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By Jessica D’Addabbo

Note: Names have been changed to protect the identity of individuals.

My life has been directly impacted by the choice a woman made long ago to give birth to her child and place it up for adoption.  This adopted child is my mother-in-law.  Because my mother-in-law was born, she had a family of her own, gave birth to her oldest son, who is now my husband.  Were it not for that brave woman’s choice, my family would not exist today. 

The debate of adoption versus abortion has been ongoing for decades. Pro-life focuses on the life of the baby. Pro-choice focuses on a woman’s choice to terminate a pregnancy.  Amidst this debate, do you ever wonder what might be the impact of abortion versus adoption on a woman’s life and the life of her child?

Below are three accounts regarding the impact of adoption and abortion on women, and the impact on the adopted child.   

Abortion: Impact on the Woman

Kay Lyn & Emily share the impact of abortion on their life below.

Kay Lyn: Seeing an ultrasound of my next pregnancy, I was unprepared to see the truth. Instead of being a joyous occasion, hearing the sonographer say, “Oh, look your baby’s waving at you”, The reality of what I had allowed to take place was staring at me on the screen. A precious baby, not a blob. I wanted to bolt, run away from myself. Toxic shame ensued – depression, nightmares, anxiety. At my lowest, I prayed to die.

Emily: The shame, guilt, and pain I felt left me suicidal…I found myself turning to opiates to numb the pain. My boyfriend at the time took advantage of my brokenness and he would physically and emotionally abuse me. I felt so degraded and worthless that I allowed the abuse to continue. It felt like I deserved it all.

Professional counselors note that women often struggle with “post-abortion syndrome,” which is similar to post-traumatic stress disorder.  A meta-analysis of 22 studies revealed induced abortion is linked to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies, as well as substance abuse.   It also showed abortion often increases subsequent premature births, higher rates of maternal mortality, placenta previa, and ectopic pregnancies.

One study said women experienced “deep feelings of loss, existential concerns, and reduced quality of life… Most women did not cite only one or two negative outcomes, but instead described a complex constellation of adverse consequences, often centered on the life lost.”

Adoption: Impact on the Birth Mom

Jennifer gave birth to her child at 18 years old and shared the following:

“I chose adoption because I knew I couldn’t give my baby the life I wanted him to have. I wanted him to have a mom and dad in a loving family. So many couples can’t have kids and I thought why not give the baby to a loving couple. First thing the birth father’s mother told me is, ‘You are getting an abortion.’  I told her, ‘I will never get an abortion.’ It was never a thought to me because abortion is killing your baby. Giving my child up for adoption felt like death and I spent many nights crying alone in my bed. I went through indescribable grief.  But meeting him now after 18 years has been amazing to see his growth and development as a human being. I wouldn’t change my decision for the world.”

According to Jennifer, the experience birth moms have in placing their child through adoption is excruciating. Despite a birth mom’s immense feelings of grief and loss, a study showed “the act of relinquishment is tied to an increased sense of self-efficacy and confidence in that their decision was in the best interest of their child.”

Adoption: Impact on the Child

Amanda was adopted by a mother and a father who were unable to have more children. She recounts:

“When I met my birth mom, she along with my birth siblings were all addicted to drugs and sex.  I was so grateful my birth mom gave me up for adoption. She gave me an opportunity to have a good life and to be raised in a loving home with a mom and a dad.  When I became pregnant myself, I started to appreciate the gift of life.  Life is the one thing my birth mom gave me, and for that I am grateful.”

Societal Drift

Abortion is no longer an exception, but rather an expectation.  It is a common solution to unplanned pregnancies. A recent study revealed, “45 percent of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned and 42 percent of these pregnancies are aborted.” Abortion has become abortion-on-demand.  Abortion creates a calloused view of life as a problem that needs to be fixed.  Mother Teresa said, “If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill each other? . . . Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.” When a society accepts this ideology what will stop a mother from choosing to kill the baby after birth?  One article suggested the idea of after-birth abortion as a reasonable solution to ease family hardships.

Choose Life

You and I are living because a mother decided to provide the gift of life through birth. Think of the people you’ve met, the experiences you’ve had, and the things you’ve learned.  Now think of people you have impacted by your existence on earth through your family, your schooling, your work, and your community.  

Life is a gift that should be shared.  Many couples are unable to have children of their own. A baby born in need of a family is a priceless gift for that child and couple.  Let’s change the perception of “unwanted” pregnancies to the opportunity to give life.

Some people think there is shame and guilt in adopting your baby out, there is also shame and guilt in abortion that people never talk about.  Instead, let’s talk about the bravery and love women show when they choose to give life and create families through adoption.

Resources for You

Are you or someone you know considering adoption?  Click the links below for resources and support.

Brave Love – provides informative, honest, and hopeful knowledge about birth moms.

National Council for Adoption – provides adoption answers, support, and resources.

Are you or someone you know struggling after abortion?  Click the links below for resources and support.

Heart Beats – provides hope, help, and healing for women and men after abortion.

Abortion Changes You – identifies ways to heal, provides abortion stories, and helps in recovery.

Jessica D’Addabbo is a student at Brigham Young University – Idaho.  She lives in Arizona and enjoys spending time with her husband and their twin daughters.  Jessica struggled with infertility for 10 years and was a foster parent for 2 of those years.  During this time Jessica discovered a passion for working with children and helping families. 

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