Hand turns dice and changes the expression "pro choice" to "pro life".

Abortion & Adoption

It seems to go without saying, amongst most open minded and rational female thinkers, that the possible overturning of the decades long Roe vs Wade decision is a monumentally backwards step for society. 

Within the adoption circles I jump in and out of, the conversation around a woman’s right to choose is even more complex and blurred on where the lines should be drawn. Inevitably, the less informed make a stupendously ignorant statement—something like, at least you weren’t aborted—if we dare to engage in a discussion on this topic. 

Over the years, I have been asked many times if I’m grateful that I was adopted and given a chance at life —generally assumed to be a better one. Avoiding the triggering assumption on gratitude, for the sake of this piece, let’s dive into my response and reasoning. 

The truth is: I would prefer to have not been adopted even if it meant being aborted or growing up in an orphanage in my native country. 

Now, for why I say this. First, let me just preempt my explanation with an acknowledgment that my life is pretty great. I have wonderful people in my life now, including my adoptive family. However, it was not an easy road to get to this point. 

Once the decision was made for me to be adopted, I became the victim of circumstances and the decisions of others on what they felt was best for me. Their best led to my abuse by those who were given authority and privilege over me. So, when others assume I have a better life, I question: at what expense and how would they know?

When I was 18 years old, I got pregnant. Mostly, I couldn’t believe it had happened to me as I thought I was immune to any more bad things falling upon me, but naivety is a fool’s playground. Fully aware that I was not prepared to give my life over to motherhood, I considered my options for a very brief moment. Once I determined that I had a plan for my life that did not include a teenage pregnancy, there were only two choices to be made: where and when I could get an abortion. 

I did not discuss it with my third adoptive parents. My father held a very conservative view of the world and my mother had not yet earned my trust enough to confide in her about my situation. Besides, in our house, we did not keep secrets. Or, rather they did not keep them from me. I held many, and this would just be one more. So, the baby daddy and I worked out a plan, executed it, and seemingly got away with it. 

Unfortunately, I wasn’t as good at hiding things as I had thought. My adoptive mom got suspicious, did a bit of snooping, and discovered the truth.

There was a rift created in the family that was not only about my decision made by myself for myself, but would also reveal that they had made a very different decision when they discovered their own early unplanned situation. They had been older than me when it happened to them, but they chose a kind of death in life rather than a kind of life with death. Obviously, they built a good partnership, raised their child, and their choice resulted in me finally finding a safe home to grow up in. 

However, as another fellow domestic transracial adoptee stated in mutual understanding, there was no way I was going to have a child nor give it up for adoption just to let it live, because the risk of it possibly experiencing the same kind of trauma was more unfair than never giving it a chance to live at all. 

The shadows that remain in being adopted multiple times—being abused in every way possible, being forced to figure out a way to survive this world in my own way—are too big of an ask for a child, let alone any human, just because a system that ultimately benefits from the demise and misery of others exists. Of course, I could have offered a different kind of life filled with love and joy. I also could have sacrificed my own dreams to raise another human being whom I would have more likely infused with blame, anger and resentment for my martyrdom. 

Instead, I used my freedom of choice to try to follow the path I saw before me that was of my own making, not based on anyone else’s decisions—even that of an unborn fetus.

To this day, I consider this the number one best decision I have ever made. My choice.

As adoptees, our roots have been transplanted in unfamiliar soil. As international transracial adoptees, our seeds of origin are completely removed. Like with an organ transplant, there is no guarantee that the mind and soul will take to a foreign family, no matter how much love and support are provided. Then, imagine when love and support are lacking during the formative years. It’s a wonder that this original organ survived at all.

So, no —I am not grateful to have been adopted. I do not know if I have had a better life because of being adopted. It is with arrogance and ignorance that allows some to make such comments and assumptions about adoption and international adoptions with confidence. It is with even further hubris and superiority that anyone should think that a woman does not have the right to make a choice for herself, for her body, and for her future.

 

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

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