Article from 1972…the writing was on the wall

01 Apr

A fairly comprehensive article from the Herald Journal Oct 8, 1972, that has something missing in today’s articles on adoption – reality – and reality on the reasons for the reduction in mothers surrendering their babies for adoption.  The article is linked below and is the actual newspaper so you have to move it around to read it (top left corner), but it covers much more than just what I have below so make sure you read it all.  Also note the lack of calling mothers anything but mothers – well except for the unwed part but you do understand I mean “birthmothers“. 

Decrease In Homes For Unwed Mothers-Rise In illegitimacy All bolding below is mine.

Caption under photo reads: Secluded Retreat Unmarried mothers-to-be await the births of their babies in a Florence Crittendon Home in Washington D.C. In general, girls in homes for un-wed mothers are younger than they used to be, they’re more likely to have problems and more than ever before they’re keeping their babies. At this home in the early ’60’s about 7 percent kept their babies.  By 1971 the figure had jumped to 27 percent.

The article starts off with a story about Susie and gives the audience an overview of what factored into her decision to go to a maternity home, but that homes like she has gone into are closing due to the lack of clientele.

Some authorities working in the field predict that in 10 years, homes for unwed mothers will be extinct.  A larger majority feel there will always be girls like Susie will need the service they provide.

The drop in occupancy rates seems to be continuing.  It began almost imperceptibly as early as 1966.  The more general and noticeable decreases started in 1968, and 1969, first on the West Coast in cities like Los Angeles and Seattle.  Through the early 1970’s, the trend spread across the country and is now pretty much inclusive, except in the some areas of the South.

It then goes on to cite some stats like in St. Louis Missouri, Salvation Army’s facilities they had a 109% occupancy rate in 1969, 92% in 1970, 64% in 1971.  Both Florence Crittenton and Catholic Charities report drops in occupancy and closing homes and revamping programs.  Specifically CC closed 19 homes which equalled 381 beds and FC 6 homes.

The reasons are obvious: Increased availability of abortions, more and more wide-spread knowledge of birth control methods, more and more girls keeping their babies, and the financial crush of maintaining the homes.  Some say the last two factors contribute most significantly since the illegitimacy rate continues to climb.

It then talks about a radio transcript from Florence Crittenton in 1932 which speaks about the time when mothers didn’t surrender their babies, and were actually helped to get on their feet – worth reading about it in my opinion.  About how those homes existed to provide a safe space for mothers, how they could get training, and how the outcome worked fine with some of the mothers getting married either to the father or a different man and life worked out… 

Further on it speaks about Jo and one other girl, who out of about 30 girls in the home, wanted confidentiality…ahem…

It then delves into a new danger – the rights of those pesky fathers having a say in adoption…and ends of course with dire warnings that did not happen.  It starts off here talking about a 15-year-old in a home who is hiding from the father and his family who want the baby (gasp) and how the 15-year-old wants adoption and to finish school (cannot see why both couldn’t be seen as a great solution) but oh well…

That problem, the rights of the father of the illegitimate child, is just starting in the courts and it’s one that social agencies see as an impending nightmare, further complicating the adoption procedures and creating more children doomed to the never-for-sure world of foster homes.

In most states an unwed mother may give up her child for adoption without the permission of the father, but changes are taking place.

Further down in the article they speak to what dad told me he had happen that I referenced in my last post.

“We don’t get the so-called nice girls who got into trouble anymore,” says Mrs. Ninat Smith, head of Crittenton home in Washington, “She’s the girl who has the abortion now.”

In fact, many of the girls who are still in the homes in the middle and upper economic level, have deliberately kept their pregnancies a secret from their parents until they are past the stage where legal and safe abortions can be performed.

The girls all seem to know a friend of a friend of a friend whose mother insisted she have an abortion, with no regard for the feeling of the girl.  Some of these girls are back in the homes for a second pregnancy almost a case of revenge against the mother.

Other girls are in the homes very much against their wills.  Their parents insisted.  The parents often view the maternity home as a second class solution; they would have preferred the abortion but the daughter was adamant.

As a result, more and more girls are able to get welfare now, to help defray the costs, than ever before.  A daughter of a retired military man, for instance, was able to “plead” need.

When it was a question of shame, a question of hiding the daughter’s condition at all costs, they were able to come up with the money.  But not now,” said a director of one of the homes.

The family of the mother paid the homes for their daughters to stay.  Then the homes made money from the prospective adoptive parents.  It is also clear mothers weren’t interested in surrendering their babies, if they could find a way to keep them.  Seems pretty darn normal to me, so why are there programs created and used today, to counsel mothers to surrender instead of parent?  Why not focus on helping mothers parent like Florence Crittendon and many other social agencies did before the “solution” became adoption in the BSE and seems to be heading back in that direction today?  Why would anyone want to do that to mothers?

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Posted by on April 1, 2012 in Adoption, Ethics


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