I am writing you to get your support and input into a project I am embarking upon. The book project is entitled, “The Strength to Speak; The Courage to Say Good-bye” and is a photo/journal-style book on birthmothers. I am very excited about it and hoping to interview and photograph 15 birthmothers whose stories are begging to be heard. I am looking for a cross-section of women from many different areas with many different experiences relinquishing their babies and learning to live with their decisions.
I am a sixty-year-old white woman from an upper middle class suburban town in Connecticut. I did search 15 years ago, found my daughter, but she chose to not have any connection with me. I relinquished my daughter in 1972 when the culture informed young women that they were shameful for having sex and getting pregnant out of wedlock. My Blue Cross Insurance would not cover my medical expenses because my child was illegitimate. Yet others talked of my selfless act of letting her go to a family who couldn’t give birth to their own child. The mixed messages were extreme and hard to interpret for a 19 year-old girl. But what was hardest was the extreme level of grief that dominated my life from then on and the lack of understanding on the part of anyone as to why. It wasn’t until many years later that I was to understand that my body interpreted releasing my baby as my baby dying and that no one in my life knew to gather around me as though I had just lost my infant. If she had died, the expectations on me would have been very different and mixed messages would have been fewer.
I think that as a country we are beginning a new and exciting time for adoption. I think that adoptees and others around the country are looking to make adoption a healthy choice for women who cannot take care of a baby for whatever reason. Advocates are looking to have nightmarish statistics turned around and to increase knowledge about adoption and support for adoption more credible.
Up until now birthmothers have been viewed in two ways, equally as hurtful for the woman who is releasing her baby. One view is birthmother as selfless giver of baby to poor mother who cannot bear her own. And the other view is the heartless wicked woman who has abandoned her child on the doorstep of someplace and doesn’t care. Both of these views fall short of the reality and only help to inflict trauma on the birth mother and on the adoptee who wonders what she did wrong to be abandoned so early by her mother.
One strong way to change misunderstanding or myths about a given topic is through education. This project is an arena to educate the world about birthmothers. Who are the women whose babies are adoptees? What were their circumstances, the real choices, their experiences? And how has that one at impacted the direction of their life? How could trauma have been avoided? Or what would have helped everyone at the time of adoption?
I am excited to take on this project. I started on Kickstarter in order to raise the money to construct this book. What I need right away is women who would be interested in being a voice in the book. I am looking for a diverse population and want so much to encourage women to participate.
If you would like to be a part of this project, please either e mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write me at 42 Munson St. Greenfield, MA 01301. Feel free to pass this letter on to others who might wish to respond.
I am excited by this undertaking and look forward to sharing stories.
Thank you for your help, Lindy Whiton