Month: July 2010

“When she renounces her child … this alone … is punishment enough.”

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I wanted to share this with readers, regarding the infamous 1956 quote by Dr. Marion Hilliard of Women’s College Hospital in Toronto.   This quote speaks volumes about many issues:   babies being ripped away from single  mothers as “punishment,” unwed pregnancy being a “misdemeanor,” “discipline in the home” being seen as the “solution” … and even why unwed fathers were forceably exiled from their children’s lives, even if they wanted to marry the mother.  I have typed out the quote and included a scan of the original as well.

” ‘The father plays absolutely no part in this. That is part of her rehabilitation.

” When she renounces her child for its own good, the unwed mother has learned a lot. She has learned an important human value. She has learned to pay the price of her misdemeanor, and this alone, if punishment is needed, is punishment enough.’

” Dr Hillard echoes the beliefs of the social workers and the agencies dealing with unwed mothers, though hers have come to her privately. And she, like the other authorities, though refusing to blame the girl’s home, lays the remedy right on its doorstep… ‘We must go back to a primary set of values and the discipline that starts with the very small child,’ says Dr. Hilliard.”

This from the article “Mothers not all unhappy” by Dorothy Howarth, Toronto Telegram, November 22, 1956.

Here is the original, scanned in.

You can order a complete copy of this article from The Toronto Sun (Sun Media Corporation).   They copied it off of micro-form and sent me a copy by mail for a minimal fee.

Shortlink to this post:  http://wp.me/p9tLn-iT

More on Pre-birth Matching: Assumptions Some People Make

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My previous post on pre-birth matching was inspired by a question asked in a forum that is supposedly to support everyone who has been touched/torched by adoption.

I received a response from another member of this group, who had adopted, and she displayed some assumptions in her response that are very common in society.  I am glad she responded as she did, so that maybe another point of view could be provided, by a mother who has actually been there and has lost a baby against her will.

This is what this woman who had adopted said:

“Obviously, for an expectant mother to see these profiles, they must be looking for families to adopt their babies.  I’m not sure – what do you think would be a better thing for an expectant mother who thinks she wants to place her baby to do?  We don’t want her to leave the baby on a doorstep.  So what should she do, if we lived in a world where no one wrote ‘dear birth mother’ letters?”

Reading this, the first question that came to my mind is:   No it is NOT obvious.  Why do people think that a mother looking at prospective adopters’ profiles is REALLY, concretely, at the stage of looking for a family to adopt here baby?  Is this expectant mother really 100% at that point yet and never going back to the question “Should I, can I, keep my baby?”?

So this, the rest of my post here, is my response to her:

Actually, I think that it’s possible that for many mothers, they are not looking for a family to adopt their babies, they are still deciding “Should I surrender or keep my baby?”  The mother is still making up her mind, and these profiles can influence this decision.

I know mothers who read these online profiles during their pregnancies and it made them feel they had no right to keep their babies, that they would be selfish and greedy and “unchristian,” as they are made to feel that there are these wonderful people out there who deserved to be parents much more than the mothers did. It was one more nail in their coffin of insecurity and lack of self-esteem. Worse yet if an adoption agency is coaching them that parenthood would be too much of a struggle for them and that their babies “deserve more.”

If you are a woman who has given birth, a mother, you know the emotional changes that come with late pregnancy, labour, and birth. This can be a shock to new moms, how much they may want their babies once their babies are in their arms.  And many moms separated from children by adoption feel, from experience, that the final decision about this should (or must) be made post-birth once the mother has her baby in her arms and knows her emotions, preferably given a few weeks so she can recover from birth first.

Viewing profiles of course leads to forming a relationship with someone hoping to adopt — later on — BUT how much pressure does this relationship put on her to “not change her mind” and cause a “failed adoption” —  in many cases, lots. (i.e.

Paul Meding, a Columbia attorney who has been taking adoption cases for 12 years [says] “In my opinion, when the birth mother has  more input and can see first hand how important the adoption is to the family, it is more difficult for her to back out and disappoint them.” (“Open Doors,” The Columbia Star, April 29, 2005)”.

What Meding talks about here is also called “emotional coercion.”

So, another person who had adopted responded and asked me what an mother should do instead (i guess, instead of boarding the adoption bandwagon while her child is not yet born).  I responded:

I think that the supports are in place already that expectant mothers can obtain necessary prebirth and post-birth counselling and get care and resources such that she can make this decision once recovered from birth, without the decision being influenced by relationships with or expectations from people hoping to adopt.

A good example is South Australia: Adoption offices are ready with substitute care for the baby if the mother wants this while the mother makes up her mind, and she is encouraged to have visits, given parenting mentorship, and to bring her baby home overnight. Various public service agencies have programs providing this type of “cradle care” already in place.  After the mom recovers from birth, then an adoption agency (or child welfare office) can provide her with profiles of couples she can interview and choose, *if* she then finds first-hand that she doesn’t want [to raise] her baby.  I corresponded with adoption workers in the state of South Australia, who confirmed this information.  Evelyn Robinson also has written about it, and she can be contacted through Clova Publications at http://www.clovapublications.com.  In Australia, an adoption workers’ paycheque does not depend on the sales she or her agency makes per year, on how many babies they can broker for $25,000 and up.

There is no reason to fear that children will be “left on doorsteps” if there is no pre-birth matching. And there is no need for mothers to be pressured to make decisions about adoption pre-birth, or even soon post-birth.   Pre-birth matching is just another tactic that agencies use in order to obtain more babies for the market.

I seriously do not think that any person who adopts can claim that the mother was not coerced, if they have engaged in pre-birth or even pre-surrender matching.  How can they guarantee that they did not affect the mother’s decision?  Do they even care how they obtained the baby?  Several people in the same group, when asked, said that they felt that the mother’s reasons for surrendering “were her own,” indicating that they did not care if she was coerced or not, or whether they themselves had pers0nally engaged in coercion.  I find this to be very sad that anyone would s0 blinded by “baby hunger” that they would put this ahead of having ethics, did not care how or why that baby was being surrendered for adoption.

Shortlink to this post: http://wp.me/p9tLn-if