March 2, 2006 9:10 AM

Must every baby be wanted?

I was so happy to receive this email this morning:

Dear Barbara,

Thank you so much for your offer of a free Mommy Manual, but I think I'd rather buy a copy to support your writing than recieve a free copy. Since on your site you stated that you would like to know about your readers, I hope you don't mind if I introduce myself.

I'm attending a college in the northeast studying electrical engineering, and is on the liberal end of the spectrum. I consider myself a feminist in the "everyone should have equal opportunity" sort of way. I'm also pro-choice because I believe that a woman should not be forced to bear a child she does not want. Given that, I do wish that there was enough a support system so women who choose abortion because they either cannot afford a child or do not have the support can choose to continue their pregancies. Every child should be a wanted child, and every wanted child should be born. I think everyone should work on reducing the number of abortions in the US because I highly doubt women have abortions because they're "fun".

Someday I hope to have children so I can teach them and show them all the good things in life. Given the state of the public education system in the US and my desire to provide my future children with a good education, I may choose to homeschool.

Given this is the northeast (Boston), conservatives are hard to find, and if you don't mind, I'd like to start a conversation so I can see and understand how the other side feels about issues that are important to me.

Thank you very much for your time, and thank you again for the offer.

My reply:

Thanks for your email. I am really grateful that you find enough to like at my site to overlook such a big difference between our views. I don't know how much of my stuff you've read, but if you've read enough you probably know that I was adamantly and unapologetically pro-choice until the age of 38, when I became a Christian - almost by accident.

That was what changed me as once I understood how precious I was in God's eyes, I was able to comprehend a term I'd heard from the other side for years: "the sanctity of life." I really understood how precious each individual life is.

I also understand that whether a baby is wanted or not does not change the baby's individual value and dignity. Most of the great composers were very late children - Beethoven’s mother in particular would have had many reasons not to want him.

Jack Nicholson is surprisingly anti-abortion because he was born to an unwed mother who he says today could have aborted him and chose not to. Oprah Winfrey was an unwanted child. My youngest brother was an unwanted child whom my mother put up for adoption, then changed her mind and retrieved 2 weeks later. He is now a 45 year old father of five and happily married for 26 years.

Many babies with Down syndrome are aborted because their parents don't want them. Some babies with cleft palates or the unwanted sex are aborted in our country today.

So I don't think that the cliché about every child deserving to be wanted really holds up to intellectual scrutiny. Human beings are not commodities. Whether someone wants you does not determine your value or worth.

I know when I was young it was popular to Question Authority. I see many young people today questioning authority - only now that involves questioning the prevailing wisdom of a woman's right to choose. The younger generation is growing increasingly pro-life as many of them see how precarious their own existence was when based on the will of another human being. I think we are in the midst of a big cultural shift on this issue. And it's not about liberalism vs. conservatism - after all, young people are also more apt to be pro gay marriage. It's just that they're approaching the issue from a fresh perspective, one that involves some recognition of how much damage was done by the selfish and self-centered ethos of the Baby Boomer generation

I am going to post this at my blog so other people out there can comment on it - I'm guessing there are quite a few who have had "unwanted" children and are very happy they did! So look for some comments there.

And I am honored that you would be willing to enter a discussion on this!

Blessings to you,

One of the wonderful things about the blogosphere is how it's opening up these lines of communication. I appreciate my readers keeping them open by always speaking with caring and respect for each other. I trust your wisdom and experience and the way you communicate it. I appreciate that women feel free to be themselves here. Thanks to everyone who visits MommyLife - 1000 visitors a day - whether you've spoken up or not.


Posted in Pro-Life Issues | Permalink


Great letter and great reply! :-)
It reminds me that EVERY child is wanted by SOMEBODY. And it seems we all agree that we are talking about a CHILD.

Posted by: Carol | March 2, 2006 9:45 AM

What a great conversation.

