Thursday, December 30, 2010

Life Continues Past Infancy and Being Pro Baby Doesn't Count as Pro-Life

When you travel around the holidays, you will be bombarded in the Midwest with signs telling you how much you should love fetuses. You should love them because they burp, hiccup, and have heart beats. Spend time around infants and it's easy to see why pro-life people want you to believe that infants are involved rather than potential infants. They're cute, they coo and make adorable faces. But they all do something else that the prolife movement forgets time and again.

They grow. And grow. And pretty soon, they aren't cute and cuddly. They are adults with all of the problems that come along with being adopted. Here is where they will shirk their responsibility every time, and where the rest of us, often those who can't afford it, end up paying. If I hadn't donated my entire childhood to raising my family while my two mentally ill parents were functionally unable to do so, maybe losing my adulthood to a neglectful society would be so damn irritating.

One such adopted adult is a good friend of mine born before Roe vs. Wade. Her evangelical Christian parents picked her up from the hospital during the cute, cuddly stage. Now that this always depressive, troubled person has turned into an adult with a serious mental illness, WHERE ARE THEY?

I know where they are not: 1) helping her to make arrangements for an adulthood on disability or negotiating the system to help her get some kind of income so she's not homeless; 2) getting any materials from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill to understand why their daughter has been in the hospital more than once for lack of functioning and suicidality; 3) arranging for her hospitalizations or need for periodic short-term; 4) making sure that she doesn't lose all of her friends from overstaying her welcome as she crashes from home to home penniless, morosely sad, multi-symptomatic, and mostly, 5) paying $5000 for their daughter's belongings to be kept in storage as she drifts from friend to relative to friend. They let me do that. They know that I had to struggle my way out of poverty, that I remain deeply in debt arguably still steeped in poverty, and that we are struggling while they hang out on retirement in Arizona. Yet, they feel very comfortable letting a college friend of their daughter incur high interest payments to take care of something that is their responsibility.

Listen carefully, those are crickets from the loving prolife parents with regard to the state of their daughter's life. Do they even care about her currently transient lifestyle drifting without health insurance, without a job, often incapable of simply showering regularly? They try to blame her; just as though they would actually tell someone with schizophrenia to go speak with an exorcist about ridding themselves of demons, they tell someone with diagnoses akin to this obvious mental illness that she just needs a little more Bible time. They probably vote for people who cut the mental health system, too.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Deployment Time Again

The dreaded phone call came last night. After enduring a relatively short 9-month deployment to Afghanistan last time, our family is now prepping for the longer 13-month deployment of one of our own at the beginning of January. The little boy I rocked to sleep; the adventurous child who came to me crying with injuries including a seriously bleeding head wound/hospital visit; the teen I consoled when girls were more cruel than I knew they could be; the adolescent who never seemed old enough to drive, but I taught him manual shift anyway; the young man I proudly saw face responsibility as a husband and father by joining the Army to provide health insurance for his family.

Most parents will know immediately what I mean when I say that it would be easier to go oneself to the war front than send the child they raised. If I told the truth, there were few moments that he wasn't on my mind during the first deployment. My stomach constantly clenched; chronically talking myself down from worry. Every single report of American casualties means waiting to breathe until he manages to make contact, and reassure us that he is okay.

What breaks my heart the most is the impact on his 6-yr stepdaughter and 2 1/2 year old son. His stepdaughter has grown up with my brother as her father, and when he deploys, she acts out in school and her performance declines. Almost everyone knows that the first five years of life are crucial for child development, so his son missing his father's presence a second time during those critical years has an unknown and negative effect. It is a child's sacrifice seemingly largely unappreciated by the nation.

The casual nature of most Americans' everyday lives, oblivious to war and its consequences, often feels callous and unconcerned, even in the face of all those "Support the Troops" magnets. When people think about supporting the troops, I hope they remember their often forgotten family members.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm Crying Too, John Boehner

Despite pursuing the American Dream since childhood, I am not as fortunate as in the incoming Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who weeps with pride and sense of patriotism that a person can achieve so much in this great nation. When I shed tears about my current life situation, it is not because I have achieved anything like said American Dream. It is because the policies put in place since at least Nixon, and definitely since Reagan, have favored the rich and wealthy, not working or middle class folks.

Therefore, I keep working and working, and barely treading water; debt more a constant than home ownership or picket fences. I put in my time in the nasty, low-paying jobs Mr. Boehner says he worked along the way to his success. I'm 40 years old, and there's no end in sight to the tears.

Where is my American Dream?

And why, Speaker-Elect Boehner, do you only care about preserving that Dream for the people who already have it?