Monday, March 13, 2017

Disenfranchised Moms – Three Brief Encounters

If This Isn't Child Abuse, What Is?

The account Pat* gave me of her imprisonment in her own home was like something out of a CPS complaint. But Pat believes that even an intervention by CPS wouldn't have prevented her from losing her baby.

Learning of Pat's pregnancy sent her parents into an angry frenzy. What could they do with her to conceal her/their shame? Where could they send her? Several possibilities were discussed, but the final decision was to hide her in their basement for the remaining duration of her pregnancy.

Basement clutter was cleared to make room for a few pieces of furniture – a crude bedroom. Her meals were brought to her, and a portable 'potty' was her toilet.

Pat was allowed out of the basement only after dark, when she couldn't be seen by anyone. She welcomed the fresh air and a bit of exercise each night. And she often thought of running away somewhere, but where? Her options looked as dismal as her daily life in the basement.

The most painful memory she related to me was that of being kept away from festivities at Christmas. Her parents had guests - possibly relatives - upstairs, and Pat could hear their laughter and muffled conversations. But of course she wasn't allowed upstairs.

When she went into labor, her parents took her to the hospital and the rest of her story is textbook. When I met her, she had no idea what had become of her child – or even whether it was a boy or a girl.

The Threat

Shirley* gave birth and surrendered her child in Galveston, Texas. An attorney handled the adoption, and to make sure she didn't try to find her son at some time in the future, he lied to her about the sure consequence.

"If you ever return to Galveston County, you'll be arrested," he told her.

With the help of Texas search volunteers, Shirley was able to locate her son when he turned nineteen. The last contact I had with her she was planning a trip to Texas - yes, Galveston - but wasn't totally convinced that law enforcement officials wouldn't be waiting for her at the county line.

When fear is instilled in an already traumatized person, it doesn't dissipate just because truth finally is revealed.

To Live or Not to Live

When Ardis* came to our support group meeting the first time, she had already met the adult daughter she had lost to adoption years before. They'd been brought together through an unusual turn of events made possible by the fact that she and her daughter's family lived in the same town.

What made Ardis' story unique was that being reunited with her daughter literally saved her life.

When a lump in Ardis' breast was found to be malignant, she was immediately informed of the treatment protocol that lay ahead. Although a part of her wanted to undergo the treatment that would increase her chances of survival, another part of her wanted not to survive.

Ardis, a Christian, believed in the promise of life hereafter. Through the years since losing her daughter she had comforted herself in the belief that they would be reunited one day in heaven. She just knew it was impossible to ever meet her while she was alive, so she reasoned she could expedite the meeting - at least on her part - by refusing treatment and waiting for her daughter on the other side.

When the miracle of miracles happened that brought Ardis and her daughter together, it was thankfully not too late to undergo the treatment. She survived – and thrived. And an added blessing came in the form of a warm, caring relationship with her daughter's adoptive mom.

As far as I know, Ardis is still 'on this side' of heaven.

*Pat, Shirley, and Ardis are all pseudonyms, as are all names in this series.

 Typical Ann Landers 'Advice'

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