Dear Diary

“It’s the good girls who keep diaries; the bad girls never have the time.” – Tallulah Bankhead

My friend Joe once joked that I was a rather precocious young woman at the age I lost my child. He said this in reference to one of my posts a while back.  He might have been referencing my ‘Guilty" poem. I don’t clearly remember.

For some reason, I thought of Joe again today when I read another passage in my diary.  Keep in mind this entry is being written by an 18 year old, six month pregnant young woman who had been sent to live in a maternity home.  This entry was written by a young girl who was deeply conflicted about placing her child for adoption.

Yes the words are mine. Unedited. Straight from the diary.

"February 12, 1986 –

I am now in Chicago.  I have been for about a week. I am staying at a place called Gehring Hall. It is a catholic hospital run organization for unwed mothers.  There are approximately eighteen of us here right now. We range in age from 18 to 23.  There are black girls, white girls, spanish girls.  They come from a variety of economic back grounds – middle, low and upper class.  All so very different yet all so alike.

They are single and pregnant. Pregnant with children but wanted and unwanted but all unplanned. 

Some of the girls are so pathetic. Unwashed. unkept, saddenned. All are saddened. Some just hide it better than others. They try to make light of their situations by joking or passing things off. Yet, inside, the truth remains, they are single and pregnant in a society that still has difficulty accepting unwed mothers.

Some of the girls were thrown out of their homes. Others left willingly. Whatever the case, whatever the circumstances, the pain is still there.  Buried well, covered, concealed, never to be revealed or expressed. "

I find it mildly disturbing that many of my entries read like some sort of investigative reporter. I seem so detached. So, not there, like I was on the outside looking in.  My own separate reality.

Where is the "I" speak here? Where am I? Where is me? I am watching and not accepting that  I am one of those girls…at least not in this entry.

I also sound a bit, well, adult. Don’t I?

Here, try this one on for size, remember, this is being written by a young girl, me, several months before I will surrender my own child to a baby broker.

"February 24, 1986 –

Cori, the other girl from Connecticut, had her baby last night. She had a boy and named him Thomas Anthony.

I went to see her today and was once again slapped in the face with the reality of my own situation.

We walked to the nursery and she showed me her baby. She started to talk about the adoptive parents and how they better be good to him, and that his "real" mommy loves him, etc. I was choking back my own tears.

All these girls (and I) are in such painful situations, situations that call for tears, yet we shed very few.

One of the saddest things is that the majority of these girls is very capable of loving their child yet incapable of giving needed financial security. Many have not graduated high school. Others have. Some are in college and a few work full time. They DO love their children, they just wish a better life for them. One filled with toys and clothes and enough food.  Things NONE of us have yet the adoptive parents do. Oh Lord. I hope these parents that adopt OUR children truly KNOW and appreciate the children we so tearfully, yet strongly, give away. I  hope we are making the right decision. I pray to God we are."

Maybe it is hindsight, maybe it is hope, but I gotta say, these words, as written do not sound to me like a young mother who did not want or was unable to care for her child. I sound, so, well, WISE for 18.

I am still struck by my dissociative state. That I am still writing  somewhat apart from the reality of the situation.

That changes soon though. The next passage is over a month later. And this is when things start to get really ugly. This is when I tell the caseworker I am thinking about keeping my daughter and the threats and the promissory notes get marched out onto the table.

I really should have told that caseworker to go fuck herself.

I still kinda want to.

6 Thoughts.

  1. Your diary entries stun me. So like what I remember feeling. I wish I’d written down my thoughts at the time, but I didn’t, and if I had, no doubt I would have trashed them in yet another attempt to bury the pain.
    I threw it all out, the pictures, the letters, the memories. Still they come back to haunt me. Never truly gone.
    Thank you for baring your soul here.

  2. i remember that dissociative state. like it wasn’t happening to me. it didn’t actually hit me till about 6 or 7 years later.

  3. Hmmmm???? I am impressed with your role as observer/reporter. You kept a record of what you saw, what happened. At 6 mo. I was still in denial, still looking for an escape.

  4. I too was a Gehring girl from the 1980’s. I was older than most and very focused on why I was there. I saw and remembered all of the pain and uncertainty shared by the girls. Your diary is so very true. It was heart breaking to see and hear the torment for most. I kept my son.
    Now, I am re-living the situation with my own daughter and I wish I could get her to a Gehring Hall. Be Happy!!!!

  5. Deb – Welcome. I am saddened you were also incarcerated at Gehring but happy to hear you got away with your child. I am curious about one thing though. Why would you want to send your daughter there? Is that not what you meant by this statement?
    Now, I am re-living the situation with my own daughter and I wish I could get her to a Gehring Hall. Be Happy!!!!
    I am assuming that means your daughter is pregnant and you want to send her away? Please reconsider. If you need support sources, resources, etc. please feel free to write me privately. I might be able to help.
    Peace to you both.

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