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
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
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.
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!
Internet will reveal all!"
|Adoption privacy is target of bill
La. adoptees group wants law loosened
Monday April 28, 2003
By Joan Treadway
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
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
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
"The record speaks for itself," she said.