Canadian Council of Natural Mothers' Library

Wanted: First Child: A Birth Mother's Story

Rebecca Harsin

"…that's why you girls are here. Your parents don't feel you are ready to be mothers and there are a lot of women who can't have their own children."

Rebecca's story is very true for many young mothers who lost their babies to adoption. She recounts many of the feelings and the desperation that a vast number of young mothers experienced, knowing that the end result was going to be the loss of their baby no matter how they tried to change what became inevitable. The book is loaded with the terminology used to separate a mother and her child. The pressures for separation from forces outside the mother and child unit were constant. Harsin validates that lack of support in any direction was very common for those who lost their babies to adoption.

Prior to surrender, Harsin knew she would search for her daughter and she waited the required eighteen years. The story is very good and recounts what it was like from pregnancy to reunion for some mothers. The section of the book that did not ring true was when Rebecca was reunited with her daughter. She claimed all the anguish she had experienced through surrender to the end of her search was over. She was satisfied to find that her daughter had a loving home and was all right. Her vivid descriptions of the injustice of the past in losing her daughter disappeared as though it had never happened.

Although she wrote of the injustice of lack of family and social support, the pressure to surrender, and being denied her motherhood, she recants upon reunion. The adoptive parents who are normal, loving people are the beneficiaries of her denied motherhood. She proclaims the adoptive parents as the only parents to her daughter now, reinforcing her denied motherhood. She willingly picked up society's imposed role of "birth" mother.

Rebecca wrote, "When a birth mother releases her child for adoption, she has made a choice--a choice to parent or not to parent her child. The birth mother who wanted only the best possible life for her child will opt for adoption if at that time she is not financially able or mentally able, or has no support system behind her." She picked up the adoption jargon that normalizes and reinforces the propaganda of "choice" and of a "decision" even though there wasn't choice for her or other unsupported mothers.

It was disappointing to read that under the same conditions that provided no support for Harsin these conditions were referred to as "choice" for other young mothers. It gives the impression that when a mother physically fights to "keep" her child, it is seen as no "choice". But, the reality for many is that there was no "choice" whether a mother screamed out her pain at the injustice, or was silenced by the trauma and lack of support, or escaped reality to survive the inevitable loss of her baby whether she fought or not.

Reviewer: Sandra Jarvie


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