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.
The news arrives. She is pregnant. The world expects her to be happy, excited, all the good stuff. “Are you going to have a gender reveal party? Have you picked out any names? Are you going to baptize your baby?” She doesn’t want to have a baby. They might call her lazy and selfish; she did this to herself and should now pay the price.
She has to heal herself. Years of abuse and she now holds a receipt for the pain. This child will serve as a forever reminder of all she has gone through. What she thought was love turned out to be hell. She had no security and sometimes the only way we feel safe is through someone else. Foster youth hold on for dear life to any sign of love, even love that later turns into abuse. We won’t leave. We hope the love returns, even if only in temporary moments. It is too late. She doesn’t have the capacity to raise a child. This child was not made out of love.
With the recent news of Roe v. Wade being overturned, a new fear fills the air. I can only imagine what foster youth experience when they see a positive pregnancy test, especially under such circumstances. The woman I imagine is already carrying her own burden and as much as she would like to give the child the life she never had, the life it deserves, she is not in the place to do so. She fears the life that awaits this child.
As a foster youth, there might be a lot we don’t know, but we are very aware. We know the extent of our capacity and we don’t put our well-being up for grabs. We are learning how important it is to heal ourselves before we go after the lives we want. We would never wish our experiences onto another child, and if we can avoid having someone else enter the system we are still healing from, we will. We put a lot of our own healing on pause to make it through our upbringing and, unfortunately, don’t face a lot of the traumas until adulthood. We are works in progress. Having a child will not only delay our healing journey but also push our traumas onto the children we want to love so deeply.
Then comes the capture-them-all solution: “Why don’t you give the baby up for adoption?” As if we weren’t aware of the option. As someone who did not know my father, I can attest to the lingering pain the absence of just one parent can cause. What did I do to push him away? I was just a baby. I never met my father, but the hope that I could someday cross paths with him floated above me wherever I went. I went back and forth in my head and it resulted in self-inflicted pain. Why did my dad leave me? This pain remains within. Sometimes I can turn the volume down but I can’t completely shut it off. The search and need for our biological parents is a lifelong journey that unfortunately can’t be filled with another being, no matter how much they want to fill the void. Adoption doesn’t make their absence go away. It’s almost as if adoption comes with a subtext, “you should be grateful someone wanted you.”
Being a parent is one of the most difficult human experiences. As foster youth, we do not want to repeat the mistakes we are so close to. It is almost as if there is an unforeseen agenda rooted in generational trauma, as if it strives to keep itself alive. The pain it feeds on is disguised as parental issues and unravels for many generations, eventually spiraling out of control. It is in our hands to break our ties to pain and suffering. Repeating the cycle is not something we do voluntarily. Holding and giving birth to a child we aren’t ready for will almost inevitably keep these traumas alive. We should have a say in what we can and can’t do with our bodies.