These Are The Days

Smart ~ Writer ~ Mom

Month: May 2017

So-Called Pregnancy Centers: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

I am extremely skeptical of so-called pregnancy centers like A Door of Hope, a center close to where I live, and one of a number of such facilities nationwide.

Pregnancy centers like these do not have medically trained staff on site.

This. Is. An. Important. Point.

They are a religiously-funded and supported Christian organization with an agenda. I am a Christian and I would no more trust them to perform an ultrasound or a pregnancy test or pregnancy counseling on me than I would my local Starbucks. And while I appreciate that their website says they’ll “refer you to resources” if abortion is something a person is considering, I find that hard to believe (but I’m certainly open to anyone who can prove me wrong.)

In my opinion, it would be better if Door of Hope and other “pregnancy centers” like these used their religious donations and funding to offer free birth control or at the very least free condoms; free community classes on STDs and sex health; and outreach to schools to talk to young girls and boys about the physical and emotional sides of sex (more than just biological sex ed); and, to promote safe sex, encourage healthy choices, and lower the risk of unintended pregnancy and STDs.

Knowledge is power.

If they would just be upfront about their intentions that would be fine. “We are a Christian organization – not medically-trained professionals. We are pro-life and we are here to see you through your pregnancy.” Or something like that.

But of course, their intent is not to provide pregnancy services; it is to coerce women in crisis to not choose abortion and find Jesus through classes like:
“Making an Informed Decision About Religion”
“Who is Jesus?” and
“Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes”

These are real classes, y’all. Not at your local church as you might anticipate, but at the local crisis pregnancy center.

One question: what if the woman in crisis is Jewish? Sikh? Hindi? Or Muslim? Are the services offered contingent upon the woman’s conversion to Christianity? Eesh.

In exchange for attending these “classes,” the pregnant woman receives credits to be used for diapers, baby clothes, car seats, etc. That sounds a bit like bribery to me. Attend our classes, promise not to abort, and we’ll give you free things for your baby. Yikes. Will Door of Hope be there when the baby is 2? 6? 13? What if the baby has severe medical needs? Just how long is the door of hope open? Just curious.

I’m realizing that centers like these really trigger a nerve with me.  I am still sorting out everything, but I think it’s safe to say these things trigger me because of the inherent intent to deceive. After all, who benefits from centers like these? Is it the young women? Well, surely some women have benefited from talking to a complete stranger about an unexpected pregnancy. But again, these are not people with any kind of counseling or medical training so really they’re just operating as surrogate confidants.

So who else benefits? The pro-life movement? Well, perhaps. After all, many of these centers are set-up purposefully near Planned Parenthood clinics so from a political standpoint, I suppose it looks good to those on the pro-life side.

But the entity that really benefits the most is the church, and specifically the people that work in these centers. They get to congratulate themselves on how they’re doing the work of Jesus and helping to save lives when in fact they’re doing nothing of the sort. Proselytizing isn’t part of a regular ob-gyn exam, last I checked.

I abhor centers like these that are deceptive and manipulative – especially those that operate under the guise of religion. Perhaps A Door of Hope is an oasis for some women, but to me, it’s nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

(Note: I wrote a shorter version of this post on a private Facebook group, from which I will probably will be asked to leave! Seriously, my community is quite conservative and my voice tends to get lost there sometimes. So I decided to share it here, too.)

A Mother’s Day From a Few Years Back

It had always been my dream to be involved with Disney somehow. In the 1990s, I was living that dream and if I’m being perfectly honest, I often felt guilty for how happy I was. Does a birthmother really deserve to experience happiness again? I ask that question not with some sort of false humility. I ask it with total sincerity. Did the fact that I worked at the happiest place on earth mean that I no longer felt sad? Not *could* I or *should* I feel sad because surely I did; but rather, was I sending the message that I had somehow neatly compartmentalized all that had transpired and it was no longer a big deal? That I no longer grieved the loss? That I was somehow turning my back on this part of my life story and living in some fantasy world?

For years, I danced between two realities – the reality that I was indeed happy and thriving and proving to myself that I wasn’t bad, that I could, in fact, be good, as Alanis says. And the reality of knowing I was a birthmother and that any happiness I experienced or exuded might be construed as being dismissive or reductive of the magnitude of what I’d done. It was a tricky dance that I orchestrated day by day – don’t be too happy, people might wonder if you’re just heartless. Don’t go to parties and drink or have sex because that will just perpetuate the myth that you’re a slut. Don’t make waves, don’t push the boundaries of what’s allowed and don’t tarnish your reputation because you might be fired. Transferred. Sent away.

In short, working at Disney allowed me to reclaim myself without the pressure of answering to – or putting on a show for – anyone.

One of my absolute favorite jobs at Disney was as a Guest Relations hostess at the Disney-MGM Studios. I was working “the window,” a small building just outside the park where guests come to get Disney information. Every day at the window was different and sometimes the guest situations were difficult to resolve. There were plenty of scammers illegally selling and reselling tickets so we had to keep our guard up.

One spring morning, a family approached my window. They had long, yellow tickets which may have been the old five or seven-day park hopper tickets. As the mom told her story, I noticed there were six people in her family, but she only had five tickets.

She tried her best to piece it all together.

Ticket … lost … had them yesterday at the Magic Kingdom … searched the hotel … no receipt … bought tickets through a travel agent … cost $1000 for all the tickets … can’t afford to buy another …

The mother was frantic because she was the one that had lost the ticket. Back then, Disney required guests to sign their names on their individual ticket. Hers was the one that was missing.

Guest Relations employees were empowered to resolve most situations on our own. But when a large amount of money was in question (more than $50 or so), a supervisor was required.

I connected with that mom in that moment. Not sure what it was about her story or her family, but I believed her 1000%. I asked her to wait a moment and I went to the back office to tell my supervisor that I wanted to re-issue her ticket, at a “loss” of about $200 to our department. No receipt or proof of purchase. No theft report from the police. Nothing other than this woman’s word. But I pleaded to my supervisor on her behalf, and to my surprise, he said, “Well, if you believe her, then do it. You have my support.”

The next few moments were among my fondest as a Disney cast member.

I told the woman I’d be happy to re-issue her ticket. She was completely overwhelmed. Her family was ecstatic. I handed her the new ticket, which she promptly signed. And then she grabbed both my hands, looked at me with tear-filled eyes and said, “Thank you and Happy Mother’s Day.”

In fact, it was indeed Mother’s Day. I moved through that day as I had many previous Mother’s Days, carrying the secret that I too was a mother. Not a parenting mother, but a mother just the same.

Clearly, this woman didn’t know if I was a mother, but she said I had the heart of a mother.

Well.

I signaled to her to hold on one moment, quickly closed my window and met her outside in the queue line. She hugged me tightly and we cried. But it was the good kind of cry.

She was the first person to ever say “Happy Mother’s Day” to me. And I will always remember it.

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