I would like to gather personal adoption stories about others' personal accounts and experiences with the "Protestant Home for Babies." This page will be dedicated to these stories. Anyone is welcome to share. You can remain anonymous or post adoption information to aid in a search and possible reunion. If you have already been reunited, please share your story!

Please send me an e-mail with your "Protestant Home for Babies" story. If you wish to include specific information regarding your adoption so someone can find you, make sure to include your contact information and check back here to regularly to keep your information current.

* I have had several requests for posts from birth mom's that stayed at Protestant Home for Babies!

Linda Pendergast - A Birthmother's Story

I am a reunited birthmother from Protestant Home for Babies (New Orleans, LA).  My son, Kenny Tucker, was born on November 16, 1968 at what was then Southern Baptist Hospital on Napoleon Avenue.  I had entered PHB in early July, 1968 from my parents’ home in Picayune, Mississippi.  I had just completed my second year of nursing school at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS.  I had met Kenny’s birth father, Chuck Pendergast, at the beginning of my second year in school (Fall of 1967) and we were very much in love.  He was eligible for the draft (Viet Nam era) and sure enough, in the Spring of 1968, he received his draft notice.  Around the same time, I was beginning to suspect I was pregnant.  Chuck wanted to get married, but I was so afraid he would be sent to Viet Nam and never come back that I didn’t think marriage was the right thing to do.  I really didn’t know what to do.  It was a time of real desperation.  When I told my mother in May 1968 that I was pregnant, she immediately set the wheels in motion for me to go to PHB and “give my baby up for adoption.”  By that time, Chuck was already gone to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.  And so, I went to PHB.

Life at PHB was very much like living in a girls’ dormitory, except we didn’t go to school.  We spent our days doing chores, talking, playing cards, talking, doing chores, playing cards……….over and over and over. We played so much Canasta, that I have never played it since.  I don’t recall a television, but there was most likely one there.  I think we all felt so disconnected from the world in general and so isolated, that we had no interest in watching TV.  Maybe we really didn’t even have one…..maybe it was intentional to keep us isolated.  We listened to the radio a lot, though…..House of the Rising Sun, Hey Jude, and of course, Love Child.  All of those songs elicit strong feelings of nostalgia when I hear them now. We all had chores to do, assigned on a weekly basis. Examples of the chores were sweeping, dusting, dishes, setting the table, cleaning the stairs and banisters, cleaning the bathrooms.  We all kept our own rooms clean.  How many girls were assigned to each of the upstairs bedrooms depended on the size of the room.  You were assigned upstairs until you were closer to the end of your pregnancy and then you moved downstairs to the large room which accommodated about six twin size beds.  It was a privilege to move to that room because it was air conditioned and had a larger bathroom with a tub, rather than a shower.  It was quite hot upstairs in July, August and September.  The “living areas” downstairs were also air-conditioned.  I think they were called the parlors and were two rooms adjacent to one another.  One had a dining room sized table where we played all those card games.  The table wasn’t big enough to seat us all for a meal.  Meals were served in a room adjacent to the kitchen.  We also had a little sun porch, where we hung out a lot.

My best friend at the home was Nancy.  We usually volunteered to wash pots and pans (one of the least favorite jobs), but we enjoyed doing it together.  And, boy, were there a lot of pots and pans.  There were usually no more than 12 – 16 girls in residence at any one time.  But there was a cook who prepared the noon day “big” dinner for the agency staff and the residents.  I wish I could remember the cook’s name…the noon meals were delicious ….lots of good ‘ole southern and soul food cooking.  She made the best fruit cobblers!!!  We never went hungry, that’s for sure.  The housemother’s name was Ms. Davis.  There was also a house manager, but I don’t recall her name.  She lived at the top of the stairs on the second floor and we were all a bit frightened of her.  She kept the pantries under lock and key so that we wouldn’t “raid the kitchen” at night.  Evening meals were usually leftovers from the noon meal or something cold and light.  The house manager trusted Nancy and I, so she usually sent us for the daily produce from a store on Magazine St.  We enjoyed getting out and walking the several blocks to Magazine.  We were never allowed to go anywhere unless we went in two’s.  And we really weren’t allowed to go anywhere unless it was to “clinic” or unless we were sent to the store or to the mailbox.  “Clinic” was the outpatient maternity clinic at Southern Baptist.  Whoever had to go to clinic that week all went on the same day.  We would walk down Eighth St. to St. Charles and take the streetcar to Napoleon.  From there we either walked or took the bus to Southern Baptist.  We sometimes had lunch somewhere around the hospital before going back to the home.  And we always went inside K&B at the corner of St. Charles and Napoleon before catching the streetcar back to Eighth.  Clinic took up most of the day!  I only remember two major outings when we all went together somewhere.  Once we went to see Gone with the Wind at a movie theater and another time we went to a restaurant with a private dining room for dinner.

