Adoptees carry the burden of shame for being “given up, abandoned, unwanted, not right,” and birth mothers carry the weight of shame for succumbing to external pressure to relinquish their children. There is ample literature addressing recovery for both adoptees and birth mothers (Buterbaugh & Soll, 2003; Franklin, 2019; Lanier, 2020; Soll, 2005, 2013, 2014); however, there is little recognition of the co-shame and need for forgiveness. Utilizing autoethnographic methodology, I discuss the issues of misogyny prevalent in the 1950s, the “Baby Scoop Era [BSE],” and my ongoing process of forgiving my birth mother after five decades of rage. This piece attempts to provide insights into the questions: Did my birth mother voluntarily “give me up” because she didn’t want me? Who was she, and are we alike? Is it possible to stop being so angry? My findings include an understanding of the situation in which my mother struggled and forgiveness of her decision. While we share commonalities, the chasm between the social construction of reality in which she lived and mine is vast; however, we are “others of similarity” (Chang, 2008). My anger has shifted to the patriarchal and misogynistic system that permits the involuntary separation of mother and child.


Autoethnography, Adoption, Baby Scoop Era, Misogyny

Author Bio(s)

Ms. Christian (Chris) Anderson Ph.D. ACSW LCSW CCTP has been a social worker since receiving her MSW in 1978 from the University of Buffalo; she was granted a Ph.D. in social work in 2010 from the University of Denver. She is a therapist, supervisor, teacher, and administrator. She is also an adoptee who has been struggling with her trauma recovery from this incident for the past 50+ years. This article is the culmination of her work to forgive her birth mother. Please direct correspondence to chris.anderson.phd@gmail.com.


Thank you to my new mentor Dr. Bruce Lilyea who helped me put all this together.

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