Saturday, May 15, 2010
Why didn't we resist the social pressures?
Some may ask why we did not resist the social pressure to give up our children, particularly since Lorraine and I were college graduates in our 20's at the time of surrender.
In addition to fearing the stigma which we knew would attach to us and our families as unwed mothers, many in my generation of birthmothers believed that keeping our child would be harmful to the child. Folklore passed to us through parents, clergymen, teen magazines, soap operas, and Ann Landers told us that children of unmarried mothers were always better off adopted by a married couple who had so much love (as well as material goodies) to give.
(The Mormon Church teaches this today. It saddens me that my surrendered daughter, Megan, a worthy church member, believes it.)
The social worker mantra "A child needs a mother (pause) and a father" rang in my ears. The only way Megan could gain a father was to lose me, a woman of no consequence.
I knew the pain of being fatherless. My parents had divorced when I was 15. My father, who died when I was 20, had not been involved in my life in a meaningful way since I was a small child. I envied girls whose fathers came straight home from work and presided at the dinner table, inquiring about their day at school. These fathers took their families on vacations every summer, taught their daughters to drive, and attended father/daughter events at church and school.
If a social worker had said to me: "Jane, being adopted in a closed adoption causes children problems. Your daughter may develop trust issues, she may feel abandoned, she may suffer from being raised by people who don't look or act like her, she is more likely to have behavioral problems and so on,” I would have kept her, no question about it. If the social worker had leveled with me about adoptive parents, that they, like other parents, might divorce, lose their jobs, suffer from alcoholism, or abuse their children, I would have walked out of the hospital with my daughter.
By 1966 when I gave up Megan, substantial research (as well as common sense) documented the many problems adoptees and adoptive families face. Social workers knew about them but didn’t tell us. I can only guess why.
And so, with no information to the contrary, I took as an article of faith that no matter how hard I struggled to raise my daughter, she would be better off, moving seamlessly into the mythical family, superior in every way not only to me but to my entire family. I envisioned her as a teenager screaming at me: "why did you keep me? I could have gone to a fine family and had a better life. You were a mean, selfish woman and I hate you!”