You’ve Come A Long Way

Until very recently, a woman would not chose to be a single mother.  A lot depends on her financial resources or ability to access available resources which does vary a lot.  I know more than one woman who made the choice to parent without an “official” father (though every baby has a father, somehow, even if that father was a sperm donor).

From the dawn of the adoption business (and it is a business), single mothers were no longer encouraged to parent their child but instead to surrender the child to adoption.  I know this was already happening as early as the 1930s.  Babies ended up adopted because “Unmarried women didn’t raise their children back then.” said by one original mother after reunion.

Unmarried women were treated with contempt for doing what nature intended.  I remember running up against this belief unbelievably in today’s modern times.  My paternal grandfather’s step-granddaughter (he had married her grandmother as a second wife) said my grandmother was a “Scarlet” because she was unwed. In effect, she was judging my grandmother as morally deficient.  I didn’t appreciate the contempt she expressed.

I suspect that my grandmother didn’t know he was married when she first started dating him but I am certain she did know by the time she knew she was pregnant.

The sad fact was – If you were unmarried and pregnant, you weren’t valued.  A “Baby Daddy” was valued even less.  It is interesting I only ran up against that derogatory label for a father recently at a writer’s conference.

Anyway, adoption is changing.  As I explored my dad’s origins with the Salvation Army, they told me they had to shut down their unwed mother’s homes because of Roe v Wade.  I’m certain that has played a role but I suspect an equal or greater role in that demise is that single moms are treated with less derision today.

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