Silenced Women

When I saw this graphic, it went straight to my heart like an arrow. My grandmothers, forced by circumstances to give up their first born, and in two cases only child (which includes a grandfather who never was given the benefit to know he had a son), to go on with their lives as though nothing happened.

I don’t think I’ll ever truly 100% get over it and I probably should not because adoption is still a thing that drives mothers and their babies apart. I now have an unflinching awareness of what it means to be adopted.

At almost 70 years old now, having to live through a full 6 decades before I knew the truths of my origins, I do fell as though I was born to re-connect the broken threads of my family’s beginnings, that I have somehow managed to fulfill my destiny in having been born at all.

In learning about my family’s ancestors, I also discovered what a miracle it was that in the mid-1950s, I was not given up for adoption, with my parents forced to suffer the same fate their own parents encountered. My teenage mother and my father only having just started on his university studies – both interrupted when I decided to take up residence in my mother’s womb.

My grandparents could not tell their own stories of loss that hurts for a lifetime because no one would have been sympathetic regarding their plight but for adult adoptees today, there is a growing awareness of the trauma and pain of being cut off from one’s roots and some are even choosing to attempt parenting when they had thought to give up their child and they are finding a lot of support in society all around them.

May the reform of attitudes continue to take over the dominant narrative that adoption saves babies and children from a worse fate.

Branded A Scarlet

 

When I was a schoolgirl, we were made to read The Scarlet Letter.  Now as a grown woman, I wonder about that.  Who’s idea was it that young girls should read literature of that sort and what was the intention in making us do so?

Imagine my surprise, when upon discovering the granddaughter of the second wife of my grandfather, she writes to me –

“Another thing about your grandmother as heartbreaking as it was a women having children outside of marriage was considered a total disgrace usually  branded a scarlet and forced to relocate and start their life anew, which explains your Dad’s adoption and I feel pretty certain abortion back then was not a common practice.”

My dad’s mother was unwed.  My dad’s father was much older and married to a woman way much older (27 years older) than he was.  It isn’t a wonder to me that he was unfaithful and found a vulnerable young woman to attract the romantic attentions of.

I’m pretty certain that my grandmother didn’t know he was married when she started seeing him.  I’m also pretty certain that she did know he was married by the time she discovered she was pregnant.  Because her childhood was difficult, she learned at an early age to be self-reliant.  She took herself to a home for unwed mothers run by the Salvation Army.

My dad was with her until about eight months of age.  She was still breastfeeding him when the Salvation Army who had taken legal custody of him, adopted him out.

What is amazing to me is that this step-cousin was still blaming the woman for her grandfather’s lust.