Monday, June 28, 2010

Should women considering adoption be warned about secondary infertility?


Advertisements designed to lure women into giving up their babies often ask them to think of the needs of infertile couples, to give the joy of parenthood to others. Ironically, the ads do not tell expectant mothers that they may suffer their own infertility after surrendering their child although this is a real possibility.

Well-behaved women rarely make history reports on a survey of first mothers in Western Australia (WA) which found that 13 to 20 percent of the mothers did not have other children. The study did not compare these numbers with the population at large. However, according to the Pew Research Center, in the 1970’s (when it’s likely the women in the WA survey gave birth) the childless rate in the US (likely similar to WA) was 10 percent for all women.

Although the WA study did not analyze individual cases, it did find that 60 percent of the respondents said that adoption impacted their decision or inability to have other children. This is consistent with what I have heard from birthmothers who did not have other children. Some attributed it to the inability to conceive but most said that they just didn’t feel right having another child or that they simply avoided sex.

Whatever the reason, women considering adoption should know that the surrendered child may be the only one they will ever have.

On a personal note, I remember reading in teen and women’s magazines before I gave up my daughter Megan in 1966 about birthmothers who did not have more children. I got the idea – I’m not sure how – but I think it was embedded in the magazine articles -- that subsequent childlessness was due to selfishness; these women refused to have other children.

The morning after Megan was born, one of the doctors stood at foot of my bed and commented in an off-hand way, “I hope this experience doesn’t discourage you from having more children.”

“Oh, no!” I exclaimed. I was not going to be (or at least appear to be) one of those self-centered girls who refused to have more children. (In retrospect the conversation reminds me of the line “Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play.”)

Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race Before Roe v. WadeUpon reading Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race Before Roe v. Wade the doctor’s comment and the magazine articles were put into context. According to the author, historian Rickie Solinger, the US government promoted adoption in the post World War II era as a way of increasing the white population. Social engineers encouraged single white girls to gave up their babies and then to have more children thus producing enough white babies for two families. (At the same time, policy-makers worked hard to discourage black women from having any babies.) White women who obstinately failed to have other children were thwarting an important goal of adoption.

I did go on to have three more daughters. While having more children did not make up for the one I lost, I believe it did blunt the pain.
___________________
Lorraine here:

BirthmarkI did not have any other children other than the daughter I surrendered in 1966. Because I wanted a career in a traditionally male-dominated field--daily newspaper journalism--the times largely made that impossible as children and career did not mix easily way back when. Though had I married the young man I was in love with prior to the relationship that resulted in my daughter, I think I might have been able to see a different path, as he wanted children or at least, a child, and was also totally supportive of my having a career, even having no issue with my keeping my own name, rare for the times. However, that did not happen.

I also felt in the deepest reaches of my soul that I could not give one child away, and keep another. It seemed too cruel to the child given up. How could I keep one child, abandon another? I know that is faulty reasoning, but it is what I felt to be true. Whether that was an excuse to keep me from having another child to pursue my career or not is something I will never know.

However, soon after I surrendered my daughter to adoption, I met and subsequently married someone I should not have married, and was adamant about not having another child. I'm not saying this proves anything, but I would have to be among those counted for secondary infertility, as would Linda, who has blogged here in the past. I wrote about this in greater detail in my memoir, Birthmark. 

As a post script, after my daughter was relinquished, I was super vigilant about NOT getting pregnant again; the one time I was a few weeks late I was checking with a clinic to get an abortion ASAP. I was frantic. But it turned out I was not pregnant. However, I would never never have considered going through the pain of relinquishing a child again; without question I would have chosen an abortion. Your doctor, Jane, instinctively seems to have understood the sorrow that you were going through--and would encounter for the rest of your life. Which is more than I can say for a lot of people who are so against mothers who search.

38 comments :

  1. I think that mothers who are considering surrendering a child should be told that this could be their only child, not "you can have more children." Nobody knows that so it should not be said. It may be their only child whether they raise that child or surrender it. Any woman who has one child might never have another, for any number of reasons, and that should be a consideration when thinking about surrender.

