Kiona and Tessie Talk About Mom’s Book

Jon Chapman asks Kiona and Tessie how their mom’s book changed things. Kiona says she is just about as excited as her mom about the book launch because she was one of the first people to read the first draft and has been along on the writing journey helping with editing and feedback. Kiona has been a wonderful support of my story and an encouraging light along the way besides for a talented editor.

Tessie cries as she tells about reading that her mom’s mom, Grandma Ethel never had a serious conversation with me after I returned from giving birth and giving my baby up for adoption.My mom never knew the details of my experience. I know it is hard for Tessie to understand that nobody spoke -not mom-not me-not dad-but there was so much shame that it seemed best left in the darkness of secrecy. Tessie goes on to say that she is thankful for the message of the toxicity of secrets and grateful to know me in a deeper way.

The Children They Gave Away by Sarah Karnasiewicz-

In this article Sarah interviews Ann Fessler, the author of “The Girls Who Went Away.”
“In the decades between World War II and Roe v. Wade, 1.5 million young women were secretly sent to homes for unwed mothers and coerced into giving their babies up for adoption. Now their stories are finally being told.

“Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to keep [my] baby, or explained the options. I went to a maternity home, I was going to have the baby, they were going to take it, and I was going to go home. I was not allowed to keep the baby. I would have been disowned.”

— Joyce

It was the 1960s and Joyce was going to beauty school in Florida when she realized she was pregnant. When her mother found out, Joyce says, she was “dumped” at a Salvation Army Home for Unwed Mothers in Alabama. “It was an old, old, old house with big rooms,” she remembers now. “[And] I had no control … It was like being in a car wreck or something. Once you start skidding, that’s it. [So] I kind of skidded through it.”

Joyce is just one of more than a million and a half women who were sent to maternity homes to surrender their children for adoption in the decades between World War II and the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973. They were college freshman working their way through school with two jobs. They were tomboys, sorority girls and valedictorians. They were mothers and they were invisible.

But now, artist and writer Ann Fessler has uncovered their hidden stories. The result of years of research and more than one hundred interviews, Fessler’s new book, “The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade,” is an astonishing oral history that brings to light the dark undercurrent of life in America’s postwar middle class. Denied adequate sex education, shamed by socially conformist parents and peers, and without legal access to abortion, Fessler’s subjects emerge as the victims of a double standard that labeled them promiscuous while condoning the sexual adventures of their male counterparts.