Need to change the way (or when) we respond…

20 Mar

An article about a play called “Watermelon Hill” written by Lily Baber Coyle, inspired by the book “Shadow Mothers” by Linda Back McKay was published today.  An article that delves into how the play came to be written, reunion stories intertwined, and what “Watermelon Hill” is today.  It’s a good article, the first response, not so much…

Rosenblum: ‘Watermelon Hill’ revisits era of secrecy, shame in St. Paul

It’s important to note that the play speaks about the era when white middle class unwed girls were sent away to maternity homes to hide their shame from society.  The play is set in a maternity home, cruelly nicknamed  “Watermelon Hill” by boys in the area.  A part of history that still impacts many, in different ways, based on each successive the generation.

And this is the first comment left…

What is often missing in these stories about “birth mothers” is any reference to the adoptive parents. Might one consider that the adopted children may have had a better life with adoptive parents than with a single mom? Maybe making all the services so available to young single moms promotes more poor, disadvantaged families headed by a single mom. And society pays on many levels. And to Ms. Kremenetsky, please note there is a difference between birth mothers and those moms who reared the children.

The commenter has 3 distinct complaints stemming from an article that speaks about a terrible era; the pain, loss, humiliation mothers from the 50’s and 60’s endured, and yet, the only things that matter are: 1) What about the adoptive parents?  2) Not impressed that single mothers today in the Jeremiah Project facility that are helped to parent, instead of choosing adoption to the obvious better life adoption would give the children.  3) And to the author of the piece they are ‘birth mothers’ not moms…

A historical story based on mothers who were sent away and lost their babies to adoption is not a slam to adoptive parents, it has nothing to do with adoptive parents, it has to do with mothers who were sent away.  It’s history.  A regrettable history that hurt many and is found in countries around the world during that era.

We (all of us) need to do better at listening and being comfortable allowing stories of loss to exist in adoption, without trying to justify it with a ‘but think about the adopting parents, how much they gained’.  Society has had evil practices throughout history, some far worse than others.  This is part of history.  You can’t rewrite history to make it seem like the ends justified the means, or because it makes adoptive parents feel left out, or bad, or whatever the commenter (or reader) personally feels about their individual story, that may (or not) be relevant.  And, I have to say, the same goes the other way, first parents also react badly to stories about adoptive parents.  They, too, feel the need to ask – what about the first parents, sometimes they are right, other times, it has nothing to do with them, even though an adoption can’t take place without parents by birth.  But stories of mothers who went away during the Baby Scoop Era definitely has nothing to do with adoptive parents, they came into the picture long after the mothers had left the maternity home and had gone home to grieve alone, without any support.

I think if we all try when tempted to say/respond to walk away, and consider if our response is appropriate, we’d all get along better.  I’m a work in progress in this area…I’m trying to do better, I still fail, but I’m trying.



Posted by on March 20, 2016 in Adoption


Tags: , , ,

13 responses to “Need to change the way (or when) we respond…

  1. Heather

    March 20, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    Thank you for this. It’s good to be reminded to see what is there, not necessarily what we think we are seeing. Adoptive parents aren’t missing from the story that isn’t about them. So often compassion is lacking.


    • TAO

      March 20, 2016 at 9:23 pm

      Heather, I’m as guilty as anyone else with this…I’m trying to ask myself if my input is relevant first…and if it is, I’m trying to ensure my framing will be heard. Thanks for being here btw…


      • Heather

        March 21, 2016 at 3:45 am

        I’m guilty too in many ways. The internet makes it easy for me to spout my opinion without consideration. Often I think I’m helping but in hindsight it likely wasn’t and it’s good to be able to reflect, grow and change.

        Thank you for continuing to write and to share. I value your posts very much. You help me to see a different way of looking at topics (not just adoption). I like that you make me think deeper.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. ginny09

    March 21, 2016 at 1:13 am

    MPR interviewed the author. She insisted that the social workers believed the mothers would forget the child they surrendered. And no coercion or fraud was practiced. The reports from surrendering Moms in Anne Fessler’s book documented the coercion and fraud was ubiquitous (and still could be) in the private and public agencies. The play is only half the story…


    • TAO

      March 21, 2016 at 3:05 am

      I’m sure it is ginny…


  3. L4R

    March 21, 2016 at 5:44 am

    Nice post….. But, let’s also add the early 70s. My mom was also sent away.

    I do think you do a solid job of thinking about what write before you post.


    • TAO

      March 21, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      You are correct L4R – the years for the BSE are 1947 – 1973…but am sure ones before and after were subject to the same…


  4. Snarkurchin

    March 21, 2016 at 8:55 am

    So do I! Really nice post, and obvioulsy thought through a lot more than I generally do when I post.


    • TAO

      March 21, 2016 at 1:31 pm

      🙂 There will always be some who are so full of crazy talk that is no response that would be heard is possible…(caffeine lacking and can’t write…)


  5. Snarkurchin

    March 21, 2016 at 8:55 am



  6. onewomanschoice

    March 22, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Reblogged this on One Woman's Choice and commented:
    Lots of good points in this post…


  7. pj

    March 23, 2016 at 12:01 am

    Great post and agree we all need to “think” before we react. Also have to say I feel really safe in this blog-because you so get the big picture.This is how change some will day happen….Honestly, when I read some stuff feel like in I’m in the “Time Tunnel”. (ok,dating myself….if anyone remembers that show)



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