    I would not call it "secondary infertility" if for whatever reason a mother chooses not to have another child, including those traumatized by surrender. A small number of surrendering mothers never wanted children and that was part of the surrender. Others made choices influenced by their reaction to surrendering a child, but that is not secondary infertility.

    I do not think women who surrender are more at risk than other women of the same age of real secondary infertility in which they are trying actively to conceive again but cannot. Not having another child is not always due to infertility which is a medical condition.

    Until there is more reliable data I do not think it is honest to tell a mother who is surrendering she will be at greater risk for secondary infertility. Better to deal with the situation at hand, and ask if she would still chose to surrender if this were to be her only child. Tell her that many mothers have emotional difficulties relating to surrender that impact both their choice to have more children and their parenting of those they do have.The real problems of surrendering mothers are difficult enough without questionable statistics about infertility thrown into the mix.

    I also do not believe promoting adoption really had anything to do with making "more white families". Racism is endemic in our society and Black women were encouraged to raise their illegitimate children while white girls were encouraged to surrender, but this was more economically motivated in that white newborns were a saleable commodity than a Machiavellian racist plot to build the master race. Our society is still racist, but black newborns are more attractive product now and the push is on by adoption brokers to snag them as well.

    I had three more sons after the one I surrendered. No child replaces another but I am grateful for them all, including the one I did not raise.

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  2. I find the thought interesting and very close to home. I did not get pregnant again in my life, except for about 2 years ago - a brief pregnancy that ended when stressors became very high. I went through the infertility treatments and testing and the doctor (3rd in the Nation and on the Cover of Time magazine, I know, once) finally told me she had no idea why I not only did not get pregnant, but would ovulate immediately in route to their office for the invitro egg harvest. Not once, but three times.

    I think, in my mind, that I had decided I was unworthy and therefore I would not do it again. Which is truly sad since my spouse, who was a wonderful man, never got the chance to be a father.

    Regardless, it does make sense.

    Great post.

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  3. Well you got to be a mother of children you raised not only of the one you didn't but knew was being raised by others.That was a wonderful thing that many were not lucky enough to experience, even though they may have wanted to.
    This is a very difficult area for mothers, some are simply unable due to their fears of loosing subsequent babies.Another of the many tragic consequences of the adoption industry.

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  4. I'm trying to imagine anyone saying "This could be your only child" when I was being urged to relinquish. It kind of doesn't go with the whole urging to relinquish idea.

    Really, that would be a remarkable change in adoption practice right there imo. Remember, this may be your only child, instead of "You can always have more children - when you're 'ready'".

    That's powerful.
    I also question the accuracy of the threat of secondary fertility. Although the emotional fallout of relinquishment seems inevitably glossed over.

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  5. There is also a more sinister reason why some women were unable to have more children. They were sterilised without their knowledge.

    This isn't just rumour. 30 states have now admitted that they did that to "undesirables".

    Virginia even has a memorial to all those victims.

    In Canada, they went even further in the aim of getting rid of "bad" genes.

    Some children of unwed mothers or unfit mothers (in many cases unwed=unfit) were actually sterilised themselves. A woman successfully sued the Alberta government when she found out that her appendix wasn't the organ that they had removed when she was 11. She found that out when her doctor had to remove her real appendix many years later.

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  6. thank you Jane!

    did it even occur to me that i would be unable to conceive/carry after the Kiddo was born? of course not!

    and everyone told me, much like MaryAnne stated, that i could other children "later". that i was giving a gift to those people. blahblahblah.

    and here i am, nearly 13 years later, with several miscarriages to show for my TTC efforts. is it crazy stress? is it my genuine inability to carry a baby past a few weeks? is it the mother of all guilt trips?

    what i DO know,however, is that it feels like someone keeps slicing my heart & pouring salt in the wound.

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  7. Maryanne,

    The study termed it as "infertility" because it was largely unknown why many of the women did not go on to have other children. While many chose not to, many also did not know why they never went onto have other children and it was hypothesized that it was largely due to the impact of stress not only on their bodies but also on their lifestyles. The researcher acknowledged that is not the same as all the women having medical infertility.

