The ‘Opt Out’ Mom

Most parents know the admixture of fear and excitement that precedes the arrival of a new family member.  Whether biological, surrogate or adoptive, a thousand questions haunt us: Will we be good parents? Can we avoid the mistakes we feel that our parents made?  Will the child be healthy?  Will we have the capacity to love and nurture the child often at the expense of our needs and desires?  Do we have the strength and stamina to see this through to the end which may mark our waning tenure on planet earth?

Of course this is not an exhaustive list, and people by virtue of their individual life experiences, personality, emotional landscape and thought processes may categorize these feelings differently, yet the basic essence remains the same.  We are human, and as such recognize our fallibility.  But for those who desire to procreate and to experience the challenge and accomplishment of unconditional love we push through these doubts to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

One does not have to give birth to a child to become a mother or provide the sperm that fertilizers an egg to become a father.   Certainly, this is one means by which people can become parents, but just as many people choose surrogacy and adoption.  Out of the millions of people who choose the latter, there exist an incalculable number of great parents who open their hearts so completely that the love and care they exhibit toward their children is indistinguishable from that of biological parents.

Unfortunately, far too many children fall prey to parents who are emotionally and spiritually stunted.  These individuals join the rank and file of a cadre for whom the desire for children is commoditized to meet the procurer’s need for psychological or physical dominance, conformance with societal norms, free labor, or sex.  I am intimately acquainted with the trauma a bad parent can inflict upon a child.  During my childhood, my father’s hatred toward me manifested in both emotional and physical abuse which took years for me to process. Through intensive psychotherapy I continue to process and reconcile a world which had been turned inside out by the shortcomings of my seemingly omnipotent parental figure.

The power of the internet plus the ubiquity of digital news sources has inured the public to the depth of depravity man perpetrates against man.  Through these mediums flow a nauseating stream of stories about parents who torture, murder and sacrifice their children through a variety of methods too despicable to recount.

Some are outright sadists, others possess such low self-esteem that they will debase themselves and put their children in harms way for paltry and specious attention from an individual with whom they have formed a romantic relationship, while others romanticize the notion of child rearing. Such is the case, in my opinion, with the woman who forced the child she had adopted from Russia to travel alone through connecting domestic flights and finally on a transatlantic flight which delivered him back to his native country of Russia where he had been an orphan.

As many people have commented, we don’t know how the child acted while living with the mother in question, however, to summarily discard him because he was deemed “too difficult” is pure cowardice.  When an individual makes a conscious decision to have a child, they cannot then ‘opt out’ when things become challenging.  There are so many things wrong with this situation starting with the process by which this woman was able to adopt this child through expedited channels, to the method of his abandonment.

As terrible as this case is, this boy was lucky to have survived when so many other did not.  This case also highlights another facet of the challenges faced by male children in this country. Feminization.  Male energy, especially boy energy, is no longer encouraged or favorably looked upon.  As a mother of a boy, I am well acquainted with his rough and tumble nature and how different it is from my female energy.  However, because I love him unconditionally and I am utterly and completely committed to him, when our interactions become challenging, I am able to discipline with love and push through without subjugating that part of his nature that makes him uniquely male.

This is not easy and I often become exasperated.  However, I persevere because it is more important for me to raise a balanced child than a docile one.  There are many articles and books on the topic of the feminization of males in America, and I surmise that this boy who was adopted from a culture that is strongly masculine and at an age where these character traits had already solidified, found it difficult to acquiesce to the directives of a “woman” who wanted him to be quiet, compliant and non-disruptive.  Three adjectives which are generally contradictory to their nature as any parent of boys can attest.We shall never know the full story, but in this one case Americans in general stood accused of the propensity to discard anything that requires long-term commitment and effort.  Both of which run contrary to our general desire for quick-fixes and immediate gratification.  Secondly, this latest incident ushered in a new era of “chilled” relations between America and Russia, the consequences of which have yet to be determined.  Finally, for parents and children’s advocates around the world, it shifted our focus of child abuse, exploitation and neglect from the ‘usual’ portraits of yellow, brown, and black hued children.

In the video below we spend a day in the life of two homeless Russian boys as they make their way in the world on the harsh streets.  We have so much to be thankful for and good parents are truly the foot soldiers of humanity’s ongoing survival.  I encourage you to check out the associated links below, which will hopefully provide you with opportunities to help children around the world whose lives have been or continue to be disrupted by circumstances beyond their control.

We can ill afford to ‘opt out’ because hurt people grow up to hurt people.  We must have the courage to stand up and accept the charge to improve this world one life at a time.

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About Ayanna Nahmias

Ayanna Nahmias was interviewed on Radio Netherlands Worldwide program titled 'The State We’re In,' about her life in Africa and her determination to transcend her past. She started the Nahmias Cipher Report to provide information to readers about life in emerging economies, and to provide alternative insight into the challenges faced by women and children living in these countries. The blog features stories from around the world to inspire other people to persevere and triumph in the face of great adversity. She blogs about current events in emerging economies, international politics, human rights abuses, women’s rights and child advocacy.

View all posts by Ayanna Nahmias

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Survivor News on the Web (May 12-18, 2010) « If She Cry Out - 21/05/2010

    [...] Ayanna Nahmias discussed a 7 year old Russian boy whose adoptive mother decided that he was “too difficult” and sent him back. She observes that parenting is a life-long responsibility. Children, whether born or adopted, shouldn’t be discarded because they are too difficult. [...]

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