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Once Hidden In Shame, 2 Mothers 'Don't Have To Lie Anymore'

Susan Mello Souza (left) and Mary Moran Murphy met as teenagers at a home for unwed mothers in Massachusetts. Decades later, the women are still friends.
Susan Mello Souza (left) and Mary Moran Murphy met as teenagers at a home for unwed mothers in Massachusetts. Decades later, the women are still friends.

In 1968, Susan Mello Souza and Mary Moran Murphy were teenagers — and both were pregnant. To keep that a secret, their families sent them to St. Mary's Home for Unwed Mothers in Massachusetts, where they lived until they gave birth.

Then, their children were placed for adoption.

"I remember being wheeled into the delivery room," Susan tells Mary on a trip to StoryCorps. "They lay you on the bed, and they strap your hands down. Then I remember the doctor coming in, and he asked me if I was going to see my baby. And I said, 'Yes.' ... I would rock her and sing to her. Oh, my God — I was so sad."

"The day I left the hospital, my mother walked me down, and we looked in the nursery," Mary says. "I didn't want to walk out and leave her. But there was nothing I could do."

Both women say their mothers never spoke of it again. "The rule of thumb was, 'It never happened,' " Susan says.

For years, Mary never told her boyfriends or doctors about her child. "I lied for the longest time," she says.

Decades later, both women reunited with their daughters. And the two friends are grateful they "don't have to lie anymore" — and that they have each other.

"That's something we'll never lose," Mary says.

Audio produced forMorning Edition by Nadia Reiman, Katie Simon and Eve Claxton.

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