Part 2 – How They Coerced Us to Surrender

Evidence of Systemic Violation of Single Parents Rights – Part 2

Quotes from social workers:  How They Coerced Us to Surrender

“By the early 1940′s, social workers became convinced that adoption was preferable to”keeping mother and child together” . . . Rejecting the idea that all women who had borne children were suitable mothers, social workers maintained that they must individualize each case . . . and decide which women should or should not put their infants up for adoption.” AND SIN NO MORE: SOCIAL POLICY AND UNWED MOTHERS IN CLEVELAND 1855 TO 1990, Marian J. Morton, Historian, 1993

“The caseworker must then be decisive, firm, and unswerving in her pursuit of a healthy solution for the girl’s problem. The ‘I’m going to help you by standing by while you work it through’ approach will not do. What is expected from the worker is precisely what the child expected but did not get from her parents – a decisive ‘No!’ It is essential that the parent most involved, psychologically, in the daughter’s pregnancy also be dealt with in a manner identical with the one suggested in dealing with the girl. Time is of the essence; the maturation of the fetus proceeds at an inexorable pace. An ambivalent mother, interfering with her daughter’s ability to arrive at the decision to surrender her child, must be dealt with as though she (the girl’s mother) were a child herself.” Out-Of-Wedlock Pregnancy In Adolescence, p. 71, 1960, Marcel Heiman, MD.

“The first thing the unmarried mother is likely to lose is her right to make important decisions. The agency or community tells her what she must do if she is to receive the services she needs . . . In most instances the plan for the baby is pre-determined. Often these matters are decided without her being able to state her own preferences.” HELPING UNMARRIED MOTHERS, by Rose Bernstein, copyright 1971

“. . . unwed mothers may have placed their children for adoption for any of the following reasons . . . (2) they were advised or pressured to release the baby . . .” COUNSELING THE UNWED MOTHER, by Helen E. Terkelsen, copyright 1964

“When a worker can see that, had the unmarried mother wanted a baby for normal reasons, she would have fallen in love, married, and had a child under normal circumstances, the worker’s problem begins to resolve itself…” OUT OF WEDLOCK, Leontine Young

The fact that social work professional attitudes tend to favor the relinquishment of the baby, as the literature shows, should be faced more clearly. Perhaps if it were recognized, workers would be in less conflict and would therefore feel less guilty about their “failures” (the kept cases).” – Social worker Barbara Hansen Costigan, in her dissertation, “The Unmarried Mother–Her Decision Regarding Adoption” (1964)

“…. if an unmarried child gives birth to a baby, those circumstances alone ought to justify apprehension of the baby before the baby leaves the hospital unless the unmarried child mother can show that she has a viable plan for looking after and rearing her baby.” – “Board Review” for the Child Welfare System (Canada, 1983)

[NOTE: no mention is made of ensuring that the mother has access to social assistance (welfare)]

“An agency has a responsibility of pointing out to the unmarried mother the extreme difficulty, if not the impossibility, if she remains unmarried, of raising her child successfully in our culture without damage to the child and to herself …. The concept that the unmarried mother and her child constitute a family is to me unsupportable. There is no family in any real sense of the word.” Joseph H. Reid, Principles, Values, and Assumptions Underlying Adoption Practice, 1956 NAT’L CON. SOC. WORK.

With all the endless advice we received from social workers, very few of us were ever advised that we had the right to independent legal counsel:

” An unwed mother who releases her child for adoption needs legal counsel, as to her rights and the termination of same. Only an attorney is qualified to spell out and interpret these rights to her….. Unfortunately, most mothers of children born out of wedlock …. are frequently in fear or shame, misguided legally by persons not qualified to interpret these rights.” Counseling the Unwed Mother, by Helen E. Terkelsen, copyright 1964

” The mother of the child born out of wedlock is frequently young, frightened and very much alone when she is forced to make the momentous decisions about her future and that of her child. The provision of proper medical care, casework service, a plan for her child, full and honest disclosure as to her legal rights and the consequences of surrendering her child for adoption are essential if the substance rather than the mere form of her legal rights is to be secured.  It is when this is not done, when she is not helped to work through to the right decision, that decisions made under duress may and often do lead to unresolved conflicts that may shadow her life. . .” Adoption and Law, by Hon. Justine Wise Polier, Judge, Domestic Relations Court, New York City. 1956