From the moment of birth….a moment of truth

ImageChef.comI was commenting on another blog the other day that I almost thought it funny that I was once an UNWED MOTHER!!!! The Victorian morality of it all. It’s so weird and, of course, so sad because that Victorian morality was responsible for a lot of harm in the world.

As an aside – Pejorative term that it was, it at least contained the word mother. As a second aside, it just occurred to me that If that UNWED MOTHER was writing this blog she would sign it with the same initials I do – UM.

How much I feel that unwed mother person was someone else. I don’t know where she came from. I guess she was what was left of me when I was beaten down, betrayed, abandoned and terrified.

I was one of the people who was never even allowed to see her baby. Why the heck I didn’t get up out of the bed, say “Fuck You!” to anybody who tried to stop me and go to see MY baby I don’t know. I know that’s what I would do today. To the point of being arrested if they tried to stop me.

It is only recently that I have found out what the theory behind the forbidding of any mother/child time together. I was told this was because it would help me, allow me to heal. You know, get on with my life. It was what was best.

This is from “Authoritative Knowledge and Single Women’s Unintentional Pregancies, Abortions, Adoption and Single Motherhood: Social Stigma and Structural Violence,” by Marcia A. Ellison, in “Medical Anthropology Quarterly“, 17(3), 2003, p.326.

The Post-World War II Adoption Mandate — “From 1960-70, 27 percent of all births to married women between the ages of 15 and 29 were conceived premaritally. Yet the etiology of single, white, middle-class women’s conceptions had shifted again and were now perceived as symptoms of female neurosis (Solinger, 1982; Vincent, 1961). In keeping with this medical model, a single pregnant woman could obtain a therapeutic abortion if she could find a physician willing to diagnose her as psychologically unsound, or if her pregnancy could be diagnosed as life-threatening. However, the approval of a board of hospital physicians was necessary to obtain a therapeutic abortion and 53 percent of teaching hospitals and 40 percent of all U.S. Hospitals, and thus their boards, required that women accept simultaneous sterilization to prevent a future unplanned pregnancy (Solinger, 1998:24). … Given those constraints, the majority (85-95 percent) of single, white, middle-class women, who either could not or would not procure an illegal or therapeutic abortion, were encouraged, and at times coerced, to adopt-away their child (Edwards, 1993; McAdoo, 1992; Pannor et al, 1979; Solinger, 1992, 1993).

Maternity homes became institutions where neurotic pregnancies could be cured by separating single mothers from their children (Solinger, 1992). By the 1950s, attachment theory dictated that this separation occur as soon as possible after birth, to promote an infant’s ability to bond with its married adoptive parents (Berebitsky, 2000).”

You don’t have to have been in a home for unwed mothers to have had this experience.

Why does it always seem to come down to what works best for adoption?

Attachment disorder – indeed.




4 Responses to From the moment of birth….a moment of truth

  1. unsignedmasterpiece says:

    It was in Ontario. Interestingly in a Salvation Army Hospital.

    When I got a copy of my hospital records many years later, they said, “Babe to the CAS”

  2. Cedar says:

    The “remove our babies right at birth” practice (which I endured as well — a form of rape, if you ask me) was done for one reason: to prevent us from keeping our babies. The theory was, that if we were allowed to see and hold our baby we would “bond” with our baby and not surrender it. Hence, to ensure greater odds of a surrender, they took our babies at birth. And it worked.

    The Origins Australia women have copies of the hospital and social worker documents that laid out this practice. Supposedly some Salvation Army worker came to Canada and other nations and proclaimed this to be the way things should be done.

    It was done to you too, eh? It violated our legal and parental rights and it counts as “abduction of a minor” under the Criminal Code of Canada. We should be demanding an inquiry into the injustices that were done to us, including the taking and withholding of your baby? Where did it happen to you? For me, it was in Victoria B.C., 1980, but i have heard stories Canada-wide.

    The same inquiry into residential schools should also be done into the practices that took thousands of white and mostly-white babies from unwed mothers across Canada

  3. Margie says:

    Amazing what people who perceive themselves to be “good” will do in the name of “morality.” We’ve got a long way to go, too.

  4. UM, I refuse to think of your initials as anything except unsigned masterpiece.

    As for neurotic pregnancies, I want to barf.

    Why the heck I didn’t get up out of the bed, say “Fuck You!” to anybody who tried to stop me and go to see MY baby I don’t know.

    Me too, don’t know, hated it then, hate it now.

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