People seems to have a lot of issues with Emma and some of the choices she made. She has never been a favourite character of mine but I really feel dreadful for her. She was forced into a lot of shitty situations where she had to make terrible decisions and generally always chooses to do right by other people even if it will bring her heartache.
Starting at the very beginning, one of the main things that Emma did that people use against her is her giving up Henry. I've seen her called a terrible person, a bad mother, and all sorts of things because of this and the kicker? She didn't have a choice!
Given any sort of choice you know Emma would have kept that baby. Looking at it from her perspective: she was a 17 year old girl with no money, no home, no family or support system, a criminal record, and a broken heart. She was in no condition to be raising a child, especially a newborn. How would she clothe him? Feed him once he was off breast-milk? How would she pay for a home for him to live in, a cot, and medical bills when he inevitably got sick? What about when he's older? There's no way she'd be able to afford to send him to school. She had no friends or family that she could get help or support from, so there would be no good night's rest when he's crying through the night, no person she could leave him with for a few hours while she went looking for any sort of income, which would be difficult enough for a 17 year old girl with no qualifications to speak of, without adding a criminal record and a newborn baby to the mix.
Then there was the period she was in jail, where was the baby supposed to live while she finished serving the last two months of her sentence? The options for someone in that situation would be to leave him with friends of family until she got out, to put him into the system, or to let him be adopted. She didn't have anyone else so the first option is immediately out. She definitely wasn't going to put him into the system that destroyed her childhood, and made her jaded and cynical. She hated being in the system and was desperate enough to run away, while under age with no education, to get out of it. There was only one option left - for the good of the baby that given any sort of choice she would have kept – and she took it.
Lately there's also been all sorts of criticism of Emma because of the kiss scene with Hook in the upcoming episode. People don't like Hook, and that's fine, no-one is going to deny that he's done appalling things during the course of the show and in flashbacks. Putting aside any sort of personal feelings or opinions and looking at it, again, from Emma's point of view:
There's a very powerful thought and concept behind the idea of Hook falling in love with Emma that would be difficult for Emma to ignore. Before Emma Hook has loved precisely one woman in total – Milah. He loved her so much that he was willing to give up his life to protect her. He wasn't afraid of anything he faced so long as she was safe and happy, even if he was afraid he faced his fear and ultimately defeated it. When his love was murdered in a horrifying way right in front of his eyes with he was lashed to the mast, forced to watch, and unable to help, he spends 300 hundred years thinking of nothing but getting revenge. He loved her so much that he dedicated 300 years of his life trying to put her to rest, to get her the vengeance she deserved, and to be worthy of joining her in the afterlife. His life meant nothing, it was her life and her memory that drove him. This is how Hook loves. When he puts aside his quest for vengeance and starts falling in love with Emma, he is basically moving his devotion onto her. She is safe in the knowledge of how much he loved Milah and that he loves Emma as much, if not more, than he did Milah. That's a thought and idea that's very difficult to fight when you don't have the history of abandonment that Emma does.
Because the fact of the matter is that Neal wasn't able to face his fear, he didn't fight to stay with her or reunite with her. He may have done what he thought was right but in the end she formed great abandonment issues because of him. Then a man comes along and you know because he's proven it already that he's falling for you and that he'll never leave you. Because it's just not in his nature. Emma doesn't need a man but she does need support and comfort – all humans do – so why are we resentful of the knowledge that she's finding it?
Then there's the argument that Emma shouldn't be kissing Hook because she's grieving for Neal and Neal still loves her. This whole situation is a tangled web but again from Emma's point of view:
She fell in love with a man who taught her what it was like to be loved, to come first in someone's eyes. Then he leaves her, he lied - he never really loved her and if he did, he loved the idea of twenty grand more. She thinks he sold her out to the police and she gets sent to jail. Then she finds out she's pregnant with his kid and she's forced by circumstance to give away her own baby. Think of the absolute trauma that must have given her: if the man she loved hadn't betrayed her, she would have been able to raise her own child. Instead she was forced to give him away and never see him again. Years later she sees him again and realised she still loved him, even after everything he did to her. But he doesn't still love her – he's moved on a engaged. Her heart is broken yet again. Then his fiancée betrays him and in a matter of seconds he's declaring his love her her. Either he moves past the supposed 'love of his life' very fast and easy or he lied when he told everyone that he loved this new woman enough to spend the rest of his life with her. That all hits a little too close to home, but she's tired of feeling unloved and her son adores him and he's dying so they tell each other how they feel and he disappears from her life a second time. Her heart is broken yet again.
Neal caused her so much heartache. Between him leaving her alone, and her constantly wondering if he really ever loved/loves her, the idea of Hook must be like a balm on all the wounds he caused. A passionate man who when he loves, loves with all his being and would never ever be apart from her. It has to be such a powerful feeling. Of course she's still grieving, but who's right is it to tell her when she's allowed to move on? As far as she knows Neal is dead and they were not together anyway. Why is it a betrayal for her to finally accept a way for her to be happy?
It's getting long so I'll leave it here for the moment. I might add to it if there's other things which I want to address.