Monday, September 7, 2009


Just finished reading this book. Fascinating! This is exactly the kind of book for everyone who says/believes "Adoption is an Option".

Not that it isn't; adoption is certainly a real and viable pregnancy option. A pregnant woman bears a child with the intention of surrendering it to an agency who then finds a family to care for it. Objectively speaking. But in the pre-Roe era, adoption was not the glowing and glamorous process that many folks have in mind when they think about adoption. What could be more magnanimous than enduring the physical crisis of childbearing for the sole purpose of making a barren couple happy? And nobody dies in the process!

But in the happy-go-lucky 50s, when the nuclear family reigned supreme, teenaged and unwed pregnancies were shameful experiences for which the pregnant women suffered the ultimate consequence; they were sent away to maternity homes for "wayward women" to bear their children in secret and have them ripped away, swearing not to have any further contact. These were typically not glorious places; women were forced into these homes by their humiliated parents and were not informed or counseled about the childbearing process or the feelings they'd endure after surrenduring a child. And the real pisser: many of these women WANTED THEIR BABIES!

Observe the following testimony from a birth mother:

"It's hard to convince others about the depth of [adoption]. You know, a few years after I was married I became pregnant and had an abortion. It was not a wonderful experience, but every time I hear stories or articles or essays about the recurring trauma of abortion, I want to say, "You don't have a clue." I've experienced both and I'd have an abortion any day of the week before I would ever have another adoption - or lose a kid in the woods, which is basically what it is. You know your child is out there somewhere, you just don't know where. It's bad enough as a mother to know he might need you, but to complicate that they make a law that says even if he does need you we're not going to tell him where you are."

The common thread through the accounts of all the birth mothers was the agonizing curiosity about the whereabouts and well-being of their biological children. These mothers had no idea how attached they would become to their children after having given birth and seen and held them. Even those mothers who changed their minds and considered keeping their babies were belittled and convinced that they were unfit to parent children, that they were doing a great disservice to those poor childless couples. Guilt from parents for being sexual and getting pregnant (what would the neighbors think?), guilt from the maternity home and hospital staff for being whiny and clingy (you'll forget all about this in time, just get over it), guilt from oneself not only for giving up a baby, but also for not fighting harder to keep the baby. Yes, pressuring young women into choosing adoption works wonders, does it not?

Support abortion rights, folks.


  1. a couple points

    1) "And nobody dies in the process!"
    In case anyone's missing the sarcasms, young girls forced to carry to term DID die in childbirth!

    2) "in the happy-go-luck 50s..."
    I think this article should be required reading for everyone in the United States:
    I consider myself decently informed about, I don't know, "gestational politics" let's call it, but had really had no idea this sort of thing still went on.

  2. This book was on my summer reading list as well.

    One of the most tragic narratives I drew from the book was the idea (still prevalent today) that birth mothers were "abandoning" their babies. That otherwise-nuclear families were making a place in there home for children that were otherwise unloved.

    In most cases, it seems like nothing could be farther from the truth.

  3. good call, placenta sandwich. readers and fellow bloggers who don't know me in real life are probably not attuned to the way sarcasm pervades my every utterance :) :)


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