'I Was Adopted Months After Roe v. Wade, I Wish Abortion Had Been an Option for My Birth Mom'

When I logged onto social media on the morning of June 24, my heart sank. As I feared, I was met with sea of comments claiming pro-life activists should be first in line to adopt the inevitable generation of children produced by forced birth after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

I was flooded with memories of my own childhood, a toddler wandering around conventions run by the National Right to Life Committee, founded by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. I was barely old enough to walk, but old enough to see images of aborted fetuses while being told by strangers I should be grateful to be alive.

I was born in Casper, Wyoming on April 5th, 1973, three months after the landmark decision which meant women in the United States could choose whether to have abortions without excessive government regulation.

Shortly after birth I was put up for adoption through an organization called Catholic Charities. A few weeks later I had a new home. While I don't know why my adoptive parents chose to adopt me, I've always suspected their choice may have been an act of social protest.

John Gregg
John Gregg. The father-of-three was born three months after Roe v. Wade, which meant women in the United States could choose whether to have abortions without excessive government regulation. John Gregg

I spent the first few years of my life on the Wind River Reservation in central Wyoming, where my adoptive parents worked as missionaries. My adoptive mom worked as a teacher and my adoptive dad worked as the school administrator before becoming ordained as a deacon in the Catholic church.

My early years were spent surrounded by Catholicism, being around priests and nuns was a regular part of my life, but for practical purposes, I had what a lot of people would describe as a "normal childhood."

When I was in the fifth grade we moved to the East Coast, where my adoptive parents were employed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore helping write curriculum and train teachers for their associated schools.

Growing up it was no secret that I'd been adopted. I was constantly around pro-life Catholics who said things like: "Aren't you glad you weren't aborted" and "You were spared from abortion, your parents are so wonderful for adopting you."

Naturally, I thought "Wow, yeah. I'm lucky to be alive". But it was confusing. Why didn't my mom want to keep me? Why was I given up? I didn't understand. I just knew that for some reason, I was given away. My adoptive mother's narrative was that my mom loved me so much she gave me up. I accepted that as the truth.

My birth certificate has the name of my adoptive parents on it, so I knew nothing about my biological parents until I was a teenager, when I opened a box of paperwork which included non-identifying information about them. The paperwork said I'd been born to a 16-year-old girl.

As my teenage years progressed I put thoughts of my parents to the back of my mind and spent time getting drunk with friends. The first time I tried alcohol I was 15. One of my friends had stolen liquor from his parents' cabinet and we spent the night driving around drinking. Since then, I can honestly say I've never drank alcohol without the intention of getting drunk.

I wanted to be drunk all the time. I would drink after class, skip school with my friends, go to parties. I never set out to have a few beers and hang out with my friends. I knew I was going to get wasted every time. I think I drank to cope with the trauma of being taken away from my mother. Never knowing what being "normal'' was like.

As I approached my 20s I went to several colleges but had to drop out. Throughout the early 90s I was either homeless or couch surfing, I didn't have a place to stay or any money. For a spell I worked in restaurants and later became a bartender, which is a fantastic job for an alcoholic.

For a long time I was lost. I didn't know who I was or what my purpose was. I didn't relate to other people, specifically people who had been "kept". I felt alone. I believe now I was suicidal and my chosen method of suicide was drinking myself to death. When I was drunk I wasn't thinking about any of this; I was numb to it all.

One evening in my 20s, sitting at the bar drinking pints of Guinness with female friends after work, the topic of abortion came up. It was a subject I tried to avoid because of my close proximity to the issue, plus I knew being pro-life wasn't popular in my peer group. At first it was a debate, then it was a conversation. I had never considered that abortion was a health issue. To me, it had always been framed by my parents and Catholicism that the only reason someone would get an abortion is because that wanted to kill babies. I kept talking to people and gradually changed my mind. Now, I'm firmly pro-choice.

It was while bartending I met my wife. When she fell pregnant she gave me the choice of quitting drinking or having no contact with our future child. After a decade of attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, I gave up for good. I've been sober for ten years.

It was also for my three children that I decided to upload my details onto a genealogy website four years ago. I thought I owed it to them to know where they came from. To my surprise, I got a hit with an adult sibling.

In a couple of hours I was able to piece together everything just from social media. When my birth mother had me, she already had four children. It was a bit of a mind f***. My mom had four kids? Why did she give me up?

After meeting my sister, I learned the information I'd had about my parents for all those years wasn't true. In reality, my biological mother was separating from my alcoholic father and didn't want a fifth child with him. I would have been conceived sometime before Roe v. Wade, so legal, safe abortion was not available for my mother.

In a lot of ways, I was born in the wrong place at the wrong time. My birth parents ended up getting separated, so she was isolated, alone with no support for the children. I have no ill feelings towards my mom. She was put in a very difficult position. I don't know what her true feelings were, never having the opportunity to speak with her. But I believe there may have been an element of coercion involving relatives and the religious charities she was involved with. It's possible she went to them for family assistance and was coerced into relinquishing me instead of receiving financial assistance and support.

My mother died a few weeks after I identified her. I knew she was in the hospital from social media posts and I made the decision I wouldn't try to contact her while she was dealing with a health issue. I regret it somewhat, but at the time I thought it would have been a little selfish on my part.

I did, however, have a couple of conversations with my dad. We talked over the phone and I thought it was a fairly good conversation, but after we hung up he text and said he didn't want anything to do with me again.

Aside from the obvious infringement on women's rights and health issues, I'm concerned about the overturning of Roe v. Wade because, as an adopted person, I've seen how this played out in my own life.

Politicians are saying we have to make adoption easier, more accessible and cheaper. I personally believe adoption should be abolished. Yes, there are situations where maybe adoption is the only choice, but I promote legal guardianship. Where you can care for a child, do everything a parent would normally do, without changing and sealing their birth certificates so they are cut off from their genealogy and medical records.

It's very troubling to me that my entire existence is because my mother didn't have access to abortion. While it's a cruel question to ask "Would you rather have been aborted?" The answer, for me, is yes. First of all because if I'd been aborted, I wouldn't know. I wouldn't exist. But also, it's very hard to reconcile your own existence when it comes at the cost of someone else's human rights.

Children like me grew up in an environment where we're told we were spared from abortion. We were propagandized into thinking abortion is wrong. I believe that is a form of violence. I don't pretend to know what the answer is for this generation of children who are going to be a product of forced birth, but in my opinion, adoption isn't it.

John Gregg, 49, from Safety Harbour, Florida is a father-of-three and Family Preservation and Harm Reduction campaigner. You can follow him on Twitter @johnrgregg

All views expressed in this article are the author's own.

As told to Monica Greep

If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. The line is available 24 hours every day. Beginning July 16, dial 988 on your phone to be automatically connected to the Lifeline.