Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Grandmothers

The Grandmothers
©2008 Celeste Billhartz

In generations past, most mothers of  “unwed” pregnant daughters were frantic with fear and embarrassment, lest their neighbors, churches and communities learn the truth. So, they eagerly, quickly, quietly sent their newly-pregnant girls off to distant maternity homes where they were given false names, attended school, and gave birth, alone.

 Some new mothers were allowed to hold their babies and nurse them, others were not. Most begged to keep their babies, but were forbidden to do so. They were sent back home, warned not to search for their child and told, “Never speak of this, again.”

 Agencies, lawyers and baby brokers sold the babies to other mostly middle-class married couples.

Sealed adoption records and false birth certificates (naming the adoptive couple as the mother and father) assured adoptive parents  that the child’s mother wouldn’t find her child. The lies and myths in adoption were never about protecting the identity of the mother.

 To each grandmother of the past, I ask you to apologize to your daughter for giving her baby away.

 To each girl/mother of the past, I ask you to forgive her.

 I cannot change the business of adopting, but I can ask mothers of girl/mothers -- the soon-to-be grandmothers -- to help your daughters keep their babies.

 I  can ask you to learn from the millions of girl/mothers of  generations past, who never got over losing their babies to adoption, who should have been allowed to keep them – whose mothers should have helped them keep them.