This is probably my favourite submission yet to Men Who Trust Women. It’s from Channing Kennedy, who writes at Colorlines. Channing has kindly consented to let me re-post it here, so that you can all see it.
This is a photo of one of my family’s happiest days: the day I met my sister, when she was 31 and I was 16. (Yes, I was way into Everclear and posing funny in photos. It was 1996.) My mom got pregnant with my sister when she was still in high school; she was made to turn in her National Honor Society pin, and she had to put her baby up for adoption.
When I was ten, my mother told me I had a sister somewhere out there, and gave me a sanitized version of events. Since our family’s been reunited and I’ve heard more about it and the weeks that followed, every new detail has broken my heart again. Last year, my sister adopted a nine-year-old girl, my niece, and my sister and her husband pursued an open adoption with my new niece’s birth mother. If they hadn’t, my understanding is that my niece’s birth mom would have been in a similar position to my mom as a teen: her motherhood, the love that defines her life, would have been legally erased.
My mom, a longtime pro-choice advocate, taught me that the debate over reproductive rights is about whether to maintain a system that controls women. And through my sister, I’ve realized that even beyond contraception and abortion rights, motherhood never stops being a handle for the state to grab at — to twist at or to take away.
The state’s control over motherhood made it so that my sister’s first weeks of life were spent in some institutional crib with no one to hold her; she only found us in 1996 because a social worker bent the rules, we think, some social worker who trusted women. My niece and her birth mother might not be in each other’s lives if my sister and her husband didn’t trust women. I love my family, and I trust women.
It honestly warms all the cockles of my heart that so many people have submitted to Men Who Trust Women, and so many of them in ways just as personal, touching, and politically relevant than this. Thanks, Channing, and to everyone else who has submitted to Men Who Trust Women. Have you submitted yet? You should!