The Four Pillars of Support Affect Mothers’ Decisions

4 Pillars from the inner court of the Bel Temple Palmyra, Syria, by Xvlun at Wikimedia
4 Pillars from the inner court of the Bel Temple Palmyra, Syria, by Xvlun at Wikimedia

Updated 15 Oct 2011

There are four important aspects of human life that play a major role in women’s reproductive decisions.  Since she alone bears the risk of losing a life growing inside her, she alone gives birth to that new life. She alone is responsible for the care and feeding of the infant (although bottle-feeding has freed women from some of the time constraints, even if it is not as good for the infant as breast-feeding), and the care, feeding, and subsequent growth of all children until they reach an age where fathers can offer as much support as the mother can. She must be recognized for her power, taught how to exercise it wisely and given complete societal, familial, and government support so that she can be the mother needed by her child and by society as a whole. Even children raised by gay couples must have a parent who can take over these duties as well as a biological mother should.  The impact of psychological, social, medical, and economic forces against the mother is huge and must be rallied by society in support of the mother, the child, and the family in all cases.

Power Depends Upon Support

Pregnant WomanBecause the mother is responsible for the survival of her children, the decisions she makes from the time she learns she is pregnant to the time her children leave the nest will reflect that power.  The implication for humans is that these decisions are the result of physical, social, psychological, and economic forces.  All of these forces have to be right before a mother can make that decision to continue a pregnancy, because it becomes increasingly difficult to change her mind after a birth. Furthermore, they play a role in all decisions she makes about her family throughout her life. Thus, theoretically, a woman wields enormous power as a result of her decision.

Being a Mammal Mother

Formosan Black Bear Suckling Cubs, from Abu0804 at Wikimedia
Formosan Black Bear Suckling Cubs, from Abu0804 at Wikimedia

In all mammals, and even in non-mammals, we see decisions by the mother to abort, or kill her infants when her ability to care for her child can be foreseen.  Evolutionary forces dictate that because a mammal baby is expensive to care for (it saps energy from the mother necessary for her survival, both before and after birth), when it comes down to a choice between who survives, the mother makes it for herself.  After all, she can always make babies, but the baby/fetus cannot survive without the mother. Now, we as Americans, will deny that mammal mother’s legacy of the power of  life or death over a baby, even though she is built biologically to have this power and the man is not.

As humans, we have devised a social system where, we hope, that every life is sacred, that ALL adults will sacrifice in favor of the life of an innocent child.  In many cases, this means that sacrifice is made for a fetus which has never experienced childhood yet, nor is equipped to experience it, since it is in a developmental stage that would never survive the world outside of a uterus. Moreover, this attitude assumes that the woman would survive, regardless of what happens in pregnancy.  We know this to be false, since the highest rate of death from pregnancy-related complications is found in young women between 15 and 19 years of age (it was on the CBS news around 05 May 2011 but I cannot find any news source for this announcement)–the so-called time of highest fertility. But what if that social system fails the mother? What choice does she have if she faces little to no social, economic, psychological, or medical support (thus the word “ALL” in  the first sentence becomes “some”)? Could she be able to raise a baby to adulthood with one of those pillars of support gone?

3 Pillars, from Temple of Apollo at Askelpion on Greek Island of Kos, from GanMed64, at Flickr
3 Pillars, from Temple of Apollo at Askelpion on Greek Island of Kos, from GanMed64, at Flickr

With power comes responsibility. All mammal mothers share certain instincts because of the evolution of internal development and the ability to suckle a child after birth. By extending development over time, these two mammal adaptations allow both tremendous physical development (greatly expanded neocortex and conscious thought), and social development (existence of families and larger social groups).  This happens at a HUGE cost if anything goes wrong during the development of a child to adulthood. In human social societies this cost is first borne by the mother, and then spreads to other levels of society: family, neighborhood, city, state, country, globe. We have to remember that the cost is based on the development of trust in the mother, which gives rise to trust in other people, and then to trust in social systems.  This trust gives rise to other aspects of survival as a human develops. Because development takes so long, it is increasingly difficult for humans to make family decisions that will ensure survival of their children. Thus, the four pillars of support must be held over a lifetime.  Society forms cracks when any one of them starts to fail.

