by Ann FesslerA powerful and groundbreaking revelation of the secret history of the 1.5 million women who surrendered children for adoption in the several decades before Roe v. Wade
In this deeply moving work, Ann Fessler brings to light the lives of hundreds of thousands of young single American women forced to give up their newborn children in the years following
World War IIand before Roe v. Wade. The Girls Who Went Away tells a story not of wild and carefree sexual liberation, but rather of a devastating double standard that has had punishing long-term effects on these women and on the children they gave up for adoption. Based on Fessler's groundbreaking interviews, it brings to brilliant life these women's voices and the spirit of the time, allowing each to share her own experience in gripping and intimate detail. Today, when the future of the Roe decision and women's reproductive rights stand squarely at the front of a divisive national debate, Fessler brings to the fore a long-overlooked history of single women in the fifties, sixties, and early seventies.
In 2002, Fessler, an adoptee herself, traveled the country interviewing women willing to speak publicly about why they relinquished their children. Researching archival records and the political and social climate of the time, she uncovered a story of three decades of women who, under enormous social and family pressure, were coerced or outright forced to give their babies up for adoption. Fessler deftly describes the impossible position in which these women found themselves: as a sexual revolution heated up in the postwar years, birth control was tightly restricted, and abortion proved prohibitively expensive or life endangering. At the same time, a postwar economic boom brought millions of American families into the middle class, exerting its own pressures to conform to a model of family perfection. Caught in the middle, single pregnant women were shunned by family and friends, evicted from schools, sent away to maternity homes to have their children alone, and often treated with cold contempt by doctors, nurses, and clergy.
The majority of the women Fessler interviewed have never spoken of their experiences, and most have been haunted by grief and shame their entire adult lives. A searing and important look into a long-overlooked social history, The Girls Who Went Away is their story.
Several Members of First Mothers Reunited took part in Ann Fessler's ground breaking research. Many of their stories are included in her book which made Amazon.com's Best Books of 2006Top 10 Editors' Picks: Nonfiction
Occasionally a voice comes along that says, "Listen, listen, this song is just for you." Celeste has just such a voice, and when I hear her sing, she sings to me. Richard L. Phend - Teacher and Counselor, Chagrin Falls OH firstname.lastname@example.org
by Susan Mello SousaThe Same Smile - The Triumph of a Mother's Love After Losing Two Daughters, is the story of 2 of my 4 daughters. My first born was lost to adoption in 1968 when I was 17 years old. 21 years later, my second born daughter was lost to leukemia at the age of 16. It is the story of my struggles & triumphs as a broken hearted mother in search of her first lost daughter.
Australian artist, poet and mother of adoption loss, Lena Eve, portrays brilliantly the dilemma faced by so many young mothers over the past half century as well as by many mothers in the present day in her heartbreaking video Bitter Winds You Tube Video.
by Rickie SolingerFrom Kirkus ReviewsIn a thorough and important, if often tiresomely repetitive, study, Solinger (Women's Studies/Univ. of Colorado, Boulder) dissects the politics of female fertility in America from 1945-65, when the strikingly different treatments of middle-class white and poor black pregnant teenagers clearly reflected the demands of a racist, family-centered economy. Before WW II, Solinger reports, unwed mothers in the US were considered the products of defective, amoral environments-- permanent outcasts for whom no kind of rehabilitation was possible. After the war, she argues, a perceived societal need to produce as many white children in ``healthy'' male-headed families as possible, combined with new Freudian psychological theories and racist sociological assumptions concerning black sexuality, engendered a dualistic treatment of unwed pregnant women depending on the color of their skin. Whereas the ``market value'' of white babies enabled and even encouraged white single mothers to ``sacrifice'' their offspring for adoption in exchange for a second chance at respectability (usually after exile in a maternity home), ``unmarketable'' illegitimate black babies were considered the inevitable product of the ``natural'' black libido and were therefore left to be raised by their mothers, who were in turn treated as incorrigible breeders who gave birth to win more government benefits. With the ``sexual revolution'' (for whites) and ``population bomb'' (for blacks) of the late 60's and early 70's came the technological fixes of birth control and legalized abortion--though these steps toward female self-determination for women of all races were more a result, Solinger claims, of a slump in the white baby market and fear of black overpopulation than of societal concern for the fate of single mothers. Revelatory but regrettably dry work with repercussions for today. -- Copyrightï¿½1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
ADOPTION DISCLOSUREChanging Closed Adoptions to Open Adoption
- AMERICANS FOR OPEN RECORDS (AmFOR) was founded in 1989 as support for The Open Records Movement in the U.S., headed since 1953 by Jean Paton, MA, MSW, an adoptee.
- AmFOR lobbied for and helped effect law changes throughout the U.S., supported Mouvement Retrouvailles (the Canadian Open Records Movement, and international abolition of adoption.
- AmFOR incorporated in 1996 as a non-profit tax-exempt California corporation, funded entirely by book sales and royalties... and is now an international voluntary network concerned with rights of families, funded entirely as a philanthropic project of its founder, Lori Carangelo.
The International Soundex Reunion Registry is a non-profit, tax exempt, humanitarian agency founded in 1975 by
EmmaMay Vilardi. ISRR is a mutual consent reunion registry for persons desiring a reunion with next-of-kin.