old story is getting new coverage these days. In the 50's and
60's, it was the story of the hour..the "problem" of the unwed,
teenage Mother and what to do about her. Our national response
was to try to save everyone. We were going to provide the infertile
with children, protect the future and reputation of the
young Mother and save the baby from the stigma of illegitimacy.
Brilliant! Problem solved! Thus began the heyday of
the social experiment we call adoption.
this society is scrambling to preserve its "perfect solution."
As more and more young women, freed of the social censure of those
bleak days of yester-year, opt to keep and raise their babies,
a once lucrative market is suffering from a dearth of product.
Abortion rights has also reduced the number of healthy, adoptable
infants. The self-righteous right blames abortion, the infertile
potential adopters blame the natural parents, deeming them "selfish"
for keeping their babies and the non-adoption affected members
of society wonder what happened to the beautiful myth of adoption,
is a new minority, a new underclass against whom an insidious
form of discrimination is still permissible without being labeled
politically incorrect. The Natural Mother is a new stereotype.
We are either crack heads, dopers, baby dumping prom queens, she-cats
who lie to the Natural Fathers or illiterate sluts living in squalor.
Every little mistake we ever made is splashed across the headlines
in ominous bold print in every adoption custody dispute, while
the peccadilloes of the adopters are given one brief sentence,
usually buried within many lines of text.
cold, hard lesson we are learning is that, rather than being free
of the stigma and the Scarlet Letter of our youth, we had best
lie even lower or we will surely be classified as one of "them."
If we step forward with the story of our pain, grief and loss,
we are told that we should have kept our pants on or something
of that nature.
are the girls who got "caught." We were the mostly middle class,
white teenagers whose parents could not afford the fees for safe,
medical abortions that the affluent could and did procure for
their daughters. We did not have the family support to keep our
babies that the African-American community gave their daughters.
We were not well versed in birth control. We did what many
other young women were doing. Our only distinguishing factor was
that our sexual activity became visible. The many young
women of our era who were "luckier" than we were, are now among
our detractors. Some of them are probably among the infertile
adopters who took our children.
Parks decided she was no longer going to move to the back of the
bus and stand when there was a perfectly good seat there in the
front among the white passengers. Robin Westbrook is no longer
going to retreat into the shadows and tiptoe around the adopters
and the American love for the institution. There will be
hate mail and protestations from adopters and the infertile who
want to adopt. As I and others like me fight for the rights of
our younger sisters, as we keep telling the truth about adoption
and its effects on Natural Mothers and adoptees, we will have
to develop thick skins to withstand the vitriol of a public being
deprived of its popular mythology.
we will overcome.
© Robin Westbrook 2001