Today I shared half an hour with a raccoon that had been hit by a car. As we waited for the animal control officer to come, I became rather fond of the creature. His eyes were big and scared, and he watched me as he lay there in the gutter. I thought of how much his sweet eyes and big goofy nose reminded me of my little dog at home. My dog had the luck of being born a species that has some social clout. He would not be euthanized for a broken leg.
I was contacted by a woman recently who had given her first child (a son) up for adoption after he was conceived from an abusive relationship. According to her, she remarried a wonderful man and had two great kids. Recently, her first son found his siblings on facebook and contacted them. Her words to me were "I wish I had aborted him when I had the chance. I know it's not a nice thing to say, but I really don't care."
As someone whose greatest wish for most of my adult life was that my son WOULD contact me, I was shocked by her statement. So shocked that I spent most of the day in bed. How could someone's life be that trivial? He inconvenienced her? He reminded her of her past? He revealed her past to her kids? Granted, I don't know the full backstory, perhaps he's a violent criminal, but the statement left me reeling.
Horrible things happen in families, it's true. There is abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, things we can't even dream of. When it happens in a biological family we are shocked and outraged, but when it happens in an adoptive family it's easy to say "this could have been prevented".
I consider this woman and her children lucky to have her first child contact them. She considers it to be a travesty. "Luck" is an explanation that assumes that there is an inner logic to the world. Does any child "deserve" to be aborted? Does any child "deserve" to be removed from his bio mother?
It's not logic, it's fate, it's circumstances. If you are on a side of it that's pleasant, you get to consider yourself "lucky" or "blessed". If you have a painful experience you blame it on an un-anthropomorphized figure called "luck".
The animal control officer took a look at the raccoon "Poor little sweetie" he said to the raccoon lying there shaking and staring at us. I asked him if he would be taken to the local wildlife rehabilitation center. "Yeah, this guy's not a candidate. They won't be doing reconstructive surgery on him" he softly chuckled. This raccoon's life wasn't worthy of saving, because he was a raccoon. What if he was a marmot? What would happen then?
As I pondered it later, I began to see that officer as a cheerful angel of death. We aim to preserve life but sometimes it's merciful to stop the suffering.