When an unwed teen-ager without education, job prospects, or much interest in motherhood gets pregnant, what are we supposed to do? Spirit her off to a quickie abortion? Have the child raised by someone else so that both mother and baby have a better chance to succeed in life? Or just be nice and nonjudgmental–hand the “baby mama” a welfare check and make sure she’s not “stigmatized, as the liberals say?
Believe me–the liberals don’t know how to answer that one. In one of the most incoherent Mother’s Day columns I’ve ever read, Washington Post columnist Donna Britt essentially says yes to all three options.
Britt’s own grandmother became pregnant out of wedlock at age 19, in an incident that Britt’s great-grandmother, her mother’s grandmother, said would have been called date-rape today–for back then, young women hadn’t bought into the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s, and churchgoing girls like Britt’s grandmother typically waited until marriage for sex. So Britt’s great-grandmother decided that the best thing that she could do for both her daughter and her granddaughter would be to place the baby in a foster home–which she did, later taking over the raising of the child herself. Meanwhile the daughter–Britt’s grand-mom–went on to attend business college, pursue an accomplished career, and marry well. Britt remembers her grandmother as “an award-winning insurance agent, glamorous society matron, dentist’s wife and church pillar.” Britt herself, of course, grew up to become the successful journalist and columnist that she is today.
Great story, right? It’s a solid argument for adoption (informal adoption in this case), or for the non-Dickensian orphanages that many have contended is one solution for the problem of babies born to young girls who aren’t ready in any sense to raise them.
But Britt’s not happy about that–because when mother and daughter were separated at birth, Britt’s 19-year-old grandmother just didn’t visit the little daughter she’d given up, who came to think of her own grandmother–Britt’s great-grandmother–as her real mother. Britt writes:
“Mom explains now [about her own mother]. ‘She failed to realize when you take a child away from its mother, she doesn’t bond with her.'”
Yes, this might be true–yet it seems to me that Britt’s great-grandmother did the best she could to with a situation from which one could emerge perfectly happy. Britt’s grandmother was freed to lift herself out of poverty, and Britt’s mother got a solid home life with her strict but doting grandmother and a beloved aunt. We might ask what kind of parent the 19-year-old woman who wasn’t interested in her daughter might have been if she’d kept her.
But now Britt thinks it might have been better if her grandmother had been treated like one of today’s “baby mamas”–handed a check and allowed to raise the child herself in a fatherless home. Writes Britt:
“I’d written about the costs of teen motherhood without realizing a key reason part of me empathizes with baby mamas while another despises the ‘no daddy required’ instructions that apparently accompany modern-day newborns.
“Two-parent families should be a child-raising ideal. But denigrating the inevitable — and in some cases superior — one-parent families that always exist is insane.”
Oh? It it seems to me that Britt’s great-grandmother did the best she could to with an unfortunate situation from which no one could emerge perfectly happy. Britt’s grandmother was freed to lift herself out of poverty, and Britt’s mother got a solid home life with her strict but doting grandmother and a beloved aunt. Would being raised by a penniless, uneducated 19-year-old single mother who wasn’t particularly interested in you really have been a “superior” way to grow up?
Then, just to muddy the waters further, Britt quotes her mother as essentially saying the best solution would have for her to have been aborted. Britt quotes her mother:
“People who insist that women have babies if they get pregnant — they aren’t going to give a dime to help take care of anybody else’s baby if they can help it . . . . So the child is out there on his own. Forget the adult. It’s not fair to the child.”
Oh, so then neither Donna Britt nor her mother would exist.
You’re confused? So am I.
That’s the problem with liberals–they think that everyone is entitled to perfect happiness all the time, and if only we could figure out the right twist of social engineering, everyone would indeed be happy all the time. Adoption isn’t a good enough way to deal with out-of-wedlock pregancy, because–surprise surprise–adopted children tend to bond with their adopted parents instead of their natural ones. So instead we should just put up with teen-headed single-parent households–even though we know perfectly well that they’re a recipe for lifelong poverty, stunted education, and worse for everyone involved–because maybe the mother, if she’s not too immature, or too hooked on drugs, or too tied up with that child-abusing new boyfriend of hers, might remember to give her kid a hug.
Happy Mother’s Day.