Every now and then a book comes along that gripes your heart and makes you believe that men and women need to read it. This is that kind of a book. Contray to what one reviewer says, abortion is not encouraged in this book, much less mentioned at all, since this is about the years before Roe v Wade.
Simple, elegant and painfully honest. A glimpse into the last fifty years and what millions, literally, of women endured often in a quest to protect a families image. An era when people didn't even say someone was 'pregnant' but were 'expecting.' When television shows even with married people, didn't allow a double bed, but single beds.
Never mind the horrendous mental pain that was done to the women, often lasting their entire life times. Never mind the fact that the lies and shame foisted on these women was inhumane and as un-christian as one could be.
The stories of all the women and where they grew up, how they broke the news to their parents and what happened next is nothing short of spell binding. How young women gathered together in unwed mother homes went by first name only, didn't know what to expect when pregnant, how inhumane and yes, mean medical personnel treated them, and the unspoken harm mentally these women endured.
Their honesty in talking about the hypocrisy of society and how you could be a good girl who had sex once and ended up pregnant or a nice girl who had sex often but were simply lucky and didn't get pregnant, and how cruel females could/can be when one of their own is hurting. Or how one girl laid down on the back seat whenever her family left the house, because they had told friends etc that their daughter was away helping an ill aunt. Or the young girl who wasn't allowed to answer the door for the same reason, and then late one evening they sneak her and her Mom to the train station where they travel to another state to an unwed mothers home.
And the easy out the boys had. With them often forcing sex on a girl with the tried and true come on lines, only to dump her once she ended up pregnant. One guys even had the nerve to have his fraternity buddies say they had slept with his girl friend so he wouldn't be stuck having to marry her.
Its so easy these days to forget or not even know that thirty short years ago young women were being forced, to give up babies with the snow job that it wouldn't be that hard and that they could then 'get on with their lives'. Like on page 89 where the author writes; 'The nun came over to the hospital and I spent a whole lot of time just sobbing my heart out to her, just crying and crying, and she finally said, 'You know what? You're gonna forget all about this, and you're gonna go home and you're gonna meet a nice young man, and you're gonna get married, and you're gonna have other babies, and you're never even gonna remember you had this one'. Like knowing you carried a baby within you, felt it move, gave birth to it, and felt your breasts fill with milk, heard your baby cry, would all simple vanish as if it never happened once the baby was adopted? Talk about the dark ages!
Reading of how this wasn't the case at all pained me because I know that having a child myself there is NO way a woman can birth a child and then pretend it never happened. Or the women who were told to never tell their husbands they had had a child out of wedlock because he would divorce her and seek custody of their children, siting her as an unfit mother. One woman who had been married and in such deep pain, found herself separated from her husband and one evening she breaks down and tells him and as she notes, he became the gentle, kind man she always wanted, but by then it was to late.
Its astonishing that in a country that speaks so fondly of the good old days, and how pro family we were as a nation, that such un pro family lies were encouraged or demanded. How we as a country encouraged people to pretend, as well as hurt millions of women. And all those millions of babies who grew up thinking they were not wanted, when just the opposite was true. These were years when most young women wanted so badly to marry and be mothers, yet were cut down, and made to feel shame when in fact had their parents, schools actually educated them on the dangers of unprotected sex, perhaps the young women would have been better informed and able to demand the guys get their sexual relief somewhere else or contain it.
And so many if not most of the women talk of how hard it was to ever trust or get close to people. Even the men they were married. Because society had told them to forget and move on. Pretend that all was ok. When in fact the same society stressed being honest. Like Jennette on page 120 who was living in a small town in Washington State, who became pregnant and pretended to be in San Francisco where her sister lived, looking for work. She had one maternity dress and stayed hidden at her sisters, had the baby, done everything she was told about pretending it never happened.
Moved back to Washington State where she then got a job at the Hanford Project in eastern Washington State, where she 'was putting the badges in the machine to see if they had any radiation'. She then finds herself at age eighteen in the supervisors office being chewed out for not being 'honest' about having a baby out of wedlock months earlier and that the communists could use it to blackmail her into giving them top secret information about the work at Hanford. Again the whole rock and a hard place double standard, of being told to never talk or tell about an unwed pregnancy and then if found out being ridiculed for not being honest. Is it any wonder so many of these young women ended up turning to alcohol or anything else that would kill the pain and confusion?
And the lies the adoption agencies concocted about the birth parents being athletic, educated, from well to do families is mind boggling. It was if the baby was a product they wanted to sell to the best bidder. If these young women were being called 'whores' to their face by these 'professionals' lord knows what these 'professionals' were saying to these innocent newborns as they held them in their arms. Like Lydia on page 310 says 'I came to really resent the language that was used to describe me and my experience.' Using words she calls 'loaded language' that is emotionally charged. It's very judgmental and biased to one side. So many women echo her sentiments that they were educable, trainable, looking for guidance but were shut out and simply told what to do. No questions asked. She continues 'If I'd had support and mentoring, I would have made a wonderful mother for my son.'
The sad thing is, young women are still being coerced into giving up their babies, with lies and hype. Young women are still being given mixed messages, that will hurt them. Sad thing is few people outside of these women who have lost their children to adoption and a small group of open adoption advocates even give care about the LONG term mental health of the woman. Thus the more things change the more things stay the same.