Stigma and the Unwed Mom

Why does the distinction between children who have lost their parents through relinquishment or through family death or abandonment matter? It matters because if we hope to create a world where every child has a loving, secure home, then we need to understand how and why women choose to relinquish their children — and work to remedy those reasons.

Relinquished.

Take that word and roll it around.

Can you feel the pain it carries? The questions it leaves unanswered?

It’s sharp and clinical.

What it hides is the pain — the pain of the woman losing her child; the pain of the child losing his or her family.

It also masks the complex and surprising reasons why a woman may choose to relinquish her child.

Saanvi* was 24 years old when she became pregnant with her son. At the time, she had already earned a master’s degree in computer science. She liked reading, dancing and cooking. She’d known the father of her child since she was a child herself, and they loved each other very much.

However, Saanvi and her boyfriend weren’t married, and the weight of their pregnancy hung heavy on her heart. She knew her options were limited in India. Continue reading “Stigma and the Unwed Mom”

A Difficult and Brave Decision

In the spring issue of Holt International Magazine, staff writer Billie Loewen wrote an article about the unwed mothers’ shelters Holt supports in South Korea. Over the past few days, I had the opportunity to meet a couple of the women who stayed at one of these shelters and who ultimately chose to parent their children. I also got to see where they go after they leave the shelter and start their lives as independent young single mothers in a culture whose disapproving attitudes toward unwed motherhood make life extremely difficult for them.

Unwed mothers spending time with their children.

Continue reading “A Difficult and Brave Decision”