On Adoption and Losing One’s Self During Pregnancy

By May 18, 2012One Comment

As I have shared in previous posts, I am thrilled to be pregnant and granted the blessing of creating new life, but this journey has also presented me with unexpected challenges. Although I’ve had a relatively easy pregnancy physically, I did not expect the bodily changes to impact my self-image the way that they have. This aspect of pregnancy has been a new challenge, but one that has definitely helped me to grow in good and wonderful ways.

I have also written some about The Weirdness of Becoming a Mommy, and how it has influenced my sense of self. Identity change is often hard, and it certainly has been for me. At times, I have wrestled with feeling a loss of self–the loss of who I used to be, the loss of my body, the loss of marriage as I knew it–and I suppose there is a bit of fear and even grief that accompanies those losses. Even in the best circumstances, change is difficult.

This latter lesson was still at the forefront of my mind when I happened upon a blog post by colleague Amy Julia Becker. Amy Julia has been featured here before and I mentioned her in a recent post on perfection. She is writing about Down Syndrome in a way that is both theological and beautiful, so I hope you will keep an eye on her blog if you aren’t already.

This week she published a post titled Why Adoption Feels Harder Than Abortion. She shares the insights of another writer friend of mine, Angie Weszley, who is President of a pregnancy support ministry in the Chicago area. At a recent conference, Angie shared why adoption is “not an option” for so many women who choose abortion, and I think you will find it interesting:

For a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, pregnancy involves what feels like a total loss of self. (Even for women like me who have only experienced planned pregnancies, pregnancy involves a bewildering sense of self loss.)

Carrying the baby to term involves losing the self but saving the baby. Abortion staves off the loss of self, but it includes the loss of the baby. Adoption, Weszely explained, is in some ways the hardest choice because it feels like both the loss of self in seeing the pregnancy through and then the loss of the baby.

I will be honest–this makes a lot of sense to me. Throughout my pregnancy I have often thought, “This is hard enough in the best of all circumstances. I can’t imagine going through this alone!” Pre-pregnancy I used to wonder, “Why don’t women just carry the baby to term and opt for adoption?” as if pregnancy is a minor, 9 month hiccup with no real physical or emotional repercussions. Now that I am pregnant, I have a different perspective.

In that regard, Angie’s words provide Christians with tremendous insight into the gauntlet of obstacles facing each woman with an unexpected pregnancy. As much as we talk about supporting single mothers who choose to keep their babies, it is equally important to support women during pregnancy, not only with financial resources but emotional support as well. That’s why I am grateful for ministries like Angie’s, that are doing that kind of work now.

If you hop over to Amy Julia’s blog, be sure to check out the comments section as well. There is an engaging yet highly charged discussion going on about the ethics of adoption itself. Some of the women are clearly speaking from very negative experiences, so I am going to do some further research into the topic and report back later. In the mean time, I hope this was as helpful to you as it was to me!

One Comment

  • Tim says:

    Sharon, I’m glad you are continuing the discussion that Amy Julia started so well at her place last week. It’s not just being pregnant that changes a person’t identity. father’s experience the same, or at least those with any semblance of responsibilty experience it. (I’ve seen a few in my courtroom who don’t feel any sense of responsibility, of course.)

    Change comes to us all the time. I’ve never been pregnanat and it’s hard for me to get a sense of comparability on this one, so I’ll ask you: What do you think compares as being as big a change to a person’s identity as a woman’s pregnancy is for her? Changing careers? Marriage? Divorce? Becoming a Christian? Death of a parent? I am looking for perspective and having a hard time gaining it.


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