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The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade Paperback – June 26, 2007
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Journalism of the first order, moving and informative in equal measure. (San Francisco Chronicle)
A remarkably well-researched and accomplished book. (The New York Times Book Review)
A wrenching, riveting book. (Chicago Tribune)
About the Author
Ann Fessler is professor of photography at Rhode Island School of Design and a specialist in video-installation art. She won a prestigious Radcliffe Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, for 2004, to complete her extensive research for this book. She is also the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the LEF Foundation, Boston; the Rhode Island Foundation; the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities; Art Matters, New York; and the Maryland State Arts Council. An adoptee herself, she begins and ends the book with the story of her own successful quest to find her birth mother.
Top customer reviews
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Why would this woman, a wonderful, loving, mother, give a child away and not tell us? What happened that she would take a secret like that to the grave? How could her family not have any idea? This book explained exactly why, how, and what was happening in our society in 1964, when my mother signed away her rights to her firstborn child.
It also gave me an insight into why my mother was the way she was. Why she insisted my little sister and I use birth control, going so far as to take us to the doctor for the pill, at a time when it was NOT the thing parents were doing. Why she had a yearly cycle of depression centered around the time that we now know is our older sister’s birthday. Why she never told my father, who she met not long after she gave that baby up. And other pieces, bits of information and things she said that didn’t seem that strange at the time, but looking back meant something so very different and helped put together a puzzle we never knew was there.
I’m not known for being overly emotional about things, but this was very difficult for me to read, even knowing in advance the kind of societal pressures on single women of that era. I kept having to walk away for a while after reading this chapter or that story, because it was bringing everything too close for me to handle. My mother was one of these women, and although I knew she’d had an abusive childhood, I had no inkling that she had suffered this injustice as well.
Even if you aren’t connected to anyone who may have been touched by this shameful era of our history, this book is a great opportunity to learn the reasons why women’s rights continues to be such an important movement, even today. We can’t let these kinds of things continue to happen 50 or even 60 years later.