Two points:

I aborted two babies when I was a teenager. These babies were very unwanted by me. I wanted no one to know I was stupid enough to get pregnant in the first place. But I see now that the emotions of a pregnant teenager who is throwing up several times a day and crying all the time because her hormones are out of whack, are not really all that reliable. I was a selfish child anyway and the very fact of my pregnancy proves that I had a history of poor decision making. So it's no surprise that I made more lousy decisions--to abort my babies. I had no parental input because, in the eyes of the state, pregnant girls are viewed as adults. I wish now that the state had forced me to tell my parents before they allowed me to abort (and paid for the abortions). I was not a woman with the right over my own body. I wasn't a woman at all--I was a selfish child.

Second point, I agree with Barbara on the wanted child deal. There were many times, many, many, many times I didn't particularly want my strong-willed son when he was a toddler (and there are even times now that he's thirteen) but that doesn't mean he doesn't want himself. I may not want him but he wants to live. And I don't have the right to get rid of him just because he's irritating, inconvenient, expensive, tiring, or unwanted.

Our babies, before or after birth, cannot live without our bodies. When they are three months old, if we do not use our bodies to pick them up, feed them, change them, keep them warm . . . they will die. We don't have rights over our own bodies all the time. There are times when our freedoms have to be subject to our responsibilities. I believe that for a pregnant woman, for nine months she is not free to do as she wishes. She must allow the child to live in her womb because he has inalienable rights bestowed upon him by the Creator. That baby's basic right to life, supersedes the mother's right to be un-pregnant.

Posted by: sally apokedak | March 2, 2006 10:40 AM

Kudos to your reader for her willingness to dialog about this.

You're response was beautifully stated, and we should all be able to witness so well. The whole question of "planned vs unplanned" needs to be re-evaluated. I do know people who considered abortion and now can imagine life without the "unplanned" child who turned out to be a blessing.

Thanks for this great post!

Posted by: papijoe | March 2, 2006 11:29 AM

Thanks for this post, Barbara. My precious little boy Charlie was not a wanted baby, in the sense that he was planned for, hoped for, or fit into our plans. My husband and I had just moved cross country to begin our PhD programs, and took a pregnancy test the day AFTER our parents left us here all alone. I can't describe the agony that I went through finding out that I was pregnant. All of MY precious plans were ruined. But, there was ONE who knew better than I! What an abundant blessing my sweet little boy has turned out to be, what a happier home we have now. Yes, it would be nice if all children could be wanted, but I speak from the experience of our life and say that I could want nothing else besides my sweet boy. God indeed knew His plan for us, and it was better than we ever could have imagined.

Posted by: gwen | March 2, 2006 11:47 AM

Barbara, spot on. "Whether someone wants you or not does not determine your value or worth". That's the heart of it. Wow, I didnt know that about Jack Nicholson! I know a few non-celebrity people who were also 'unwanted', yet escaped termination, and are now my friends. How poor this corner of the world would be without them!

To the new reader who wrote you, I live near Boston and deeply understand that conservatives are hard to find. I hope you are enriched by the conversations that start here on Mommylife as a result of your letter. So glad you wrote in.

Posted by: floorplan | March 2, 2006 12:16 PM

I am expecting baby #7 (at age 41). It has been an amazing and wonderful journey to this point. I will say that babies number 1,2,3 were "wanted" the last 4 have been "unplanned". Sometime after baby #2 (15 years ago), a woman mentioned to me that she was "trusting God" for the size of her family. That started me on the road of thinking I am on today. It is NOT about what I want or don't want!!!! It is about placing my body, my life and MY WANTS/DESIRES in the hands of an all knowing, providencial and GOOD GOD!!!! In my flesh and my "natural" I would NOT have wanted the chaos and stress and financial challenges of 7 children, but by trusting God's providence I have become a stronger woman and stronger Christian than I ever would have been had I stopped at three children. I have had to search my heart over and over for my motivations and have been challenged with my own selfishness and above all I have been BLESSED overwelmingly by the awesome GOODNESS of a GREAT GOD who ordains the life of EVERY BABY no matter what the circumstances.
I have come to believe that just because we are ANTI-abortion does NOT mean we are necessarily "PRO-LIFE". Many people who call themselves pro-life are really still pro-CHOICE. They may be against abortion, but are still PRO: CHOOSING to CONTROL their bodies and fertility. If we are truly PRO-LIFE...we will embrace babies and birth and fertility and the BLESSINGS of children!

