Monday, September 20, 2010

1980? What?!

There are many who are amazed when I tell them that I surrendered my daughter to the adoption machine in 1980. They think that because it was 1980 I surely had a choice in the matter, that it was my decision. WRONG! Some people think - how can that be? The BSE (Baby Scoop Era) was over then. Was it? Really? It was over for a lot of the country but there were many pockets of our fine nation where it wasn't over, not yet. The attitudes of the BSE still prevailed.

Some are amazed because they just don't know what happened to young women during the time of the BSE. They know that girls went away but they didn't really think anything beyond that. What happened to those girls when they went away? They have no idea of the treatment that so many were subjected to. They know that they left. They were told that their friend or neighbor went to take care of an ailing Aunt or they got a job in a different city, that was the story. There were probably some who believed the story and some who whispered behind their hands ...I'll bet she's "in trouble". What they didn't know was that those girls and young women were abused, humiliated, had their rights violated, were isolated and imprisoned, were punished for basically being human. They were kept separated from their babies, not allowed to see or hold their own children, labeled with signs stating BFA - baby for adoption - that told the hospital staff how to treat them. This happened in the 50's, 60's, 70's and yes, the 80's.

Some folks don't want to believe that this happened in the 80's. That's their prerogative. I know what happened because I lived it. I know that this horrible treatment of women and children was still going on in the 80's because I was there, I experienced it. I've read stories from other mothers who surrendered after I did and they were treated the same way. All those things that I just described above happened to me. I don't say this to gain sympathy. I say this and talk about it because too many people just have no idea what happened. And many, if they do know what happened during the BSE, have no idea that this stuff was still going on into the next decade.

What I don't understand is there are some people out in adoptoland who say yes, there is coercion going on and they would like to see reform happen BUT if you surrendered in the 80's it was your choice, you could have run and taken off with your baby. I just read this on a blog recently. Wait a minute. If there's coercion going on now that means that there are girls being brainwashed and signing surrender papers under duress. If that's the case in 2010 then isn't it possible that that is what happened to girls like me in the 80's? We were coerced as well. So does that mean we had a choice? I didn't have a choice and I'm sure I wasn't the only girl in the whole of the United States who was in that position at that time. The difference is it was actually more abusive back then, and the industry was more open about it. They have new and different techniques now. They've studied us to see what works and what doesn't.

Just recently I had an email conversation with a woman who works in a pregnancy center. Every time she responded to one of my letters it was as if she never even read them. I got back the usual adoption lingo - you know the words.... adoption is a loving option etc..... She called me closed minded and unfair. She said I couldn't go back decades and try to second guess what happened and that I needed to take responsibility for what happened. It's amusing to me when the pot calls the kettle black. It's insulting to me when someone who has not walked the same path that I did presumes to tell me how I was treated and what I could have done.
oh well.........



  1. Carlynne, I know you are right. I know now what really happened and it makes me want to scream...I fought a losing battle for three years. No, I wasn't in a maternity jail, no, I wasn't religiously browbeat...but it didn't change what happened...

    I was told, after they allowed a sexual abuser, who had actually abused me, be the foster father to my daughter and almost killed her, while the wife and social services stood by and watched. I know...I know because I was told by a number of people...people that knew me, my daughter and that freak.

    I was told "If you don't sign, we have to move her back to {abusers} house and you know what will happen" - "If you don't sign, you can't expect to come home with me" -

    The first by a social worker, the second by the stepmother.

    What was I supposed to do? There was no choice, there was not a single was 1981 and my baby was almost 3.

  2. I know Lori, this is what people don't get. They still think that unless you were threatened with physical violence you had a choice. Your situation wasn't exactly like mine but it was still coercion. It comes in lots of shapes and colors.

  3. I don't even know what to say. As a friend of Carlynne, I know her story and have seen her incredible pain for years. But there is always another story and I can barely stand my own pain of just hearing another. Lori, it is outrageous what happened to you and inconceivable that it is still going on, but now that women (most of them very young) are trying to stand up for themselves and say "no, you will not do this to me and my baby," because, ulike the girls from decades ago, they live in a world that makes them think they can, the adoption industry has gotten even better at convincing them othewise. The slick sophistication of their advertising (oh excuse me, outreach) is downright disgusting. I am horrified that we are still in the dark ages when it comes to some issues.

  4. And one more thought: I apologize to anyone who might be offended by my reference to the first mothers as girls, I just can't get past my feeling that teenagers (which many first mothers are) are still girls. This is also why they are such easy targets (victims?) for the adoption industry.

  5. After reunion a few years ago I requested copies of my hospital records from 1984 when I gave birth to the son I lost to adoption. Looking through the pages I noticed "o.w.n.k." hand written on almost every page. I had no idea what this was about until I found it on one page written out: "out of wedlock not keeping". I doubt I'd ever heard the phrase, "out of wedlock" at that point in my life. I never considered that I couldn't raise my son because I didn't have a husband, and yet the 2-parent rhetoric spewed from the adoption workers mouth. The nurses were aware of me going to the nursery window to look for my son, (it is noted in my records that I was weeping when I went back to my room without him), yet none of them stepped forward to help me find him.

    Today's adoption practices are a continuum of the BSE history, different tactics, same outcome. To think that the attitudes towards single pregnant women changed overnight and completely in every rural town or religious community just isn't logical, it's just not how change occurs. The attitudes of the old patriarchal society have not changed all that much. I still see people writing that women should keep their legs closed if they don't want to get pregnant, etc.

  6. It seems like the college women have it harder than the teens now. Teens are in your face and react from a more visceral place. It's the college women that are swayed by the rhetoric. That was me in 1980. I acted like I was making a choice. Noooooo, I took my mothers choice and made it my own. I didn't have a job, had no savings, and my mother told me I couldn't live at home with my baby. She told me if I really loved my daughter I would give her two parents. Geesh my daughter had two parents!  They made me feel like Mother Theresa for giving away my own flesh and blood.
    For me it was different than the BSE yet the same. I "went away" to my sisters home 1000 miles away. It was a big secret. But I lived in her home and went to lamaze. I had it much better for the pregnancy and birth than my BSE friends did.. But the end result is the same. I look at pictures of my grown daughter and think "How could I have believed them?".
    I have not received my hospital paperwork yet. But I'm sure it has notations that I was not to see my daughter. I threw a hussy fit and got 15 minutes with her.
    My daughter's birthday is tomorrow. Since reunion I have secretly wished she came 11 days earlier. Then she would have been born in the 1970's and I wouldn't be looked down upon by some of my BSE sisters. Silly thought in the scheme of things.

  7. Barbara, we were going through the same thing at the same time. I was told the same things. As it turned out my daughter ended up being raised by a single parent after all since her aparents divorced when she was little. Why was it ok for her amother to raise her but not me?

    I'm thinking of you on your daughter's birthday. It was always the hardest day for me. I understand (((hugs)))