    While we largely don't know what caused these women not to go on to have children, adoption counseling ought to be reminding women that surrendering a child does not make her impervious to secondary infertility rates and that this could be her one and only opportunity to parent--as, from the research shown (as well as other research repeated in the literature review), has happened to many other women. Agencies and lawyers are not encouraging women to look into the future and consider "how this too shall pass." They take her in the moment of dispair she's in and making her feel like the only way to get out of it is to give her child to someone else when there is a 1 in 5 chance that she herself will not have another child.

    I have a friend who got pregnant at 17 and after her son was born, found out she had a rare disorder that puts her life and the life of any unborn baby she is carrying at risk, increasingly with each pregnancy. We don't know what will happen in the future, but had she made an adoption plan and given her baby up at birth before finding out about this disorder, she may have lost any opportunity she had to be a parent. I have one son but also have fertility problems and have experienced pregnancy loss. In the time it has taken me to have one son, I have friends who are on their third. It's an increasing problem in our society and something expectant mothers need to acknowledge could be in their future when considering adoption because it could be in any woman's future for whatever reason.

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  8. I was informed by the woman I was told was my Mother that after I was given up, ten years later she had an abortion. Because she "didn't want to go through that again". Whether this is true or not, I have often wondered how many Natural Mothers have had abortions after being forced to give a way their baby because they can not fathom the thought of Church Clergy and Social Losers in their faces again. Something The Church should ponder as their brutal tatics may PUSH women to abort rather than deal with their abuse again.

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  9. A woman considering adoption probably has already been influenced by the media hype surrounding adoption and should be told everything regarding the potential impact on her and her child.

    It isn't fun to be staring into my retirement years realizing that even though I am in a good reunion with my ONLY child, it is his afamily who has control of our relationship because of their hatred of me. My existence and normalcy - i.e. not homeless, in jail or poverty stricken - upset their apple cart.

    What a freaking joke, and the joke is on me.

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  10. There is also a more sinister reason why some women were unable to have more children. They were sterilised without their knowledge.
    This isn't just rumour. 30 states have now admitted that they did that to "undesirables"."

    Holy crap.... Anon-do you know what states these were or where I could find out? The same thing was done to mentally retarded people, and teenagers in juvy. delenquient centers. No doctor or Chruch had a right to sterilize any female who had a child out of wedlock. Maybe that is why Natural Moms were told they could have more children, just to mock them. I'll tell you-that is just pure evil. I am never going to beleive that any of the Churches in the US are Christian as long as I live. It is so obvious they aren't as they are allergic to love and forgiveness in any form. What a sad, sick joke.

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  11. I think that telling mothers considering surrender "this may be your only child" and to think about that when making a decision covers both secondary infertility due to stress, incompatibility with the husband's sperm, or emotional reasons due to surrender that cause some to avoid having another child.

    Mothers surrendering should equally be given good counseling about birth control and access to it, and warned about the danger of getting pregnant again in equally unfavorable circumstances, also an emotional reaction to the trauma of surrender. This is probably more a risk than secondary infertility, seeing the many double surrenders, abortions, and shotgun marriages shortly after surrendering the first child.

    Those who were unable to conceive again or who suffered miscarriages like the women who wrote here have my deepest sympathy. I think having another child is what kept me alive after surrender.

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  12. Just another possible perspective on 'secondary infertility' or infertility in general. I thought it interesting reading.

    http://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Citation/1953/11000/Psychosomatic_Aspects_of_Infertility.1.aspx

    No need to sign in...just click on the PDF for the article. Interesting in that this was written back in 1953.

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  13. I slept-posted my comment this morning lol. I forgot to say thanks Jane for posting this.

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  14. @ The Improper Adoptee

    Forced sterilization has been more common in the United States than people think. Especially targeting women whose children were viewed as "undesireable" such as ethnic and racial minority children (e.g. Madrigal v. Quilligan) because of the stereotype that they were "animals" and children of those who were not deemed as inteligent as they were automatically assumed to be "feebleminded" as well (e.g. Buck v. Bell).

    Here's a blog with some information on that http://mississippiappendectomy.wordpress.com/.

    Right now eugenics in American history is used heavily by Anti-Choice groups to protest contraception and abortion services but adoption's unspeakably horrendous involvement in eugenics always gets glossed over.

