I’ve Never Said a Word.

17 Mar

When I think back to September 2001, my heart aches.  Not only because of what happened in NY, PA and VA, but because that is the day I discovered a family secret.  I found out that day I have an older brother.  I found out that day my mother had a nervous breakdown after he was born.

My father was in Vietnam.  My mother got lonely.  She found someone to help her with that loneliness and ended up pregnant.  It was mathematically impossible to pass the pregnancy off as my fathers.  My mom was in trouble.  Abortion wasn’t legal.  Abortion wasn’t accessible.  Abortion wasn’t safe.

A plan was concocted.  A relative from another state ‘fell ill’. My mom and her grandmother would go and take care of her.  Her Grandmother went to the relatives’ house; my mom went to a home for unwed mothers.  Months later, she gave birth to a son.  She gave him up for adoption.  She had a nervous breakdown.  No one but the out of state relative, my mother and her Grandmother ever knew.  I was born less than 18 months later.

In September, I received an email from someone looking for his birth parents.  He didn’t want contact, just health records.  I told him I didn’t know anyone in my family who could be his parents.  But his place of birth was familiar to me, and in passing I mentioned the email to an out of state relative.  She gasped on the phone.  I thought she might be having a heart attack.  When she caught her breath, she told me the story.  She made me swear that I would never mention it to my mother.  She said that the whole ordeal had damaged my mother severely and she had seemed to have blocked it out.  She feared if she were reminded of it, she would have another breakdown.

My mother was not innocent.  She made a bad decision.  She was unfaithful to her spouse.  She paid for it with her sanity, and probably with a piece of her heart. No woman should be forced to give birth.  No woman should be forced to terminate a pregnancy.  All women deserve to make the choice.

4 Responses to “I’ve Never Said a Word.”

  1. amandavictoria March 18, 2010 at 1:16 am #

    I agree that no one should be forced to be pregnant. I am so pro choice–on demand no questions asked.I had an abortion and it SAVED MY LIFE. I am a wonderful caring person, productive, with an education. I would have been none of these things had I been a forced single mother bearing the child of a drug addict (yes I was once young & foolish). THese anti choice people can’t understand that there are MANY things women can be besides or as well as MOTHERS. I could go on and on. Thanks for the blog!

  2. placenta sandwich March 18, 2010 at 2:29 am #

    Wow, this story is…well, kind of devastating. Thank you for sharing it. I’ve read about “the girls who went away” and often wondered how they could possibly survive it. Actually, your post reminded me of this other post:
    Also devastating. Also highlights the need for both reproductive choice and WAY more support to women who do go through an adoption process. Gah.

  3. Kitty Devany March 22, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    There is a whole collection of stories like this one entitled, “The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe V. Wade.” by Ann Fessler.

    It examines the implications of forced adoption as well as the lies that women were told to encourage them to surrender their children; that others could offer children a better life, that they did not deserve to be mothers, that they would have to pay their debts to the maternity homes if they didn’t surrender (which was nearly impossible for many of these women.) My heart goes out to every family touched by a situation like this and I sincerely recommend the book especially to anyone who champions the adoption alternative to abortion.

  4. Sarah R September 5, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    My grandmother was raised by her grandparents, the woman she referred to as her older sister was actually her mother. Coming from a small town, everyone knew the truth **cue scary music** and treated her like dirt because she was a “bastard child”.

    Being forced to give birth doesn’t just damage the mother, it can result in a lifetime of misery for the child as well.

    Excellent article btw.

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