It may seem like I am on a roll in my adoption book challenge and I guess I am, if not by choice, by the fact the library had the last two books in and sent to me at the same time! I hate waiting on books, so I wanted to read these while I had them. I do have to say that back-to-back non-fiction adoption books can be a bit heavy and I have promised my self some time off the heavy reading for a while. I need some fluff – mind numbing fluff!
The title of this book says so much, The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade . Written by Ann Fessler, and adoptee, this book’s heart-wrenching stories and startling facts make it a difficult book to read at times. The book was published in 2006, so it is fairly recent and very much tells a story that one of your (or my) own family members could have lived through.
I have listened to my mom talk of having to wear skirts to school because pants on girls where not allowed or how my mother-in-law was on a basketball team that organized themselves becauses schools didn’t have athletics for girls. These stories make me shake my head. So much has changed in just a few decades it really is like two different worlds in many ways.
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Fessler points out that it was the post WWII years of conformity that brought about this time of adoptoin coersion. I don’t even know if coersion is the right word as deceit and unlawfulness was the normal to unwed mothers and there children were basically stolen from them. I’m sure that not all adoptions were this way, but after reading this book you cannot help but see the similarities of the stories. So many girls were told that their baby was going to a new family of a “Doctor and stay at home mom”
or were asked “Do you want your child to be called a bastard on the playground?”
. As one birth-mother said in the book, it was as if they had a script on how to get a pregnant woman to give up her baby.
I am not surprised that the parents of the pregnant women were upset. I do find it reprehensible that so many went way passed upset and were just plain mean and cruel to their own daughters and grandchildren. Socital pressure was that strong? Unbelievable. This again reaffirms to me that there has never been a time of “good old days” that people look fondly at.
Hearing these stories from birth mothers and adoptees reinforcess how imperative it is that there is more openness with adoption. If not fully open adoptions, medical histories, photos, letters and for heaven sake OPEN RECORDS.
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It is 2011 the age of at our fingertips is mind whirling and yet there are people who have been told they have no right to find out who and where they came from. If more people would just stop and think about this issue, I dare to say that records wouldn’t be closed anymore. It just makes sense.
While the numbers of “girls” who disappear for an unplanned pregnancy have diminished, there is still a lot of ethical problems with adoption. You don’t have to look hard to find articles of pregancy distress centers working with adoption agencies or authority figures telling pregnant moms that their baby deserves better. As sick as it sounds adoption is big business and when there is big business there seems to be a flourish of ethical issues.
It is imperative that adoptions are ethical. I have heard so many comments of how adoption is to complicated, that adoptive parents have to wait to long, that if a child needs a home she should have it now and not have to wait for paperwork. I have personally felt all of those things during my adoption process, but I can honestly say that knowing that my adoption was ethical is so comforting to me now. If there had been any doubt in my mind that my girls’ family was coerced, paid, bribed or even worse my conscience would forever be marked.
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If you know of a family member or friend who has had a “quiet” adoption in her past I encourage you to read this book, try and see the experience she is having and be a very good friend to her. This is also an informative book for all members of the adoption triad.