Sunday, February 10, 2008


©2008 Celeste Billhartz

Awhile back, the letters were WWJD? What Would Jesus Do? It was ment to get Christians to think before doing something stupid or illegal or just plain wrong.

My letters, WWMS, stand for What Would Mardi Say?

Mardi is my cousin. Like her mother before her – who was always my model for proper behavior -- Mardi makes a lot of sense. So, when I find I’m winding my guts around my brain, and I’m about to say or write something that is true AND hurtful, I think, ”Now, CB, what would Mardi say? “

Just to be sure I don’t forget, I taped a big sign on my fireplace mantel: WWMS? I see it, every day, when I am typing my diatribes against adopting. More than once, those letters have saved me from saying – publicly – what I say in private conversations with other activists. No sense in hurting the feelings of millions of good people who adopted a baby and are being good parents. Unfortunately, their gain was a mother’s loss.

Mardi would want me to be polite.

I can do polite. I just choose not to remain silent about millions of girl/mothers whose only sin was “obedience” … that much-valued behavior drummed into the character of every middle-class girl and boy.

And, most of the “unwed” mothers who were not allowed to bring their babies homes were nice, middle-class girls.

And most of the “unwed” fathers were middle-class boys who dared not defy their parents, dared not “ -- marry too young and ruin your life, your future –“ etc. Needless to say, they were … obedient. Millions of them, obeyed their parents, their church, their culture and class.

As one mother put it, about her Catholic boyfriend who said his parents and church wouldn’t allow him to marry her, “He didn’t sin by loving me, he sinned by leaving me.”

Indeed. She had no help, no parental support. All the adults in her life and her church insisted she had only one choice: adoption. That was the saddest day of her life, 40 years ago, when she surrendered her little boy.

They reunited a few years ago. He has never forgiven her for “giving” him away.

Tell me, how do I stay polite about that? Leave it out of the story? Would that make you feel better, reading this?

It’s impossible to tell the truth about adoption coercion and not ruffle some feathers, so I guess I will just keep telling the truth … AND keep glancing up at the fireplace mantel.

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