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  15. No problem, Improper Adoptee.

    Here are a few links to get you started. Some of this stuff is very shocking indeed.

    Virginia apologises for eugenics policy
    (the very first victim of this policy was an unwed mother).

    May 3 2002
    BBC news
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1965811.stm


    Oregon apologises to sterilization victims - Nov. 15 2002

    http://www.people1.org/eugenics/eugenics_article_6.htm

    Unwed mothers were not always targetted as a separate group but more often than not, they were lumped together with the mentally insane and/or criminals by the states as a part of those groups.

    This sometimes makes it difficult to get accurate numbers of the unwed mothers that were sterilized.

    Sometimes they were labelled "wayward" (I guess if they said they were mothers this may have been too emotive for their aim and the public - "wayward" makes the person sound bad without the baby being brought into it).

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  16. Added to blog moments ago:

    I did not have any other children other than the daughter I surrendered in 1966. Because I wanted a career in a traditionally male-dominated field--daily newspaper journalism--the times largely made that impossible as children and career did not mix easily way back when. Though had I married the young man I was in love with prior to the relationship that resulted in my daughter, I think I might have been able to see a different path, as he wanted children or at least, a child, and was also totally supportive of my having a career, even having no issue with my keeping my own name, rare for the times. However, that did not happen.

    I also felt in the deepest reaches of my soul that I could not give one child away, and keep another. It seemed too cruel to the child given up. How could I keep one child, abandon another? I know that is faulty reasoning, but it is what I felt to be true. Whether that was an excuse to keep me from having another child to pursue my career or not is something I will never know.

    However, soon after I surrendered my daughter to adoption, I met and subsequently married someone I should not have married, and was adamant about not having another child. I'm not saying this proves anything, but I would have to be among those counted for secondary infertility, as would Linda, who has blogged here in the past. I wrote about this in greater detail in my memoir, Birthmark.

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  17. As a post script, after my daughter was relinquished, I was super vigilant about NOT getting pregnant again; the one time I was a few weeks late I was checking with a clinic to get an abortion almost immediately. Turned out I was not pregnant. But I would never never have considered going through the pain of relinquishing a child again. Your doctor, Jane, instinctively seems to have understood the sorrow that you were going through--and would encounter for the rest of your life. Which is more than I can say for a lot of people who are so against mothers who search.

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  18. Dear Improper - Wikipedia also has some stuff on this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsory_sterilization

    It has a list of 27 states that did have these laws back in the 1950's. Many were still doing these operations well into the 1970's and some even in the 1980's.
    I am not sure what the other 3 states there were but there is bound to be some info on them somewhere.

    Here is that list from wikipedia.

    Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin

    Oregon performed forced sterilizations as late as 1981.

    One interesting note.

    In the Nuremburg trials, the Nazis defended their sterilization program by pointing out that the US had done this before they did and that they took their inspiration for their eugenics program from the Americans.

    Indiana became the first state to enact sterilization legislation in 1907, followed closely by Washington and California in 1909.
    (apparently California was responsible for about one third of all sterilizations in the US).

    Unwed mothers were often classed as psychiatric patients and often put into psychiatric hospitals (out of wedlock pregnancy was viewed as a disease) where many of these sterilizations took place.

    Here is some more on that where unwed mothers were considered to be
    "feeble-minded" and therefore not fit to breed.

    Promiscuity was "dysgenic" trait that society had to be rid of, according to the eugenics proponents in the US and elsewhere.

    http://www.eugenicsarchive.org/eugenics/

    I hope you find this information useful. Many people are still unaware of this terrible bit of history .

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  19. "Mothers surrendering should equally be given good counseling about birth control and access to it, and warned about the danger of getting pregnant again in equally unfavorable circumstances, also an emotional reaction to the trauma of surrender."

    Birth control isn't 100% reliable. It doesn't matter how much info you gather about it - if it ends up not working that one time, then it just doesn't work, and you get pregnant.

    On a more generic note: The unwanted issue... why is it people always think "unwanted" is a good basis to argue "unplanned"? I know you didn't mention this specifically, but I often see this in rebuttal (as if "unwanted" is the end-all and be-all of why these types of pregnancies should automatically lead to adoption) and it gets tiring.

