On “Unwanted” Babies

By Dave Andrusko

Carolyn Hax writes an advice column for the Washington Post and has since 1997. While its intended audience is not old geezers like me, I do take a peek every once in a while to see what she’s telling her readers.

Wouldn’t you know it, Hax was on vacation and she was allowing readers to give the advice. But that’s fine, it was the lead letter that drew my attention [“On ‘Unwanted’ babies”].

The correspondent  had been a young woman in the 1950s when it “was totally radical for any woman to be pregnant and not married.” Abortion, she tells us, was not an option. She had decided to give the baby up for adoption.

But, as so often was (and is) the case, she changed her mind, deciding she “would find a way to survive.”  However the night she had her baby the child ”was snatched out of my arms, despite my tears and entreaties to please let me keep it.” Her son was lost to her “and I often wonder how he turned out, what he looks like, what he thinks of me.”

Having written all that she concludes with a 180, ending with this head-turner: “With the choices women have today, I can’t imagine having a child who is not wanted.”

But beyond the dreadful way her wishes to keep her baby were ignored, the moral of her experience surely is that her child WAS wanted, twice over: by the family that adopted him and, belatedly, by her. Also that a feeling of “wantedness” the biological mother attributes to the baby may first ebb and then flow for but the child’s inherent worth is an independent constant.

Implicit in her comment that she wonders what her son “thinks of me” is that his opinion of her matters. Without knowing any more than what is contained in the letter, I’d guess that he is hugely and forever grateful his mother gave him life.

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