Sunday, June 22, 2008

The BSE, My Mom & Me

Motherhood Deleted has a great entry about learning from our past. Those dark spots in our history some would rather sweep under the rug to be forgotten.

For me, for my life – I not only see it, I feel it. Deep in my heart right there along with the pain of losing my first son to adoption.

We have a very sad, disgusting patch in our history called the Baby Scoop Era. I myself cannot do justice to the crimes brought against the women from this era. Instead I highly suggest you read these personal stories and hear the gut-wrenching heartache they suffered by being victimized in the way they were . . .

Motherhood Deleted
Musing Mother
The Scoop

I also suggest reading the book, “The Girls Who Went Away,” by Ann Fessler.

What happened to these women needs to be known by every human being. Every person who now and will walk this earth. Not only for the justice they deserve for the crimes brought against them and their children, but so that we can take the lessons learned from their era and stop the hideous practice of adoption today.

You know the old saying, “If I had only known?”

For me it rings with an eerie echo when I look back at not only my past and my son’s past but at my mom’s past as well.

I never knew when I was pregnant with my first son, at the mercy of the adoption agencies, such a thing as the Baby Scoop Era existed. I didn’t know their stories, understand the terrible crimes committed against so many women who sat in the same situation I sat in.

It wasn’t until I began my search for my own answers in what happened to my son and I that I learned of those dark decades. And as I learned, as I heard their stories, heard the pain they suffered, I realized how the darkness of what they suffered came very close to shadowing my own life long before I ever lost my own child to adoption.

In 1970, in what was then a small town here, my mom – a teenager with a strong catholic upbringing – became pregnant out of wedlock. (I was the “Senior Prom” gift that kept on giving.)

I never knew, or understood, growing up what she must have faced at that moment. I had nothing to relate to. No stories, no history of what it would have been like for her – single, pregnant, young . . . in a small town with the narrow vision of society in those days and the lack of options women today now have.

Now, I realize the horrors she must have faced. The shame thrown in her face for no other reason than being pregnant with me.

I will never know why my dad stepped up to take his share of the responsibility rather than turning away as so many “fathers” did during that time. It was that one step, I know, that saved me from joining the large ranks of children lost during the Baby Scoop Era.

A quick wedding and a nine-month “premature” baby saved me in every way. And yet I never knew or understood that until I learned the dark history so many want to ignore and refuse to acknowledge.

See, for me, learning the truths and gaining an understanding about what those women went through gives me a brand new thankfulness for the life I had. For every picture I could look at of my mom, my great grandmother, and see myself in. For every Christmas Eve when we had large Italian meals just like my family has done for decades.

I realize how close I came to never knowing the amazing, wonderful woman my mother is. To never have shared the strong bond between us. The very one that to this day keeps us close not only in our hearts, but in where we live, what we do.

In knowing the disgusting facts that was the Baby Scoop Era, I was able to realize more than ever the ugly hand the adoption industry has used on so many for so long. I wish I had carried that knowledge when I was pregnant with my own son. Wish the anger I feel now would have existed then. I would have seen and known their coercion and manipulation for what it was.

I wouldn’t have been easy prey because I would have carried the knowledge, the understanding, of how amazing my childhood was because I WAS NOT adopted.

And yet, the saddest part is, as my mom and I discuss more about our lives and what we have lost, she herself never fully understood what happened to the girls who were victimized by the adoption industry. She recognized the fear inside when she first became pregnant, terrified she would be another one of those that just disappeared from school without explanation. But she never knew their stories either. Never understood the truth society wants so hard for us to keep hidden.

Had she known herself, understood the dark terrors, her “silent” support would have found a loud, demanding voice against those surrounding her daughter like vultures in their quest to take her grandchild away. But our ignorance and the fact our government, our society, refuses to acknowledge the crimes that occurred during the Baby Scoop Era, left us vulnerable to the billion dollar industry that takes and takes and has ruined so many lives along the way.

What happened in our past needs to be known today. The longer these heartbreaking facts are denied, the longer our society lives in denial of the truth of adoption. We can’t continue to try and silence the voices of the women who lost so much. We need to hear them, know their stories.

Until then, nothing will change and the dark hand of adoption will only continue to grow stronger and stronger.

How many more lives are we willing to lose for the sake of silence?

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