Conventional Wisdom ’60’s Style – Unwed Mothers and Adoption “Choice”



The most recent edition of the Origins Canada Newsletter devoted a page to quotes about unmarried and pregnant young women and adoption from the ’60’s.

Here they are in all their dubious glory.  I remember once when I was in university after I had had and lost my son, I came across a book about unwed mothers.  They were described very much in the terms you will find below.

I am tempted to link to a few old posts of mine to some of these quotes but, as we say in the legal profession, “Res Ipse Loquitur” – meaning the thing speaks for itself.

Quotes From Origins Research…

“In 1964 in Canada, the most recent year for which we have figures, 26,556 babies were born to unmarried mothers. We can safely assume that practically all of them were not wanted”
Chatelaine Magazine, March 1966, Vol. 39, No. 3. pp. 28, 79

“A Children’s Aid Society official says he has seen unwed mothers discard their babies “as if they were used Kleenex.”   Winnipeg Free Press, June 27, 1966.

“Chances are good that she won’t make a second “mistake“, her emotional scars will heal and she’ll be happily married a few years later.”   Mrs. G.H. Loosemore, Director, Humewood House.Toronto Star, April 22, 1963.

“Generally the most unstable want to keep their child, the more stable gives the infant for adoption.”
Captain Scoville, Booth Hospital. Toronto Daily Star, March 16, 1965.

pregnantfigure“We hope we won’t have to resort to encouraging girls to keep their own children. We still can’t prove that the baby gets the best of the deal when it’s raised by its’ own mother.”    Sister St. Augustine, Director, Rosalie Hall. Toronto Star, December 20, 1965.

“Mrs. Doering reports that during a recent conversation with Children’s Aid Workers she has been advised by them no longer to counsel a girl that the unselfish thing for her to do is to place her child for adoption as the Society can no longer assure placement.”  Consultation on Counselling, Victor Home for Girls, June 7, 1965.

“Single girls who hang on to their babies invariably attempt to defend their position by claiming their love is so great that they cannot give the child up. Such “love” is questionable. It is a sick kind of love turned inside out –an unwholesome blend of self pity, mixed with self-destruction and a touch of martyrdom. This isn’t mother love, it’s smother love, with all the suffocating aspects that the word implies”
Ann Landers, Toronto Star, April 25, 1961.

“Most of the girls we have seen who are financially and intellectually able to keep their babies decide not to. It’s the “other kind of girl” who is more apt to make the decision to keep her baby.”      Sister St. Augustine, Director, Rosalie Hall. Toronto Star, December 20, 1965.

“The more emotionally healthy unmarried mother usually gives up her child for adoption as best for him.”
Miss Gwen Davenport, Superintendent, Armagh. Globe & Mail, March 11, 1963.

Read ’em and weep!




2 Responses to Conventional Wisdom ’60’s Style – Unwed Mothers and Adoption “Choice”

  1. Oh, come on, you know you and I had a “:choice”, right? Oh, wait, to make a choice you need more than one option don’t you? (Snark intended).

    Boggles my mind how people fail to find problems with such views and the power they hold over young vulnerable mothers.

    “All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth” – Nietzche

    • Unsigned Masterpiece says:

      Sad thing is I don’t think it is that different today. The one I found particularly interest was the one from 1965 saying don’t encourage adoption anymore. Some people apparently didn’t get the memo.

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