Since the 1992 publication of Butterbox Babies, the Ideal Maternity Home in Chester, Nova Scotia, has become synonymous with illegal adoptions and suspicious baby deaths. Much attention has been giving neglect of infants at the Home, the exorbitant fee paid by adoptive parents and the secretive nature of transactions.
But what became of the children who were adopted? What effect did their shaky beginnings have on their lives? Were they loved and cherished, or mistreated and ignored? Did they feel like “family”? did they always wonder who they were?
In this comprehensive book, author and Survivor Robert Hartlen has compiled the personal stories of thirty-six of the adult adoptees who survived the Ideal Maternity Home. Here we share in their most private memories and experiences: the painful struggles to come to terms with being adopted, the epic searches to find birth families, and the heartening sense of a surrogate family many adoptees found in many fellow Survivors. Also included are stories of some of the birth mothers who gave up their children, and some of he adopted mothers who claimed the babies as their own.
Underlying all the stories is the terrifying realization that except for an act of fate, or of grace, these Survivors might have shared an unmarked grave with their innocent fellow infants known and remembered as the “Butterbox Babies.”
At once uplifting and disquieting, these stories not only force us to confront a painful chapter in Nova Scotia’s history, but also challenge us to reconsider the whole notion of “family.”