“What are you reading, Mom?” my 11-year-old son asked, bounding toward me and nosing under my arm to peer at my phone screen, at which I was scowling. He is eerily good at taking my emotional temperature, the hypervigilance of a child who has not always known safety, and he knew something was up.
“Just talking with some people about this big abortion decision,” I said, pocketing my phone to pour a cup of coffee. Since Roe vs. Wade was overturned last month, the adoptive mom Facebook groups I belong to had become my unlikely place to scream into the void, and that morning I had gotten particularly heated over the latest lawmaker to use adoption as a “solution” to thousands of unwanted pregnancies. My son’s eyes searched my face. “Abortion?” he repeated, trying out the new word. “What’s that?”
What is abortion? It is a simple question with a complicated answer. If you believe abortion is murder, as the minority of Americans and the majority of Republican legislators purport to believe, then you may be tempted to suggest that adoption is abortion’s logical, obvious, and even “easy” alternative now that many states have made abortion illegal. But you would be wrong.
The adoptive mothers I have come to know in these online groups over the past four years since my son was adopted have strong and diverse opinions about Roe vs Wade. Some believe a woman should have the right to choose; others are pro-life. Despite our differences, every single day we adoptive moms think about something that the average American, and the average lawmaker, do not: the long-term mental and physical health of adopted children and the mothers who brought them into the world. We are bound to each other by the knowledge that adoption is deeply complicated, rooted in trauma, and that it forever changes the lives of everyone involved. It is not a “solution,” but rather a choice with lifelong implications that cannot be summed up in terms of simple right and wrong.