Several years ago I had an abortion. I didn’t tell anyone because I felt it was nobody’s business but my own, and I still feel that way. The child I was carrying was shown to have no brain – just a brain stem to regulate its heartbeat and breathing, and I knew he would die shortly after being born. Maybe this was the coward’s way out, but I do not regret my decision. My parents had sent me away from they found out I was pregnant, and told people that I was spending the semester on student exchange. I told my parents I had a miscarriage and came home.
I am now happily married and my husband and I have made the decision not to have children because of certain genetic diseases on his side of the family. After what I went through the one time I was pregnant, I have no desire to try for another pregnancy. My husband and I have gone to counseling (as a precaution) but we are both quite firm in our decision not to have natural born children. We have decided instead to adopt.
When we announced our decision to our parents, his handled things quite well; mine erupted, saying that they should not be punished because I married a “defective” man and that an adopted child is not a “true” grandchild. They are pushing me to consider IVF with a sperm donor to “carry on the family bloodline”. They cannot understand why I am being “so selfish” and have told me that I will “rue the day” that I made “such a poor decision”.
Tazi, my husband thinks I should tell my parents about my past pregnancy, so they can see that he is not the only “defective” one. I realize that he is hurt by their judgment – I am, too – but I do not see how. They can't handle problems that they think would somehow stain the family name. When my brother spent time in rehab for alcohol and drug abuse they told people he was on an extended business trip to Europe. When my father got fired from his job he told people he was taking a sabbatical to write a book (my father is not a writer). They lie about every misfortune and turn it into something grandiose. I am afraid that they will make up some cockamamie story about the child my husband and I adopt.
So there you have it; my problem is two-fold: Do I tell my parents the entire story about why my husband and I are choosing not to bear children? And how do I deal with their reaction to our adoption plans?
Adoptive Mama To Be
Dear Adoptive Mama To Be:
How sad for you that your parents are so insecure that they feel the need to lie about life’s misfortunes, and how terrible for you that you had to bear the burden of loss alone. You seem somewhat defensive of your decision, and although I cannot blame you (it is a touchy, tender subject) your decision was a personal one and does not need to be justified to anyone but you and your conscience. If you had chosen to give birth, it sounds like your parents would have turned your child’s inevitable death into a three-ring circus of denial and lies. I can see why you chose to keep it a secret.
While I understand your parents’ need to mourn the fact that they will not have “natural” grandchildren I find their behavior odious. To suggest that you conceive through a sperm donor is so far beyond the pale that there are no words to describe how truly awful a suggestion it was. Calling your husband “defective” was equally wrong, but lashing out in anger is not the right response.
While your husband certainly – and deservedly – would like to take your parents egos down a few pegs, his first responsibility is to you, his wife. Throwing you under the bus in order to salvage his family honor is not the answer. I suggest you present a united front to your parents and tell them that the genetics of both sides of the family have you concerned. If your parents push for an answer, be flippant and tell then you are afraid that their egocentricities might be caused by faulty genes. This should shut them up.
Once you have adopted your new child, invite your parents over to meet him or her. Do not allow them to treat your child differently than any other grandchild and eventually they will get the message that your child is every bit as much a family member as your blood relatives. If, as your child gets older, you discover your parents treating him or her in a way you don’t approve you can deal with the situation as any parent would – by correcting them or by limiting their interaction with your child. Hopefully, this is one bridge you will not have to cross.
Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.