Effects of Weakening of the Four Pillars of Support

I suspect that because of this long period of time to adulthood, we have a difficult time seeing the connection between the necessity of four pillars of support for a mother’s decision and the outcomes of that decision when these pillars fail. We have seen the chipping away of the pillars of support for mothers in the US and other countries, thus reducing her ability to wield the power that evolution had granted her. How have these pillars of support been sacrificed?  Certainly in times of budget cuts the actions of legislatures most often and radically affect these four pillars of support for lower economic groups, rather than the incomes of wealthy individuals.

However, the four pillars of support are also weakened by other actions.  Failure of a society to control how it evenly divides up resources needed for survival can happen in many scenarios.  We have historically seen that, when control of water, land, food, energy, or housing rests in one or few entities, many social groups fail to have enough resources for raising a family. Historically, we have seen other scenarios that show the interaction among these four pillars of support: allowing the creation of a high unemployment level in groups that traditionally face low expectations for survival; when a family or other social group abandons a young woman because she got pregnant or fails to support her decisions about her child; when a mother rejects her newborn; when there is no affordable access to mental and physical health care; when local schools cannot provide good basic education; when parents assume that only schools are responsible for educating their children; when there is not enough adult supervision of children at all ages until they reach adulthood.  These are only a few of the circumstances.

Culture of Poverty

One Face of Poverty: "Old lady at San Miguel Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico" by Tomas Castelazo, at Wikimedia
One Face of Poverty: “Old lady at San Miguel Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico” by Tomas Castelazo, at Wikimedia

What are the effects of this process of cutting off a mother’s support systems? We see increasingly poor conditions for raising children by the creation of a “culture of poverty”, where poverty is in the lack of most of the four pillars of support. The culture of poverty has enormous effects on a person psychologically, and socially, caused by and causing economic and physical failures.  Children raised in the culture of poverty do not get to see many of their peers “make it” by getting a chance at earning a decent living wage, thus lowering their expectations in life.  However, they learn from TV and movies that others live better and can afford many things that are luxuries to the poverty-stricken.  They are bombarded with these images in school, on street signs and billboards, stores, and the “wealth” of local groups involved in illegal activity, creating a huge conflict between reality and fantasy.  This conflict is rarely found in those more economically blessed levels of society.  Thus, they cannot understand the level of conflict in poorer groups at all. The increase in juvenile crime reflects both this conflict and a lack of trust in a society which either doesn’t want to help them or provides only sporadic help.

Imagine

What about daily life for the woman living in such a culture of poverty? When economic support systems fail, she would most likely end up living in what ecologists would call “peripheral habitats”–less desirable because of poor resources available (like no affordable broadband–imagine all the implications of this, you who live on the East and West Coasts of the US). In human terms this may also include greater toxicity in living conditions.  The mother might have to constantly run interference for her children caught in the state of their neighborhood. She might have to choose where to dispose of the drugs her son/daughter brings home in case the police come looking.  She might have to change her employment so that she can go with her child to a bus stop or school each morning to protect the child from drive-by shootings, street fights, or abductions. She might have to spend money on things that she would never spend on herself because she is afraid of the stigma that her child faces when they don’t wear the clothing expected by their schoolmates.  Furthermore, exposure to environmental toxins from the local factories causes a poorer health outlook in her family.

Social & Psychological Support

Alcoholism, from RayNata at Wikimedia
Alcoholism, from RayNata at Wikimedia

Even when economic forces are satisfactory, a lower- or middle-income mother may face losses of psychological and sociological support. She might not be able to rely upon her husband to help out with the raising of her children, either by unplanned-for absences or as a poor role model. She may face loss of her own family support for her choice of husband, employment, living arrangements, or religious concerns. She may be in constant depression because of her own issues, or escape into alcohol or drugs and is not there for her own children.  She may have come from a family with the same issues she has, and thus had no good role models.

Her state may prevent her easy access to reproductive medical benefits. Even if she decided to carry a fetus to term and put the baby up for adoption, that child may never be adopted (there is a 10% adoption rate from foster families throughout the US) and she would have to carry the burden of raising an unwanted child (with consequent dangerous and lifetime effects on the child–see “Special Case of Type I PTSD–Rejected Children). She may also have to carry the burden if her own relatives demand that she do so, either not wanting her to have an abortion or because they want this unwanted child where they can see him/her, but do not want to raise the child themselves.  Adoption statistics can be extremely misleading because they include adoptions by family members or neighbors and there are no statistics on how successful the unwanted child is in these circumstances  (mainly because it is so difficult to determine “rejection”). These circumstances creates a rage against women because children grow up without the attention needed by them when very young, and often in extremely intolerable conditions (Politics and Rage Against Women).