Posted by: Tara | March 2, 2006 12:52 PM

Wow. Thank you Barbara for your tender heart!
I can't possibly add anything to your reply except that in loving and accepting the unborn we also love and accept their moms. I think a lot of the women out there faced with a crisis pregnancy also feel "unwanted". They think that if they go forth and carry the baby to term, they will be rejected by parents, boyfriends, churches, schools and possibly their whole support system! Sadly, many of them are correct in their assumptions. So those of us who call ourselves pro-life have to do eveything we can to show them that there WILL be someone to go to and someone who will support them.
I was an unwed mother many years ago. I did not tell my family for a very long time. I think I was five months along. I did, however go to a clinic to have a test and find out what I should do about prenatal care. I remember like it was yesterday the nurse taking me aside into a little room for a "talk". She said that there was a way we could "take care of this" and I could go on with my life. I felt like she was reaching down and trying to tear out a part of me! I was confused, naturally, but I knew that my life would never be the same, no matter the choice I made. The question was: would it never be the same because I would be caring for someone, or because I was trying to forget someone? I can't express the joy I feel every time I look at my beautiful daughter. She is such a special person! The sacrifices that I did make seem like blessings now. She is 22 and just graduated from college. She has just married a wonderful guy and the world is a much better place because she is in it.
A while ago I was reading some testimonials on a website for women suffering from Post-Abortion issues. I found one from a woman who had aborted her baby about the same time I found out that I was pregnant. Her story is so different. She has lived with regret, promiscuity, substance abuse, and physical problems ever since. I cried for her when I read her story. I pray for her often.
I'm not saying I was particularly virtuous, God just stepped in and I made a different decision. I thank God every day for that decision! No, it wasn't easy. My life has been very different than it would have been, but I am so grateful!
I feel so moved with love for women who are dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and I just want them to know, they AND their babies are so wanted! God DOES put before us Life and death, let's help each other to "CHOOSE LIFE", not just for the babies but for their moms as well.

Posted by: Jennifer | March 2, 2006 1:45 PM

Well, my first thought was that every baby is wanted. I'm not sure of the exact number, (I'm sure it's in the hundreds of thousands) but there are lists and lists of parents waiting for a child to be placed with them through adoption. If a mother doesn't want her baby, my wish for her is to recognize that every life is a beautiful, precious thing and for her to know that many people would be over the moon with happiness to be allowed to raise the child in a happy, secure home.

A good friend of mine accidentally got pregnant in college. She chose adoption (even though she is pro-choice). You should hear the things that people said to her when she was showing and then had to explain about the upcoming adoption. Heartless things, about "how could you not love your own flesh and blood" etc. However, I'm willing to bet those same people wouldn't have batted an eye at abortion. I guess *killing* one's own flesh and blood is better? The whole thing mystified me. Why are attitudes about adoption so bad?

I won't deny that pregnancy is a challenge. It is. I guess my wish is that a mother who doesn't feel they she could raise a baby could let that precious baby borrow her body for 9 months out of her whole life.

Posted by: Jill | March 2, 2006 2:02 PM

It's my understand that Oprah was conceived as a result of a violent rape. So much for the "rape and incest" clause.

Posted by: Monika | March 2, 2006 3:01 PM

What a wonderful website you have here! I came to your site today from a link on one of the blogs I read from my blog roll.

