By Kathleen Hoy Foley
Adoption and abortion equal crisis pregnancy. An unwanted conception is a militant invasion into a girl’s body, a woman’s body; biological warfare waged inside her skin. It is physical and psychological attack. Every cell plundered. Every breath conscripted. Her intimate organs battered, conquered. Assaulted by her bodily systems. Her external self disfigured. Permanently scarred. Her spirit brutalized by overwhelming shame. She is cast aside while forced to inhabit a body turned enemy, tethered to a carcass that no longer belongs to her. The agony of this physical and psychological violence endured by girls and women impregnated against their will is drowned out by the shouts of moral accusers, disregarded by cowards, and contorted to fit inside the sugarcoated fantasies of the naive and ignorant where such girls and women are forever imprisoned.
Many of us entered the world at the expense of a minor child’s acute physical and emotional trauma. Trauma that left her catastrophically injured with an unwanted pregnancy. It is the story of my own birth. Unverifiable. Long buried beneath calcified silence. I do not know who the biological male is but all signs point to a rapist. I am also an adoptee. The man who married my mother—the father who would abuse all the children in his household—eventually, secretly adopted me. Then in an unimpeded race to fated doom, I, too, was impregnated by rape as a juvenile. I escaped the rapist. But not the angry adoptee who returned years later and destroyed the life I’d built.
The relentless, ongoing, inescapable punishment of sexual assault was my inheritance, passed down from generation to generation, woman to girl. It is cyclical insanity on steroids. Unspoken catastrophe feeding on unspoken catastrophe feeding on unspoken catastrophe. Not just my story but the epic story of silenced abuse. Abuse that warps society. Epidemic abuse that society itself perpetuates.
The hunting down of women has to stop. Adoption equals crisis pregnancy—it represents profound female trauma. A confidential adoption has become a loaded gun pointed at a broken woman. The pursuit of her—sanctioned, encouraged, and celebrated—is akin to big game hunters stalking a reserve where trophy animals are trapped. When the hunt for a woman begins, she has no safety, no protection; there is no place for her to hide. She is completely dependent on the whims of the pursuer. Laws forbid animal cruelty. The trapped beast likely will be slaughtered swiftly, painlessly as possible. There exists no such mercy for a woman who was once entrapped in an unwanted, crisis pregnancy. Those who hunt her down kill her in stages. It is emotional homicide—quiet, authorized, leisurely execution.
It was gut wrenching, falling-off-a-cliff chilling when I could no longer refute the evidence surrounding my birth. In a society that sells conception as a romance of candles, flowers, and sweet love there I was, spawned in violence. I could not bear for it to be true; could not bear to carry the slur of its implication. The weight of it settled over me in a sinister, roiling gloom and I began the slide downward into its seductive arms. But stopped myself pretty damn fast. That was a hell I was not about to create for myself. Or recreate for my mother.
Whatever the details of my conception are, they do not belong to me. The shattering violation of her personal boundaries bound my mother inside a hell inconceivable to most outsiders. When my time came I, too, cowered silently inside that same hell. To obligate any woman to an unwanted pregnancy, to force her public, to coerce her into exposing the particulars of a crisis so profoundly intimate is to strip her of all dignity, of all protection, and instill her with terror. It forces a woman to lie to appease the pursuer—a bully—in an effort to safeguard herself, her life, her family. Or forces her into deep hiding. Or keeps her constantly on the lookout, always on the run.
A crisis pregnancy represents grave trauma. It is not a romantic fantasy, or cause for celebration, or a moral failure. A woman forced to endure an unwanted pregnancy is not anyone’s link to emotional survival, the missing piece to a familial puzzle, or the answer to someone’s misery.
Adoption equals crisis pregnancy. Abortion equals the end of a crisis pregnancy. Some of us made it here. Some did not. Those of us who did have choices to make. We can choose courage. We can choose cowardice. We can choose to build. We can choose to destroy. What we do with our opportunities, how we handle what haunts us, reveals who we are. It is always, always our choice.