To bolster my arguments that a woman faces enormous pressure from her social world, the ABC TV show, The View in 2011, featured in a woman who chose to leave her role of primary caretaker for her career.  Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, author of “Hiroshima in the Morning”,  was a stay-at-home mom who clearly loved her children, but when offered the opportunity to go to Japan for four months to interview survivors of Hiroshima, she leaped at the chance.  While there, she realized that she really did not want to be a mother. Upon her return, she and her husband talked about it, and he really wanted to be a primary caretaker, now that he had experienced that life while his wife was gone. It was a saddening experience for both, but they had an amicable divorce, where Rahna was the one who moved out. She moved down the street so that she could be nearby.

I suspect that she became the breadwinner so that her husband could become the primary caretaker.  However the bad thing about this “role reversal” was that she became despised in the community, accused of not loving her children, and  got death threats. She was being criticized everywhere for “abandoning” her children.  It appears that, at least as recently as 2011, the only way a woman can show she loves her children is to remain a stay-at-home mom. Thus, in our society, no matter what happens in reality, a mother is greatly pressured to keep her children and take care of them, or must face the consequences.  Few women are raised to deal with that kind of pressure other than to buckle.  I suspect that women who decide to put a child up for adoption are similarly pressured not to.

Medical Expenses

Giving Birth by Caesarean Section, by Edi Israel, at Wikimedia
Giving Birth by Caesarean Section, by Edi Israel, at Wikimedia

Finally, lack of medical support might mean that she cannot overcome her psychological issues, cannot afford an abortion, or has enormous difficulty during a pregnancy because of medical conditions she cannot afford to get treated. Lack of medical support for the child also adds a burden for her because now her child may have to heal a broken bone without medical intervention, suffer tooth loss because of poor dental education, or have other medical conditions that must go untreated.  Unless her state provides free vaccinations for school, her child may have to be home-schooled, adding extra time to a long day which includes night work. Her own health problems will most definitely affect her children, making her ability to earn a living that much more difficult.

Decisions, Decisions…

A woman faced with the reality of a pregnancy, whether planned or not, will take into account factors from all four pillars of support when she makes the following decisions:

  1. whether to go ahead with the pregnancy
  2. how to assure the survival of a child in those first three critical years
  3. that impact the social, psychological, physical and economic development of the child as it interacts with the family and then increasingly, with the outside world,
  4. that affect her future grandchildren.

All four types of decisions will play a role when she tries to imagine life with that child before she goes into labor. Most likely, her own mother’s situation, while she was growing up, will affect the imagined life scenario of a new mother–perpetuating any trend seen in the previous generation. In each circumstance above, she depends upon the four pillars of support.  She will make her decision based upon the resources she can call upon. Removing any one of these resources increases the risk that any decision will not be enough to ensure the survival of her child to a successful life.

So what are the mother’s choices? If abortion is out of the question for economic, medical, or social reasons, she must keep the unwanted child.  Some might decide to keep it to avoid these “expenses” because they think they stand to benefit from welfare, tax deduction, and/or Medicare support by keeping the child. Then she faces severe emotional dilemmas. This means she will probably never bond with that child, never make a place for it in her brain, and constantly forget about it. She will create a “rejected child”, one who has never developed that basic platform of security in the brain that will allow him/her to succeed in life.

Consequences

We are probably seeing the consequences of our policy of not encouraging birth control or removing the option for abortion now as the numbers of homeless children are increasing.  It is more likely that in a culture of poverty, scarce resources lead to mothers rejecting children at birth, and continuing to not make a place for them as a member of their families in their own brains throughout the life of the child.

Rejected children may have a higher likelihood of rejecting their own children because they have never experienced the bond that the mother must make with her newborn within the baby’s first three years of life. This might happen in those were rejected at birth and were badly treated, never finding out what their mothers did to them in their early years or that their mothers should not have done this to them. Or, they may bond even more strongly with their own children to prevent them from ever having to experience what their mother had (Special Case of Type I PTSD: Rejected Children).

