{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the day, week, or year. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

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Thoughts on the 41st Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

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Growing up, January 22 was not a day I thought of as any different from other days in January. However, as I learned more about the history of reproductive health politics in the United States, this day has transformed into both a celebration and a yearly opportunity to reaffirm my vision of the kind of health care provider I want to be.

Today, on the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion in the US, I’m thinking about all the recent hype around the Korean “Baby Boxes.” In theory, they provide a way for “desperate young mothers” who “can’t” parent their infants to “safely” and anonymously give away their children. I’m thinking about what the sanctioning of anonymous abandonment means for the very fabric of Korean society. What does it mean for the human rights and dignity of Korean children, who are suddenly cut off from their families, their birth story, their medical history, and if adopted, their cultural lineage?

As a Korean-American adoptee, I think every day about my birth mother, who became pregnant with me against her will.  I wonder how much of her pregnancy, the continuation of her pregnancy, and the process of my adoption felt like a “choice” to her. What options were truly available to her? What would she have done if she had had access to the kind of contraception and family planning care that I believe is a human right? How might her life–and mine–have been different if single-parenting in Korea were a real choice, not a guaranteed sentence to a life-time of stigma and shame?

It should go without saying that I am grateful for my life. Yet at the same time I am deeply troubled by the fact that given what I know of Korean history and politics, it is highly unlikely that my birth mother felt any kind of true agency or empowerment in her decision-making around her pregnancy.

Today I stand with the many unwed Korean mothers, Korean adoptees, activists and leaders in Korea who are voicing their concerns with the Baby Boxes and working to offer real support for all parents, not just those that fit the mold of “appropriate” parents.

I stand with those who refuse to pit abortion and adoption against each other as moral opposites. Adoption is not a more “noble” decision than abortion, nor is abortion immoral. They are simply two of the possible three outcomes of a pregnancy.

I stand with all the leaders in the adult adoptee community who are advocating for more ethical practices in the domestic and international adoption industry.

I stand with the courageous health care providers–the nurses, nurse-practitioners, nurse-midwives, physician’s assistants and physicians who provide compassionate, supportive abortion care every day. I aspire to be among them in the future.

I stand with all the people of the world who have experienced a pregnancy–intended or not–who have felt judged, stigmatized, or ashamed for the way they feel about their pregnancy.

As a Korean-American adoptee, future nurse-midwife, and reproductive justice advocate, I affirm my commitment to be a leader in the realm of full-spectrum reproductive health care. There is so much at stake. We need all of us to create the kind of world that supports all families, regardless of who they are, how much money they have, or what others think of them.

[Friday Wrap Up, Part II!]: 26.5

So I did a new thing this week, which was to write my [Friday Wrap Up] before Friday…gaspI know! But there were so many things already, I felt I had enough for a post.

Then I found a bunch of new things…so I’m back, to share a few more pieces.

Related to the theme of changing narratives around adoption…Reuters has blown it out of the ballpark with this stunning, heartbreaking series that investigates the underground “re-homing” scene. 

Through Yahoo and Facebook groups, parents and others advertise the unwanted children and then pass them to strangers with little or no government scrutiny, sometimes illegally, a Reuters investigation has found. It is a largely lawless marketplace. Often, the children are treated as chattel, and the needs of parents are put ahead of the welfare of the orphans they brought to America.

The practice is called “private re-homing,” a term typically used by owners seeking new homes for their pets. Based on solicitations posted on one of eight similar online bulletin boards, the parallels are striking.

I don’t know which is more sad to me, the fact that this is happening at all…or the fact that it’s been happening for years and only now are people starting to get it. Some people might argue that articles like this will deter “good, well-intentioned” people from considering adoption, increasing the number of children in a broken system. This argument fails to do justice to the fact that it’s a broken system…and the only way we can start changing that system is by shining a strong light on it, exposing the dark side and that has gone unexamined.

The Adoption Policy and Reform Collaborative has issued an official statement in response:

The APRC is acutely aware of the unethical and dangerous “rehoming”* practices that have occurred for more than a decade. We have expressed our concerns with alarm. We look forward to collaborating, from the perspective of adult adopted persons, with other powerful change agents to fully, appropriately, and ethically address adoption disruptions and dissolutions.

*Please note: while the APRC recognizes “disruption,” “dissolution,” “displacement” and “re-homing” as industry terms, APRC members regard these terms as sanitized and rationalizing practices terminating the parent/child relationship. While using industry vernacular in this statement we do not endorse their usage for the reasons indicated.

 The ‘Pullout Generation’ is Here. What Do Sex Educators Think?

In response to this New York Magazine article, RH Reality Check’s Martha Kempner offers this follow-up on the idea of “pulling out”, or coitus interruptus, as a method of birth control. Kempner focuses in on research around efficacy of withdrawal, condoms, and other contraceptives, pointing out the obvious, which is withdrawal, when practiced by someone who really knows their body well and has good self-control, is still better than no contraception at all.  Kempner quotes Deb Hauser, president of Advocates for Youth:

“I believe that young people should be given honest, accurate information. They have the right to all of the information and when empowered with that information are more able to take agency over their sexual health. That means we should teach youth about withdrawal as an option when they don’t have anything else with them. Withdrawal is much more effective at preventing pregnancy than using nothing. To withhold that information is misguided.”

On the theme of health disparities, this is probably not new news…but still, glad to see folks are bringing it up:

‘Baby-Friendly Hospitals’ Bypass Black Communities

A Women’s eNews analysis finds that 45 percent of U.S. Baby-Friendly hospitals are in cities and towns that have African American populations of 3 percent or less.

A full 83 percent of U.S. Baby-Friendly hospitals are in communities where the African American portion of the population is 13 percent or less.

This geographic segregation of breastfeeding care and support may play a significant role in the lower breastfeeding rates among African American mothers, which in turn means the mothers and the infants do not enjoy the health benefits of breastfeeding.

And finally, this infographic on the geography of unintended pregnancy from Huffington Post, which really speaks for itself: