The privilege I have to talk with women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy is rewarding, frustrating, and challenging. Women in that position often feel like they don't have a choice and just want the situation to go away!
My job as a peer counselor is to show them they do have choices and that the better informed they are, the better choice they can make for themselves and the pre-born child they are carrying. The biggest challenge is to overcome the mindset many women have toward adoption: the belief that a loving mother would not just "give her child away." This is particularly grievous when they believe they cannot or will not parent this child themselves. So they opt for abortion or they are deemed unfit to parent by an outside agency like Children's Aid Society and the baby is taken from them and placed in care.
The reality is that some women are not in the position to care for a child so it is not in the best interest of the child for the biological mother to keep the baby. Due to financial hardship, dysfunctional family/relationship dynamics, emotional problems, mental illness, immaturity, diminished cognitive functioning, or physical limitations, many women are unable to care for and give the child what is needed to become a healthy individual and, therefore, are not able to parent.
How do you deal with a client like this? Certainly prayerfully as we recognize that we need the Spirit of God to reveal truth to them and to open their hearts to His leading in their lives. We need to be compassionate and sensitive to their situations and feelings in these matters. I believe we need to gently show them the real choice they have to make: what kind of mother will they be? Within the heart of a mother is a desire to do the best she can for her child. Sometimes because of competing voices and overwhelming situations, they suppress or ignore this innate desire to nurture, and they make decisions that run contrary to the best interest of the child and ultimately to their own detriment. They are left with the pain and guilt from abortion or the grief and loss of a child who has been removed from their care, with no say as to who will parent their child, and an overwhelming sense of powerlessness.
Thousands of years ago, wise King Solomon was faced with an equally challenging situation when two mothers came to him to resolve a dispute. They were prostitutes and roommates. Each had recently given birth to a child. One night one of the mothers rolled over on her child, and the baby died. When she discovered her child was dead, she took the other woman's live child and placed her dead child in the arms of the sleeping mother.
The second woman awoke in the early morning and discovered what she at first thought was her child dead in her arms. As the morning light began to come in, she realized the dead child was not hers but that of the other mother. Therefore, they came before Solomon to have him determine which one was the mother of the living child.
Solomon in his wisdom called for a sword with which he would divide the child in two and give each woman half. Solomon knew beating in the heart of the true mother was a will to love and protect this child and to do what was best even if it cost her. The mother of the living baby cried out "Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death." However, the other woman said, "He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him." The king then said, "Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death, she is his mother!" (1 Kings18).
This graphically portrays the reality a woman faces when she is deciding whether to abort or to place for adoption. One has reason to be sympathetic toward both women in this story. Both are facing loss and grief, and both are torn and hurt. The heart of the true mother was willing to preserve the life of her child by allowing another person to raise her child if that's what it took for her child to live. The other woman was overwhelmed with her own grief and loss and decided if she couldn't have this child then no one would. Unfortunately, when it came right down to it, she put her own interests above the life of the child.
The question we must carefully ask women in crisis who can't or won't parent is, "Which mother will you be — the one who is willing to sacrifice and do what is best for the child and make a loving parenting choice to place for adoption or the one who puts her own interests above that of her child and chooses abortion?" For the woman who faces almost certain loss of the child to Children's Aid Society, will she make a plan for adoption not because it's necessarily what she wants, but because she wants the best for her child? The reality is, whether she planned it or not, she is a mother. Which mother will she be?
Kim LeBlanc is Client Services Director at The Lambton Crisis Pregnancy Centre in Ontario, Canada. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.