The Adoption Fetish

The fetishization of adoption amongst middle class and upper class conservative christian whites first became apparent to me when I was attending high school. My school was strongly tied to a Southern Baptist church so much so that the head pastor’s children attended my school and his wife taught our bible class (which consisted of watching Veggie Tales((rather juvenile for sophomores in high school, right?))). The pastor and his wife adopted a Chinese baby from an orphanage in which children were abused via ignorance of their basic humans. The child has been left by the road upon her birth and would have most likely lead a terrible life without the rescue of these rich white americans.Why do I know all of this? Because of course,  it isn’t enough to add a member to your family out of love, you have to drive home the financial sacrifice you have made to adopt a hopeless and helpless child coming from an impoverished situation, otherwise your contribution isn’t public….and that isn’t any fun, is it? Following this adoption by the head pastor and the story of salvation of a little Chinese girl there was a rash of trendy adoption of African and Asian children within the church’s upper echelon of wealthy partitioners.  All of the horror stories of these children’s backgrounds were made publicly known, and yet none of us knew anything about the little girls (all of the children adopted were female) themselves. It was creepy, the fad of adoption.

Adoption is wonderful, people shouldn’t be mistreated, its terrible that orphanages like this exist. I agree.  Adopting children then spreading the story of their backgrounds and constantly reminding them of their “otherness” and how wonderful of a savior you and your family are is ALSO awful. That is not an addition to the family, its the addition of an accessory with a neat story, and that saddens me.

So when protestors say there are Christian families who would love to adopt the patient’s child, this often comes to mind. I will say no, not everyone who adopts is like this, not all christians are like this, not all christians who adopt children are like this. But the fact that this even EXISTS is problematic.

Threatening People Isn’t A Great Way To Win Them Over, Ya Know?

The antis on the sidewalk often approach escorts and clients with an attempt to intimidate by way of instilling fear. How? With clients and their companions there are threats of how “you’ll regret this because you’re killing your baby.” . To male companions of the clients, “ You’re not a real man! If you were a *real* man you would take her out of there.” , “you aren’t a real man if you let her do this, you’re a weasel.” The protestors trying oh so hard to instill fear of a loss of gender identity to men unless they physically stop the clients from entering the building. Its just strange that they would use such a tactless approach. I’ve come to feel that the protestors who use this are not there for the clients and to help them, but for personal gratification, otherwise they might become introspective about their methods.

Anyway. The escorts are threatened with jail, this morning two of us were verbally attacked by the same protestor. The protestor attempted to block physically block clients as they crossed the line on the sidewalk marking the area where the protestors couldn’t follow. The escorts did their best to stand in such a way which would keep the protestor from physically contacting or blocking the client at which point this protestor noted that the only way to draw attention to themselves was to feign some sort of physical altercation. The protestor backed up and started howling about how we almost knocked them over!” How dare you!”. The second altercation was quite similar, but instead of simply saying, “ how dare you”, she stood as close to the line as possible (as is her way) and said , “WE have FOUR cameras watching you. I’d hate to see you go to jail for doing this to me….” and on and on and on. My only response to this person has become, “Stop harassing me.”, this particular person is also well known to me for spouting her racism at me every time I’m present.

I’m just confused about what world the antis live in, they’re so amazingly narcissistic.

This morning though there were 14 clients, 10 Antis and 8 escorts. So at least there was a good number of escorts to watch out for each other and to witness the awful behavior of these people.

Edit/ P.S.

This protestor seeks some sort of hierarchy within the escorts, when they feel threatened this A* seeks out a specific escort ( I’ve witnessed this occurrence multiple times over my time of escorting) and tells the escort to control another one of us. There is no leadership here, no hierarchy and for that I am so grateful. Upon informing the A of this however, the A turned this into a weapon against the escort who is nothing if not kind and engaging with us, ” Well, you act like you’re in charge.” sarcastic and biting to be sure. I’m just amused at this pattern this A has when they don’t get a reaction out of the initial escort they’re threatening they approach this particular escort and badger them incessantly.

 

A*=Anti/ Protestor

When Calling Doesn’t Help

The client and companion pulled to the curb right at 7a and the client jumped out of the car immediately. We explained the clinic doors didn’t open until 7:30a. They replied they knew, but wanted to wait by the door because they wanted to be the first into the clinic.

