Anyone who knows me knows that for the last five weeks, I’ve been fostering the most adorable pit mix puppies. So adorable that I created a blog to chronicle their adventures and mischief. The pups came to me at 5 weeks old, three pounds each, and left at an admirable 15-17 pounds. I grew completely attached to these babies, waking up multiple times a night to care for them, buying them little doggie toys, taking them to the neighborhood dog park and watching them gallivant with their friends. Without a doubt, these puppies became the center of my universe and I loved (almost) every minute of it.
Then they got their 10 week shots, and their spay/neuter surgeries, and it came time to start looking for homes for them. I screened people with an intensity that rivals Harvard’s college admissions. If people had so much as a single spelling or grammar error in their application, I cast them aside. Only the best for my puppies! We ended up finding wonderful homes for each dog, and I can say with certainty that they will be loved unconditionally and spoiled rotten.
And yet, my heart is broken into tiny dog-sized pieces. Everywhere I look in my apartment, I think of the dogs. My bedroom floor has dog hair all over it. One of their toys is stuck under my fridge. My bathroom smells like wet dog.
And I started to think about when I worked at an abortion clinic, how so many women would say that they thought about adoption, but knew that having an abortion would be something that their heart could handle, whereas with adoption, it would be too painful. Having an abortion was a way to honor the pregnancy without adding additional emotional trauma that comes with birth and then placing the child for adoption.
Although carrying a pregnancy and having foster puppies are certainly different in a thousand ways, I feel like I have a much deeper, complex understanding of why adoption is, for some women, so much more painful. The attachment, the memories, the reminders are everywhere. Wondering how they’re doing, if they’re being taken care of the way you would be taking care of them, if they remember you, if they think about you sometimes with love, or sadness, or worse, anger.
I’ll always wonder how my puppies are doing. I can only imagine how this would be magnified times a million if it was a child I placed with a new family. Choice is something so much more complicated that political slogans and statistics. We need to trust that women make these decisions with their hearts and with compassion.