    Over half of the non-adopted population was "unplanned." Does that make them all "unwanted" by default?

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  20. Speaking for myself, I asked God not to give me children when I was 11; I still have the original note I penned at my attic desk during one of my parents' many arguements. I'm the oldest of four; my parents had a miserable, volatile marriage, and I was sure I would make the same mistakes they did. Like Lorraine, I planned on having a brilliant career.

    But when I became pregnant, everything changed. I chose to be a mother. And when my daughter's father decided he wasn't ready to be a father at 20 (at least to our child), relinquishment chose me (I didn't chose relinquishment, it was the absolute last resort). I knew, I KNEW, that would be my one and only chance to raise my own child.

    I've never counted myself among women who have suffered secondary infertility. I chose not to have other children for what I've always thought were very unselfish reasons, though others may think I'm selfish...after all, what's marriage without children? Yes, giving my daughter away and having another was at the top of the list. Fear of being an inferior parent was up there too. I wanted to complete my degree before I considered starting a family; I finally completed my BA at 37, the year my daughter graduated high school; my husband was 48. I know that's hardly old, but I also feared I couldn't afford to raise a child without struggling financially; I still made a modest wage by today's standards. And, as Lorraine discussed in a recent post about social class, my daughter and I simply value different things. Lastly, I subscribe to the "it takes a village theory," i.e., I'm a nurturer, and am happy to help other mothers shepherd their children up, down, around and through the chutes and ladders of life.

    I've steered clear of the topic of adoption for months, but it's weighing heavily on my mind this week, as my daughter is planning to attend my nephew's wedding this weekend. We haven't seen or spoken to one another since her own now-ending marriage five years ago. I've already been advised by my sister, the groom's mother, that she has no desire to engage with me. I'll just try my best to take the high road and keep reminding myself that it's all about the bride and groom. Iin the midst of all this, Mother Nature has reminded me yet again of the cosmic connection between my daughter and me, even though my daughter has made it abudnantly clear none exists. Good times :)

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  21. Anon-thank you very much for all the info you posted. I appreciate it. I am very suprised that Florida is not on this list as I have been told they will be the last state to ever open the Adoption Records. I am glad some of the states are apologizing-it just makes my stomach turn that they could do this behind a woman's back. It is sad how many people go around thinking they are God...and the Church has never had the right from God to BE God..that is a bigger "sin" than a "sin" of the flesh....
    Amanda thank you for your input too. Actually I had LOL (my memory, ugh) written a post last year about a Congress person who wanted to sterilize poor woman, which I felt was digusting and outrageous. Eugentics falls in the same line as the terrible drugging of foster children which is a major problem right now-if anyone is interested in that, the blog Drugging Children is linked way down on mine under the special links I love list. Many minority children are being singled out and have been used for drug testing as well and that makes my blood BOIL. I find it satanic to think a women who commits one sexual "sin" in her life should be seen as crazy. Christ never said those who fornicate are insane. And no woman deserved to be punished for the rest of her life for what Jesus would forgive either. Not only do we need to abolish Closed Adoption Laws, I think we need to abolish all the Churches too and start over again, this time making them follow laws that would force them to do Christianity RIGHT....

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  22. I know this is none of my beeswax but if it were me, I would want to know there is a higher incidence in first mothers over the population. That would be good to know IMO.

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  23. Dear Improper

    You are right that Florida never passed a sterilization law.

    I have found another article. Virginia was a bad place to be according to this item.

    It seems that in Virginia, if someone didn't like you, they could complain about you and have you sent to the Lynchburg State Colony for Epileptics and the Feebleminded. Even hemophiliacs and diabetics were sent there. Some victims were as young as 8 years old.

    Here is a snippet from the article that you might be interested in.

    "Mary Bishop, a Roanoke Times & World News reporter writing a book about the Virginia victims, said patients were almost always youngsters and teenagers. They ended up at the Colony when frustrated parents dumped them there because they had run away too often or had committed petty crime. Others had become pregnant out of wedlock. Almost all were poor."

    Many of these people had no idea that they could not conceive after their operations which the victims were told were for other problems (appendix, "female problems", etc.)

