As is usual for someone who has been adopted, who has yet to find their biological roots, I recently found myself wondering yet again, how it all came to be. Since I’ve been on the Internet I have both, participated in an adoption forum, and checked out the State of Arkansas adoptions laws, only to gaze into the computer screen with something of an intrigued, essentially disappointed feeling. As with the Internet, however, multiple searches using varied terms can lead in all different kinds of directions. This time around I was met with some interesting results.
Apparently, the state of my existence can be attributed to the Baby Scoop Era, a time in American history extending from the end of World War II to the mid-1970s. The era is characterized by the sudden rampant adoption, or “scooping” of white babies born from illegitimate relationships, and has high points that revolve around the liberal behavior of young women during the Vietnam Era.
What strikes me the most is that the nature of the relationships and their pregnancies are termed illegitimate through the medium of religious discourse. In other words, if a woman got pregnant during the era, she was a scorn to society and the baby had to be gotten rid of. The literature I found goes further to suggest that because of this impious sense of illegitimacy, single mothers were encouraged, even heavily pressured into giving up their children. Since my birth certificate derives from a Catholic hospital, I am imagining my mother being psychologically coaxed into giving me away by the religious powers in place, whether or not she was comfortable with it. To add to the matter, I was never wholly aware that Arkansas was as religious a place as it comes off to be, but I should know better. I realize now, the place is notoriously religious. My departure from the area was a good thing then; having to grow up without my mother was not.
On the other side of the coin is the bizarre demand for white blonde babies. Since I happen to have blonde hair and blue eyes, to think of this actually gives me the creeps. To think that I was shopped for creates a sickening feeling in my stomach. Not only does the sense of commodification feel eerie, but the racial nature of the demand has racial implications that are disturbing.
I had originally thought my mother was irresponsible, and maybe she was, but this doesn’t equate an automatic desire to give me up for adoption. Whether or not she would have aborted me is a question for another life, but legislation was eventually passed that allowed single women to raise their children without having to succumb to the pressures of religious dogma. The government finally realized the amount of adoptions that were occurring and put measures in place so these women could stay with their children, explaining why the Baby Scoop Era comes to an end around the beginning of the 1980s.
At any rate, the adoptions laws in Arkansas protect mothers with excruciating diligence, which translates into me still not knowing who my mother was. I can sign a mutual consent registry, but if she never signed it, then by the means of her absence of signature, I will know she didn’t sign it; that will mean she was and still is uninterested in knowing who her child is.
Until I sign it, I guess I’ll never know.
It’s a big decision.