When I think back to September 2001, my heart aches. Not only because of what happened in NY, PA and VA, but because that is the day I discovered a family secret. I found out that day I have an older brother. I found out that day my mother had a nervous breakdown after he was born.
My father was in Vietnam. My mother got lonely. She found someone to help her with that loneliness and ended up pregnant. It was mathematically impossible to pass the pregnancy off as my fathers. My mom was in trouble. Abortion wasn’t legal. Abortion wasn’t accessible. Abortion wasn’t safe.
A plan was concocted. A relative from another state ‘fell ill’. My mom and her grandmother would go and take care of her. Her Grandmother went to the relatives’ house; my mom went to a home for unwed mothers. Months later, she gave birth to a son. She gave him up for adoption. She had a nervous breakdown. No one but the out of state relative, my mother and her Grandmother ever knew. I was born less than 18 months later.
In September, I received an email from someone looking for his birth parents. He didn’t want contact, just health records. I told him I didn’t know anyone in my family who could be his parents. But his place of birth was familiar to me, and in passing I mentioned the email to an out of state relative. She gasped on the phone. I thought she might be having a heart attack. When she caught her breath, she told me the story. She made me swear that I would never mention it to my mother. She said that the whole ordeal had damaged my mother severely and she had seemed to have blocked it out. She feared if she were reminded of it, she would have another breakdown.
My mother was not innocent. She made a bad decision. She was unfaithful to her spouse. She paid for it with her sanity, and probably with a piece of her heart. No woman should be forced to give birth. No woman should be forced to terminate a pregnancy. All women deserve to make the choice.