I love your email response to that young lady. It was obviously well thought out, logically sound, and loving. :-)

And WoW! You get 1000 visitors per day? I'm at 800, but if I every average 1000 per day, I think I'd have to have a party. ;-)

I hope you'll stop by my blog, I'd love for you to leave me a comment, and say "hi." :-D

Posted by: Candy | March 2, 2006 6:26 PM

I haven't figured out how to do trackbacks.

I'm answering from the unwanted child view.

Posted by: Sara | March 2, 2006 7:30 PM

These comments greatly enriched my initial thoughts. Great teamwork! Thank you each of you.

Jill's opener: "Well, my first thought was that every baby is wanted" because of all the people longing to adopt - that's so right, isn't it?

Remember when Mother Teresa said, "Give me all the babies - I will take them!" I love that!

And appreciate Jennifer's reminders about the preciousness of the mother's life too and how important it is to care for her.

Posted by: barbaracurtis | March 2, 2006 9:09 PM

What a beautiful reply Barbara. Thank you for your insight and wisdom and your great talent for putting your thoughts into words.

I, too, had an 'unwanted' child. Well, she should have been unwanted. Our last one was quite unplanned. I had 3 children already and the third has Down Syndrome. He was fed by a tube and couldn't walk or talk yet, still in diapers. When it was public that I was pregnant with #4 there was a little backlash (by those who were not of the 'conservative' mindset...#3's therapists and doctors etc) who couldn't figure out why on earth we would DO THIS for Pete's sake!! And it was tough. When #4 was born #3 was only 20 months old. I nursed #4 and life was spent mostly in survival mode for me, caring for two little ones who depended on me entirely for life. I can remember days when I didn't even get dressed until almost noon, I felt ragged, tired and spent. But I look back and know that life is good and that my little daughter couldn't help it that God gave her that seed of life. She is precious to me and how could I have ever thought that I wouldn't want her? It turns out that she has been used in many many ways to draw #3 into greater growth, motivation, learning etc. Since then I've had several miscarriages but each of those little lives would have been welcomed, no matter how 'unplanned' they were. When God creates a life, I'm going to sit up and pay attention! Who am I, who can't even build a doghouse or paint a masterpiece, to question the creator of the Universe??

Posted by: Beckie | March 3, 2006 8:30 AM

What a worthwhile topic! And I appreciate the manner in which you have displayed compassion and grace throughout. As women, I believe it is important--no critical--that we treat one another with grace and mercy regarding this topic. Actually--that might apply to any differing opinions! Judgement does not enhance change--in a positive movement anyway.

I love the priority you have placed on each child--regardless of their mother or father's opinions. That is exactly what God does for each of us. Each person has value...and according to Psalm 139....each day of their life is "written in his book." There is great value in that!

That value is not altered by a parents want/or not of a child; nor is it altered by the challenges a child may face in his/her life. At value is deeply held--as we stand in the gap for our lost loved ones...and wait for their return home. It is their pre-ordained value that calls them back.

Love your blog! Love the comments! What a great group of blog-friends you have here.


Posted by: Diane Viere | March 3, 2006 8:59 AM

Thank you so much for your response to that email. I think that children are a gift from God. I would take them all, too, if I could. I have a daughter and even though she wasn't planned I would never take it back for anything. I love her so much. We should all love the little children just as Jesus did.

Posted by: Sarah | March 3, 2006 1:33 PM

Barbara, as always, a great response. And to the young EE in Boston, I hope you find everything you are (probably not even) looking for in Boston.

I had this to say but Jill beat me to it. It's worth repeating:

"Every child [is] a wanted child, and every wanted child should be born" to be loved by caring parents who are waiting with tears in their hearts for the gift of a child in their lives.

