a mother who placed a child for adoption close to 33 years ago.
I don’t think my story is very different from most. I was
18 and just graduating from HS, the bfather was 19 but still in
Grade 11. My parents refused our marriage (on religious
grounds) but my mother managed to “arrange” two “more suitable”
marriages for me. I was totally terrified. I refused
to marry anyone and ended up at Father Baker’s Home in Buffalo,
the nuns were very kind, it was understood that we were all in
disgrace. We could redeem ourselves by placing our babies
in the arms of loving couples who desperately wanted children.
Somehow this would atone for our sins. Although we received
medical care, no counselling of any kind was provided. We
would place our babies for adoption, “get on” with our lives,
marry and have other children. We were assured this was
a “normal process”. We would forget.
did meet with a doctor who described how the babies would be tested
for sight and hearing. All the babies (except for those
with obvious handicaps) would be placed with their adopters
between six and eight weeks of age.
still was very unsure about giving up the baby and I was sent
to work in the newborn nursery. On lunch breaks I was left
alone with up to 15 infants. It didn’t take long before
I was convinced I could not handle being a mother; after that
experience I was certain I would become an abusive parent.
I went into labour, instead of giving birth at Father Baker’s
as I’d been told to expect, I was sent to OLV Hospital and
was anaesthetized for the birth. I wasn’t allowed to hold
the baby during my stay. On the day of my discharge, a nurse
mistakenly gave me the baby for feeding time, my mother arrived
to take me home, a doctor arrived to sign me out and two people
I’d never seen came in with papers. The doctor screamed
at the nurse to take the baby away from me, my mother said she
would take the baby home and raise her if I would never tell my
“dreadful” secret and promise never to let my daughter know I
was not her sister (how I wished I lied at that point and taken
my baby!). I signed the papers without reading them - I
was too hysterical to read them anyway. This was not at
all what Father Baker’s told me was going to happen, but happen
was to attend State University that Fall, but changed my mind
and went to a two year college very close to Father Baker’s.
During my first week of classes I went back to Father Baker’s
to see one of the nuns. She let it slip that my daughter had not
been placed (I seem to recall a horrific meeting with all the
nuns at this point). Anyway, it was agreed I could watch
my daughter play - with glass between us - once a week.
I learned that the baby was NOT a “Father Baker’s baby”
but a “State” baby. (I have kidney disease and the State
decided to keep her at Father Baker’s for a full year to determine
whether she would develop the disease as well). I contacted
the State and then a lawyer and was told I could do nothing until
my daughter reached her first birthday: then I could appeal
to the courts. I wasn’t sure how I would pay the legal
fees, find a place to live or work and raise the baby but I was
determined to find a way. My depression started to lift
and I fell asleep dreaming of her nursery. I figured I’d
try to cram a two year program into six months. I made the
Dean’s List and was selected for “Who’s Who In American Colleges”.
I edited the college yearbook. I baby sat and typed
for my history professor. And I watched my daughter play,
week after week.
day after her first birthday the nuns told me she had been placed
with her adoptive family. Three years ago I learned she
WAS STILL at Father Baker’s at this time - for three weeks past
her first birthday. I obtained her medical records for her
first year: not a single test had been done to rule out
kidney disease. I also learned that the State had not disclosed
the history of kidney disease to the adopters. She
had her first attack of nephritis when she was six years old.
I think back on it now, I had no one. There was no support.
No counselling. There were two options: get married or give
up the baby. I’m sure there are women who feel secure that they
made the right choice by placing a child for adoption. I’m
just not one of them.
loss of my child will haunt me the rest of my life. It has
made parts of my life unbearable. It led to bouts of serious
depression. It led to repeated attempts at therapy, which,
oddly enough, never really addressed the grief I was trying to
deal with. So great a part did my daughter continue to play in
my life that I went into premature labour with my only other child,
a son, on her tenth birthday. Somehow, after his birth,
I became incomplete. One baby can not take another’s place.
I don’t think that I will ever feel “whole”. But now, thanks
to a very talented therapist, I understand that part of me is
missing. I understand the depth of my loss and I understand
I’m entitled to grieve. Please know that I love my son dearly.
He is almost 23 now and is a truly amazing person. But I
do wish I could have been “whole” for him and for my husband and
For me, for
my family, the adoption will cloud our lives forever.