Mary Moran Murphy (R) and Susan Mello Souza both got pregnant as teenagers.
It was 1968, and their families, like so many at that time, wanted to keep their daughters’ situation a secret.
So Mary and Susan were both sent to Saint Mary’s Home for Unwed Mothers in Dorchester, Massachusetts. They lived there until they gave birth, and their children were placed for adoption.
The girls ended up as roommates, and at StoryCorps they remembered when they first met.
Both Mary and Susan have reunited with their daughters.
Click here for the transcript.
Susan Mello Souza (SMS): And yours was?
SMS: And mine was Stella.
MMM: We were told, "Whoever we’re going to room you with, you’re not supposed to tell them your real name." But we broke that rule [Laughs].
SMS: We did. I think the first thing we said to each other was, "What’s your real name?"
MMM: Did you remember thinking of yourself as a mother?
SMS: I didn’t until I felt the baby move, especially at night—
SMS: That was the hardest time for me. During the day we would occupy ourselves, and I didn’t think about it so much. But I remember crying most every night.
MMM: They didn’t tell us what to expect for childbirth. Anytime somebody went into labor, there was a tunnel between the home and the hospital. And that’s how they chauffeured us back and forth.
SMS: I remember being wheeled into the delivery room. They lay you on the table and they strap your hands down. Then I remember the doctor coming in and asking me if I was going to see my baby. And I said, "Yes, I was." I would rock her and sing to her. Oh my god—I was so sad.
MMM: Oh yeah. And once I gave birth I remember counting her fingers and her toes… And the day I left the hospital, my mother walked me down, and we looked in the nursery. And I didn’t want to walk out and leave her. But there was nothing I could do. And it was never discussed again.
MMM: Did your mother sit and talk to you? My mother never did.
SMS: The rule of thumb was, It never happened.
MMM: For years I never told boyfriends or doctors. How do I answer the question, “How many children have you had?" I lied for the longest time.
SMS: Mm-hmm. And here we are, 45 years later.
MMM: Mm-hmm. And it’s so nice we don’t have to lie.
SMS: Don’t have to lie anymore.
MMM: We’re lucky to have each other.
MMM: That’s something we’ll never lose.