Betty Friedan Made Me Give Up My Baby

I saw Kate Winslet on TV the other day talking about the film she made with Leonardo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road. She said that in preparing for her role she read a lot of early feminist writing including The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. This got me googling Betty which led to a reference to an article that appeared in Redbook in the early 60’s.  This article talked about the unhappiness of the American housewife.  Apparently when it appeared, the response from women who echoed the sentiments expressed in the article was overwhelming.

Many of us have often wondered how our mothers could have encouraged/forced their daughters to give up their children for adoption.  Maybe they were experiencing this unhappiness tapped by the Redbook article.  Maybe they saw us as their hope.  They wanted us to be different.  They wanted us to be the women who would escape their fate.

Maybe when we got pregnant they saw us as betraying that hope and starting down the same  path that led to their unhappiness.

Just an idea – Haven’t you wondered how your mother who knew the joy of holding a baby in her arms could have for one second entertained the idea of you losing your child and her grandchild  forever.

I’m just saying…and wondering.




5 Responses to Betty Friedan Made Me Give Up My Baby

  1. KimKim says:

    Definetly true in my case. My mother never hid the fact that she felt having us ruined her life. She often said she could have been a professional singer if we hadn’t been there.
    Sadly my existance has prevented my mother from being Doris Day!!

    She used to often say after I had relinquished that if she got pregnant she would give her child up for adoption.

    Her excuse for coercing me was that she wanted to spare me the burden of that responsibility.

    I have since spared her of that with me over the last few years. She doesn’t have to be my mother anymore.

  2. Denise says:

    You might well be on to something. When I was a teenager, my mother told me if I was smart I wouldn’t have kids. Imagine how that felt! That she regretted having had three. She was the driving force behind my giving up my baby. At least that’s what my father hints at, now that she’s gone. I always thought it was the shame on the family, but it could have been more.

  3. mama2roo says:

    I remember discussing that book in grad school, (MSW) with one professor in particular who apparently thought it was the end all of everything…at the time I remember thinking that so many things done in the name of feminism really seem to diminish our feminine nature. Of course at the time, adoption never played into that discussion or thought per se, but I remember being in a class with her talking about women’s push in the workforce and how this is what strong women did. I brought up the point that it made it sound as if strong women don’t stay home and raise their children instead of working and shouldn’t feminism be that women could choose either way and be equally strong women–to which she became a little angry. Very interesting post, because even though we werent’ talking about adoption then, we very well could have beenw ithout knowing it.

  4. angelle2 says:


    OOPS! Well she threw me under the bus!

    My mom told my son that she never moved so that he could find her one day. Umm, how about finding me? I felt like I was a shadow and unimportant in the conversation she was having with my son.

    You see, my getting pregnant as a teenager ruined her life and she did all she could not to ruin mine. Never mind I was sent to Siberia.

    What she says now about what happend back then is “that is what was done in those days.”

    Simple – or simplistic?

  5. suz says:

    I personally feel that I was partly able to give up my daughter because I felt no bond to my own mother. I felt I had no value to her and she no value to me. Therefore, when prompted with baby brokers and maternity home workers who told me that my daughter was better off without me, I believed them. It was until afterwards, when the nightmares set in, when my breasts leaked milk for a child no longer present, when I heard cries I could not soothe that I knew better. By then it was too late.

    My mother will tell you her whole life she dreamed of children and she kept having them even when my dad wanted to stop at one (she had four before doctors told her she had to stop). And yet, I dont recall her being much of a mother. Her situation did not turn out as she had dreamed. Instead of being the mother of year the she ended up the codependent enabling wife of a alcoholic. My childhood memories are pretty much void of my mother yet filled with tyranical father that told me upon learning of my pregnancy that it was no surprise my mother hadnt taught me to keep my legs closed.

    Interesting post.

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