"birthmoms" Exploited By Adoption
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"It became clear that they weren't going to bring my baby to me" - Karen Lynn

My son was born on Nov.7, 1963 in Toronto General Hospital. During labour I was left for the last few hours on a flat stretcher in a labour room beside other women who were similarly on stretchers in labour, assembly line style. Every now and then some strange woman came in to perform internal examinations to find out how far along I was. I assume the others were getting the same treatment although I didn't notice because of the pain. I can remember hearing my doctor being paged repeatedly - I hadn't seen him yet. A student nurse spent much of that time with me. I told her about my situation between pains and she was very comforting. I can remember her offering her hand to be held and I expressed that I feared I would hurt her hand. 

When the baby was about to be born I was wheeled into the delivery room and put on the table. They had waited too long, but had shot me up with Demerol which didn't control the pain at all, just made me very uninhibited. It was a nightmare. They didn't have time to tie me down. I just remember the head crowning and I reached down and felt his head when I heard my doctor's voice yelling at me "Get your hand off that head!" Someone tried to put a mask over my mouth and I do remember scratching him or her because it felt as if they were trying to suffocate me. That was all I remember of the delivery.

I woke up in my bed later. An older nurse came to visit me and delivered a speech at the end of my bed about which i remember snippets, such as how she didn't know how I felt, that she had never had a child. She was trying to be empathetic and insisted on calling me "Mrs.". The same nurse later gave me a large needle to stop lactation even though I said I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I assume this was DES. It became clear that they weren't going to bring my baby to me although they did that with all the other mothers. I staggered down the hall and saw him behind glass in the nursery. I spent long hours in front of the glass, the only one doing so, staring at him. 

On about the second or third day his basinette was more obscured, off to the side, and I could read through the glass a note on it which said "Mother does not want to see baby." This, a humiliating lie, pierced my heart and for the first time invited my anger. I went back to my room and cried and grew angrier. A nurse came in and I told her that if I didn't get to hold my baby I would "refuse to give him up for adoption". Shortly after my doctor appeared and I continued my angry crying and asserted that I wouldn't give him up unless I could hold him. The nurses scurried and brought him to me with a bottle. We spent about an hour together, and after that I was back to looking at him through the glass. One of my regrets is that I didn't insist on seeing him regularly for the whole eight days that I was in the hospital. Still, when I met Doug he was very happy that I had fought that one time to hold him - it meant a lot to him.

His potential adopters sent a doctor to examine him to make sure he was perfectly healthy since they had lost a son to congenital heart disease and wanted only a perfect baby. That doctor visited me and I cried during the whole visit. I implored him to pass on one message, to tell them to tell him that I didn't want to do this, that I had no choice. He didn't do that. Instead, the information that he passed on to them was that "She was a real good-looker." When I met Doug he told me this AND that their son had died only five weeks before he was adopted. I was furious, again. Doug had wondered all his life if he had been dumped by a mother who "just wanted to get rid of that thing" and had suffered great depression as a result of feeling dumped by me. His adoptive father abused him verbally all his childhood because, as a psychiatrist told Doug later, he wasn't the child who had died. He was a replacement baby and it didn't work.

So I experienced two doctors in hopital: one, my gynecologist who imposed the separation of myself and my baby and who also arranged the private adoption and who wasn't even there until the last moment of the delivery and the other who colluded with the potential adopters to ensure thay got a healthy baby and who betrayed me by not passing on one simple message. One student nurse was sympathetic, one older nurse was semi-sympathetic but gave me (probably) DES without my consent. This is surely a story of abuse. My baby was legally mine all the time I was in hospital.

Karen Lynn is President of the Canadian Council of Natural Mothers (CCNM), a fully recognized affiliate of Parentfinders Canada.  Membership in CCBM is open to all those who are interested in openness in adoption and wishing to support our initiative - birth relatives, adoptees and adoptive relatives.  Mailing address:  462 Ossington Avenue, Toronto, ON M6G 3T2, Canada.

 
 
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