I had some really good friends at the home and enjoyed their company ………Jane from Texas, Ellen from Tennessee, Mary and Carrie from New Orleans, Nancy, Pat and Mary Sue from Baton Rouge, Norma from Atlanta, and Imogene are the ones I remember most. We really only had each other.  We could only make one phone call a week that I recall and couldn’t receive phone calls.  The staff really didn’t have much to do with us, unless there was a problem.  They were in the one-story building next to the main house.  We didn’t receive any counseling or preparation for childbirth.  When we went into labor, Ms. Davis took us to the hospital.  When we returned, it was usually for about a week and then we left.  The babies were kept in the agency building, but we didn’t have any contact with them.  Usually, just before we left, we were taken downtown to the “lawyer’s office” to sign the relinquishment documents.  By that time, we were so numb and exhausted, there was no fight left in us.  The end was all very depressing.  There was no joy after delivery, only sadness and extreme grief.  No excitement to go home.  Just an empty hollowness of soul and spirit.

I returned to school, but transferred to the University of Southern Mississippi.  I was able to reconnect with Chuck in the Spring of 1969.  We married while he was home on leave in December of 1969, just a little over a year after Kenny was born.  Chuck was discharged in May of 1970 and we both finished school at the University of Southern Mississippi.  Our daughter Amy was born in 1974, another daughter Alison in 1977 and another daughter Anna in 1986.  We had moved to Baton Rouge in November of 1973.

In 1993, Chuck and I divorced.  We had an unusually good relationship despite our divorce and remained friends.  He spent a lot of time with Anna.  Then in July 1997, Kenny called and our lives were changed forever.  I had always yearned for him to find us, but had started to give up hope.  I, like so many other birthmothers, thought he would find me when he reached the age of majority.  So with every passing year after his 21st birthday, I thought he either didn’t want to find me or that perhaps he had died.  I did not believe I had the right to search for him.  So, I was elated when he found us in 1997.  We met shortly thereafter and have continued a rich and loving relationship.  As a result of our reunion with Kenny, Chuck and I remarried in May of 1999 with all of our children present.  The next four years were possibly the happiest of our lives together.  Unfortunately, Chuck died suddenly in June 2003.  I am so glad he and Kenny had the opportunity to get to know and love one another. 

Kenny has a unique sibling relationship with each of his sisters and he and I continue our unique relationship as “firstmother” and son.  We will always love one another and are family, even though I am not his “mother.”  I am blessed that he had the courage and determination to find me.  I did not know about the state’s reunion registry.  I encourage all birthmothers to register.  Reunion is so healing.  Not everyone will want to form permanent relationships.  I believe, as birthmothers, that we have a responsibility to share our familial and medical histories with our relinquished children and to explain to them the circumstances surrounding their conception, birth, and relinquishment.  Beyond that, it is up to the two reuniting adults to determine what, if anything, will define their relationship.
 

Beth  - A Found Story

I was born in January of 1971. I was adopted from the Protestant Home for Babies. In February of 2005, I made my yearly rounds of checking online registries for anyone that may be searching for me. This usually lasts just a few hours. I was staying home with an infant son and had a little extra time.  I posted my information on many sites and decided to start my own website for those affiliated with Protestant Home for Babies (PHB); this was online sometime by the end of February. I have met many people touched by PHB through my site; birth moms, adoptees and siblings. It has been incredibly amazzzzzzing!

On Friday, March 11 2005, I received an e-mail from a woman and all she had to say was “I was there that day.” This came from my post on a website called cousinconnect.com, I was advertising my new PHB website everywhere. I asked this woman to elaborate and she said that she was at PHB in 1971 and may have known my birth mother. I gave her a small bit of information on my birth mother from my non-id. From there it became that she thought she was my birthmother and we continued go over the details of the non-id, birth certificate and random verbal information given to me by my mom. I would ask the questions and she would answer. She sent a picture of herself at 29 and she looked just like me. This is a moment I will never forget! Other than my daughter, I have never known any person to have my nose, eyes, eyebrows, and more. The most insane moment of a lifetime!

We weren’t 100%. A few things weren’t matching, my crib name for one! So I called the state registry and was told that most people who claim to of found their birth mom online turn out to be wrong. She warned me to be cautious and said this woman would need to register with the state in order for us to get a confirmation. On that Friday I was told that I did not currently have a match, ironically she was entering my registry into the computer when I called. A few days later the LA State Registry was able to match us after my birth mom sent her information in for confirmation. It turned out that we had in fact found each other online three weeks after starting my website.

