Difficult decision was best for all

Published 5:06 pm Thursday, August 4, 2022

SHERRON WESTERFIELD

Contributing columnist

My son was born in 1962 at Quantico, Virginia where his father was serving in the U. S. Marine Corps. We lived in base housing for enlisted personnel on a cul-de-sac surrounded by other young families. When he was six months old, one of my neighbors and I drove into Washington, D.C. to look for work. We both hoped to earn extra money for our young families.

My husband and I had only one car and I did not yet know how to drive. I would have to carpool with someone in order to work away from home. Happily, we both found jobs within just a few blocks of each other. I was hired to work in the dean’s office at George Washington University Law School. Another neighbor on our cul-de-sac had a baby about the same age as my son and she was happy to become his babysitter.

Working at GW opened a new life for me of interesting people and new responsibilities.

One of my coworkers was a sweet woman about my age who was single and away from her family in another state for the first time in her life. Julie and I were fast friends and enjoyed getting to know each other during lunch and coffee breaks. About three months later, Julie confided to me that she was “in trouble.” She had unprotected sex with a Marine who was transferred out of the area and now she was pregnant. She could not tell her parents or her two brothers. And she would not even consider finding an abortionist.

Julie learned of a Florence Crittenden Home for Unwed Mothers right in D.C. After considering what few options she may have had, she decided to disappear for a few months into that home. She would be welcomed in secrecy and at no cost to her. Julie would deliver her baby, also at no cost to her, but then relinquish the child for adoption. All details would be arranged by Florence Crittenden.

Before anyone could guess that Julie might be pregnant, she asked her supervisor at the law school for a leave of absence for about 6 months. Some family member was ill or dying and Julie wanted to go be with that person to help during that sad time. During her absence, Julie occasionally sent short letters to her co-workers at the law school. That perpetuated the ruse. She would say she missed us and her former roommate. She said she wanted to return to work and her roommate. And after about six months away, she did. No one in the office ever knew her truth. Except me.

Before leaving, Julie confided her big secret to me. We exchanged short letters during her time away. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl and made arrangements to return to her job and apartment. Julie was welcomed back to the office and seemed her same ol’ cheerful self. Julie trusted me and asked me to go with her to court when she had to sign papers allowing a couple to adopt her child.

I took off work to support Julie in that most difficult day. She cried. I cried. Friends forever guarding a deeply painful secret.

Three years later, I attended Julie’s wedding to a very nice young man who was a law student. We kept in touch through the years. She and her husband moved to Maryland and had two sons. Meanwhile, my husband and I divorced. My son and I moved to Houston, TX where my mother and brothers were living. I never saw Julie again.