Posted by: Tom_with_a_Dream | March 3, 2006 2:12 PM

I applaud those women who were willing to chose to carry unplanned pregancies to term to either love and cherish the child or to give the child up for adoption. I also applaud the women and families willing to adopt those children, particularly those with special needs. However, I believe that each woman should be allowed to make the choice to carry her pregnancy to term, as many of the commenters here have.

I think the choice a woman makes when she faces an unplanned pregancy is her private business, and I have no right to interfere or to make that decision for for her. Personally, I don't care what choice a woman makes when facing an unplanned pregnancy, be it abortion, adoption, or parenting, but I defend her right to make that choice as she sees fit. To force all women to carry every pregnancy to term would be just as bad as china's one child policy and forced abortion.

Posted by: cassie | March 3, 2006 7:16 PM

Barbara, you're right--the beauty of the blogosphere is to have a place for this dialogue. No one does it better than you.

Posted by: Shannon from Rocks in my Dryer | March 4, 2006 12:46 AM

I will be forever grateful that four courageous women chose to persevere and shelter their children through difficult pregnancies. Their children became mine, you see. Our family would have missed so much joy if our children's birthmoms had chosen not to let them live. You can see pictures of these precious 'unplanned' ones on my website.

Posted by: owlhaven | March 4, 2006 1:31 PM

Wow. What a beautiful response Barbara. I was 16 years old when I became pregnant. It never crossed my mind to abort.It was certainly tough to face the music ( all of the people I hurt),but the music was playing and I danced. I married my sweetheart and had a beautiful baby boy. He is now a 27 year old christian who is married and is a lawyer. I can't for a moment imagine my life without him. We went on to have 3 more biological children. they are all grown now. Then we felt the Lord's leading and adopted a precious baby boy, a year ago.I feel that he was wanted by his birthmother, she just knew that she could not provide for him. She loved him and wanted better for him. We will probably adopt again.Praise The Lord!

Posted by: Faith | March 4, 2006 2:25 PM

I wrote about this over at my place today.
Mary, mom to 8

Posted by: owlhaven | March 6, 2006 10:09 AM

great reply, Barbara.
This is a subject that is very close to my heart and well, that I feel a tad bit touchy about.
My son was not wanted. Check that, he was very much wanted by the sperm and egg donor initially because he was conceived via IVF....who in their right mind would pay thousands of dollars and subject themselves to all that goes into infertility treatment to conceive a baby NOT wanted? But this well-educated couple changed their mind when it was clear the baby was going to be born on the cusp of viability if preterm labor was not treated. When presented with this and potential outcomes including premature delivery and the high potenital of this child having some unpredictable degree of disability, they demanded an abortion. Unfortunately, and surprisingly to many lay people, late term abortions on healthy viable babies to healthy mothers are not routinely done. This was one of those cases. Even when they threatened to sue everyone involved and their family dogs, their wishes were declined. Daniel was born at 24 weeks and faced a very long, painful battle (the first two months of his life with virtually no loving contact....sssshhhh!!!! mommy was bad and snuck visits with him! When he was 2 mos old, we were declared to be his family so it turned out he was very much wanted! I tell folks it was a God thing that we all were brought together. The blessings overflow everyday because of this too.
His bios went on to "grieve the loss of their child" and two years later I hear had a healthy full term baby. That's nice but I got the very best part of them IMHO.

Posted by: Laura | March 14, 2006 8:41 AM

A little over 2 years ago, I hated kids, and I got pregnant. I had a house, a job, and a house, I was engaged, so I decided to keep it. Well, even under the worst circumstances, I couldn't get myself to get an abortion, that's who I am. I had a horrible pregnancy. To top it off, my son was born with a strawberry hemangioma, a huge, bright red birthmark all over his face, around his eyeballs, in his nose, throat,etc. I really went through hell because of him, but you know what? I love him. I love my son more than anything in the world. Even better, now I love kids, other people kids, and I'm even thinking about enlarging the family.

Posted by: Pascale | March 14, 2006 5:36 PM

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