    The Carrie Buck case is a terrible one because the unwed mother was a rape victim. Apparently rape victims were classed as imbeciles too.

    According to this article, 35 states had sterilization laws but it does not give a list as to which ones.

    Anyway, here is the news item from a Florida newspaper talking about how badly other states treated their "feeble-minded". They really have a go at Virginia.

    St. Petersburg Times Online
    Name of the article is
    "Human Weeds"
    Nov 11 2001

    http://www.sptimes.com/News/111101/Worldandnation/Human_weeds.shtml

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  24. Dear Improper

    There is one piece of poetic justice from that place in Virginia.

    Berth Corr was a top nurse at the
    Lynchburg State Colony in Virginia.
    Not only that but she sat on the committee that ordered the sterilizations and she actually helped to carry them out.

    She was married for 30 years but Corr was never able to conceive.

    It seems she ended up having a taste of her own medicine.

    One could even say that a bit of divine justice occurred here.

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  25. Anon-I don't understand the great lack of intelligence that would ever consider a rape victim to be an "imbecile". I am sure it must of been one hell of a male chav. pig that decided that. So much of these beyond sad situations really shed light on how horrible women have been treated in this country. And I shouldn't be surprised at what you have told me as I was aware that in the early 1900's (and before) men who wanted to divorce their wives, especially if they found a younger, prettier woman would get them committed so a divorce could be granted. Deeming one's wife insane was the only way a man could get a dovorce in those days. Needless to say many perfectly sane women found themselves in an asylum....it amazes me too, that none of the men who impregnated single women WERE seen as imbeciles or crazy. Women don't force a sperm to fertilize and egg, it's a hit or miss game that isn't our fault, which just adds fuel to my fire due to the notion that if a women does conceive she is worse than the man she had relations with. Very sad all the immature and beyond stupid attitudes this country has tortured people with...thank you again for the all the information you gave me.

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  26. Dear Anonymous, who are you? You know a great deal and are willing to share your knowledge. Can we know more about you?

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  27. Hi Lorraine

    You can call me Cat.

    I am a reunited Canadian mother but I live in the UK now. My son has reunited with both me and his father. My son has reunited with all of his siblings.

    I have been fighting for years for rights for parents and adoptees.
    My son and his father have been very supportive of this. We have been classified as adoption fraud victims by the UN as the social worker that literally stole our son from us has finally admitted to taking bribes. Apparently she was doing "God's work" by removing children from "sinful" unwed parents. It wasn't good enough that we were engaged.

    I was involved in helping to get Ontario records open.

    I got the UN to look at complaints at how mothers were abused out of their children. That complaint is still on their UN Human Rights web site to remind the Canadian government that they still have a long way to go and that past wrongs are not going to be forgotten by the international community.

    We managed to publicly expose a "dead" baby scam which was run by one of the children's aid societies. This is a scam where the mother is told that her baby has died shortly after birth, and then the bribed professionals put the supposedly "dead" baby up for adoption. My social worker was also involved in that. That too is at the UN web site.

    Right now, I am involved in a battle with the Ontario government to get father's names onto the original birth certificate.

    In Ontario, over 90 percent of fathers names on the original birth certificates of adoptees are missing.

    The Ontario government has tried to block our request at every turn. My son's father and my son have been helping. The government couldn't use lack of permission or privacy concerns in our case.

    They have now decided that it would be just plain illegal to change a previously sealed record.
    Pathetic!

    I recently went to the Ontario Ombudsman about this and have received a letter back from one of his officers. It looks like the Ontario government has actually lied to the officer and all the facts are wrong in her letter to me.

    Don't worry though - this fight is not done yet. I am now composing a letter to send back to the Ombudsman about these government lies. They never seem to stop.

    I guess it's not surprising from a government whose police force detained 1,000 innocent people in a detention camp without access to a lawyer during the recent summit.

    I have to keep trying.

    I guess I learn a lot about these things when fighting for our rights that the government seems hell-bent on taking them from us.

    It looks like another complaint will be on its way to the UN in the not too distant future.

    I'll keep you posted on the father's name issue. I can't see the problem when everyone gives their consent. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child already states that the government has a legal duty to restore this information. Too bad the UN can't make them do it.

