Friday, 16 May 2008

An Unbloody Sacrifice

The Press here in Canterbury yesterday published this story. It tells of a woman who has made the hard and lonely decision to give her baby (when it is born) up for adoption. Wonderful, I thought. She is to be congratulated and praised for taking this hard road, and avoiding what she thinks is the ‘easier’ road of abortion – a choice that she says she has made in the past. She speaks of her knowledge of the difficulty that couples have in trying to adopt, and says that this was one of the factors in deciding to continue with the baby and pass it over for adoption. An open adoption, too, where she can be part of this child’s life, and vice versa.

Oh, and her husband can be part of the child’s life. And her two existing children as well. You see this isn’t a choice being made by a 14 year old girl who has no possibility of supporting this baby. This isn’t a P addict who knows she may, when high, harm her baby. No, this is a 34 year old, married, mother of two – who already has a family which she presumably loves, planning to give away her daughters' baby brother or sister. Why? These are her words, and the only reason given in the article:

"With everything growing, the costs of everything - we have two children - another baby on board would be harder."

Now, I realise that it is a short article, that no information is given about their wider family, about struggles with health, and mental illness, and so on. It may be that this family is on the poverty line, that they have budgeted to the hilt, and there is no money left at all. It may be that this is tearing her heart in two, but that if she keeps this baby other members in her family will go without food. If that were the case then things would obviously be different. And, to be fair, the Press doesn't always report things as accurately as they might. But there is no indication that this is the case. She doesn't say - "I desperately want to keep my baby but I know it will mean the rest of the family can't eat".

Fuller information might (and I stress might) change my position, or my tone. But this woman is giving away her child because it is going to make her life harder. That’s what she says. And that ‘hardship’ isn’t linked to mental stability, it’s linked to her financial situation. It is going to bring a financial burden which, given other financial burdens, will make her life harder. I’m sure she’s also thinking of her children and her husband. With another mouth to feed life wouldn’t be as ‘good’ for them, either. How altruistic.

But what if life isn’t about being easy? What if it isn’t about being financially stable? What if relationships matter more than money? What are you going to say to your child when s/he asks you why s/he was given up for adoption (because, remember, this is an open adoption). What do you say? Because we wanted a plasma?

Welcome to New Zealand. Home to bloodless child sacrifice. We now literally offer up our children to the gods of materialism.


Peter Orr said...

This was an excellent article Dave - and helpful to me as we deal with life getting 'harder' with our third. Although I can't help thinking that 99.9% of Burmese and Chinese who have been affected by disaster would gladly exchenge their lives for one of our supposedly 'hard' Western lives. Woe to me if I am ungrateful and complaining...

John Forsyth said...

Mixed emotions... great that she went for giving the kid up for abortion, not so great the reason why she is doing so.

Why not give up one (or both) of the older children? surely they cost more to keep?

The value of our children is never what they give to us, let alone what they cost financially. Their value is as people who are made in the image of God.

I hope and pray that this woman and husband will see their child not as a burden, but as a gift to be treasured, embraced and loved.

I'm glad God didn't abandon us due to the "cost" of restoring us as his children - a cost which was much greater than we can ever imagine.

Dave Clancey said...

John, I think you are absolutely correct (although I presume you meant ‘give the child up fro adoption rather than abortion!). I don’t imagine that it will be long before we see families abandoning children for the sake of their own (financial and material) concerns. In this way of thinking the value of the other is not intrinsic, but only what that which is given it. This screams loud and clear in the woman’s comment that she will not look at the scans, nor allow her husband to get too attached to the child. Its worth comes from that invested in it by its ‘family’ – and hence, if the family doesn’t connect with him/her, then it is possible to sacrifice the child. And yet here is where the sacrifice language falls over, for the whole point of a sacrifice is that the sacrificer identifies with that which is sacrificed – it is vicarious to a greater or lesser extent. What is happening here is less than a sacrifice – it is more of a discarding. I agree with you in praying for this poor woman – I can’t imagine the difficulty and the pain which a mother must have in coming to a decision like this. It sounds like there are a number of weeks before the baby is born. Let’s pray that the grace of the gospel might so transform her life in that time that she views her child differently then.

Jenna said...

Sadly, you'll find a lot of birth mothers who have placed almost solely based on financial hardship. (I say almost solely because I am of the opinion that there is never one sole reason that we do anything.) Many mothers and fathers experiencing unplanned pregnancies don't realize/understand/etc that finances can change in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately they also don't take the time to consider that adoptive parents' finances can also go straight down the drain in that same blink of an eye. No one is exempt from financial hardship, illness, divorce or even death and a lot (too many) of expectant parents considering relinquishment are not counseled on that fact. While it may seem like a common sense kind of fact, families reacting in crisis mode don't always see things that those two or three steps away from the immediacy of the situation can see so clearly.

John Forsyth said...

Thanks dave for fixing up my typo...(reminds me of college) although the there is some irony in the fact that in your correction of my typo you created one of your own ("fro" rather than "for")! Nonetheless, it is your speck and my plank.