We then explained the orange vests and protesters, and that the protesters would talk to them while they waited, but wouldn’t cross the property line. The client replied, “Oh, I know all about them. I went into their so-called clinic last week by mistake. It was horrible and I missed my appointment. I want to be sure I get in first this time.”  

We explained the $3 parking lot to the companion and let them know we would be there to help them there after we walked the client to the door.

D was right there before we took two steps towards the entrance, telling the client to “just take two minutes to come to A Woman’s Choice. They aren’t open anyway. What harm will it do?” The client replied, “Get away from me. I have already been there and know all about that place. I don’t want you to talk to me.” Of course, D didn’t listen. She continued to talk to the client while they were standing by the door.

Two escorts stayed at the entrance with the client while I went across to the lot to help the companion with the payment box. The companion decided to wait a little while in the warm car before standing by the door.

When I came back to the door, the client was shaking, upset and yelling at D to leave them alone. After I heard her say to D three times, each successively louder, to “Leave me alone,” I told D, “She has asked you to leave her alone three times. Now you are harassing her.” The expected, “I’m not harassing her. I just want her to know her options,” was the response. Then she continued to talk to the client and the client again told her to leave her alone.

I turned to the client and said, “You can call Police Dispatch and report her for harassing you if you want. I’m not sure what they will do, but you can call.” The client indicated they would like to call and I gave them the phone number.

While the client was waiting for the police, the companion also came to the door to wait with the client. I met them halfway down the sidewalk and said, “I’m glad you are here,” while catching them up with what had happened.The client and companion were together by the door while they waited for police response..

Two squad cars came within minutes. D reached the responding officer first and gave her version. When the officer talked to the client they were told D could say anything she wanted to them because of “free speech.”Sigh. Sometimes it works to call the police and sometimes it doesn’t. It all depends on who responds and their views on abortion.

After the officer left, D turned to me and said, “You are just a busybody.” However, D and the other protesters did leave them alone after the conversation with the officer, but this particular client had two unpleasant trips to the clinic. I worry that I contributed to the second unpleasant trip by suggesting they call the police.

Actually, police presence had the antis subdued until the majority of the clients went into the door. After they went in, an anti who regularly prays by the curb noticed it was quiet, picked up the fetal porn poster, and stood at the entrance shouting, “Do you know about Jesus? If you haven’t heard about Jesus you need to.” D actually waved her away after a few minutes.

Politics and your view on abortion should not determine how you interpret harassment. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean others cannot be offended by your speech or they cannot ask you to stop talking to them.

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {5/6/13}

Spring in the Ohio Valley means a lot of rainfall. As I have said before, this always has good and bad associated with it as far as escorting is concerned.

We had no problems getting clients and companions to the clinic entrance. There were fewer antis out, but most stayed grouped under the overhang. While our walks were wet, we had only a couple of antis walking the sidewalk with their umbrellas. The clients were able to walk without a lot of interference.

However, when we reached the entrance we had to navigate around antis with their umbrellas up blocking the entrance. When I said, “You are blocking the entrance,” to one anti who works for AWC the reply was, “No, I am not.”

Three antis were standing with their umbrellas up across the entrance. The companion had to push a little to get through and bumped the anti’s umbrella. I pointed out she blocked the last client only to be told, “He got in.”

Yes they did, but it is still blocking when huge umbrellas are added to the people.

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REMINDER: Our annual  fund drive Pledge-A-Picketer is NOW!

The Saturday before Mother’s Day is the biggest protester day of the year.  It also is the date  where we count protesters for donations to support the pro-choice effort and the escorts.  You can pledge a certain amount for each protester showing up that morning. If you prefer, you can also make a straight monetary donation.

Use this form to make your pledge:

 


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Sidewalk Snippet ~ {2/11/13}

We had almost as many escorts as there were antis on the sidewalk, but M was there and she is always a problem. Most of the clients were escorted to the clinic door without issue.

The last client and companion pulled to the curb close to 8a. We went down to talk to them, but M was racing to beat us to them. As they got out of their car, M started talking and telling them, “Come to A Woman’s Choice and find out about all of your options.” The companion replied, “We know them. We have made our decision. Move away from us.”

Of course, M didn’t move away. She started to press up against the client holding a plastic fetus in her palm for the client to look at. The companion said, “I asked you to give us some space. Since you won’t do it, I will do it for you with my body.” The companion blocked M and kept her behind the client as we continued to walk to the clinic door.

