Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Feminism on Trial

Forced Adoption

The child Ginny was carrying was conceived during a casual affair she had during her separation from Danny. This was the early 1960s and the sexual revolution of that decade was still a few years off. For Ginny, or any other young unmarried woman of that time, to have a baby out of wedlock would have been a major scandal. Especially to her parents. Abortion was ten years away from being legalized by the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision; a ruling that would later become a major linchpin for the feminist movement. Ginny was left with no choice but to have the baby and then give it up for adoption.

After much agonizing and an intensive search, Ginny located a home for unwed mothers in an unnamed Midwestern city run by a religious organization. To pay the expenses for her trip she sold her MG convertible and bought a cheaper used car, pocketing the difference. She told her parents she was going on a long trip to take her mind off the situation with Danny and her other troubles. For the next few months she would have no contact with them.

Checking into the home and being apprised of the rules and regulations was a demeaning experience for Ginny. "Every moment I spent in that place was an exercise in guilt. We were constantly told in subtle, tacit ways that we were worthless, and we were also told it outright." The pregnant young women of the home were reviled as sinful sluts and expected to follow a strict daily regimen that included lowly cleaning chores as part of their penance. Once, after Ginny had finished polishing a wooden railing in the chapel, her supervisor ran her finger along it, looked at it, and told Ginny, "It's as dirty as you are."

When Ginny finally did give birth, the only information she was given was that it was a boy and he was healthy. In accordance with the home's policy, she was not allowed to see or hold the baby. As soon as she recovered from her delivery, she was asked to sign the adoption authorization papers and that was the end of it. When she was strong enough to leave the home she paid the nominal fee and headed back to New Paltz, feeling sad and empty after giving up what would be her only child. To this day she has no idea whatever became of him.


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