The Story of Miriam Maynard
My birth mother, Alice Golden Maynard, was estranged from her husband when she gave birth to me in Cleveland, Ohio in 1941. Alice’s husband had taken her two eldest children, left her with the youngest daughter, and run off. I believe she was lonely and vulnerable and may have had an affair with a married man. She mentioned him when I met her in 1995 and the last time I saw her before she died. The veracity of this story is unknown, and she may have feared societal judgments since she had been impregnated by a man other than her husband. She and her youngest daughter went to live with her father after she became pregnant. The husband was long gone with the two older girls and she was unable to support herself and the little girl, then about five years old.
Alice named me Miriam Maynard and placed me for adoption at birth. I spent the first eight months of life in a Cleveland orphanage, until I was officially adopted in Summer 1942 (then about fourteen months old) by a woman named Ellen and my Dad, named Fred. They renamed me Marianne, maintaining some semblance to the name bestowed by my birth mother. Ellen told me when I was young that both my parents had died in an accident on the Fourth of July.
I did not begin looking for my birth mother until Fred died in 1992. I began by writing letters that were sent via “Find People Fast.” I eventually took a teaching job in Henniker, New Hampshire– which was near where Alice was living in Franklin, New Hampshire. Although teaching there for only a nine month sabbatical replacement, this is the time I chose to reignite my search. Through the assistance of a woman active in the Garfield Heights, Ohio historical society who knew my maternal birth-grandfather, I was led to Alice in New Hampshire — about fifteen miles away. At first she rejected my request to be in touch, as she feared telling her three other daughters about me, but she changed her mind. I wrote the following poem-prose piece in a rage upon hearing about the Dobbs decision in Summer 2022. I am sick and tired of people telling me that I should be ‘grateful’ and assuming that, because I am an adoptee, I should be opposed to abortion. I am tired of folks romanticizing adoption. I am a pro-choice adult adoptee.
She didn’t care whether she was born or not
In 2022 you may care but she didn’t in 1941
Because her life has been less than idyllic
And you only wanted her to be born so that you could pretend you are
Holier than thou………..
Even though we know you attack women whenever you can in every way you can.
You pretend that God is on your side when the
Only God you know is white
When Jesus Christ was a mideast socialist Jew.
No, you do not want to recognize that
Because to do so would invalidate you and your power.
I exist as a white woman born to a white woman
When white women were ashamed to be pregnant outside marriage.
NO MORE! The young women don’t care what you think
And they are so bereft of love that they will not put the babies up for adoption
As you believe they should. You will not love or care for them so they are desperate.
But you don’t care. Do NOT say to me, “If abortion had been legal in 1941, where would you be?”
I do not care. Miriam Maynard does not care. You really do not care but you want to control
the poor Alices of the world who had to give birth to the Miriam Maynards of the world,
IF these Alices had money, they could be shipped off to Europe but if the money was limited,
they could go to a “home for unwed mothers.”
There they could be primed to believe they were “doing the right thing” by putting the little
Miriams up for adoption.
But some Alices had NO money and their parents had no money so they had to hide. They hid
everything and sometimes they had to forget it all.
Like my Alice, they could totally forget: forget the baby’s weight, length, and birth date.
Because to remember would cause too much pain.
Do NOT EVER say to me, “where would you be if abortion had been legal in 1941?” I do not care.
- Written on the occasion of the Dobbs decision in 2022