The day after Christmas, Diane Rehm interviewed Ann Fessler about her book The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade on her self-titled talk radio show (link to listen) on NPR. Joining Ann were two of the more than 100 women she interviewed who were forced to surrender their children–Ann Hughes and Margaret McMorrow. Fessler found that virtually all of the women she interviewed, including Ann and Margaret, shared a deep feeling of loss that they’ve been haunted by for the rest of their lives–they were unable to move on like many of their partners who shared the responsibility of the pregnancy. Without access to birth control or abortion, Rehm says, these young women (ages ranged from 14-35) were forced to a different fate by their good-intentioned parents. They were forced surrender their child for adoption.
Back in June, the NY Times reviewed Fessler’s book:
Mothers, even very young and panicked mothers, don’t usually part from their
babies without a struggle. But while many books, articles, and television
shows. . . have focused on. . .the experience of adopted children. . . less has
been said about mothers’ separation from their infants–mothers as opposed to
mothers and fathers, as biology grants males the freedom to move on, especially
in the absence of DNA tests to establish paternity.
The review also quotes some of the women interviewed in the book. One woman shared, “Guilt was always such a pervasive part for me. Not that I was sexual, or not that I was pregnant, but that I let somebody take my child.” Another said, “I associated death and pain and loss with sex.”
Good intentions do not always produce the best outcomes. We’ve come a long way, but good intentioned decisions about sex education and access to birth control and abortion, are still not always guided by what’s best for those who have to live with those decisions for the rest of their lives. But, I’m optimistic about this year (could the new legislature have anything to do with it??).
Cheers to the women who were finally able to share their stories.
Cheers to Choice.
Cheers to 2007.
Julie in Philly