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  28. Dear Cat:

    Since, er, the cat is out of the bag, how about using "Cat" as your signature here, then when looking down the list of comments we all can quickly see yours and know that your probably have a lot of information to dispense. Just click on the name/url selection and type in Cat. You don't have to put in a url, unless of course, you want to. But you truly are a fount of information and we are glad to have you posting comments.

    Incidentally, while we do post anonymous comments and do not ask for your email address, as some blogs and websites do, if any of you do not mind posting as yourself, it gives the comments more...more punch.

    BTW, I'm from Michigan, Detroit area, and as we used to zip over to Canadian beaches on the lakes quite often, or to to Windsor when I lived there growing up, I feel like Ontario is "my" province. If that makes any sense.

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  29. Wow… thank you Jane for taking this discussion to ‘the next level’… infertility – chosen or imposed. Jane, when you mentioned, “adoption impacted their decision or inability to have other children. This is consistent with what I have heard from birthmothers who did not have other children. Some attributed it to the inability to conceive but most said that they just didn’t feel right having another child or that they simply avoided sex,” I thought about how relinquishment and adoption truly impact the ‘trust factor’ for both Mothers and Adoptees. My oldest friend (we’ve been friends for 35 years) is a natural-Mother and she expressed a feeling of self-doubt, of being punished because she was unworthy. She had relinquished a daughter when she was 16 and when she had gotten married her first two children were boys… her third (fourth) was another daughter, but that repeated, demeaning religious guilt (coupled with how she was treated by her mother) took it’s toll.
    As an Adoptee, my friend’s story made a lasting impression – the reason I want to see more dialogue from natural Mothers and between Adoptees and natural Mothers. Society tells us some very ugly things – and, FME, when there is no one to counter those images then, as the Adoptee grows up they believe them. I say I was ‘lucky’ in that no one in my family talked trash about my birth or my natural Mother… my mother had her issues with me (I wasn’t the blank slate she had been told about and I had attitude – Where did that come from?); but, my Grandma and my Aunt were my rocks, my pillars of the earth – they had attitude too. LOL Yet (like Lorraine), I would never relinquish a child – the way that adoption is practiced scares the holy molly out of me. That was my choice… the thing that bothers me is that some girls and women did not and do not have that choice. It always comes down to that with us – Choice.
    Of course, no one in the industry is going to mention that relinquishing a child may affect you to the extent that you won’t have another child – that would defeat their purpose. And they won’t encourage kinship adoption because they want to support Stranger adoption – even if it means a monthly stipend to the adopters. And they don’t want “search and/or reunion” because it might expose flaws in the industry – even though it IS in the best interest of the child.
    Anon… I was just talking with Amanda about this – I found a blog where the Mothers were talking about things that they had gone through or heard about that sounded very damaging – punched in the stomach after the baby is delivered. Have you ever heard about this?
    I think Improper, has an excellent point – How many natural Mothers would have abortions rather than risk relinquishment again?
    Mei Ling, I think “unwanted” is damaging – like “abandoned”. The industry uses these words in every instance that they can so that in a very short time society accepts them as ‘true’. A teenage or unmarried pregnancy is made undesirable and the adoption becomes a necessity. If we think about all the people we know who have children, how many of them can honestly say they *planned* on each pregnancy?? And when a girl or woman signs papers saying she relinquishes her child for adoption how can anyone say she *abandoned* that child when months (maybe years) later she does not appear in court for the adoption hearing??
    Hey Improper… “Christ never said those who fornicate are insane,” you’re only insane if people find out, you can fornicate all you want and never be thought the less for it as long as no one knows… or if you’re a male.

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  30. Cat here;

    For CullyRay

    Yes, being punched in the stomach happened to a friend of mine. She is one of the people that made a complaint to the UN about this practise. At the hospital where our children were born, they actually had an Unwed Mother Punishment Policy. An ex-nurse from there told me she quit her job over it. She said that the nurses would gather on their breaks to discuss ways of hurting unwed mothers without leaving any marks (read evidence).

