Adoption and Abortion
While I don't consider myself a part of the pro-life movement, for all my liberalism, I am indeed "pro-life". (I hate the terms "pro-choice" and "pro-life", but such is the discourse.) This position is informed by the fact that I was adopted as an infant, and so was potentially a prime candidate for abortion. I am very grateful things turned out the way they did, because I like the life I have.
I mention this because every Tuesday night, Dartmouth’s Edgerton Episcopal Campus Ministry holds a "Theology on Tap" discussion at a local restaurant, and this week’s topic was abortion. It was a respectful conversation, even though of the 16 participants, only about three were avowedly and openly pro-life. Only one comment offended me the entire evening, but surprisingly, it came from a dear friend. When I mentioned my adoption in order to admit any bias, this friend replied that if I had indeed been aborted, I wouldn’t known or cared about the life I was missing, so my point was "not valid." I was very offended by my friend's remarks, and very angry. It was, however, the second time I had heard that argument. I have two replies.
First of all, I find it very rude to dismiss someone's central views as "not valid." Disagree with them if you will or even respectfully argue about their relevance, but do not suggest that they are in no way valid. This is especially true if the argument you are being so flippant towards defines who the other person is at their core. My adoption is a central part of my identity, and it informs much of who I am – NEVER dismiss it, no matter what the subject. That is highly personal and deeply offensive. Second of all, I think my friend was just plain wrong, and possibly misunderstood my remarks. I was not talking about what I would have thought had my birth been prevented, but about what I do think in the here and now. I am slowly becoming aware of who I am and what I stand for; I revel in this world’s beauty; I am deeply appreciative of the people I know and the opportunities presented to me. When I speak about my adoption as it relates to abortion, I am not saying I would have been angry if not allowed these experiences in the first place. I am saying that I am grateful that I do have them, and that that appreciation for life is enhanced by the fact that it almost didn't happen. My adoption makes me more aware of existence in general.
There are many things related to abortion that I could write about, and we went over some of them Tuesday night. I could talk about when life begins, compassion towards mothers, the importance of a respectful discourse, or a hundred other things, but abortion in and of itself is not the point of this post. My friend's comment was personal. She is an absolutely wonderful person, and I know she didn't mean anything by it, but it still hurt. Since this wasn’t the first time I'd heard the sentiment, I felt compelled to write about it.