Paul V. Coates – Confidential File, Nov. 27, 1959
November 27, 2009 | 2:00 pm
Baby Given Away by Unwed Mother Yesterday was Thanksgiving but the girl who wandered timidly into my office wasn't giving thanks.
Her green eyes were rimmed with red as she sat down.
"The lady in the bar on Vermont told me maybe it would help if I went to the newspapers," she said.
The she introduced herself. Her name was Mary.
She was short and skinny and looked a lot younger than the 26 years she admitted to.
"I don't know if you can," she continued. "Maybe it's just silly for me to come here."
Reporters have a stock line about, "Well, if there's anything we can do, we'll certainly try." I gave it to her.
She accepted it.
Then, the formalities over, she told me:
"I gave my baby away and I want it back."
"Gave it away?"
"I did," she repeated. "I really didn't want to, but people kept telling me it was better. They said it would be brought up better, with a good education.
"You see," she added. "I wasn't brought up too good. I guess that's what they figured."
"Who did you give it to?" I asked.
"To the adoption people." Mary stared at the floor, hiding her wet eyes, showing only the brown roots of her bleached hair. "The county, I guess it was."
"They told you it would be better to give your baby away?" I asked.
"No, they didn't say that." She shook her head.
"Other people said it. The adoption people said I could have my baby, but I was afraid. You see, I didn't have any job. I should have asked my mother if I could have gone and lived with them, but she didn't know about my baby. She's in the East.
"But my stepfather. He's so funny. He wouldn't want any babies around."
Baby Born Out of Wedlock
I asked how long the baby'd been gone.
"I signed the papers in August. They kept talking to me every week -- the adoption bureau. They were asking me every week to make up my mind so finally I said I'd give them my baby."
In vigorous self-consciousness, the girl rubbed the back of her neck.
"I never been married," she continued. "I don't even know where the father is."
"But you know who he is?"
"No. I went with a lot of sailors. You see, at the time, I was living in San Diego."
She sat silently for a minute, still rubbing her neck.
"But I pray a lot," she began again, hopefully. "I don't really go to church on Sundays. I should but I don't have any good clothes to wear. I go in the afternoons sometimes when nobody's there.
"Now, I been praying every day."
"Did you ever see your baby?" I asked.
"Only one time, last July. Right after it was born."
The baby was "it," always "it."
She added, "I don't even remember what it looks like now. I don't know if I'd know it if I saw it."
"Was it a boy or girl?" I asked.
The girl looked at me strangely.
"It was a boy-baby," she answered, almost in anger. "But what difference does that make? It was my baby."
For the first time since she sat down, she looked me in the eye.
"You can't help me, can you?" she said. "It's too late, isn't it?"
Then she left.