When I became pregnant in 2008, the timing couldn’t be worse. I was in the middle of leaving the child’s father, just starting my third year at university, and barely had any income. But it’s also remarkably stupid to have unprotected sex with someone you’re trying to leave. In any case, it happened. Initially, the father and I decided to stay together, keep the pregnancy, and have a go at being a family. However, while we could make the finances work for year one, beyond that it was increasingly untenable.
So we had a decision to make. I can’t speak for my partner at the time, but I’ve always been vehemently pro-choice. And while I always believe abortion should be an option, it wasn’t the right one for me at that time. Which led us to adoption, which is ultimately what we chose.
You would think, listening to the anti-abortion rhetoric, that this should be the end of the debate, right? The sanctity of life was preserved and a child would be born, all without the difficult question of who was going to feed, clothe, medicate, and educate them. But for some reason, it wasn’t. People still weren’t satisfied.
Many of our friends couldn’t understand why we weren’t keeping the child. In one instance, when I pointed out that we weren’t financially ready, the other person immediately suggested I ‘just go on welfare’. Compared with what awaited the child with her adoptive family, welfare just didn’t stack up. Not to mention, to quote a meme, one does not simply go on welfare. The system has been painstakingly designed to prevent people from being able to seek the benefits they’re entitled to.
(And yes, everyone is entitled to benefits because every human is entitled to a decent life. Fight me.)
And that doesn’t even touch on the responses from our respective families. Mine staged the worst intervention ever, in which my grandmother, two uncles, and one aunt showed up to my house unannounced (the closest lived three hours away!) as I was leaving to go to class. They moved into my house like a platoon and started rearranging my furniture and tidying up, presumably to show what a strong support network I had to help me raise my child.
My then-partner’s family took it a step further. His mother asked us how much we were selling the baby for, so that she could out-bid the adoptive family and buy her grandchild. She also threatened us with legal action to prevent the adoption, told me I was getting rid of my child because I didn’t love her, and came to the hospital after the delivery to try and bully her son into not signing the paperwork. She and I nearly got into a physical fight less than eight hours after I delivered.
Leaving aside that all of these behaviours are great reasons to remove a child from the reach of these zealots, there’s so much to unpack here.
What does it say when the child’s quality of life doesn’t matter next to keeping biological families together? Why is an unstable home with their birth parents preferable to a stable home with adoptive parents? And who the hell do they think they are, telling me what to do with my body?
I’ll never regret my decision, and the thought brings me a deep inner peace. That’s how I know I made the right move. My job as her mother was always to give her the best life possible. If that meant a life without me in it, so be it.
Want to read more about my family? Check out these pieces: