May 1st, 2012
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Categories: Introductory

In a ground breaking hour-long investigative report airing tonight, May 1, 2012, Dan Rather rips off the shroud of secrecy that surrounded adoptions for decades.  His report entitled, “Dan Rather Reports:  Adopted or Abducted?” includes interviews with the birth-mothers who say they were coerced, tricked or even forced to surrender their children for adoption.

In this day of adoption registries and open adoption and in a world in which pre-marital sex and cohabitation are considered normal, it’s easy to forget about the years in which none of this was acceptable.  In the 1950’s, 1960’s and even the 1970’s, poorly timed pregnancies were shrouded in secrecy.  Young women were sent from their homes to maternity homes or “cradle societies” to live out their pregnancies.  At delivery time, these frightened and often ill-prepared young women were forced to labor alone only to have the baby whisked away at the moment of birth.  The birth of a child, normally lauded and celebrated becomes a dark blot in their memories.  Quite often the mothers were not even allowed to see or hold the baby or know the baby’s gender.

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The children thus born were placed in adoptive homes and the records were sealed.  Many were never told of their origins and the adoption became a family secret, only whispered about by family elders.  In the era just before the groundbreaking fertility treatments available today, adoption was the only option for infertile couples. And secret adoption was the norm.

I cannot imagine the terrible shame and pain these young mothers endured!  What must it be like to go through a pregnancy ostracized by your family, cast away to live amongst unsympathetic strangers, only to return home with empty arms unsupported by your loved ones and unable to speak of your pain?   It is time to pull the covers off and allow the healing to begin!

I will definitely be tuning in to hear these accounts first hand.  I want to know what you think!  What is your adoption story?  Were you a part of an adoption in this time frame?  Do you think the material presented was accurate or tells the whole story?  Comment here and join in the conversation on the forum (use this link to get there!) I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

8 Responses to “Dan Rather’s Report: Adopted or Abducted”

  1. cyman says:

    I fell for the young mothers, but what about the innocent children? I have always been the black sheep, the outsider,. As an adult, never invited to family re-unions, weddings,etc. Once by adopted mother passed I was shunned by the people that I loved most, not even aware that it was not reciprocal. When I did find my birth mother, necessitated by a serious heart condition (inherited by my daughter from me) I was refuted and told in no uncertain terms to not try to make contact again. I believe that my adoption was illegal, i have a vague birth cert, no city listed, I have had 2 different dates of birth depending on which cert I refer to. I do not want to seem bitter and I have a lot to be thankful for, but I had a period of my life where I was frustrated at every turn. And I worry about my daughter and granddaughter. My daughter has my heart condition. I recently became a grand father and I cannot get accurate medical records. I petitioned Nassau County Surrogate Court for records, They assigned a Guardian Ad Litum and I paid for a pvt detective only to be given a brief terse statement from my birth mother stating that there is no heart disease in her family. Apparently that is all that NY State requires for medical info. I was under the assumption that I would get something more definitive. I don’t know what else to say, the story speaks for itself. It seems that your piece focuses more on the ostracized birth mother. What about the children that are ostracized?

    • Dreena T says:

      I agree with you completely; the true victims were the innocent children. I’m sorry I did not state that explicitly. I do not agree with “closed” adoption even today. I think it is completely unfair to a child not to have information about his or her birth family and the opportunity to be in contact. I would never agree to a closed adoption as an adoptive parent.

      I am very shocked at your adoptive extended family’s behavior. It must have been extremely painful to lose the only mother you had ever known and then her whole family as well. I cannot imagine how a person gets through that.

      I think even OPEN adoption still has a long way to go as far as medical records are concerned. I think birth parents focus on “heart disease and cancer” and don’t think about other very debilitating and often family tendencies like diabetes, thyroid disease, Celiacs, obesity, clotting issues, female problems, and so forth. These are just issues that have come up in my own kids! I believe birth children should have full access to their biological parents (BOTH OF THEM) medical records.

      Of course, I’d not seen the piece when I wrote the blog. I think it had a lot of holes. It was definitely from one point of view and I am hoping they plan at some point to cover more of the story. I am sorry for what you have experienced. It is really inexcusable.

