IOWA — Forty-nine years ago, Jane Metcalf was unmarried and pregnant.
“You either became a single mom or got married or you adopted your child out,” she remembers, “and usually if you were unwed you were considered a bad girl back then, so you went into hiding.”
Jane’s parents sent her 100 miles away to a home for unwed mothers.
“My family told family and friends that I had gone to live with my sister in another town. That’s what people did.”
It was the tail end of a period called “The Baby Scoop Era” that started in the late 1940s and continued through the early 70s. Millions of women experienced what Jane describes.
“The housemother took me to the hospital, got me signed in and then you were on your own. This is 1970. I was in a tiny beige hospital room with pictures of Jesus on the walls and nothing else. Just a nurse coming in to see how much you were dilated. It was horrifying. They put a mask over my head and pushed me into the delivery room and told me to give one more push. I remember the doors pushing open. When I woke up and I was in my room alone. That was it. I never saw my son. I knew it was a healthy baby and it was a little boy. That’s all I knew. I think I was kind of numb because I knew what decision I had made, so there was a certain amount of numbness and there was nothing I could do.”
Jane says she made the choice on her own and she’s never hidden it. She told her husband Steve when they started dating. “I’m not afraid of being an open book. I don’t think I should be embarrassed because I didn’t do anything wrong. I thought he should know because if my son comes knocking at the door, don’t be surprised!”
Her son didn’t exactly come knocking at the door. He sent an email. “I couldn’t believe it!” Jane practically shouts. “It was three years ago. I didn’t do anything that night. I was numb again.”
After emailing back and forth they decided to talk on the phone. “It was like we’d known each other forever,” Jane says, “we spoke for three hours that night.”
They met a few months later and have stayed in touch ever since. Both Jane and her son Curtis say the reunion has been life-changing.
“The benefit of finding Jane is now I know why I am the way I am,” says Curtis, “now I can place all the pieces of the puzzle in the puzzle.”