    One of the doctors actually put her hand up into the womb of one of my friends and punched her from inside. The doctor was so violent that other co-workers had to pull her off my friend. My friend could barely move after that.

    We complained but our complaints ended up in the "circular file" aka the rubbish bin. We were told that no one would believe us and that they could do what they wanted to us. For the longest time, that was true.

    I have now heard of some conferences and events where older and retired nurses/doctors are now confessing their terrible activities (are they worried about getting into heaven perhaps?) That is something someone else has told me but it is hard to find anything about that on the web.

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  31. Cat,
    the hardest thing for me to read about is that it was, for the most part, women doing these things and passing these judgements on other women and girls... never once thinking except for circumstances the new Mother/girl in trouble could have been them or someone they love.
    hugz and Blessings!

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  32. Cat here;

    Culley Rae - you are quite right about that - women treating other women badly.

    The hospital that I had my son at was called Women's College Hospital in Toronto. It's aim was to promote women doctors. You would have thought it would help all women but nothing could be further from the truth from the 1950's to the 1980's.

    There is a famous quote from Dr. Marion Hilliard (a woman), the head of Obstretrics at this hospital up until the mid-1950's.
    This quote set the foundation for the Unwed Mother Punishment Policy. She was so proud of this idea that she said it to a newspaper.

    "Unwed mothers should be punished and they should be punished by taking their children away." - Dr. Marion Hilliard of Women's College Hospital, Daily Telegraph, (Toronto, November 1956)

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  33. Cat here;

    I think Dr. Marion Hilliard had some serious issues.

    She was dumped by her fiance who went on to marry someone else.

    Bizarrely, she delievered her ex's baby (she wanted to)

    She then wrote a book - in it she asks the question as to whether it was OK for women to sleep together like a married couple.

    In the 1950's, being gay would have been even more taboo than being an unwed mother.

    I can't help but wonder if she used unwed mothers to deflect the fact that she was living with another woman towards the end of her life ...

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  34. Cat here;

    I know people want references, so here are a few about Dr. Marion Hilliard.

    Chatelaine
    (Canadian magazine that Dr. Marion Hilliard wrote for)
    http://www.robertfulford.com/Chatelaine.html

    A Woman's Doctor Looks at Love and Life.
    (this is the book that Dr. Marion Hilliard wrote and asks the question about women in love).
    http://www.amazon.com/woman-doctor-looks-love-life/dp/B0007IZVO0

    She was a member of the Christian movement (she also ran a Bible group later on).
    (this would have been another source of conflict for her)
    http://www.science.ca/scientists/scientistprofile.php?pID=403&pg=0

    Another interesting article mentioning Dr. Hilliards orientation and how family tried to protect it.
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3683/is_199810/ai_n8810892/pg_24/

    I can't find the reference about her fiance at the moment but it is out there somewhere.

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  35. I was interested to discover that the late great June Callwood ghosted the Chatelaine articles that became Marion Hilliard's book.
    A certain irony, non?

    Toronto was still Toronto the Good (Or You'd Better Watch Out) in those days. Dr. Hilliard's attitudes reflected the puritanical mores held by most of society.

    Tommy Douglas, the father of universal health care in Canada, espoused eugenic views in his youth:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Douglas

    His M.A thesis (McMaster 1933) was briefly up on the web. I've read it. It quickly disappeared, but can probably still be read on request at McMaster.
    It is called "The Problems of the Subnormal Family" and in it Douglas proposes that only those couples deemed to be mentally and morally fit would be allowed to marry, while those of less 'moral' or intellectual heft would be sent to state farms while the seriously mentally impaired or diseased would be be sterilized.

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  36. Eureka!
    http://www.katewerk.com/tommy/

    And a sample page:
    http://www.katewerk.com/tommy
    /TTommy%20Douglas%20Thesis%20025.jpg

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  37. Cat here;

    Hi Lorraine - I decided to do something about that disappearing history.

    I have added an addition to Wikipedia for Women's College Hospital.

    It will be interesting to see how long that stays up - most of these institutions usually have someone checking them to edit out the bad stuff.

    It is very catharitic to put it in though. I highly recommend it.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Cat: Send me your email in the comments section and we can respond privately.

    ReplyDelete

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