Is it 2008? Because this article just transported me back fifty-or-so years. It also further proves a point that many of today’s birth mothers are saying: stigmas against single mothers are still alive and well.
Mothers who have relinquished in the past twenty years are often told that they don’t know what it was like “back in the day.” And I agree, to a point. While very few young mothers are now shipped off to homes and hidden from the public to relinquish their children in secret and silence, the social stigmas of single parenting are alive and well and, sadly, thriving.
“But we’ve come so far.” Really? Have we? Read that article and tell me that you think society views single parents in a positive fashion. According to the words there, they are the downfall of society. The article, citing the increase in “out-of-wedlock” births goes on and on about the atrocities that befall the children who are unlucky enough to be raised by single parents. Of course, like many articles of this negative, one-sided nature, it doesn’t happen to discuss mothers who have purposefully and willfully chosen to conceive while single (either with medical help or employing the help of someone of their choosing) or the host of single adoptive parents that are raising, you guessed it, children born out-of-wedlock. Why aren’t scathing articles written about those two subgroups of people? Why is always the young(er) mother who might have to struggle to make ends meet? Why is it always the young(er) mother involved with a man who turns out to be a deadbeat father? Why are these articles always apt to leave out the fact that some people purposefully choose to be without a partner? Not without struggle, of course, but without the daily help of another legal parental figure?
In case you think I’m just making up the overall offending tone of the article, trust me. I’m not. Quoting statistics is one thing. I do, as well, worry about children who don’t have the “best” start in life (though best can be subjective). But the author goes above and beyond a true care for the children and let’s some nasty words fly only further proving that the stereotypes of our experiences are still and long-believed. Let’s quote a few sentences that shine like gems above the rest.
When discussing whether or not the author thinks that marriage is the answer to all of this, she comes up with this little beauty:
[They] should not marry the jerks whom they had drunken procreative sex with and hope never to see again. Nor do I recommend entering into a union with a clearly unstable, unsuitable partner.
Drunken? Unstable? Unsuitable? Wow. Let’s just throw stereotypes about both birth mothers and biological fathers and single parents in general out there and wave them all around! I cannot understand such judgment laced words. I simply cannot. I don’t know how or why you would want to believe the absolute worst about somebody but apparently a large group of people do. Again, my optimistic personality really wants to believe the best about people. Truth be told, my trusting nature has gotten me in trouble in that regard a few times in the past but I’d really rather be positive and vulnerable than nothing but negative and, well, friendless.
In reference to the movie Juno, since that’s what has sparked a huge debate about all things involving unplanned pregnancy as of late, the author gives us a back story about how the main character was treated to negativity by her ultrasound technician and brings us another beautiful piece of judgment:
We are supposed to loathe this character and cheer when Juno’s stepmother puts her in her place. But I found myself sympathetic to the technician. Why is it verboten to express the truth that growing up with a lonely, overwhelmed mother and a missing father is a recipe for childhood pain?
Maybe because, oh, you know nothing about the mother, the child or the circumstances surrounding the group of people involved? Maybe because, oh, I don’t know, common courtesy would encourage you to shut your mouth or, at the very least, think before speaking? True. Ignoring the problems within our society won’t solve anything. Take the problems within the adoption system for example. If adoptive and birth parents along with adoptees weren’t taking the reins of change into their own hands, no one would give a rip about the fight for Original Birth Certificates or the unethical practices that have sadly become part and parcel with the process itself. So yes, I believe in speaking up. But with a little bit of knowledge and a morsel of respect.
Then again, I’m just a skeezy birth mother who needs to run off and have drunken, unprotected sex with the next unstable fella that walks my way. But I do thank the author for proving one thing: the stigmas that everyone said that America was over are alive and well. This is proof. This gives myself and any other mother, relinquishing or parenting, who has spoken up to the fact that they felt as if they had no other option to place or that their parenting decisions are frowned upon with ammunition in their court. Do not tell me that it was “all in my head.” Do not tell me that it was only my family. Do not tell me that our society is so accepting of young, single mothers. I wasn’t making it up. Neither were any of my other sisters and brothers in adoption.
I can see some answers in how to help fight for adoption reform. But I have no idea how to make people like this realize how harmful their accusations and negativity really are on those who are faced with situations and decisions like these. I have no clue how to get it through to them that they are part of the problem, not part of the solution. No, it’s not their fault I got pregnant. No, they didn’t force me to sign a piece of paper. No, they didn’t take my daughter from me. But trust me, attitudes like this and the people behind them were involved in the decision making process.
For more on society and placement, read these posts.