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

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


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!




Reformers and Deserted Mothers … UM on the road.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


We have been on the road recently, my hubby and I.  We sailed from NYC, disembarked in Southampton, travelled up to London and spent the night in the world’s smallest hotel room. We actually spent two nights. One on the way to Paris and one on the way back before we went to Edinburgh.

The world’s smallest hotel room was on a very pleasant court near St. Pancras and King’s Cross railway stations. It overlooked a charming park with tennis courts and the hotel had very friendly staff and a lovely patio out back.  It was also very close to NUT Headquarters – clearly I was in the right neighbourhood.  NUT, by the way, is an acronym for England’s National Union of Teachers. Aw the British sense of humour. Read the rest of this entry »

Oh dear…the emotional drama of girls in TROUBLE!!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

From WritingMyWrongs

It would be funny if the message in the trailer wasn’t such an accurate portrayal of the attitudes.  I haven’t seen the movie but I hope she took her baby and ran like hell.

I is for If you are pregnant…

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaBloPoMo Blog#432 Day 14

adoption, reunIon, reform, reality**

I’ve been there and I know how frightening it can be. You feel trapped,terrified and totally alone. So please read on.

Here are a couple of things you should know.

Statistically, 60% of women who relinquish a child for adoption never have any more children.  You need to remember that.  You may not have other children.

The first question every adopted person asks when they meet their parents is “Why was I given away?”

If your decision is to continue with your pregnancy, think about it, please. For your sake and your child’s.

Look seriously at your options and your prospects for the long term not just the short term. Think about where you can find support, emotional and financial. Don’t let adoption be a long term solution to a short term problem.

Adoption is no guarantee of a wonderful life. Don’t let anyone convince you that you represent the deprived end of the spectrum and prospective parents represent the perfect full and happy life end.

There are no perfect people. No one can make any such guarantee. Adoptive parents can get divorced, die, fool around on their spouses and maybe even sometimes not be warm and loving to the kids just like everybody else.  They can abuse their kids. They may have money and you don’t but money does not guarantee love. Even the United Nations has said that it is a child’s right to be raised by it’s own parents.

Don’t listen to people who want to get their hands on your baby or people who just want the whole problem of your pregnancy to go away. They are thinking of themselves not you and your baby.  Giving a baby up for adoption is short term gain for long term pain.  Do not go to a lawyer that works with an adoption agency to find out what your rights are.  Do not be coerced by pre-birth “bonding” with prospective parents.  That baby is yours not theirs.

Listen to what we mothers have to say.  You have the benefit of our voices.  We didn’t have that. I know you are probably young and frightened but please – just think.

No matter what anybody tells you, no matter how smart-assed and cool the character “Juno” was and no matter how much everyone thought that movie was great, it was, in all aspects, not realistic about the emotions of relinquishing a child for adoption. You will not just give birth and go back happily to play the guitar with the guy you liked or were in love with. And if you do, you will do it by shutting down the part of yourself where you feel and it will take years to get it back, if in fact you do get it back.

Will they make Juno II in eighteen years when Juno meets that child and he, who no doubt will be just as smart ass as his mother, will say “Why did you give me up?”

“So I could play the guitar with my boyfriend.”  It won’t sound like a very darn good reason to Juno or to him. “And oh yeah, my guitar playing boyfriend. He’s your father.”

Juno is to adoption as Pretty Woman is to prostitution.

I am a happy person, I don’t want to be angry or bitter or anything else. I am married. I have a family and a dog. I have two university degrees. I don’t feel guilty but I do feel that giving my child up for adoption was a BIG mistake for both of us.

Think twice and then think about thirty more times.



** For new readers, I am working through the letters in these words as my writing prompts during NaBloPoMo 2011.

U is for U, U, U! Why Is It Always About U?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

NaBloPoMo Blog#432 Day 12

adoption, reUnion, reform, reality**

Here are nine of my favourite Unsigned Masterpiece posts on various aspects of adoption.

They range from the political, Who’s Your Daddy? or That’s One Big Powerful Mother, Dude! to the extremely personal such as Last Suppers or The Day I Met My Son (It still makes me smile.) or the somewhat tongue-in-cheek, Betty Friedan Made Me Give Up My Baby.




** For new readers, I am working through the letters in these words as my writing prompts during NaBloPoMo 2011.


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. (Dec. 13, 2009)


There is a meal that I have always thought of as my last supper. It was served to me, ironically, by my boyfriend’s mother who ran a diner and did not know I was pregnant by her son at the time.  (Sept. 29, 2008)


He took the bus to Toronto and one cold raining April morning I drove down to the bus station to meet him.   He got off the bus and said “I only have to look at those eyes and I know you’re my mother.  (April 10, 2010)

ANGRY BIRDS (and Adoption)

Sometimes you hit the sweet spot and with that one hit everything collapses like an adoption reunion on a bad day. (Sept. 21, 2011)


Matthew Hays is a gay man who had been de-selected as a prospective father for a lesbian couple’s child in favour of a sperm bank. He writes quite poignantly about his loss of something he had never had nor contemplated until it was proposed to him by the couple. (August 10, 2008)


I want to know who she is and where she is, that big powerful mother who keeps convincing the legislators of this continent that we first mothers want to hide from our children …  (Aug. 3, 2008)

ROOM (The Bestselling Book) AND ADOPTION

I keep thinking ROOM rhymes with WOMB. I don’t know. Is this whole book an allegory? Am I reading in too much? I hate when people do that with books. But maybe, just maybe, I am right.  (Aug. 21, 2011)


If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people. Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese monk, activist and writer (May 28, 2010)


[A]ccording to Joanna Ravenna in The New Yorker, Nietzsche said that the best way to enrage people is to force them to change their mind about you.  (July 29, 2011)