I am always surprised at the total lack of awareness of personal space and the meaning of “Move away” M always exhibits.

You would think my capacity for being surprised would have run out by now.

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {2/4/13}

It was extremely cold. There were a lot of antis out; blocking the sidewalk and entrance to the clinic; preaching at the clinic windows.

A client and companion arrived on foot early. As they crossed the street, M moved in and started talking to them; pushing them to try to hand them literature and show them a plastic fetus toy. They just walked directly to the entrance.

When we explained the doors would not open for another 30 minutes, they decided to walk back to their car. M trailed them all the way back, talking non-stop.

The doors opened and shortly after they came back. M was ready for them and tried to prevent them from entering the clinic without success.

Exactly at 8a M said to me, “There is a car in the monthly rental. You need to tell them to move their car. I wouldn’t want them to get towed.” I asked if she was sure they were a client and asked for a description of the car. She said she was sure and gave me the description. I went into the clinic and asked whose car it was. Of course, it was the client and companion that M had chased to and from their car.

I explained to the companion the monthly rental lot would tow their car and offered to show them where to move it. We moved the car and as we were walking back I let the companion know the protester who had been harassing them earlier had let us know about the parking.

We were approached by M again as we got close to the clinic. Both of us thanked her for letting us know about the parking. M just wanted to talk about bringing the client out of the clinic.

M was being helpful, but I have to wonder about the timing.  Why didn’t M tell them about the parking the previous two times she approached them? Was she hoping to delay the procedure by waiting until 8a?

I’m grateful she let the client and companion know, but I cannot help  being skeptical about the timing.

Where Do I Park?

The client and companion pulled into the drop-off zone to ask where to park. It was about 30 minutes before the doors of the clinic normally open. We discussed options and I gave them directions to the $3 parking lot. Before I moved away from the car, I warned them about the antis not wearing orange vests and that they may approach them to talk and give out literature.

They were starting to pull over to the lot when D approached their car. She was talking to them when I re-approached the car to let them know she was a protester. D turned to me and said, “You are so rude. You had your turn to talk to them. Now it is my turn. You say you are pro-choice. They need to know their choices.” Since I had said what I needed to let them know, I  backed off and let her talk.

Escorts watched as the car drove down the street and turned the corner, bypassing the public parking lot. I alerted another escort to the fact they might have been diverted to the AWC lot by D. This is a common tactic we see. They offer free parking in their lot, but it comes with a lot of talking about the “right choice.” It is usually easier to pay for parking than hear the words meant to shame and coerce clients into their clinic.

The other escort was able to stop them just before they parked in the AWC lot. The companion told the escort the woman (meaning D) said they would have to pay for an ultrasound at EMW, but they could get it from AWC free. When it was explained to them that they didn’t have to pay extra for the ultrasound at EMW*, the free ultrasound performed at AWC would not be accepted by EMW* and they would just have to have another one, and AWC was an anti-abortion clinic, they parked their car in the public lot as originally planned.

D arrived at the AWC parking lot just as the client and companion were pulling away. She approached the other escort and asked, “If you die tonight, do you know where you are going?”

The companion was really upset when I went over to help them with the payment box. We discussed what had happened to them. They were mad they were lied to by D. I explained we cannot control what the antis say, but agreed it was frustrating.

As I was leaving, I warned them about the antis approaching their car even in the parking lot and suggested they did not need to roll their windows down if they didn’t want to. I told them we would come get them when the clinic doors opened.  Sure enough, shortly after I left the lot four antis surrounded their car trying to get them to roll their windows down. The antis began sticking literature on their windshield without permission.

The companion called the police to report their harassment. Two squad cars arrived within minutes and spoke to the antis. The four antis moved to the corner of the lot and stayed away from the car after their conversation with the officers. We did not hear what was said, but we were able to escort the client and companion without further incident.

When I went into the lobby of the clinic a short while after they entered, the companion asked me why the protesters were allowed to go right up to clients. “There should be a distance they have to stay away. This isn’t right.” I agreed and explained there was no bubble/buffer zone in Louisville. The companion expressed their anger over the whole situation.

I have to agree, lying, shaming, judging and harassment from the antis just makes the day more difficult than it has to be for everyone.

