationship with them when you're pregnant. Don't allow them into the hospital when you're in labor, in delivery or your room afterward. All of these things are designed to manipulate you into doing what they want - giving them your baby. The main thing is find out about all your options not just the "adoption option".

I love that the writers of the Gilmore Girls created a character who was strong and followed her heart, someone who got help and raised her daughter as a single mom. Yeah, I know it's only a tv show but it was a positive example out there in tv land of a mom who kept her baby and raised her well. I appreciate that.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, these are the reasons given to convince a young girl who is scared and maybe alone that her baby would be better off with someone else. And she wants the best for her baby, so she is made to feel guilty for thinking of her "own needs." Well the baby has needs too and as you so rightly put it, they are not what the adoption industry says they are.

    According to them, I should have been taken away from my mother because
    1. She could not give us the life she wanted to.
    2. She had no money.
    3. My father died very young and left her to care for 6 small children by herself.
    4. She must not have been ready because of 1, 2 and 3 and we were all accidents!

    However, most people who know me and my 5 siblings think we turned out just fine. And the really great thing is that my siblings and I are all very close friends. I would have missed out on that if Mom hadn't kept us. She must have done something right.

    So, these exuses don't fly with me.