I grew up knowing that I was adopted and my parents were always open and positive in the way they presented it. They made me feel good about being adopted.
I had a very special relationship with my adopted father, George. He was a caring, thoughtful man that spent time with me, taught me things, encouraged me, and was always there when I needed him. The bond I shared with my dad was based on love, not biology.
In my mid-twenties, I wanted to learn more about my history because I was about to be married and might soon be having children of my own. I also had a growing interest in understanding myself, my origin. I started this journey by calling my dad. Through our discussions, I learned that my adoption was unusually open for the times.
In 1961, my father was stationed at Loring Air Force Base near Caribou, Maine. When he and my mother decided to adopt, they visited a priest on base that informed them about a young pregnant lady that had recently visited with him that would be giving up her child for adoption. After meeting, my parents and my biological mother learned that they were actually living in the same complex of townhouses on base. My biological mother, accompanied by her mother, had come from a small town in western Illinois to stay with her brother who was also stationed at Loring.
Due to the fact that they were literally right around the corner from one another, my biological mother spent time with my parents. In fact, I would later learn that my dad took my biological mother to the hospital the night I was born. He enjoyed telling the story about going to check on the car after my birth to find his red Rambler station wagon right where he left it, in front of the hospital, still running, with the doors wide open. Due to the time my birth mother spent with my parents, my Dad was able to provide information that would later help me find her.
I found my biological mother in the early 1990s. She still lived in western Illinois near St. Louis and was married with two children. Consistent with other adult adoptees that search for their biological parents, I did not want to make her feel uncomfortable or disrupt her life; I simply wanted to understand my life. I used intermediaries to make initial contact before contacting her directly. After our initial phone call, I went to see her the following weekend. The meeting was very emotional for all of the obvious reasons. After plenty of crying and looking over one another to take an inventory of our biological similarities, we got to the discussion of my origin.
When talking to couples that are considering adoption, I always make the point that there’s something imperfect about an adopted child’s origin that makes them available for adoption. These imperfections may include pregnancy out of wedlock, financial hardship, governmental restrictions (as in China) or other cultural forces. In my case, my biological mother said she became pregnant with me as a result of a date rape.
Issues of rape and incest are emotionally charged. As a father of three with two daughters, I feel these emotions. But as an adult that lives a positive productive life, it is difficult for me to consider myself a “choice” as the Democratic party would argue or the “rape exception” as some in the Republican party would suggest.
Both parties have politicized abortion. Many strong anti-abortion Republicans have bowed to pressure to moderate their position on abortion now that we are past the primaries and heading towards the general election. The result is the rape, incest, and life-of-the-mother exception to make the anti-abortion position more palatable for centrist voters. While I understand the political move, the abandonment of principle is disappointing.
I find myself particularly confused by the Democratic position on this issue. Generally, my Democratic friends want to help others and provide a voice for the voiceless. They are good people with good hearts. The obvious irony is that unborn children are the most helpless, voiceless, and innocent of all human beings. Yet in Democratic politics, the unborn child rarely merits an honorable mention in the abortion debate. The political cynic in me thinks that this is because unborn children cannot vote and thus don’t have the political value of an adult woman that believes her right to choose trumps my right to live.
But most troubling to me in the abortion debate is the absence of a real discussion about adoption as an alternative. While carrying a child to term is certainly a significant commitment, it is a nine-month commitment, not a life-time commitment if the child is placed for adoption. My biological mother (who recently passed away) went back to western Illinois after giving birth to me, attended cosmetology school, married a good man, and had two more beautiful children. She went on to have a good life after giving me life. But just as important is the fact that by giving me life, she gave my father a son, and gave my children a dad. Speaking for my family, I think we’re all pretty happy about that.
The recent controversy over abortion involving U.S. Senate candidates Richard Mourdock and Joe Donnelly of Indiana is both telling and sad. In their Oct. 23 debate, Mourdock made statements about his belief in the sanctity of life, even in cases of rape. His words were twisted and shamefully mischaracterized by Donnelly, the DNC, and the Obama campaign to suggest that Mourdock (and by extension, Republicans) were somehow pro-rape and a threat to women’s health care.
Having viewed Mourdock’s debate statements and subsequent comments several times, it is obvious that he is a sincere, religious man that was standing by his beliefs – despite how politically inconvenient they may be. He is not pro-rape or a threat to women’s health care and was respectful of Democrats and Republicans that have differing beliefs in his remarks. Mourdock believes that life begins with conception and that abortion should only be an option in cases involving a threat to the life of the mother. Mourdock stated that “Life is a gift from God” and that “Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Looking at my life, my children, and the people we all touch, I believe that I am something that God intended to happen, just as Mourdock said. Even if the manner in which I was conceived was imperfect and not intended by God, my life is most certainly a gift from God. Mr. Mourdock, I thank you for your courage and conviction in being a voice for the voiceless unborn children of rape.
Glenn W. Perdue is managing member of Kraft Analytics, LLC, an affiliate of KraftCPAs in Nashville.