By Katherine D. Perry
Waiting five years to adopt a daughter,
I had time to carefully consider the impact
of male bias on foreign shores,
where, when you can only have one, girls
are left on the steps of schools and libraries,
and if they survive, they might be sent away,
to western countries, where women
can have as many as eight babies at once.
I look into her eyes and ache for a mother
who felt forced to let her go,
who had to break the mother-daughter bond
because of money and laws and culture and the need for a male child.
Now that I’m pregnant with a son,
I see my naiveté.
When I tell my friends that he is a boy,
I watch as eyes light and listen
to the long list of reasons why sons
are better than daughters: easy and calm
among the most common.
But then they add: simple pregnancies,
less dramatics, even a unique mother-son bond
that will somehow overtake my life.
I think of my feminism training,
of the penis-baby who, according to psychoanalytic theory,
will make me whole.
I look at the pay stubs stacked next to each other: mine and my partner’s
and consider the defeating weight of that common inequity.
Here in America, we claim equality.
Here in America, I walk without hoods or chains;
I drive my car; I vote in every election; I work.
Here in America, my son is expected to be
my easy child, the love of my life,
the missing key to my life’s mystery.
He will make more money than she will;
he will get promotions more quickly.
But I as I hold my Chinese daughter,
and share with her the pain of our two cultures
that leave our girls behind,
I am sure that we are not meant to be seconds.
This poem first published by Writers Resist on December 1, 2016.