I’ve been silent too long on a subject which is extremely polarizing. I’ve sat on this subject, wondering if I should even say anything, become involved, voice my opinion and share my story. I stayed quiet after New York celebrated late term abortions. (Stay with me a minute.) I remained silent as the governor of our commonwealth spoke his mind regarding the same issue. (This is my story.) And I watched the SOTU, silently, trying to come to grips with a group of women who looked sullen and angry as the president addressed the issue of abortion. (My story.) I’ve been silent, because this is not only a divisive political issue, but also a deeply personal one.
Last week I began a new writing class, with a new instructor, new faces and new stories to write. Our first writing prompt was entitled “Getting what I need from the world,” and it got me to thinking more and more about this explosive subject, because there was a time and a place where I almost got nothing from this world.
Many of you know I was adopted as a baby girl. 15 years-ago I searched for, and met, my biological mother. She and I corresponded for months before we decided to meet. While it wasn’t a relaxing trip away with someone who would become a friend and a staple in our lives, I learned my history. I learned who she was. I learned about her life and her narrative. So, now you all know about my adoption, but what you probably don’t know is that I’m the girl who almost wasn’t.
In 1968 my biological mother was a 20 year-old, unwed, pregnant, Air Force enlistee with an alcoholic father and an unsupportive mother. “You’re not getting any help from us,” her parents told her. “Don’t even think of coming home if you keep that baby,” they said. Her friends in the Air Force got together and pooled their money. Roe v. Wade hadn’t been fought for and won, so she went to a back alley abortion clinic with the money in her hands. She sat in the waiting room, ready to put an end to her little problem (me), but in the end she couldn’t do it. I don’t know how far along she was in her pregnancy with me when she went to the clinic. I don’t remember if she told me she couldn’t do it because it was too dangerous and risky or if her Catholic upbringing guilted her into leaving. I do know I was almost aborted…almost not here.
I don’t pretend to think I’m important enough to cause a huge wave of societal compassion in the eyes of the women who were draped like angels but who wore angry, stone-faced masks when confronted with the despairing sadness of abortion. It broke my heart to watch them because of my story. I know no one would notice if little, old me wasn’t here. But I am…along with my husband and our three kiddos who will hopefully go on to have their own families someday. So what I’d like to say to those angry women is that I am here. I’m a real person who is trying hard to make this world a better place. I want the same things for my family they want…stability, education for my kids, a roof over our heads, food for the table, friends, laughter and most of all love. I want them to understand that there are other routes, other avenues to help prevent abortions in the early stages.
You would think that because of my story I would be a huge anti-abortion proponent. But to me, abortion is a truly, deeply personal subject. It’s not up to us to judge women who are forced to make a decision to terminate a pregnancy because of rape, incest or the life of the mother is at stake. It’s not up to us to judge them period. Like I said above, it’s a deeply personal subject. I’ve known women who had abortions. Their heartbreak is real. They didn’t make their decisions lightly, and I can guarantee they don’t cheer the thought of aborting any baby like lawmakers did in Albany weeks ago. What I want everyone to understand…abortion is not something to be cheered for, and it’s not one for the political arena. It’s definitely not for angry, stone-faced women who wear white like angels, but who lack compassion for women like me who were almost aborted. What I also want is for everyone to be able to put a face to someone who almost wasn’t here. I was an inconvenience. I wasn’t wanted. I was a mistake…a huge mistake. But my biological mother carried me to term, delivered me and held me in her arms before relinquishing me. I realize I wouldn’t be missed if I’d never been born, but I’m here, and I’ve been silent too long. My story deserves to be heard and understood, because I’m the girl who almost wasn’t.