Since the mother must establish this bond, more men than women will probably be able to establish a nurturing family, provided they marry a woman who had not been rejected at birth. The baby will be born with a brain expecting a mother to supply this bond, not a father, so the father becomes a less satisfactory substitute for a poor mother, although, today, we see many more fathers being able to step in when the mother dies or fails to play the role.

Rejected Child Trust Wordle 1Society pays in the long run for not supplying women with the four pillars of support she needs just be the person she must be when she has children. We are only beginning to realize how ignoring 51% of the population has caused severe economic and social problems. And with the economic downturn and the increasing number of men who opt out of the economy, we are seeing a role reversal: many men are learning how to be the loving and nurturing fathers, even stepping into traditional women’s roles, with society learning to accept this change. It looks like the young parents of today face a very different family than their mothers faced just one generation ago.

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© Copyright 2014 by Martha L. Hyde and https://marthalhyde.wordpress.com.

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7 thoughts on “The Four Pillars of Support Affect Mothers’ Decisions

  1. Gosh, I just realized a major faux pas (sloppy writing). To clarify: The organization I work with works to combat human trafficking and they are involved in restoration and training victims.

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      1. Hello Martha, thanks again for your incredibly thoughtful, sincere, and intelligent post in response to mine. Again, I can’t quite respond in kind (I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to get my daughter down for a nap for over 2 hours now and I just sat down again to do some emails before she gets up again).

        I’d like to clarify one thing: It seems you misunderstood my point (sorry, my post was unclear and clumsy) about my surrogate agreement. That requirement to acknowledge in our legal agreement her right to abort our baby was not reflective of a trust issue, but was a simple legal requirement because of Roe v Wade. It is the law. Even though it took my husband and myself 3 1/2 years and 18 IVF cycles to make and harvest our embryos, and that child couldn’t have been more wanted, our surrogate had the “right” to end the pregnancy at any time, for any reason. It’s her body and it’s “simply” the law. It’s difficult to describe just how excruciatingly unjust that seemed to us. (My surrogate came to visit my daughter and myself a month ago, by the way–we have a good relationship.)

        So much of what you say here makes perfect sense, and is how I thought for many, many years. I personally am still not 100% in the anti-abortion camp, for the reasons you state here. But, I’m lately questioning some solutions. May I humbly suggest that asking for guarantees of any kind prior to considering that your position on this might be shown an alternative perspective not only, in effect, suspends the personal responsibility of the women of concern, (possibly even allowing for the thwarting of character development) but sets up an impossible scenario? Life is unfair; there are naturally no guarantees. And, I’ve come to believe that only Grace stands in for justice when we are confronted with that fact.

        Grace can’t be legislated, but it is shown most often when people make difficult personal choices. That is what I’ve seen my stepdaughter’s organization do consistently. (And guilt isn’t part of the equation, though I’m certainly not denying that guilt may be felt by women approaching any organization that might encourage accepting a pregnancy and delivering a baby if that baby is unwanted.)

        It seems you are involved in especially good works. And, it’s obvious you have a heart full of sincerity and care and get out there and act on it with tremendous intelligence. You likely have an impact far beyond what I offer, so it may seem presumptuous of me to mention some of what struck me in your response and caused some mental percolating for me.

        You ask “how long” do these organizations assist these girls? In the case of YoungLives, they stay as long as they need to, from what I understand. The organization works very hard to help the girls get into colleges, and they’ve done well with that goal. I am also involved in a human trafficking organization, and there, as well, the girls stay as long as they need to.

        As for the other parts of what you say, suggesting, “…it takes a village, etc…” I would agree.Though, again, I’d humbly propose considering that while social health is crucial, it’s not always sustainable. We live in an unpredictable world. Depending upon societal changes to gauge what can be seen as our moral decision-making is leaning a ladder against a very wobbly wall and, again, risks debasing own personal responsibility.

        Not to get on a new tangent, but my father was one of twelve kids. His dad died in 1944 when my father was 8. All those kids survived abject poverty and were successful in varying degrees (except for one of my uncles who had a drug issue). My husband’s mother is older and grew up during the heart of the depression. They were a farming family. Her mother died during childbirth when she was one year old, and as a baby, would wander about on her own. Neighbors would pick her up from wherever she wound up taking her naps (at the side of a building, near the road, wherever her little self would grow tired while her dad was working at the mill). Two of her siblings left home at fifteen years old because the family could not feed them. My husband’s dad was one of eleven kids, and had a similarly difficult background.

