Saturday, August 21, 2010

Once upon a time she took a trip to Lovejoy

I'm adopted. I was adopted privately, some would call it a "gray market" adoption because I wasn't sold, and it was legal, but I was never a ward of the state. Meaning my biological mother and my adoptive parents both met seperately with the same attorney, who arranged it all. They never met each other, and they were originally connected by the doctor who had to tell my Mom that she would never have a baby, and who was the doctor of my biological mother.

How it all came about is actually a long and beautiful story of kindness and faith, but I'll tell it another day.

When I met my biological mother in 1993, she did not hold back on details of my conception or birth. She was in college dating a Iranian man, here on a student visa. She became pregnant and he wouldn't marry her. He, Ali, wanted to return to Iran and knew that wasn't the life for her.

There's alot you can say about a Muslim man having fun with a Catholic girl in 1972, but I believe they were both looking to do right by each other.

So it was 1972, abortion was legal in Oregon, so CarolAnn made an appointment at Lovejoy Surgicenter, on NW Lovejoy street in Portland. It's still there today, in operation, with security and bodyguards.

CarolAnn listened to her family and friends. Her friends were afraid for her raising a child on her own. She was almost 21 years old, but it was the 70's and unwed mothers were still somewhat ostracized. So they supported the idea of aborting. Her parents, good Catholics, wouldn't say to get an abortion. Her mother just told her that Ali was "very dark" and would not accept her child no matter what.

CarolAnn was alone, poor and feeling like a social target. Lots and lots of people were having sex before marriage. Lots became pregnant, some got married, some had abortions, their "mistakes" were hidden either by a ring on their finger or a doctors assistance. Her "mistake" as some saw it, was on display for everyone to see.

She was fired from her job at JC Penney because she was pregnant and not married. She had other women, old and young, whispering about her. Her mother wouldn't talk to her, her Dad didn't know what to say. So she went to her appointment at LoveJoy.

And on her way there, on a trimet bus, she realized she could not end the life of the child inside of her. She thought it was a sin, to take a life. But she also loved, me, already. She didn't love me because of who I am, my personality, that I make her laugh, or that I have red highlights in my hair, she loved me because I am her child. And every ounce of her body wanted to keep me.

So she went back home. Faced the scorn and ridicule of some, but discovered that she had support that she didn't realize was there. My biological father, Ali, supported her the best he could on his income from Iran.

She met Dr. Zuelke, who told her for the first time that everything would be ok and that she was doing the right thing. She was interested in adoption, and he had this couple who had tried for years to no avail (my parents), and he knew that they would love the child (me) as their own.

CarolAnn struggled along, through her pregnancy. She found a job at a deli. Hired pregnant by a man who knew she would need time off for the birth, and hired her anyway. Her friend Sarah stood strong beside her, never wavering. Sarah's mom acted as surrogate Grandma to be.

The day of my birth the hospital was supposed to make sure that CarolAnn was in a "twilight sleep" by the time of birth so she wouldn't have to cope with me being taken from the room. But the nurse didn't realize she was as far along in labor as she was, and instead of being numbed to the pain, she gave birth to me alone, in a prep room, having to wiggle and bend so I literally did not go skidding off the table.

So for a brief moment she saw me, in all my red, crying glory and knew that she had made the right choice.

I am grateful to her beyond words or measurement for what she did for me. What she tolerated, and the pain she withstood for me to have the parents I did. And I am proud of her that she stood her ground, even when those around her wanted her to take the easy way out. I'm not saying that abortion doesn't leave it's own scars, but those scars are inside, and not on display for all to judge.

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