I'm not going to say that I was not in love with him; I was. But in looking back at that marriage, I cannot avoid the conclusion that I married him partly because I was so burned out and looked to marriage as a kind of salvation from feeling so bad about myself.
Marriage would be some kind of magical balm that would help heal the wound left when I gave up my daughter. I would have not have to be forlorn and rejected. I could be a Mrs. A Mrs. meant that someone valued me enough to marry me, when I felt inside like scum, like a sorry woman who had given up her baby. Trust me, this was no "adoption plan," no matter how today people try to pretty up the language. At the time, I had no where to turn. Society, as well as the father of our baby, were telling me I had to do this, and I gave up, and gave up my daughter.
The stress factors of that period in my life were compounded by having to quit my job in Rochester, New York, when I was pregnant; after my daughter was born, having to find a new job in a different city. When I did have the job in Albany, I packed my stuff in a U-Haul that I attached to the back of my car and moved by myself to a new but depressing apartment. This is how I "started a new life." An astrologer who did my chart once asked me if 1966 was a bad year in my life, if I had lost anything.
Lost anything? I practically laughed when I reeled off: My baby, my love, my career, my home.
Two years later in 1968 I met my first husband. We were not introduced by anyone; he came up to me on Main Street on Nantucket and asked if I'd like to have cup of coffee. He said he noticed me, and I had walked by twice, and he said to himself, if she walks by a third time, I will talk to her. Perhaps how we met is immaterial, but I am sure that I did not look like a hip, together 25-year-old, even if I had a good haircut and clean clothes. Emotionally I was a wreck, and he saw the hurt pouring out of my eyes.
Would I have married this man, who in some ways was so unsuited to me, had it not been for what happened before? I doubt it. Plus, it was a very different time. In 1968, unless you were in some hippie commune, women married in their twenties. Living together before marriage was rare. Besides the times, your parents, and your church, Vietnam and the draft also encouraged marriage. At the beginning of our involvement in Vietnam, men got deferments if they were in college, then if they were married; then if they had a child. By the time we married, the "marriage" deferment was no longer available. We did not have children--I said I could never have another, and stuck to that. My husband was able to get Conscientious Objector status, which was not an easy feat, and worked two years in a hospital after college. We stayed married for five years.
I did have a scintilla of doubt that this marriage would last when I said, I do, but I beat back that thought because I needed the marriage to feel whole. The doubts resurfaced on our honeymoon. It was not a terrible marriage, but it was not right for me, for us. We separated without a great deal of commotion or recrimination. Of course marriages break up for a lot of reasons, but I can't have been the only one who rushed into a marriage as a way of coping after giving up a child. So, I wonder, how about the rest of you?--lorraine
Waiting to Forget: A Motherhood Lost and Found
Described in the New York Times Book Review as "uniquely enlightening," Waiting to Forget is a mother's story of coming to terms with the child she gave up for adoption over thirty years ago. In 1965 Margaret Moorman was unmarried, pregnant, and still in high school. Forced by societal pressures to give her baby up, she suffered emotional trauma both before and for years after the birth. At forty, she gave birth to a daughter and found herself terrified by the possibility of losing her younger child, a fear she can now trace back to her uncertain decision to give up her son. --Amazon
The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade
Fessler is an adoptee who was herself surrendered during those years and recently made contact with her mother. She gives us the voices of more than a hundred women, as well as the spirit of those times, allowing the women to tell their own stories.