Then and Now

Back in the 1930s, when my parents were both adopted, they first spent as long as 6 months with their original mother.  As I have come to know more about the impacts of adoption on adoptees, I have learned about the pre-birth development and bonding that takes place in the womb but is not complete at the time a baby is born, but continues during the first year of a baby’s life.

Knowing my parents had these precious first months with their original mothers matters to me since I have learned about the importance of that to any child’s development.

By the time my sisters each gave up a baby to adoption, the adoptions occurred immediately after birth.  The adoptive mothers did not have the pre-birth preparation that my sisters had as the original mother.

However, each of these children have been supported in their need to know the families they were originally conceived within and I do think that is valuable because my parents died knowing next to nothing (perhaps some vague names and location details) about their own birth and adoption experiences.

The unmistakable fact was and is – unwed mothers need help.  My sisters needed help and my parents were not going to step in with a long-term commitment to use their financial resources supporting either of them and their children.

Many adoptive parents have been comforted by the secrecy of closed adoption and sealed birth records.  Many have felt threatened by their children’s reunion with their original parents

Social workers believed that to save children they had to deny them information about their past. To help them, they unintentionally hurt them.  Some social workers believed that keeping adoptees’ identities secret allowed the adoptee to make a clean break with their past.  Secrecy protected adoptive parents from intrusion by birth relatives.  It protected the privacy of single mothers.

Social workers believed that after surrender, the mother would simply go on with her childless life as though nothing had happened.  It was believed that “normal, healthy” adoptees would have NO curiosity about their roots.

Both of these were myths and never true.

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