Babies are not owed

I am a part of a few parenting groups on FB, some of which are super drama and others which are full of thoughtful, kind and nuanced conversation. I enjoy them for a variety of reasons and have recently worked hard to set some limits with myself to ensure my participation and engagement are, you know, not rage inducing. I’ve been mostly successful.

This morning, a mom posted in one of these groups (my personal fave) about an issue she was experiencing. She is parenting two small children and her husband is un/under-employed and not super helpful with parenting or life-keeping. She is also pregnant again, unexpectedly, and was soliciting information and advice about termination of the pregnancy.

I want to say, first and foremost, that I was pleasantly shocked at how kind, supportive and generally not shitty the conversation was overall. I just want that out there, for the record.

But what I DID read was the occasional comment about how maybe she should consider adoption “because so many people struggle to have children.” One woman even talked about her personal struggles with IVF and why that experience made her feel strongly that there are so many people who WANT to be parents . . .


Which is true. It’s so true. There are SO many people who want to be parents and who are struggling mightily with the soul crushing grief that becoming a parent is not happening how or when they wanted, or sometimes at all. I am not talking to clueless people here, I know. Y’all know so deeply – to the core of who you are – how deep the ache to become a parent is, and the shocking number of us who struggle with this.

But that struggle – and the physical stress it caused, the lengths it led me to undergo in pursuit of a baby – all of that only reinforced for me that abortion should be legal, accessible, and not judged. It also did not make me feel like my infertility should be a reason to shame or persuade anyone to continue a pregnancy when that is not absolutely what they want to do.

I felt a lot of rage, reading these comments, because I felt weirdly implicated by them. Because there is a really strange feeling I get from these comments, which seem to be more about the feelings those of us who struggled to become parents get about those who DON’T struggle – the jealousy, the envy. And while I am of the personal opinion that feelings are things and all of them are legitimate, that doesn’t mean we get to always voice our opinions, or that other people can’t critique them.

So yes, it’s fair and ok to be jealous of other’s getting pregnant easily. What feels NOT RIGHT, in no uncertain terms to me, is to then project that envy on to someone who is considering termination, to remind them that so many people CAN’T get pregnant so maybe they should consider that when making a decision about themselves?

No one is owed children. It doesn’t matter how good or right, how loving and kind we would be. Children are not cookies given for good behavior, or gold star awards for the best people. The idea that someone would guilt another person into carrying a pregnancy just because they can’t makes me feel kind of ill.

This is all not to say that adoption isn’t an amazing, incredible thing, or that adoption shouldn’t be more talked about and less harshly judged. (I am fully aware that folks who place children for adoption are often shamed and judged by friends and family for making this decision) It just means that when someone is considering termination and asking for thoughts about termination, it’s not fair to remind them of how “lucky” they are to get to be pregnant and then ask them to consider doing something like placing a child for adoption – a beautiful gift and a terribly difficult decision to make.

We should all have access to whatever we need to make the best decisions about our own bodies and when, how and if we become parents. The things I need will differ from others, based on my desires, my body, my experience. What someone else needs shouldn’t be dictated by what I have or don’t have. If pregnancy was a sandwich – if I didn’t want my PBJ I could hand it over to you, who does – maybe this would be a different conversation. But knowing the intense experiences, physically, that I went through trying to get and then being pregnant, I find it vile that someone would effectively request that someone else have that experience against their will, simply because they cannot.


11 thoughts on “Babies are not owed

  1. A queer mama I know asked in a local group a while ago about tracking ovulation and someone told her instead of birthing a child she should look into adoption(she has one adopted child) because so many kids need homes. I was shocked, much like I am guessing you were this morning. I don’t understand when it became okay to critique women’s decisions about reproduction – but then I type that and remember oh yeah, always.

  2. I have always been very pro-choice (for what I believe to be very obvious, logical reasons) but pregnancy and childbirth actually managed to make me even more extremely pro-choice. I absolutely DETEST the idea that someone would guilt a woman into those experiences. They are so personal and physical and intense. And yes, placing a child up for adoption is a beautiful, miraculous, BRAVE thing, but it seems to me that for adoption to work (ie, not utterly destroy the birth mother) it has to be a decision that comes straight from the heart of the birth mother–not from someone in a parenting group on Facebook.

  3. *praise hands* Word!
    I’ve found that the TTC process and finally becoming pregnant has made me even more pro-choice. No one is owed a baby and no one should be forced to have one.

  4. This brings up lots of thoughts for me. Mostly angry thoughts. But hopefully this makes sense…

    First, the idea that a woman who gets pregnant should be only ever grateful for a pregnancy, in spite of the fact that she may be unable or not want to carry, birth, and care for a(nother) child is INFURIATING. As if childbirth is not scary. As if raising an entire human being is not entirely and completely overwhelming an idea. It is the belief that if you have a uterus, your sole purpose in life should be to have children, whether for yourself or others, that drives this notion. It makes me see red.

    Second, one of the things that has always stuck with me from taking classes required for adoption placement is this: adoption begins with loss. Either direction “don’t have an abortion – choose adoption” or “don’t get pregnant, adopt a child!” completely miss the reality that these are not equivalents. Having an abortion is not merely about not having a child to raise. Pregnancy is hard, birth is hard and far more risky than abortion in terms of health. Adoption begins with loss in all cases, reproducing does not.

  5. Jeepers. That’s dreadful. I can tell you adoption is not a gift and its really hard on most first/birth moms for the rest of their lives. Asking a woman to do that because we are struggling or have struggled is repulsive to me. I feel ill too. I hope you found a way to speak up if that was your call and to make peace with your rage if not. One more strike against the pain olympics and mommy wars. 😦

  6. I work in the Deaf community and often see families make the decision to put a cochlear implant on their child rather than explore the Deaf community. Many people know OF the Deaf community but do not know much about it. Some people know OF adoption but don’t know what it really involves. I agree that no mother should have to experience a pregnancy that she doesn’t want. Perhaps this person was suggesting adoption to suggest further exploration. I have no doubt some people would choose not to put an implant on their child if they knew more about the Deaf community. I think there is the same possibility that people might choose adoption if they knew more about it. Like you said, no one is owed a baby. However, we don’t know what we don’t know.

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