How awful I felt when learning about the "conspiracy of coerced and forced adoptions" in the '60's as reported in the Ottawa Citizen on June 10;  Apparently, the choice of the day for pregnant teenagers, by those in control, was to force these mothers to "give away their babies" without being shown any other options. Heartless and punitive tactics from tying the mothers to their beds to suffer labour alone to denying them pain medication during labour and delivery were perceived as the recommended course of action to deter these young women from future unwed pregnancies. Furthermore, these young women were made to feel ashamed of their pregnancies and every opportunity was taken, by those in control, to hide their undesirable state. Despite the cruelty these young women suffered unnecessarily, they did get beyond the physical pain of the birth of their babies, but not so readily the "aching emptiness that remained after their babies were gone". 

As an adoption practitioner who has been providing services to both prospective adoptive parents and birth parents considering adoption since the early '90's, I realize that I have been blessed to work in a far healthier and more supportive climate than those of my colleagues from the '60's. Yet, I feel badly that my colleagues were unfairly put into an uncomfortable role based on the thinking of the day. When sexual repression and stringent Christian values were still dominant based on the post-war era, perhaps my colleagues thought the "tough love" strategy of dealing with these young moms was the best way to deter unwed pregnancies; which of course were not considered desirable any way.

How far we have come. Not only would we, in the adoption field, never dream today of pressuring a birth mother into relinquishing her child for adoption, we also support single parenthood. More than that, we support open adoptions rather than secretive ones. Why would we want to hide the basic information about an individual that is so rightly theirs? Why would we want to participate in perpetuating lies about an individual's heritage and identity? Who exactly are we protecting? These poignant questions are posed to both adoptive parents and birth parents when considering adoption, as we see it as a primary responsibility of an adoption practitioner to encourage everyone involved to answer these in order to make the best decision they can. Adoption is not the right answer for everyone and like many times in life, we need to be educated in order to make that best decision. 

Times have changed and I feel lucky to work in a field where we support the mantra that every individual has the right and responsibility to decide what is best for them. I am proud and pleased to confidently state that we are no longer in the age of "baby scooping".