(If you're looking for the update on my doctor's appointment, click here.)
This morning, Ann Pettway appeared in federal courtroom and confessed to kidnapping Carlina White some 23 years ago from a New York hospital.
You've heard the story by now - daughter doesn't think she belonged to her mother, daughter does a Google search for missing children, daughter finds her baby picture and is reunited with her parents after decades apart.
The story of set off red flags for me the moment I heard it and the moment the media began to speculate as to why Pettway took this baby from that Harlem hospital back in 1987. Today, the speculation ended when Pettway revealed why she took Carlina: after suffering several miscarriages, she grew frustrated with her inability to stay pregnant. So, she took Carlina out of her hospital crib, brought her home, and raised her as her own daughter.
Almost every comment posted on every article on every media outlet exemplified my concern and fear over this story: my fear of ignorance.
"A determined/ desperate person will find a way to get an infant if they want. This was by far, not the first, and probably not the last incident of a newborn being abducted."
"i always thought that if one was unable to conceive a child on their own, that normally reasonable people adopt a child. obviously, this woman was not reasonable."
"She's full of it! So since im never gonna be rich I should just go rob a bank then? There is such a thing as adoption which would be an option if SHE was really worried about not having any children of her own. But nobody in their right mind would let her adopt because she is a mental case and most likely on drugs."
"From the pictures she looks like she might have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which makes conception/pregnancy difficult or in some cases impossible."
"really, we're going to blame her behavior on emotions after miscarriages? Was she having those chemical imbalances and emotional issues for 23 years?"
It was only a matter of time before the conversation turned to baby snatchers, women DESPERATE to be moms, infertile nuts, etc. Because that's what we are, right? Crazies. Women who dress as nurses and lurk in hospitals, just waiting for the opportunity to take your baby and run.
This woman, Ann Pettway. I don't know her, but from what I read, it sounds like she had a lot of issues. Drugs, alcohol, mental illness. Combine these things with the emotional trauma suffered from infertility and repeat loss, and it creates a recipe for disaster. What she did was against the law, yes. But what she did is not the mentality of every woman in this country who cannot have children or have lost their children. We are not all paranoid freaks. We are not all baby stealers. We want to be moms, yes, but not like this.
My post isn't meant to elicit sympathy for Pettway. She kidnapped a baby that was not hers, and as a result caused a lifetime of pain for the White family. I cannot begin to imagine the heartache that the White family went through these past 23 years. I am sad for them, that they were forced to miss 23 years of Carlina's life.
Yet, I am also sad for those people who left comments like the ones above. Ignorance breeds fear, and fear breeds hatred. Can we not go down the road of railing on the women who have nothing to do with this situation? In a world where we are eager to place the blame on something or someone, we shouldn't be so quick to place the blame of all kidnapped babies on those women who have lost or desire motherhood. Perhaps, instead of focusing on the hate and the blame, we can educate ourselves on miscarriage and repeat loss, on mental illness and drug addiction. Perhaps, instead of focusing on anger, we can focus on the happy reunion between a girl and her family.
Perhaps I am asking too much. Because I know this story will fade into the background and we will have discussed none of those things. Instead, we'll just be more angry and ignorant about a group of women who are already so misconceived.