Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Mother's Day Message

First of all let me start with what I intended for this entry to be --

I want to wish a happy Mother's Day to all the moms I know; my mother, grandmother, step-mother and mother-in-law in particular, but also my friends who are moms (Alex, Joanna, Lynn, Deb, etc.). Please enjoy your special day with your special little people. :) You are the most amazing group of women I know, and I'm so proud to have joined your club this year. I only hope I can do it justice. :)

-- Now it was supposed to end there. Some things don't need a whole lot of explaining, justifying, or being turned into a political cause. Short, sweet, to the point. But as a group of women pushing empty baby strollers at Queen's Park have turned today into a rally for public funding for artificial insemination (eg In Vitro) here in Ontario, as a woman dealing with infertility myself, I just had to comment.

Before doing so, however, I should probably say, as this is probably already going to be a controversial blog - that I want to make super clear right now as an infertile woman who has just adopted her first child, that I completely understand that the journey of becoming a parent is an incredibly personal one, and I would never, ever in a million years judge anyone on the path they follow to that goal. At the end of the day, you have to be fulfilled and happy with the decisions you've made to be a full and complete parent to your child, and unless you're a Nadya Suleman, I will not judge or question what it is that accomplishes that goal for anyone.

HAVING SAID THAT - I want to speak of my own journey a bit to explain my stance here. When Ari and I first became serious about building a future together, and started talking about building a family, we were very much on the same page about a lot. The one source of misunderstanding, was just how we wanted to build a family, and even then it wasn't so much disagreement as a difference in open-mindedness; Ari very much believed, if we weren't going to be able to have children of our own naturally, that adoption was the best and only recourse in an already-overpopulated world, where already so many children needed good parents. I didn't disagree - however I didn't believe in closing any doors. As I said to him often, 'this is a baby, not a political cause'.

Now - what we ultimately came to was that the main priority here was becoming parents in itself - and whatever goal would allow that to happen in the timeliest fashion with the least amount of pain and heartache was the way to go. We happened to decide for us, that adoption was that choice. And for us it was the right choice - having our Little Tyke, I can't imagine loving any child more, whether or not I'd given birth to him or her. It was what worked for our family, and the sacrifices and compromises it involved were ones we were willing and able to make.

I understand - and I say this without condescending - it isn't for everyone. Dealing with whether or not a birth family might be in the picture, or there might be health problems due to the country a child might come from, or choices a birth parent might have made, having social workers visit you and check up on you - even the small things like not being sure you should rightfully NAME your own child (as their name might be their only tie to their birth family) are not for everyone. On the other hand, the heartache of In Vitro therapies not taking, the risks of multiple births, the financial burden represented by artificial insemination - that's not always a choice some are willing to take. We all find the path that works for us. Again - it's about baby, not politics.

However when it comes to asking for public funding in order to become pregnant it does become a political issue, and one that - even as an infertile woman who sympathizes with this group of protesters in a way many perhaps cannot - I can't help but disagree with, because I think it puts the emphasis in the wrong place. It makes the goal becoming pregnant, not becoming a parent. The thousands of dollars of government money that could go towards creating one child, can go towards improving and supporting the adoption/foster care system so that it better looks after the many children it services, and provides the gift of parenthood to many families, infertile or otherwise, who want to take in a youngster and give them a home.

It is our responsibility as individual parents to decide what is best for our own personal families and to act on those decisions; but it is our responsibility as a society to decide how best to spend public money to the most people's benefits. And while I certainly understand the urge to have 'a child of one's own' without having to worry about social workers or birth parents or legal papers and all the stop-and-go and red tape adoption entails, spending thousands of public dollars so that a few people can become pregnant, I think is secondary to spending those thousands to ensure that many become well-supported parents - and, more importantly, that children already in need GET parents.

End of rant. Off my soapbox now. Thanks for listening. *bows, either to acknowledge applause or duck the tomatoes flying at her*

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