Question the Unquestionable

Martin Sixmith’s documentary “Ireland’s Lost Babies” discovers that “In Ireland thousands of so called illegitimate children were taken from their mothers and sent off for adoption”. It has sparked off a national  government led inquiry. In America Dan Rathers reports in his documentary “Adopted or Abducted?” that “in the 1950’s through to the 1970’s over one million unwed mothers were forced to give up their babies for adoption”. In both documentaries the adopted children were told they were left or abandoned by uncaring mothers, even that their mothers died.   It is a narrative little questioned by the adopting parents.  It’s an almost perfect lie.

The imperative condition for this lie to flourish  was that pregnant unwed women were   an affront to state church and the nature of family. Once this became an “unquestionable truth” the process of taking,  (abducting or adopting?)  their children began.  The only difference in this past narrative and the present  is the word unwed has been changed to unfit.   Although many adopting parents are good people shouldn’t we ask questions of the “unquestionable truths” given the past form?  I  write this morning because of the first documentary below. It was broadcast this month. It’s about Ethiopian fostered and adopted children in Seattle. The question is this.  What are the “unquestionable truths” that lead to their adoption?




7 thoughts on “Question the Unquestionable

  1. Pingback: Lemn Sissay: Poet, Playwright, Ethiopian Adoptee, Care Leaver, Humanitarian | Ethiopian Adoption Connection

  2. I have been working for years on this issue from Canada. I have interviewed everyone in the private adoption industry, including those in government responsible for the implementation of the Hague Convention in Canada and all I get is denial, obfuscation and outright lies. I have spent years writing about it and although I have excellent credentials in the child welfare and academic worlds, I cannot get published or funded to publish. The academic literature that exists is ignored and the media coverage is scant at best and ignores the realities of this deception because it does not want to offend the rich adoptive parents and their powerful lobbies. My motives are always questioned as I have no personal stake in private adoption? I am involved because what they call “intercountry adoption” is wrong, unethical and just another dirty secret of the child welfare industry and professed children’s rights. Western society fundamentally believes that the poor and non-white world cannot possibly look after children as well as Western whites so they don’t research where these children really come from. As many adoptive parents have told me “I don’t care where (she)came from, I just wanted a baby and would do anything to get one.” This includes not asking questions and spending huge amounts of money to non-regulated sources. I believe this will be the next global scandal regarding children as commodities, similar to the Church-based child abuse scandals of recent decades. I am so happy to see adult adoptees speaking out because it is ultimately their voices which I believe will be heard and demand change. All my sincerest wishes for your success.

    • I WROTE YOU A LONG LONG REPLY and it’s now gone. In short it was this. Publish your research and your findings. This space is vital to the changing view of adoption whcih has been controlled up until now by files smoke-filled rooms and questionable practices.

  3. During the fifties a distant relative of my grannies had to run away from home to Derry due to being pregnant out of wedlock, both she her future husband and the child were kept hidden from those that wished to give the chid up.

    The chid grew up the parents married and lived the rest of their days in peace.

    To think that such drastic measures had to be taken beggars belief. My heart goes out to those who were forced to make such a terrible choice or not even given the choice in most cases.

    I hope you plan in coming back to The Verbal Arts Centre sometime in the future, I myself do the ‘Read to Lead’ program in various locations around the City and enjoy it very much.

    Take care, Ciaron.

  4. Lemm, thanks for posting this. Like you, I was adopted (white, USA). Similar situation thought–mom lived in a home for unwed mothers, gave me up, put in foster home, then placed with family. I think it is important to question the “narrative” how adoption worked in the USA. I think you are fortunate to live in the UK, where you have human laws for adoptees regarding birth records. You got your birth certificate. Even though, after a lot of time and effort, I found my birth mother and family, and now know them, the state of Michigan won’t release my birth certificate–it’s the “law.” We still have very regressive laws in the USA, where in the UK every adoptee 18 and over can get their documents and learn where they came from. Heard your interview on the Beeb today and enjoyed it. A lot head nodding by me as I heard your story. Glad to hear you tell it, with a smile if I’m not mistaken.

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