  2. suebee68 says:

    In 1967 I became pregnant.My mother put me in Florence Crittenten Home.I was there for about 8mos.She was a District Court Clerk and a well respected member of her community. She was ashamed of me and let me know at every turn.We didn’t agree on almost everything.She took me home 3 times during that 8 mos.She picked me up after dark.when we got to the house she used the garage door opener,we drove into the garage and not until the door was down could I get out of the car.I had to stay in the house all week-end and if some one came by I was to go to my room and stay there until they left.I was not to be seen.After the 3rd. time I refused to go home with her.I had a county social services worker. She and my mother conspired together to take my child from me.The two of them were on me so hard that I told them I would relinquish.After that they stopped harassing me.I was told by my worker that there was a couple waiting for my baby.When my son was born I went to feed him and hold him and that was when my mother and my worker realized that I never intended to give my child up.I had him moved to the new mothers nursery and I took care of him for the next 2wks.My mother and worker talked me onto putting him on a 30 day foster care hold so I could find housing and financial help. In 1968 Colorado you had to have 60 to90 days of residency in a county to qualify for anything.My mothers plan,to move me from one county to another.On the last day mom told me if I tried to keep my son she would take me to court and have me proven an unfit mother and have him taken from me anyway.Also no decent man would marry a woman with a bastard child. I did not know that anything could hurt so much and you could live through it. I was never ashamed.I have never made a secret of my life.The emptiness I felt and still feel from the loss of my child is worse than losing them to death. With death there is closure.Forced adoption is like a huge black hole that you can never fill.

    • Dreena T says:

      Suebee; your story is almost exactly as I pictured it. First let me say that I cannot even IMAGINE how painful that experience was.

      In Rather’s story he seemed to focus more on women who did not actually consent (it wasn’t that clear) but I am betting that thousands more stories are like yours. Both scenarios are terrible and no one should have to live through them. But I cannot imagine the pressure of still being a child yourself and wanting (though apparently to no avail) to please your parents and yet not believing that what they were requiring of you is the right thing to do. It’s a terrible conundrum for anyone; more-so for a child.

      I thought they did a good job of portraying the birth mother’s pain. Did you think so?

      Do you know anything about your child? Have you searched for each other? I’m assuming you know that Florence Crittenton has a registry for reunion?

      I don’t know what else I can say except I am so sorry.

      • suebee68 says:

        I got an advance link to the Dan Rather special preview. Like a trailer. When I watched it,it rocked me to my core. I had believed all of this time that there were only a few stories like mine.I realized I am among the many not the few.I have been searching for my son for many years and it is as if he fell off the face of the earth. I dont know anything.The only proof I have that he was born are my medical records,prenatal,labor and delivery from F.C.H. No I did not know that FCH has a reunion registry. I guess it must be about the only one I dont belong to. To Yonkers54,you are so right!!!I am adamant about adoptees rights. Every one has the right to know their genetic make up and their hermitage. You also have the right to your original birth certificate.I believe the things they did back then were to keep both sets of parents from knowing each other and knowing the truth. The truth will always come to light.I have lived long enough to see it happen time after time. To me this one of the worst kinds of bigotry there is.

  3. Yonkers54 says:

    All I can say is that it’s nice to know I have company!

    I was born on March 19, 1954 in Yonkers, NY. and adopted as an infant in Connecticut.

    My feelings on this topic are quite simple…while I can appreciate that a surprise visit from a child given up for adoption years ago can, in some cases, cause problems, I don’t believe that the child should be made to carry that burden.

    My biological mom and dad whom I’d love to meet do not have a a right to secrecy that surpasses my right to know who I am, my background, inherited traits, both medical and personal as well as the wealth of information about how I connect to the rest of the world…countries of origin, religion, family members, for that matter even my name!

    Can we stop punishing the children in order to protect the parents, please?

    • Dreena T says:

      I agree with you. It’s in our nature to need to know who we are. While I understand the legal reasons (like inheritance) for changing a child’s birth certificate, it still doesn’t sit well with me. It must be very hard to look at your past and see a blank page. I hope you are able to find your original family. Never give up; sometimes people have a change of heart about it when circumstances of their life change.

      • Yonkers54 says:

        Thanks Dreena,

        The subject of inheritence is a fascinating one. I mean if inheritenfe is based on blood relation (as it is in many states, Florida for example) then the act of adoption shouldn’t change anything. It is simply a legal status, so even in the case where id might change your ability to collect…why the secrecy on top of it.

        Another interesting point, especially in this day and age with such emphasis placed on separation of church and state. For those religions that define membership in terms of matrilineal or patrilineal lineage, Judaism for one example. By preventing an adoptee from seeing identifying information they are potentially blocking that person’s knowledge of their religious heritage as well.

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