Sunday, November 2, 2008

Birth. Mothers. Birth Mothers.

A colleague of mine has recently been searching for her birth mother, and found her and her other children just before the weekend. It's fairly rocked her. She has always had an interest in finding out where she came from, but didn't pursue it until she had a baby of her own. So far things are looking fairly good, as both parties want a relationship to exist, but her birth siblings apparently didn't know anything about her birth mother's past and the fact my colleague even exists.

Now I'm pregnant it's got me thinking. I've always been pro-choice and believe that women should be given an abortion if they want one, but I have also always said that I didn't think I could personally ever make that choice. As soon as my husband and I started our sexual relationship as teenagers, I said that even if we were careless and conceived, I would still keep the pregnancy. I think I would have also kept the child, if only because adoption seems like such a minefield. Imagine you're the child. Imagine you're the mother. Heck, imagine you're the father! The choices you make when you're pregnant can have a profound impact on so many people's lives, not least of all your own and the new life you're busy creating. If you keep a child or offer it a better life with someone else, your decision will change everything forever.

Mind you, if you keep a child and make irresponsible choices while you're pregnant, that also changes everything forever. I work at an IT technical college for career-changing adults, and one of our youngest students (just 19) has had a baby with his girlfriend. He came into campus last week beaming all over, and everyone asked the usual questions: sex, labour, weight... etc. His little boy was full-term but weighed just 4lbs 12oz. When I asked him why this was, he casually said "Oh, probably because of her smoking." All the staff are shocked at this, particularly those of us with children or expecting them shortly.

Is his child better off with its parents, who may love him dearly but cannot care for him properly (they live in a trailer park, the electricity has been cut off due to non-payments, neither parent intends to give up smoking) or with a family who cannot have their own children but would never be that boy's "real parents"? The questions are endless and no-one has any real answers.

The only thing we can do is our best for the children who do end up in our care.