        One of the reasons the subject of the October Baby film (the reason I originally came to your site) intrigues me is that you might argue that these days, those families would have had the choice to abort some of those children and alleviate the sufferings. But, there is this aspect: These families suffered their sufferings and endured. They didn’t cave in to despair; they did not blame. I would also have to tell the truth and say that they had a common faith in something greater than themselves or their earthly society. If we depend on earthly things to sustain us, we are leaning that ladder against a wall that might not hold us up in even the best of all possibilities. That isn’t a reason to throw up our proverbial hands, of course, and say, “tough luck” or turn our backs on those who are desperate–quite the opposite. But, again, with all due respect, looking for that guarantee is setting oneself up for (possibly grave) disappointment.

        I’m aware that this above is only touching on a tiny portion of your article, (and is pretty disjointed). For instance, you write about the kinds of problems some mothers with bonding issues might project onto their children. And, to be honest, that is a common problem with some of the girls my stepdaughter works with. She often has to model for them appropriate discipline and affection. Then, there is the whole “why are these girls in these poor communities getting pregnant so often?” question (which might be answered in part by the preceding). I volunteered in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and worked with a young girl who was 21 years old. She had 4 children under 5 years old. And though she loved those kids, she had very poor parenting skills. Your concerns and the attention you are paying to them are very valuable.

        I wish you the very best in your good work, and hope you find answers to your very potent and pressing questions.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I really appreciate your answers to my questions here. Your praise of these organizations may be well-deserved, and from your statements that they stay with the girls they are helping may be true, but I have to ask, why are 90% of foster care children never adopted? (at least nationally). With such a high failure rate, it seems that we need to do a great deal more to help women so that they a) get free contraception and the social support to avoid an unwanted pregnancy, and b) to enable these women to make good choices for the children they decide to carry to term. Just listing these two things shows how complicated the answers are to the question of “Can we make abortion go extinct?”

          I know that I am not the only one to suffer so much during childhood that it hurt me badly during my life to prevent me from ever achieving what I so wanted to do, and should have been able to do. The treatment I was able to find for what happened to me was the only reason why I was able to even post my blog on the internet at all, to be able to speak of what happened to me to anyone. I still think that so many kids who were unwanted by a mother would have chosen to have been aborted, rather than go through what they had to in life. Sometimes the “honorable” choice is not available to such a person, since they have to survive first, they have to make it to the next day, first.

          In order for a person not to “cave in” to despair, they have to have some level of self-respect, or self-esteem to begin with. I have figured out what part of the brain is most likely to hold cells which represent a person’s self-esteem at each stage in life. I have also figured out the kind of circuitry involving this center that must develop at critical periods in life, and what events may cause its development.

          It seems that without the attention by a mother who really wants that baby, this center is sorely lacking and is the source of the self-shame I spoke of that I saw in the October Baby film. The self-esteem center is critical for every decision that a person makes in life, from the most minor, such as what to wear that day, what to eat, when to go to the bathroom, to the most major decisions, like who to be friendly with, what major to choose in college, what job to apply for, who to marry. If you have a poorly developed center, you can’t get past step one and have to build workarounds, a different one for every decision. You cannot generalize from one situation to the next, as other people do, because you lack that basic circuit that the mother gives you by her trustworthy attention to you during those first 3 years of life.

          Personal responsibility can only be held for those who have the brain circuitry that allows it to happen. For those who struggled just to stay alive as a child, all of their brain has to be used for survival as an adult. Without guidance, and our society does not provide any guidance for those who were never accepted into a family within the first 3 years of life, these kids could not be held to the same standard as those who got the proper brain development. The problem is that no one speaks of what is needed in brain development so that the markers of having been rejected are never recognized by anyone to enable helping these kids. Our notions of right and wrong do not allow for the lack of of development if we deny that this development is needed. The whole point I am making with this article is that if we lack the social support we need at birth, we can hardly expect certain behaviors from such children, either as children or as adults.

          You spoke of your father’s childhood, but not of your mother’s. I do not blame you for not mentioning it, because such information may be traumatic to even think about, and I praise you for your “forthcomingness” about your own experiences and those of your father’s family. I strongly suspect that your mother may have suffered rejection by her mother, as well, either her acceptance came too late or was missing only during some of the critical years. Or she suffered enormous trauma associated with her own mother.

