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The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade (2006)

de Ann Fessler

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9014823,633 (4.17)58
This book brings to light the lives of 1.5 million single American women in the years following World War II who, under enormous social and family pressure, were coerced to give up their newborn children. It tells not of wild and carefree sexual liberation, but rather of a devastating double standard that has had punishing long-term effects on these women and on the children they gave up. Single pregnant women were shunned by family and friends, evicted from schools, sent away to maternity homes to have their children alone, and often treated with cold contempt by doctors, nurses, and clergy. The majority of the women interviewed by Fessler, herself an adoptee, have never spoken of their experiences, and most have been haunted by grief and shame their entire adult lives.--From publisher description.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 48 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
This very well researched book lends a voice to the hundreds of young women forced to relinquish their babies. Much of the book takes place in a time period when families were shamed if an unmarried daughter became pregnant. So many were sent to homes for unwed mothers that were a placement until they were required to give their babies to "more suitable" families. There were no other options or recognition of their rights. These are the heartbreaking stories of the women who never forgot their children - some were eventually reunited; some are still hoping for that moment. Throughout this book, I am overcome with sadness and anger that there were people who valued others' opinions rather than focusing on supporting their daughters. It is also noteworthy that the men who fathered these children didn't face the same censure as the women. This is a book that resonates deeply, and is especially noteworthy following the reversal of Roe v. Wade, which leads to overwhelming an already broken foster care system. ( )
  pdebolt | Nov 28, 2023 |
A heart-wrenching and poignant collection of accounts. ( )
  erindarlyn | Jan 21, 2023 |
ral history featuring the voices of women who gave up their babies for adoption from 1945 to 1973, put into context by the author’s exposition on the mood of the times.

Fessler (Photography/Rhode Island School of Design), a video-installation artist and adoptee who has created a number of autobiographical works on adoption, recorded some one hundred women. Narratives from 18 of them appear here, with shorter selections from many others. Drawing on government statistics, sociology, history, medical and legal texts, as well as personal journals and the popular press, she surrounds their stories with descriptions of social mores during the three postwar decades. In an era when sex education was meager and birth control difficult to obtain, more than 1.5 million babies were given up for adoption. The notion that these children were simply not wanted by their mothers is quickly dispelled by the stories told here, which make it immediately clear that the unwed women, many still teenagers, had little choice. Adoption was presented as the only route that would preserve a girl’s reputation. She was told to surrender the baby, forget what had happened and move on with her life. Fessler’s transcripts reveal that forgetting was impossible and moving on not easily done. Although the stories are at times repetitious, individual voices speak clearly of guilt, abandonment, loneliness, helplessness, fear and coercion. For many, shame and secrecy shaped their lives for years afterward, affecting their relationships with husbands and subsequent offspring, even the ability to form healthy marriages or bear children. The author brackets these oral histories with the story of her own long-delayed search for her birth mother and their eventual meeting. By giving voice to these women, Fessler has enabled adoptees to view the circumstances of their birth with greater understanding.

A valuable contribution to the literature on adoption.

-Kirkus Review
  CDJLibrary | Jan 17, 2023 |
a history still not widely known.. I really appreciated learning more about the silent oppression of surrendering mothers ( )
  bhumorinzin | Aug 22, 2022 |
Interesting read about young women from the late 50's to early 70's who had children out of wedlock and were forced by family and societal pressure to give their babies up for adoption. In most cases they were lied to about their rights and many if not all of them had to silently bear the grief over the loss of their child without any counseling or help. The babies were just gone and they were forced to pretend it never happened. Book was very well researched and the first person stories were heartbreaking. ( )
  Jen-Lynn | Aug 1, 2022 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 48 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
.Ann Fessler was nearly 56 when she first met her biological mother, who was 75. By then Fessler had already collected more than 100 oral histories for "The Girls Who Went Away....Unmarried girls in the 1950's and 60's may have felt increasingly liberated to have intercourse (Helen Gurley Brown's "Sex and the Single Girl" was published in 1962, identifying a revolution that was well on its way) but the babies they bore were still considered illegitimate, and pregnancy outside of marriage was still a disgrace. A girl who found herself "in trouble" had virtually no means of resisting the forces that conspired either to push her into a speedy marriage or to hustle her out of town to have her baby far from the sight of all who would condemn her. "In one of the strictest forms of banishment," Fessler writes, "high schools and most colleges required a pregnant girl to withdraw immediately.Mothers and fathers went to what now seem ridiculous lengths to conceal their daughters' shame, "disappearing" them before they sent them away to deliver their babies
 
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This book brings to light the lives of 1.5 million single American women in the years following World War II who, under enormous social and family pressure, were coerced to give up their newborn children. It tells not of wild and carefree sexual liberation, but rather of a devastating double standard that has had punishing long-term effects on these women and on the children they gave up. Single pregnant women were shunned by family and friends, evicted from schools, sent away to maternity homes to have their children alone, and often treated with cold contempt by doctors, nurses, and clergy. The majority of the women interviewed by Fessler, herself an adoptee, have never spoken of their experiences, and most have been haunted by grief and shame their entire adult lives.--From publisher description.

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