' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: A small snapshot of adoption awareness creeping into the news

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

A small snapshot of adoption awareness creeping into the news



Two obituaries in the August 6 Oregonian caught my eye. The first of a woman, Kathleen, born in 1933. She majored in Home Economics at Oregon State College; in 1954 her studies culminated in a ”Home Ec Practice Home,” a six week live-in course where each week a student was assigned as cook, housekeeper, or baby-tender of an actual toddler…”  Kathleen became an adoption social worker.

 Adoption agencies placed babies entrusted to them for adoption in these college “practice homes” both to give students baby-tending experience, part of the essential education of young women along with baking and sewing, and to evaluate the babies to see if they were suitable for adoption. I wrote about practice babies on FMF in 2011.  

The second obituary was of a man, Robert, born in 1953, 20 years later. He and his wife “raised an amazing daughter, Hannah…. Bob also had the opportunity to share a relationship with his biological son, Steve … and his granddaughter, Kennedy.” It’s likely that the son was placed for adoption as an infant and, thanks to the search movement and the opening of records was able to unite with his father. 

Similarly, Lorraine was acknowledged as her daughter Jane's birth mother in her 2007 obituary in the Wisconsin newspaper that carried it. Her adoptive family or husband in Wisconsin had passed it along to the funeral home as well as the newspaper.  Thus Jane's obit carried the full truth of her life, rather than pretending that her life began with adoption. One can hope that the practice becomes more common as time passes and people acknowledge that adoptees have a life--and a family history--before adoption. Life begins at birth, not adoption. 

With the first obit, we have an example of how a woman with little to no experience about the impact of adoption on both the adoptee and the natural mother would affect their lives became an adoption social worker. Later, we have a recognition of the man being a birth father of a child who was relinquished for adoption, and even earlier, of a birth mother being acknowledged in her daughter's death notice. 

A snapshot, seemingly minor, of how society has changed for the better. -- jane

A late PS from lorraine, who happened upon her wedding announcement to Anthony S. Brandt in the New York Times on September 21, 1981...and realized that it put her connection to adoption fair and square: 

The bride, a freelance writer and a former senior editor of Town & Country magazine, will retain her name. She was graduated from Wayne State University. Her books include ''Birthmark,'' published by M. Evans, a personal story of having a daughter and giving her up for adoption. She has been active in the movement to open the sealed birth records for adult adoptees. 


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