          Your point about the effects of poverty is well-taken, and I have never meant to imply that poverty could cause serious lack in maternal care. In fact, I have mentioned elsewhere of Donna Beegle’s work on the generational poor, where the children are the only things that these people have, so they are far too important to many of the generational poor to abuse. However, economic status clearly figures in the reasons why many women seek abortions, since the majority of those who want abortions come from poverty. As a result, if they are denied abortions and cannot get their unwanted child adopted, they may well never accept them as they need to for proper brain development of that child.

          I have to just describe this scenario in this blog post since we lack any statistics on it. However, just promoting a discussion may be the start for our society to face these very dark and anxiety-causing questions.

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  2. This is all very well thought out and articulate. I look forward to exploring your blog further. I don’t have the time to respond in kind, so I hope you’ll forgive my clumsiness and haste — these days I am mom to a 2-year-old and am distracted and time-crunched.

    As for what you say above, I used to think this way, as well. But, though I’m not fully out of the pro-choice camp, I have now come to think that much of what is proposed by that side of the discussion is at least dishonest.

    In addition, I currently have very mixed feelings about what abortion means in context of some of my own personal experiences with miscarriages. For instance, I know stats such as that 60%-80% of all conceptions end in miscarriage. When I hear that kind of assertion, I have to question then what an embryo death means in the context of what I believe to be the sanctity of life. I hear that statistic, and I think it seems as if, as measurements of gravity go, an embryo death can’t possibly be as meaningful as some other forms of human demise.

    On the other hand, as I experienced various forms and stages of miscarriage, they were each excruciating–devastating to me and my husband (and ultimately contributed to the end of my first marriage).

    I at this moment have a baby pulling at my leg to get off this computer, but I’ll try my best to get to a sensible point…

    My child was born via surrogate. This was after adoption was out of reach after several avenues were explored. The Guatemala black market baby debacle put that journey out of my heart. After so much loss, and after beign told I was ineligible,and after watching friends lose adopted babies to red tape and to horrid depraved corruption, I could not find the emotional wherewithal to continue that path. (Foreign Policy did an expose a few years back, called, “The Lie we Love” about international adoption.)

    After 3 and a half years of 18 IVF cycles to harvest embryos (my age….took some doing) and aftr embarking on the surrogate journey after my doctors’ recommendation, I had been required to sign an agreement that said that my surrogate had the right to terminate the pregnancy for any reason. I can tell you, that I suddenly had quite a different perspective about that “right.”

    I’d also like to mention work that a Christian family member does. You had pointed out that you believed Christians making films such as “October Baby,” should focus on adoption and on assisting women who choose to keep their children. My family member works for Young Lives http://www.younglife.org/YoungLives/ and there are many, many other ministries like it. As well, adoption is very much a focus for many Christian families (I have several very good Christian friends who specifically chose adoption due to their beliefs). Here is a very prominent Christian musician who reflects a very common attention toward children needing homes: http://stevencurtischapman.com/ …. http://www.showhope.org/ . Focus on the Family and other organizations have strong adoption encouragement messages, and again, it is an extremely common goal for Christian families to adopt and support the “orphans” of the world in every way.

    Best,
    V

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    1. I truly appreciate the time you took to write your answer and will look forward to hearing more of your thoughts. I still think that abortion could become extinct if we were reaching all of those women who have no other avenue open to them. In fact, that is the preferable way, not laws passed against funding abortions, because that only leads to more desperate measures by many mothers. I too would like to see the end of abortion, but not at the expense of thousands of children being born to mothers who don’t want these children. I still think we need to support all life already living on its own out of the womb first. When we can guarantee the support and power that women have and should have over the lives of their own children, only then can we exact the responsibility we demand now.

      You speak of the mess of international adoptions. I totally agree that adoption services are often so poorly run when we desperately need adoptions to take place as rapidly as possible. So many parents fear getting a “crack” baby that they won’t even consider a poor mother’s child, and who wants to risk setting up a relationship with a pregnant mother from questionable backgrounds, just to be able to adopt a child right at birth? The legal problems are huge, as you mentioned. We have no idea how many women who renege on their contracts because they decide they want the baby, but who end up realizing that they don’t want the responsibility or can’t afford to raise them? Who follows those women after they give birth? Our information is so piecemeal. There are so many complete stories which have never been told.

