British Columbia

February 20, 1980

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… a seventeen year old with no-one to talk to and no-one who would listen to me.

… parents are 62 and 61 years old … small town Prairie mentality and Fundamentalist beliefs.

… internment in a wage home once I began “showing,” hiding my growing belly to protect my parents from the shame of “what would the neighbours and relatives say?”

… being shamed by my parents into wearing my grandma’s wedding ring to hide my shameful “unwed” status from the world.

… a week of false labour.

… my parents dropping me off at the hospital slightly past midnight, and the nurses telling them to leave. Being put on a gurney and given a sleeping pill to sleep, then put into a closet for the night. Lights on. The pain was strong and the sleeping pill did nothing for me. Awake all night. Alone.

… strapped down to a bed with a fetal monitor wrapped around my stomach. Another one screwed into his scalp.

… my mother coming in the afternoon to sit with me, acting ashamed, never showing concern or affection.

… screaming in pain … and being told by nurses to shut up.

… nauseated and disoriented from the straight Demerol injections that did nothing for the pain

… a doctor telling the intern that he had given me too much Demerol.

… 18 hours of labour with no food or water

… wheeled down the hallway

… climbing  onto the narrow delivery table,  as flat as an ironing board, my arms strapped down with leather straps, feet up in stirrups.

… trying to push out a baby  against gravity, not having slept for 36 hours … not having eaten for 24 hours … overwhelming pain.

… episiotomy sliced down with a deep 4-inch-long cut, without anaesthesia … sewn up again without adequate anaesthesia.  Permanent nerve damage.

… sheet put up in front of my face to prevent me from seeing him as he was born and whisked from the room, abducted.

… given a shot and waking up 18 hours later in a ward far far from the maternity ward and nursery, other end of the hospital, different floor.

… a huge huge sense of loss.

… my breasts bound up to prevent lactation.

… unable to walk for 2 days after.

… not allowed to see or hold my baby. Never being told I had the right to. No lawyers to explain to me that i had *any* rights at all. No nurse brought him to me

… finally allowed to look at him for about 5 minutes  in the nursery several days later, watched over by hawk-like nurses to prevent me from picking him up. I was not welcome there.  Seeing him confirmed for me what I already knew: that I loved him beyond all measure. I wanted to keep him.

….  a woman who had surrendered a baby 2 months prior being sent in to convince me to “do the right thing.”

… forbidden by parents from taking my baby home.

… never told about welfare or any other way to keep him.  At age 17 from a small farming town and a sheltered upbringing, I had no idea even what ‘welfare’ was.

… the social wrecker telling  me to sign or he’d be in foster care until I ‘decided’ to. Telling me that the children of unwed mothers grow up to be criminals.  Lying to me that I would “move on.” No informed consent, no other options, no choice.

I wanted to keep my baby. I was capable. I was never given the chance or the choice.

This is adoption. This was coercion.  I was nothing more than a convenient uterus to them, to take away another baby for adoption.This was done to thousands of unwed mothers across Canada for thirty years, until about 1988. There is nothing “voluntary” about “voluntary surrender.” A coerced “decision” is not a decision at all.