This series features former foster youth who are Youth Voice writers responding to the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which removed the constitutional right to abortion, leaving the legal decision to each state.
It was rumored that my biological mother never wanted children, and had several abortions before having me. I never explicitly heard this from her, but it was made known to me by relatives.
I’m grateful to be an only child, because if I had siblings, they would have had to endure the same abuse, neglect and torture that I did under her care. If they were older, they would have had to rescue me, or if they were younger, I would have had to inevitably rescue them. I’m thankful this wasn’t the case.
It was evident that I lived in a loveless household. She made it known without even trying that she didn’t want a child. I don’t remember being played with or shown affection, except for a few rare occasions, and even those made me uncomfortable. I remember being left alone a lot, to my own devices. Often in the corner of a room, by myself, to watch television, read quietly, write in a journal or play 80s video games on obsolete computers.
I wasn’t allowed to visit friends or relatives. I wasn’t allowed to go on field trips with my classes or join after school programs. I wasn’t allowed to go to places like theme parks, the beach, the zoo, the aquarium, or anywhere else that was “out of reach” as we didn’t own a vehicle.
Even when she cooked a meal, it was devoid of love. She did it out of necessity and reluctance. There was no joy or nurturance, she often seemed inconvenienced or annoyed. My existence seemed like such a burden and nuisance to her. And I wasn’t allowed to express any negative emotion. I often heard the phrase “quit crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about.” I learned how to hide my feelings at a very young age, to bottle up everything inside in fear of retaliation, a swift slap upside the face if I were to let my tears show.
I do remember her once telling me that she “wished she aborted me.” And I felt suicidal as early as 9 years old.
I lived in a home full of contempt simply because her family had pressured her into having a child she didn’t want.
I hear different things. It’s hard to get the story straight. But it’s said that my grandmother pressured her into having me because she wanted a grandchild. She had me very late in life, and it seemed like a decision that wasn’t her own, but the family’s.
My father was happy to have me. He’s very loving and proud of me to this day. But unfortunately, due to his own circumstances, he wasn’t able to take care of me.
So I endured horrible emotional, physical and psychological abuse and neglect until the age of 16 when I was finally placed in foster care. And by then, the damage was already done.
Believe it or not, I’m actually one of the lucky ones. I was placed with a very loving foster mother who loves me to death and means the world to me.
But think of all of the ones who aren’t as lucky. I think of all of the poor youth who are neglected, abandoned, unwanted, abused, tortured, thrown away and placed with people who don’t care about them. Or are repeatedly displaced, relocated to 10, 20, 30 or more foster or group homes.
I’m happy to be alive. But the moral of my story is that no one should be born into a home where they aren’t wanted. No one should have to wait 16 years before they find a loving parent.
And no woman should be forced to have a child they don’t want.
We can avoid abuse, neglect and abandonment by having access to safe sex practices, contraception and medically necessary abortions. We need to keep abortion legal and accessible.
The child welfare system is already overpopulated with too many children as it is and not enough loving homes to care for them. Unfortunately, the overturning of Roe v. Wade will only make this dire problem even worse.
My story is the kind that no one wants to talk about. But I’m here to say that we can prevent this if we have the proper plans in place.
Abortion is a health care, and health care is a human right. If we want to help ease the strain on the child welfare system, we need to keep women’s rights in mind every step of the way. We need to respect a woman’s right to choose.