      The problems you faced with surrogacy are so common that they are truly tragic. Maybe our global village has to become more of a “village”, and less of a “globe”. Most Americans live in big cities now, with all of the anonymity that brings. We come to rely upon that anonymity to the point that it hurts our being able to know people from all scales of life. That makes it difficult to establish the kind of trust so necessary for a successful surrogate relationship. We desperately want to trust our surrogate, but there are too many stories like yours that undermine that trust, justifiably. There are so many societal changes that must be done to assure that all children are wanted by someone. I have spoken on problems concerning fertility elsewhere in my blog (“The Brave New World of Egg-Freezing” at https://marthalhyde.wordpress.com/2011/05/31/the-brave-new-world-of-egg-freezing), but have plans to include more discussion about how toxins in our environment may be causing most of the problems.

      I appreciate the websites you offered, and am glad you entered them into a discussion here. I need to hear more from others who have similar places for women to turn to. However, often these organizations, just being Christian-based, will scare away people who want and need help, because the last thing these desperate women want to feel is guilty for not wanting their child. Such groups, just because they are associated with a religion, can make some women feel guilty. How long do these organizations stay with the women they help? How much help do they give? Does it include all 4 “pillars of support” that I mentioned a women needs? What percentage of women who use any one of these sources gets both prenatal and postnatal medical care, and help towards guaranteeing that they form a strong mother-child bond during the first three years, as well as enough help to find their ways out of poverty or lack of support?

      Our society jails women who kill their infants, they do not send them to mental institutions where they can be evaluated and helped. No one mentions at their trials how they have tried every avenue they could find for help before they decided to kill their children. Many feel so guilty they cannot speak of who has turned them away, because they themselves were unwanted by their mothers. Just being unwanted by a mother makes a child feel ashamed for existing and that shame will accompany them for the rest of their lives. I speak of the effects of not being wanted at my blog post “Special Case of Type I PTSD–Rejected Children https://marthalhyde.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/special-case-of-type-i-ptsd-rejected-children/.

      Most of the women who kill their children, who are mentioned in the news, also kill themselves and we automatically assume they were mentally ill. I have run across a few articles on this topic (one of which, Elaine R. Cleeton. 2001. “How Could a Mother…?” Matricide and Text-Mediated Relations of Family Discourse. Cult.Stud.Crit.Methodol. 1(4): 430-449. http://csc.sagepub.com/content/1/4/430.full.pdf+html, is freely available until 23 Jan, 2012 if you register for it at https://online.sagepub.com/cgi/register?registration=CEAD2012). There are others which are less accessible (a very few come up on a search on the term “matricide” or “mother” + “kills” at http://online.sagepub.com/search/ but none on “infanticide”), but so little study of this phenomenon exists in the US, that numbers on specific conditions and cases are hard to come by, especially on the questions I raise.

      There is so much controversy over the unusual death of a child that it makes it difficult for our society to recognize the problems many parents face now. News organizations tend to be staffed with people who come from fairly well-off families, who have never faced the poverty that so many children live in now. Their approach to the problem is not informed by that reality, and thus is not sensitive to powerlessness of the mother. How many of SIDS cases are of suffocation by a parent who could not admit to doing so because they would be jailed without question? How many SIDS cases, and thus investigations of very caring parents, could have been prevented if we all understood how some toxins in the air could have caused SIDS? (I speak of how toxins could compromise the pharyngeal muscles, causing them to collapse at my blog post “Surgical Approach to Sleep Apnea” at https://marthalhyde.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/98/)

      I can understand how a miscarriage devastates the parents. The brain is wired to work on accepting the growing fetus in us physically, but also emotionally. That 9 months of development is critical for setting up a huge change in the mother, and the rest of the family, in preparation for the acceptance of a new member. It is a large part of what defines us as human. Most doctors think in terms of hormones, when there is so much more involved in that process. But if there is not the support needed, then the entire process can go wrong. It does take a village to raise a child.

      I do think that people on either side of the question of abortion have not been honest with themselves or knowledgeable enough about reality to carry this discussion to the level it desperately needs. So much of it is because most people educated enough to enter this discussion come from backgrounds so unlikely to lack the emotional, social, economic, and medical support so suffered by those who most often request abortion services.

      Again, thank you for you comments.

      Liked by 1 person

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