September 5, 2008

The Girl Who Was 'Brought In'

The article below attempts to perpetuate the same attitude of secrecy, shame, compromise, & loss which permeated society during the "Baby Scoop Era" of the adoption-happy 50's & 60's. Bristol Palin will thankfully NOT be counted as one of "The Girls Who Went Away" as biographed in the book of the same title, written by adoptee, Ann Fessler. And I am glad. Bristol, I am so happy for you
and your precious baby...instead of being one who "went away", you were brought in!

I hope, as a reader of the article below, you can "read between the lines."

Palin Has Chosen to Exploit Her Own Daughter's Pregnancy
By Bonnie Fuller, Huffington Post
Posted on September 3, 2008, Printed on September 5, 2008

Is Sarah Palin ready to take the mantle of worst mother of the year from Lynne Spears? Has Todd Palin wrestled the title of worst father from Billy Ray Cyrus?

Sarah Palin may be running for Vice President but is she any different from the woman who sold the story of her daughter Jamie Lynn's pregnancy to a magazine for $1 million, or from the father that allowed 15-year-old Miley Cyrus to be photographed semi-nude for Vanity Fair supposedly to further her career?

Despite her supposed "Family Values" credentials, she and her husband Todd are being just as exploitative of her teenage daughter, Bristol, as any of these celebrity parents have been. Actually, even more so.

(Oh really? It seems to me to be a shameless (thank God) outpouring of love & support, showing that Bristol and her entire family can & will hold their heads up high, refuse to surrender or compromise success, and proudly show the world what it is like to resist societal shame...back in 1968 when my unwed, young Mother became pregnant, she was 'hidden' and 'sent away' in shame and despair ~ I felt that rejection as an infant...but not Bristol & her child ~ they will not have to endure the same experience...wouldn't it have been wonderful if the "Baby Scoop Era" Mom's & babies had been embraced and supported by society, government, and their families? Without shame & head held high ~ true family values indeed.)

The Palin's took center stage with the full knowledge that their 17-year-old's five-months-along pregnancy was about to become front page news around the world. Bristol Palin hasn't been the star of a major kids TV show like Jamie Lynn or Miley Cyrus. She has not chosen a life of celebrity. But now, thanks to her mother's decision to accept the Republican Vice Presidential candidacy, her private life -- her sex life -- is as exposed as if she had long been a cover regular on Star or US Weekly. (What is there to hide? The miracle of life and the sacred union between a mother & child? ~ is that the 'shameful secret' you want to treat as society did in years gone by?)

Having been the editor-in-chief of teen magazine YM for five years, and now as the mother of a 17-year-old girl myself, there are a few things I know. Seventeen year-old girls are not yet adults, they are highly emotional human beings who are still trying to find their own identities and to establish self-confidence. They are easily embarrassed, they care tremendously what their friends think, and their relationships with guys are always on a dramatic rollercoaster. They are not ready to get married, raise babies or to deal with public embarrassment and humiliation. (Thank God, Bristol isn't embracing your demeaning opinion).
No wonder getting pregnant in high school is truly a girl's worst nightmare, points out Atoosa Rubenstein, the founding editor-in-chief of CosmoGIRL! magazine, and later the editor of Seventeen magazine. Bristol Palin should have "the protection of her mother right now and not be paraded around as a platform. She should have had the privacy to make her own difficult choices and now she has to support her mother's ambitions and policies regardless of what she wants for herself -- she's been thrown under a bus," believes Rubenstein. (It's been stated that Bristol came to her parents with the decision already made to keep her baby ~ don't be speculating in order to achieve your own political agenda).
"She probably feels powerless right now," points out Gloria Feldt, who is the author of Behind Every Choice is a Story, and is the former president of Planned Parenthood of America. "Because of her family's attitude she probably doesn't feel that she has a choice, in terms of what will happen to her and her mother is weaving a narrative that it's a heroic thing of course that she is going forward with the pregnancy, she's getting married and it will all be beautiful and rosy."
(Actually this 'powerlessness' you speak of, sounds more like the experience of the young, unwed mothers of bygone generations ~ THEY truly didn't have a choice ~ let's never forget.)
But Bristol Palin isn't a policy poster child, or a celebrity, she's a real live 17-year-old trying to cover her growing bump with a baggy sweatshirt or by holding her 4month-old baby brother as a shield. (I don't see her trying to hide anything.)
It's going to be tough enough for Bristol to finish high school, let alone go on to college and realize any ambitions of her own, without being trapped in a marriage that neither young person is probably ready for. And if self-described "redneck" Levi isn't happy about being pushed into parenthood and marriage, you can "f---in" expect he'll make sure that Bristol knows about it.

"Girls pick the wrong college for themselves all the time. How can they pick the right husband for themselves at 17?" points out Rubenstein. (Before World War II, the average age women began having babies was much younger ~ our great-grandmothers would probably disagree regarding the lack of trust afforded younger women and mothers of today ~ many realize their 'ambitions' while also valuing, rather than relinquishing their own child & the blessing of Motherhood).
I bet that poor Bristol Palin probably doesn't feel like she has the right to object to anything her mother and father are doing or saying right now. Like most teenage girls she is probably insecure and is blaming herself for her own predicament.

Blaming herself for not being abstinent and instead being one of the 60% of American high school seniors who are sexually active. Blaming herself for getting pregnant like 3 out of 10 American teen girls do each year. And now blaming herself for possibly derailing her mother's vice-presidential ambitions because of that pregnancy. There's no way that she's not going to do what her parents want, in order to bolster her mother's image, even if that means supporting her mother's platform and getting married at 17. (I hear alot of speculation going on in this article, don't you?)
And just imagine if John McCain and Sarah Palin are elected to two terms in office. Bristol's every move as a teen mom will be under scrutiny -- Britney-style. Her marriage to Levi Johnston, will HAVE TO WORK or her parents' image will be tarnished. Talk about pressure, Bristol.

Sarah Palin also needs to ponder this: if she succeeds in "normalizing" (it's reality, so why not accept "normal", rather than pathologize, shame, and denegrate Bristol & her unborn baby?) her daughter's pregnancy, making it almost seem sort of glamorous, will other teen girls look at this and say what is the problem with having a baby? asks Sarah Brown, the CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies.

In that case, Palin's exploitation of her daughter hasn't just hurt Bristol's own young life, she'll hurt countless others. (I wish my Mother & I (together), in 1968, could have received even half the acceptance, love, and support that Bristol Palin is receiving from her entire family & MOST of society. I don't think Sarah Palin is hurting ANYONE by standing up tall by her daughter's side, instead of shrinking away in shame, like so many families did in years past. It was refreshing to see Bristol sitting in the convention audience right beside her grandmother & grandfather. Her baby will be welcomed into her family with love ~ not relinquished due to societal pressure. The Palin family won't have to grieve the loss of their first grandchild, like my family did, and so many like us. Instead, my Mother was shamed, sent away, hidden ~ and gave birth alone, with no choice but to relinquish her God-given right to be my parent, my Mother. She was lied to & told that she had given birth to a son, subsequently searching for me unsuccessfully before her death ~ dying without knowing the truth, that she had a daughter, who was also searching for her.
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