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Crittendon Center

April 27, 1993

Regarding your Crittendon Center article, Voices, April 12:

Society exacted a high price from single mothers during the '60s and earlier: the loss of our babies. Part of our "rehabilitation" for having had sex before we were married was to disappear to the confines of a maternity home. As a guest of Florence Crittendon in 1967, while treated with kindness, I received no counseling or support. Parenting programs did not exist because you were never going to be a parent. The purpose of all maternity homes was to keep us hidden away until the relinquishment of our child and then, and only then, were we fit to take our place back in decent society. We were forbidden to use our last names, even our mail was blacked out. Once we began to show, we were not permitted to leave the grounds.

The home was affiliated with several adoption agencies in Ohio and my caseworker came by only to check my physical condition. After my son was born and I refused to sign the papers, she took me into a closet-like room at the home and kept me there until, worn down with accusations of "selfishness," and the worst possible coercion, "You'll sign these papers if you love your child," I did. A staff member found me crying and told me not to upset the other girls. "You'll get over it." I never did.

I have long been interested in the changes at Florence Crittendon and I sincerely congratulate them on the wonderful work they do today. You've come a long way, baby.

BARBARA ANNE SHAW

Studio City

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