I ran into my birth sister a few months ago on myspace.com, we had previously not corresponded. Now we communicate through that site regularly.

It has been a long crazy journey and I couldn't be happier with everything! I was supposed to meet my birth-family (birth mom and her husband, two siblings, aunts and uncles, dogs and pigs) when Hurricane Katrina hit. We will be meeting March 2006!

"The Internet will reveal all!"

 

Adoption privacy is target of bill

La. adoptees group wants law loosened

Monday April 28, 2003
By Joan Treadway
Staff writer

Kenny Tucker, 34, a paralegal in a downtown law office, remembers how he ran into a virtual blockade eight years ago when he became curious about his birth parents and his early history before he was adopted.

It took him two years and some expert guidance through cyberspace before he learned that his biological parents lived in Baton Rouge and that he had three sisters. Tucker finally met his birth family in 1997 and became as close to them as he is to his adoptive parents in Meraux.

But neither set of parents knew much about his first year of life at New Orleans' Protestant Home for Babies. He had to pay a $125 legal fee and obtain a juvenile court order before he could get his original birth certificate and his records from the home. When he got the package in 2000, he learned he had had a hernia operation as an infant, which delayed his adoption. He also got a treasured bonus: two pictures of himself as a baby. "I don't want anyone else who was adopted to have to go through that process," Tucker said.

To that end, as a leader of an organization called Louisiana Adoption Advocates, Tucker has helped draft a controversial bill before the Legislature that would give adult adoptees easy access to their early history. His 100-member group primarily includes adults who were adopted as children, but also has adoptive parents and social workers.

The proposal, Senate Bill 941, was sponsored by Sen. Lynn Dean, R-Caernarvon, and is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday by the Senate's Judiciary A Committee.

It would allow adults who were once adopted to get their original birth records from the state's vital records office and also to obtain full information on their histories from the adoption agencies that handled them. Enabling adult adoptees to get all this personal history without a court order, at little or no cost, would free them from being subject to an individual judge's decision and would put them on the same footing with other Louisianians, Tucker said: "Now, we are definitely treated as second-class citizens."

But Ty Cunningham of Slidell, chairman of the Louisiana Coalition for Adoption, said that his group of 12 adoption agencies will fight the bill. "The biggest problem with it is that it violates birth parents' right to privacy," he said. Moreover, he believes such a law would lead to more abortions. A young woman who is facing an unwanted pregnancy and who wants to put her baby up for adoption might opt for abortion if she fears that her confidentiality would not be maintained, he said.

Tucker is ready to rebut.

Birth parents have privacy, in that only adoptees or their immediate families can get birth certificates from vital records workers, but they aren't entitled to "anonymity," he said. And women dealing with unwanted pregnancies could still, under state law, drop off their babies at designated "safe havens," with no questions asked, rather than have abortions, he said.

National organizations, too, are entering the debate.

The National Council for Adoption, a nonprofit organization in Alexandria, Va., opposes the Louisiana bill and probably will present its views to state lawmakers, president Tom Atwood said. He too is worried about the possibility of increased abortions despite the safe-haven law and also about invading the privacy of birth parents. They sometimes have strong reasons for wanting continued confidentiality, such as when the child was conceived during a rape, he said.

The Louisiana bill would give birth parents a chance to file a form with the state registrar, indicating whether they want to be contacted by their adult children, but this is "meaningless" since adoptees will know their identities and could override their wishes, Atwood said.

Yet Joe Kroll, executive director of the North American Council on Adoptable Children, a nonprofit organization based in St. Paul, Minn., said his group fully backs the Louisiana bill. And he is gratified that Tucker has printed out his group's policy statement on the issue to use as ammunition: "It's a basic human right to know who you are and where you came from."

The abortion argument "doesn't hold water," Kroll said. The trend among mothers who put children up for adoption is toward more openness, not greater secrecy, he said. Birth mothers are opting for open adoptions, where they may even meet the adoptive parents, when they have a choice; they won't choose abortions because they're denied confidentiality, he said.

Five other states already have enacted similar laws, Tucker said. Oregon's law has been in effect almost two years and has not generated "the upset we anticipated," said Kathy Ledesma, the state's program manager for adoption services. Negative reaction had been expected, because some birth parents had sued unsuccessfully to stop the law from taking effect, claiming it would violate their privacy.

Since the law was implemented, more than 7,000 adults have sought and obtained their birth records, she said. And of 452 "contact preference forms" filled out by birth parents, the great majority, 344, said that they wanted to be contacted by their children, while 80 said they didn't want contact at all and another 28 said to contact them only through an intermediary.

"The record speaks for itself," she said.