The Senior Mothers Adoption Activist Coalition, SMAAC, is nearing the time when we we unveil our website. There will be quite a few features and some of the information will be available to the public. We are excited and feeling very positive that something that has been allowed to slip under the justice radar for decades is getting even more exposure. The noose is getting tighter and tighter.
During the EMS (Era of Mass Surrenders*TM), just the staggering numbers of girls and young women who were overtly punished for their fertility, evidence of sexual activity, and robbed of their precious infants should have been reason enough for investigation. Now, in our middle and later years, we are gathering steam, throwing off the old programming of silence and secrecy, and speaking out. It is making a lot of people uncomfortable. Too darn bad. It's going to get louder before it's over.
Let me introduce us to you. We are everywoman. Some are career women, some are homemakers, others both work and have raised a family after the loss of their first born. We are blue-collar, white-collar and in between. Others have suffered from secondary infertility and never experienced raising their own flesh and blood. Even others, we are sorry to say, adopted to fill the void and, we believe, subconsciously, to try to get back what they lost. Some of us have reached retirement in one piece.
What we share is the sad and horrifying experience of having lived in a time when young women had no autonomy, were held totally responsible for the results of sexual activity (as if the young men didn't exist), were punished, labeled as "delinquent," "morally unfit" and "psychologically disturbed." We were expelled from schools, fired from jobs, refused rental housing, isolated from our families and friends in maternity institutions or sent to distant relatives, or hidden in basements and closets when company came. The fathers of our babies either abandoned us (actually, ran like rabbits) or, if they were caring enough to want to help, were warned off and threatened with arrest and statutory rape charges by families who wanted a magical restoration of their daughter's virginity.
We were constantly bombarded, by social workers, and, shamefully, even our own families, nuns, pastors, nurses, etc., as to our general lack of fitness to raise our own children and lied to about what would happen to our children once we signed those papers. Case in point: many of our infants were in foster care for months before they were finally put into an adoptive home. We were told there was an ideal family "just waiting" for our child and that our baby would go directly to them. That "ideal family" was usually no better than us and some were not as good at parenting as we would have been.
We were allowed to labor in pain without any comfort or family members with us, often given sub-standard medical care and treated with disdain by the health care "professionals" who were supposed to be caring for us. Many of us were drugged into incoherence so as not to bother the nursing staff while we labored. Some of those drugs were dangerous and caused us problems in later years. Many of us were terrified, without knowledge of the process of labor and birth, and so, so alone. Most of us were too naive, vulnerable and used to following the instructions of older people to fight back against this mistreatment.
We were presented with papers that no minor should have been required to sign, especially without legal representation, often while still groggy from the drugs given us during labor and delivery. Many of us were not allowed to see our babies and those of us that were, had to really fight for the privilege. We received no copy of the papers we signed. We were not allowed access to the original birth certificate, even if we, as in my case, named our children. Anyone who balked at signing received veiled threats of financial penalties and other horrible consequences.
We were sternly instructed to keep our "shameful secret" because that would be the only way we could ever hope to find a "decent man that would have us." And we were also told we would "forget," have other children and everything would be just hunky-dory. Like dutiful young women, most of us played those tapes in our heads for years, some of us married the first man that would have us and tried to replace our missing babies. Some were so crippled by the grief that they couldn't go that route and, instead, put their efforts into education and careers. Some of us went through a period of acting out because sincere expressions of our grief were not allowed. That was the elephant in the living room.
A little over 25 years ago, something happened that caused the sleeping EMS mothers to awaken. Young women started keeping and raising their "out-of-wedlock" babies and were even feted with baby showers. Safe, legal abortion became available, and single women and girls could go to their local health department and obtain effective birth control. AND ADULT ADOPTEES STARTED SEARCHING FOR THEIR MOTHERS (and vice versa). We awoke from our decades-long slumber and started remembering, started questioning and we got mad as Hell and are refusing to take it anymore. We found the Internet, found each other, compared notes and became even angrier. We started speaking out and making many people quite uncomfortable.
We have targets, now, for our accusations and demands. We are no longer frightened, intimidated, shamed and secretive. We count our taken children, with pride, among the rest when asked how many children we have. We have wiped that scarlet letter off our foreheads and no one, repeat...NO ONE...will ever put it back there. We are also several million, card-carrying, AARP members...most over 50 and many more headed for 70. We refuse to die before this horrible era and the injustices perpetrated against the vulnerable and the frightened is addressed in a public arena and the adoption industry's "storm-trooper" beginnings are exposed.
If the general public gets a good look at how middle-class, mostly white, girls were treated like brood mares for the infertile, perhaps they might start re-thinking their acceptance of adoption as some kind of "pink-cloud" fairy tale. Maybe adopters will realize that we never stopped being mothers just because some judge said that we were no longer the mothers of the children we bore.
And, to the young women and girls of today, unless you are planning on keeping and raising that baby you carry, start planning to be a mother. It's your right and your responsibility. To others, you have access to the means to prevent pregnancy. USE IT! Don't let yourself be caught up in that old chestnut about "not being ready to be a mother." If you are pregnant, and plan to carry to term, then Nature makes you a mother and you will be ready...maybe a bit nervous, but ready, none the less. And, for Heaven's sake, don't fall for the industry "hype."
The loss of a child to adoption is agony and so-called "open adoption" is an industry farce. You have more autonomy than we had in the 50's and 60's. Take advantage of the strides taken for the rights of women and declare your right to either not conceive or carry, or to be a mother whether you have $100K in the bank, finished school or have a husband or not. It can be done. Michael Phelp's mother did it and look at him.
Now, watch your older sisters as we pick up the reins that should have been handed to us 40+ years ago and drive this team to our destination. Weeee're baaaaaa-aaaack!