Often they were still children themselves. Today they have choices, and all of us, men, women and children, are better off for it. That was what the families wanted and in some cases the women too — they knew what the social stigma was like, and they just felt like they could not deal with it. I wish I could give her this book. It was not crying…. After giving birth, they returned to school with tales of illness, visits to distant relatives—and hopes that they might be accepted again.
I was not allowed to keep the baby. A lot of things will never change for the women in my book; their lives are set. Because what scares social conservatives are stories about teen boys keeping lists of all the virgins they have scored. It is estimated that between and when abortion was legalized in the US more than 1. But one thing their stories can offer is a window onto a time period. But the post-war aspirations to be the perfect Ozzie and Harriet nuclear family, what Fessler calls the pressure to conform, shunned a whole population of women into suppressed pain. I could be your daughter—I was adopted. She simply lets her material speak to us directly — and it does so powerfully — of the unresolved emotions that often last a lifetime. They were mothers and they were invisible. Fessler compiled tape recordings and oral testimonies from more than women who surrendered children for adoption between and She recorded the oral histories of more than women, across the United States, who relinquished their babies in their youth. Compassion went out the window at a time when upward mobility meant everything. The result is a collection of deeply moving personal tales bolstered by solid sociological analysis—journalism of the first order, moving and informative in equal measure. I have only one complaint. But now, artist and writer Ann Fessler has uncovered their hidden stories. Rather than serve up potted stories, these women ask us to consider the complexities of teen sex, family relations, secrecy and shame, kinship given and made. You walk out of the hospital with whatever memories you had and the stretch marks on your body. Fessler is a visual artist who came to this project through her own art and experience: Imagine the world if homes, businesses, schools, had only one woman for every eight men. What are those myths? Some had parents who screamed ugly words at them when they learned of their pregnancy; others were blessed with tender family support. These are stories about the cost of the sexual double standard, in which good girls were not supposed to know anything about birth control, or to express sexual desire. At the end of her book, she describes finally finding the birth mother who surrendered her for adoption in A legacy of shame and guilt surrounding the circumstances that forced young women to surrender their babies has effectively silenced them from sharing the emotional fallout of that loss. Ginty is a freelance writer living in New York City. This is a well-researched and mesmerizing book which provides great insight into the mixed messages of that era and gives voice to women who have quietly suffered lifetimes of grief and shame.
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