What I read: The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler
Why I picked it up: I read an article on America awhile back by a woman who invites people on multiple sides of an issue to come together to have a discussion. She gives them all homework prior so they can use that as a common foundation for the discussion. They’re typically articles, but if she could give them books she would. The two she recommended for a discussion on abortion are this one and What it Means to be Human, which I finished a few weeks back.
How I read it: On hardback over a few weeks because it’s heavy. I also cried often while reading it, often in public.
What it’s about: Women who got pregnant outside of marriage in the 50s and 60s who were forced to give up their children to adoption. It had over a hundred stories from women about their experience with their families, maternity homes, the adoption process, finding their children later (or being found), and the hurt they suffered throughout the entire situation.
What I liked: I appreciated the window into that era of history. This is spoken of as a great mercy but reading the stories of these women, many were forced or treated poorly and then not given the mental health support they needed.
What I disliked: I think many people’s response to this book, and even the title is alluding to it, is to be grateful for legal abortion. However, I think there are bigger lessons we should have learned and haven’t yet, including: getting rid of the social stigma of being a single or young mother, financial support for women in need, workforce support, familial support, social services. We even have much work to do about adoption and how we speak of that and work through the trauma.
Genre: Non-fiction, life issues, adoption.
Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes. This is a good, very hard, but very necessary read.