Saturday, June 17, 2006

THE GIRLS THAT WENT AWAY

BY ANN FESSLER

I just got this book a few days ago. If you are a birthmother out of the closet, it is a must read. If you are a birthmother that has recently been contacted by your adopted child, its a must read. If you are an adoptee, you most definitely need to read this book. I am now just about done with it. It was a gripping book. The stories of the women and what they went through at the hands of the adoption industry and their parents put me on the edge of my seat. Most of them were coerced by family, image and the social workers. Most did not receive adequate counseling and health care. Yesterday as I sat in the tower at the state hospital that I work at, I realize that they are treated better than the women who had to go to these maternity homes of the past. If the patients were treated in the same fashion, they would have filed complaints against everyone with Client Rights and Department of Heath and Human Services. I admit that I am just stunned by the whole book. For me it is an inside look at my birthmother's life at the time. I am looking at her secret through new eyes.

When I was in junior high, the daughter of a close family friend got pregnant. My mother and I were wondering what happened to her. We also wondered what happened to her child. Has that child made contact, yet? I wonder if she had to go through some of the horror stories that these women have gone through? What about my own birthmother? What did she go through? Did her father abuse her like one of the women in the stories? I read that one woman told her father and he hit her so hard that she flew across the kitchen. After reading this book, I am now looking at my own birthmother very differently. Oh my gosh, the hell that these women went through. One thing that I find is a reoccurant theme in this. Most of the birthmothers kept their secret until it either killed them or just about did. One woman wrote "Keeping things inside you kills you." Most if not all were relieved when their children found them. Another common thread is that none of these women really wanted to give up their children. Even the young girls felt strong maternal instincts after their children were born. They had pressure from their parents, society, and the adoption industry. The adoption industry played on their insecurities and their fear just like they were playing on a fiddle. They played it to a perfect tune. Another common thought is that these women feel that adoptees deserve their original birth certificate.

Ann Fessler along with writing birthmother stories also gives facts about those times. She gives a feel of what it was like to be pregnant and unmarried during the fifties and sixties. It is the most incredible book that I have read in a long time. It kept me at the edge of my seat. It gave me a glimpse into my own history and my own birthmother. You feel the pain of every woman in the book. Its not the type of book that you can put down. Its not the type of book that you can walk away from.

2 comments:

Charlie said...

Amy, thank you for the insightful review.

momseekingpeace said...

I am about 25 pages until the end, I lost my son in 1980 but the stigma was still around, I realize now that some of the social stuff I felt was from the era before me that was still in the minds of a lot of people.
The book rang so true for me in so many ways, the only differance for me was that I was not at a maternity home. But all the shame and silence and never talking about it afterwards, ahh so much was the same.
MSP