*The ultrasound at EMW is included in the procedure fees. There is no association between EMW and AWC. A procedure done at AWC will not generate a discounted fee from EMW. It will just cause the client to have duplicate procedures.

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {1/19/13}

The weekday morning was pretty intense. First, it was pouring down rain; steady and cold rain. Second, there were about 3 antis to every escort.

The antis were carrying umbrellas, huddling up by the clinic entrance and stretched across the sidewalk. Most of the morning was spent walking around their obstructions while trying to avoid being poked by an umbrella. That’s trickier than it sounds. All of the clients were able to enter the clinic with no incidents, even with antis blocking the sidewalk.

On mornings when there are more antis than escorts, the antis always decide to try to engage the escorts. .As one group of antis were leaving, one held up a copy of the DVD “180” in front of me. He asked, “Would you like a free DVD?” I replied, “Are you kidding?” “No, it’s free.” “No, thank you.” “You should watch it. It is free.” “This conversation is ended. I prefer not to talk with you.” “Oh, you don’t want to engage.” “No.” With that I turned my back.

There is one thing I did wrong. The first response should have been no response or, “I do not talk to antis.” I was just so surprised that he would offer that vile* video to an escort that for the past hour he had been blocking and telling clients I was just misleading them. My response just popped out.

The second thing that struck me was the repetition of “free.” Was I supposed to say, “Oh, it’s free. Okay. I love free things. I’ll watch anything if it’s free.” The disconnect on the part of some antis is a constant amazement to me.

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*I have watched the film and this is my personal review.

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {1/14/13}

When it gets really cold, I wear a pair of gloves and a pair of mittens over them. The mittens are made to look like red pandas; complete with eyes, nose and ears. They are warm, fun and are a great conversation topic while walking clients to the door.

One morning I was wearing them. D pointed to my mittens and announced to another person standing beside the clinic entrance, “She is concerned about saving those animals, but doesn’t care about the babies they are killing in there. Her son gave those to her.”

D is always trying to prove she knows personal things about escorts. She listens to what we say to each other and then brings what she hears out to try to shame us. She is frequently wrong in her interpretations.

Yes, my son gave the mittens to me and I love them. No, I don’t wear them as a statement for saving red pandas. I wear them because I care about being warm.

 

Listening

When we train escorts, we stress the importance of listening to what the clients say. Some clients want to talk about their decision and they will tell us personal information. We focus on what they are saying to us. This is important to the client and is part of making space for them.

Many clients cannot share their stories with others in their life. The stigmatization of abortion makes it harder to have an abortion conversation within some families or friends, but our orange vests let them know they already have someone pro-access to discuss their abortion. Many times it is easier to talk to a stranger about why you decided to have an abortion.

Listening and respecting their stories is allowing the clients to express their power to make the decisions that are right for them. We should respond with words that respect the personal nature of what we are hearing. We wait for the client to direct the conversation. They may want to continue sharing other parts of their story, or they may want to move on to lighter subjects.

This point really hit home with me the other day. The companion pulled to the drop off zone and the client went into the clinic. We gave the companion directions for parking and I walked over to the $3 parking lot to help them navigate the parking and payment. As we were slipping money into the payment box, the companion was telling me the health reasons that made it necessary for the client to have an abortion. They were stressing they were there for the client and supported them in their decision.

We crossed the street and approached the clinic. E started walking beside the companion. At first he was saying, “You don’t have to do this today. You don’t have to kill your baby.” The companion let him know they weren’t the patient, but explained the same health reasons making an abortion needed for the client. E immediately said, “You need to talk to her and convince her not to kill her baby.” She then explained to E that the client was making the right decision and she knew it because she had to make the same decision herself. She explained she lost a pregnancy at 5 months because of a health issue. “I laid in the hospital for three days with a dead baby inside me. I don’t want her to go through that.” Without pausing E responded with, “At least that was better than killing a baby.” The companion and I just looked at each other and continued on our walk. I was speechless for a moment considering this touch of cruelty in his words, but we started talking about other things within a few feet.

Antis do not have the same respect for really listening to what the client is saying. They are on a one-message agenda and all facts that refute their world view are rejected. The companion’s experience did not fit into E’s script, so it was discarded as not being relevant.

My hope is that I will always listen and really hear the messages from clients and companions.