On the BSERI website front page, if you scroll down a bit, you will find facts, figures and unassailable truths that show how different things are now for the unmarried, pregnant woman and teen. I have to praise the work that went into gathering those pertinent pieces of information.
At the same time, I have to acknowledge that there were little pockets of backwards thinking in different areas of the country or in individual families which means that there was a bit of the same treatment of a few mothers into the 1980's. However, one has to admit that the public nature of this information should have reached just about everyone and, for many, after the EMS, the mythology and misinformation about the repercussions of surrender were the only weapon the industry had.
There is one younger mother whose honesty I admire. Believe it or not, she is not threatened by the truth about the differences between my era and hers. She stated that she was making a decision based on not having to depend, in any way, on the father of her child, that she fell for the "loving option" hype and refused to listen to older mothers when they tried to warn her about how painful surrender is for both the mother and the child. Now, years later, she understands what she didn't back then and is an active advocate for natural family preservation.
Another thing that she and I have discussed is how important it is that the young people of today have a better understanding of birth control and safe sex. The Puritanical attitudes of our nation have, thus far, prevented really effective sex education in our schools. The lucky kids are the ones whose parents are realistic and open about the subject. The rest get their information the way those of my generation did...from their peers. Such information is often faulty or incomplete or both (especially if it is panted in a girl's ear by a testosterone-driven boyfriend).
Sometimes, I really have to wonder if this hue and cry by the religious right against sex education and access to birth control is because they have a stake in procuring infants to be raised by what they consider to be "the right kind of people." The desire to be a driving force in social engineering is right up the fundies' alley. They know that Abstinence Only and Purity Pledges are not very effective.
A recent study showed that those teens who made the Purity Pledges were not only as likely to wind up having sex, but were more likely to have unprotected sex. Along comes a big-money industry to tell these wide-eyed kids that they will be the next thing to Joan of Arc if they surrender their babies for adoption. I think I will gag if I hear the term, "making an adoption plan" one more time. It is supposed to make the mother feel empowered but its end result is just the opposite. It's right up there with the nasty comments from the ignorant about "babies having babies."
How I wish that we had been given the options and freedoms that are now in place. I could have finished school with my classmates. I could have raised my two oldest children and their fathers would have had to contribute to their support. I could have prosecuted my son's father for date-rape and been heard with, at least, some sympathy. I could have protected myself from further unplanned pregnancies and no one could have denied me jobs or housing. I would have been less shamed and had more self-esteem. Perhaps, just perhaps, I could have really had the support that I needed from my parents.
We can't go back and change what happened. SMAAC and the activism of the Senior Mother is not about trying to change the past. It is about shining the light of truth on the injustices of that time and we are doing it for US. We were the victims of a horrible, social inequality and punitive actions of that society. None of us, whether we are active with this group, BSERI or any other, have come out of our experience unscathed. We have worked our butts off to become emotionally, spiritually and mentally more healthy and have made lives for ourselves. We are not just about the loss of our children taken for adoption. But we all bear the scars.
We are not going to conceal these scars any longer. We are already working to get the message across to the social workers and mental health care professionals. We are not "pitting ourselves against" ANYONE.
We are helping ourselves.