Ann Fessler, an adoptee, has put together a wonderful new book, "The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades before Roe v Wade.
This book should be on everyone’s “must read” list. Ms. Fessler talks with the girls who went away. They were from all walks of life, from all strata of society. They had just one thing in common: they got into trouble. One of the most interesting lines in the book, to me, was another young girl talking, a girl who didn’t go away. She said that she was doing the exact same things her girlfriends were doing, only she was one of the girls who didn’t get in trouble, and so she remained a “good girl.” What irony.
The book is loaded with insights into a desperate period in our history. After World War II, bumper crops of young unwed mothers were springing up all over. What to do with them? Send them away, hide them, keep them out of sight, make up new names, and keep secrets. If the unwed young women did as they were told, kept silent and gave up their babies to adoption as soon as they were born, the girls were sent back home and told that they should just forget all about what happened and begin a new life.
That’s a fairy tale ending. It never happened. The girls who went away didn’t forget! Ever!
Since I’ve never found my birthmother, I know nothing of the events surrounding my birth. Any one of these young women could have been my mother and I despaired to think of her being treated by society in such a shameless fashion. The only other time I felt this way was after watching the movie, "The Magdalene Sisters." I remained in the theater after everyone left, just sobbing my heart out, again thinking one of those young girls could have been my mother.
PEOPLE Magazine, Sept. 18th, interviews 3 birthmothers who are featured in Ann Fessler’s book. It’s worth the price of the magazine just to read this article.
Question: How do we as a society treat the “girls who get in trouble” nowadays?