Who remembers Adelir ‘#weareallAdelir‘ Góes?
In 2014, the case of a woman from Torres in Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, moved social networks and people on the streets across the world, after (armed) police removed her from her home by court order, forcing her to undergo a caesarean section to birth her third baby.
Adelir was 42 weeks pregnant and awaiting labour at home, supported by doula Stephany Hendz. She’d already been examined by Dr Andreia Castro at the Hospital Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes, who had told her she couldn’t have a normal birth because the baby was breech. The obstetrician brought the case to a judge, Liniane Maria Mog da Silva, who ordered police to Adelir’s house at 2 am to bring her – against her will – to hospital for surgery.
This act of obstetric violence and abuse of maternal choice horrified women all over Brazil, and activists around the world, who organised protests and campaigns for humanizing birth, denouncing obstetric violence.
Today, two and a half years on, Adelir has decided to turn the story round, and do her part to make a positive impact on the transition to motherhood for Brazilian women: She has started her journey to becoming a midwife – to offer mothers a very different kind of treatment from what she received.
Here’s an interview from the Brazilian press (13/10/2016) I translated:
You’ve just started your nursing training to become a midwife. What made you decide to do this?
I never imagined that one day I could do nursing as I have a phobia of blood and fractures. However, after what happened to me, I got really involved in activism around humanized birth and became increasingly curious. Lara Werner, a friend suggested I did the training, and my husband, Emerson, supported me – as Lara does too – so I took the plunge. To be a midwife you have to do a degree programme, which we don’t have here in Torres, so as soon as I can, I’ll pursue a specialization in midwifery.
How did you make your plan a reality?
I did the ENEM (National High School Exam) and got into college, but the closest one is 80 km from here. Being a mother and housewife, it wasn’t feasible for me. So I did the FIES course at a private institution called ULBRA in the city where I live.
How do you find it studying and working? How do you fit it all in, being a mum?
My oldest son and my stepson go to school in the morning. My youngest daughters go to nursery and my oldest collects them. I leave everything ready the night before: lunch and snack. I go to college in the morning and work as a carer for the elderly in the afternoon. I’m home by dinner time. Around 21:30, when the children are asleep and the house is quieter, I go over what we studied in class. Next term I don’t know if I’ll continue to work because I want to dedicate myself better to the course.
Today, what do you make of everything that happened to you back in April 2014?
Now, I have a purpose. I never thought of myself in nursing or midwifery. I imagined myself as a teacher. Life throws us these things.
How did you manage to get over what happened?
Look, life gave me a lemon – so I’m making lemonade. It was very humiliating. No, I can’t forget. I don’t know what would have become of me without all the support I received. Resilience came from the outside, all the activism! But I would say that I am strong. I will only really get over it it after I win the legal case. But I haven’t hassled anyone. On the contrary, I signed a form waiving the right to accuse the doctor of anything.
What is the legacy of that incident?
The movement that it spawned. Obstetrics has already taken a few steps towards humanization. The bad news is that still seems like yesterday: the police, threats, name-calling. It’s awful to remember all that.
What has changed in your life since the episode?
So much has changed … I’ve lost friends, I had to stop talking to a lot of my relatives because of their judgments, even those who’d known me forever. But I’ve also gained new friends and discovered how strong I am. It seems like nothing will shake me – I don’t know, but it seems that way (laughs).
Many people stood by you. Are you still in touch with activists who fought your cause?
Yes. Some even became friends and the relationships became very mutually supportive. Now I’m more alone, because of all my responsiblities, but whenever I can I respond to the groups.
While many defended you, many people judged you and pointed the finger. How did you handle it? does it still happen today?
Yes, it happens – a lot. But I don’t feel that urge to respond. I’ve learned to ignore it. Before I responded and cried a lot. My family and I left Canoas, in Rio Grande do Sul, a bustling city and went to a rural area, wanting quiet, green, clean air, plants and commuting without traffic and without all the big city problems. Soon after it happened I became well known and was judged. This was (and still is) very painful. Those medical people have no concept of what they did to my life, and the life of my family.
How are your children today?
We are fine, calmer now. My stepson and my son already know how to argue about the case. We lead a normal life. We were always thinking of moving again, because it was difficult for my husband to find work because of people’s judgements about us. We went through a difficult phase financially. Today, we are in the recovery phase. We’re working and have decided to stay in Torres.