Senior Mothers Adoption Activist Coalition, SMAAC, a grassroots organization of mothers who were forced to surrender our newborns during the Era of Mass Surrenders, post WWII until the inception of Roe v Wade, announces the launch of our new website in conjunction with the beginning of Adoption Awareness Month. SMAAC chose this month to launch our new website in an effort to focus attention on the side of adoption that is most often unrecognized and the women whose voices have been deliberately and willfully unheard.
Senior Mothers are coming together and finding strength in our shared experience. Now we are speaking out, after decades of silently bearing witness to the increase in the power and control of the Adoption Industry. Our silence was misunderstood, and exploited; it was actually the trauma and post traumatic stress of women who had been systematically abused into signing surrender documents. Taking our silence as acquiescence, the public and the government allowed the Adoption Industry to grow into a multi- billion dollar, largely unregulated industry fighting to retain its control over the fates of young women, our infants and the future of these small families in the United States.
By coming together on the Internet, Senior Mothers gained strength, courage and lost our shame. We found our voices, only to have them denounced, diminished and decried by the very industry that exploited us initially. When we spoke of our suffering we were told to "move on, get over it." We were told that we made a "choice" and when we argued that we had no options, we were told that having "premarital sex" was a choice that earned us our sorrow, while ignoring the fact that the loss of our children was not a choice. For the public to hear the voices of mothers, women who have grieved and suffered in silence for decades, is to make a lie of the very fiber of adoption and the mythology that, following a brief period of grief, the mothers go on as if it never happened. The industry is desperate to silence us again so that they can continue to reap huge profits from exploiting more and other vulnerable women.
We believe, that by not demanding recognition and acknowledgment for the criminal acts committed against us we are allowing the intolerable, inhumane treatment of former unwed mothers to remain as if tolerable and acceptable. We believe that if we do not demand this recognition we are silently perpetuating the myth that no life-long damage was caused by the taking of our newborns for the sole purpose of adoption. As human beings we, were segregated, isolated and our civil and human rights were systematically denied, including the most basic rights of a mother, our own newborns and recognition of our motherhood. We believe that these systematic, abuses are worthy of recognition, and is the cause of provable damage to self as a result.
Years, experience and understanding of our situation has brought a new sense of worth and a fighting spirit to us. The women of the EMS also now believe that to continue to remain silent about our experience allows the industry to continue to grow at the expense of the unwed mothers of today.
This month is the launch of our new website, but the mothers have already been busy. There are several projects in the planning and implementation stages. The current project, naming the Month of November, Adoption BEwareness Month, is to make the public aware of the experience of loss upon which adoption is predicated, and encourage the public to apply pressure to legislators to recognize our losses.
We have named the last day of November "Strange and Mournful Day" based on lyrics from Paul Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion." The lyrics within the body of the song that describe the indignities and mistreatment that led to the surrender of our newborns;
Mother and Child Reunion (Words & music by Paul Simon)
No, I would not give you false hope,
On this strange and mournful day.
But the mother and child reunion
Is only a motion away,
Oh, little darling of mine, I can't for the life of me,
Remember a sadder day.
I know they say let it be,
But it just don't work out that way,
And the course of a lifetime runs,
Over and over again.
There are also various ongoing projects on which we are working. Among them are building a Wall of Shame, with the names and the positions of those who contributed to our losses. This will insure that the Mothers will no longer need to carry the burden alone. We will no longer be isolated, and shamed, but will place the burden directly where it belongs...on the shoulders of the perpetrators.
We have launched a campaign to encourage women who have lost infants to adoption, particularly during the EMS, to gather medical records, social worker case notes and copies of any paperwork that concerns them. Senior Mothers have been told repeatedly, over the years, that we were not entitled to this paperwork, such records did not exist or had been damaged, usually in a fire, flood or other natural disaster. We are now, thanks to the passage of the HIPAA Laws in the United States in 1996, finding that not only are they available, but have been used by researchers for decades.
Finally, we are also speaking out in public. We are sharing our experience online, in the newspaper, on television and radio and to groups and organizations. We wish to make our communities aware of the "other side" of adoption and the conditions and injustices that Senior Mothers endured prior to our loss. The silence of decades has ended.
(Thanks to Sandy Young for this article. Please also visit these sites to view our press release #1
and press release #2.)