Honesty is such a lonely word

In my post about Wanda, the woman who wished that she could have aborted her mentally handicapped son, Emma K. posted a link to a British newspaper column regarding a book called When The Bough Breaks, which was published earlier this year. The author, Julia Hollander, gave birth to a severely mentally handicapped daughter. After several months, overwhelmed and having thoughts about killing the baby, she turned her child over to foster care. The columnist castigated Ms. Hollander for “giving up” and “being selfish” and trying to profit from her experience as well as getting in her own pious “I have a disabled child too!” line. The commenters for the most part echo the columnist but a couple make some rather astute statements. From Alison, also the mother of a disabled child:

I think your article has some valid points but please don’t abuse the power you have to become a militant mother of a disabled child. It is hard enough just keeping the show on the road when the fashion is to parade parenthood as some kind of medal. Whatever you may think I believe this mother has a right to do the best for the child.

To say thousands of parents go through heroically every day , I think it is time to have a frank debate and see what comes in the wake of such bravery, the cost on siblings and partners.
and other family members.

From Natasha:

Most of us do not choose to be parents of disabled children – it just happened. some like (the woman who took in Hollander’s child) do choose this. It does offer a “third way” to those faced with, say, diagnosis of disability during pregnancy – keep, terminate – or give birth then decide if others should care for the child. And provides an answer to the question I fire back to pregnant mothers who say: “I don’t mind if it is a boy or girl, so long as it is healthy” … I say “and if it isn’t healthy, what then? Have you considered what you might do? Foster care, shared care, give up for adoption? Would it depend on the ‘special need’?” Disability can happen to anyone, at any time. How any of us will react is dependent on many factors.

To be fair to the columnist, she did note that parents of disabled children are not given personality transplants to make them sweet and saintly, although I’ve run across discussion boards (the URLs of which are usually sent to me by antis) where the posters seem to be competing in the My Kid Is More Fucked Up Than Yours Olympics. But as referenced in the column and in Wanda’s post, Cthulhu forfend that one should actually, you know, be honest and say “you know what? Parenting a handicapped kid blows goats. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t.” And the world is much harder on women who say/think this because motherhood is still considered to be magically transforming.

I know I’ve mentioned that I’ve considered creating a site for women who regret continuing their pregnancies. While I think it’s definitely worthwhile I’m not sure if I’m the one to do it, not being in that situation. Having had abortions INS is a much more personal project for me-my baby, if you will. Running INS and the blog doesn’t take up a huge amount of my time, but considering my myriad other interests it takes enough. A site like the one I propose has the potential to strike the same chord that INS does-a chance for those who have never been able to speak honestly about their experiences to do so without censure or recriminations.

And for the sake of women AND children we need to start being honest.