During 1974 and 1975, Lee Campbell went to several meetings of an adoptee support group in Massachusetts. Lee believed that, while adoptee meetings were very important for parents who had lost their children to adoption, she thought they could grow even stronger and could better resolve their particular (and unique) losses and issues by meeting separately. Mary Anne Cohen and Susan Darke, who regularly attended the adoptee meetings with Lee, agreed with her.
Mary Anne wrote a “Letter to My Sisters,” which she asked adoptee groups to help her disseminate. Meanwhile, Lee posted a letter to a women’s section of the Boston Globe called “Confidential Chat.” In this letter, Lee invited mothers to be in touch with her if they, like her, had been unable to forget their children. Lee wrote to each new contact, and had especially active communication with Joanne McDonald, Gail Hanssen and Kathy Leahy.
Betty Mattson, the facilitator of the adoptee meeting, urged Lee to create a name for her fledgling group. From this brainstorming emerged Concerned United Birthparents, Inc. (CUB).” At the same time, Lee coined the term “birthparents,” hoping to forge a cohesive identity that mothers and fathers with children missing in adoption could rally around. Within days, and quite by chance, CUB’s mother bear/cub logo was literally and innocently placed in Lee’s hands by the librarian at the elementary school where Lee worked.
Lee planned a meeting in her small Cape Cod village to test birthmothers’ interest and resolve. The meeting was held in mid-July 1976 in the basement of a Catholic church — named, of all things, “The Immaculate Conception.” Only three other people joined Lee at this first meeting: Kathy Leahy and her husband, an attorney, and a social worker from an agency on the upper Cape. But by October of that year, CUB was legally incorporated, making CUB the first organization in the world to support and advocate for birthparents.
During CUB’s first nine months, Lee was “in the closet,” using the pseudonym “Lenore (Lee) Hatch.” Without realizing the incongruity of her alias, Lee soon “hatched” from her shell, risking her job, her banker-husband’s “image,” and the taunts she was sure the two sons she was raising would endure. While some of Lee’s concerns materialized, others did not. But during CUB’s first decade, Lee and her unique band of sisters held on tight through personal and organizational rollercoaster waves of astonishing — and serendipitous — high peaks, which were often followed by sharp and queasy plummets.
Recently, Lee collected more than 10,000 pages of early CUB history for the women’s activist center of the Schlesinger Library at Harvard, which plans to archive them in 2015 for posterity. Meanwhile, CUB funded, at considerable cost, the digitization of 4,000 pages of this collection to upload on this website for you. Access to these materials is available upon your log-in, if you are a paid CUB member (see tab: “Join Us”), or if you are a professional who pledges to further the study, or widen the understanding, of birthparents and adoption reform (contact Lee Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you want the highlights told in a compelling yet easy read, Lee has also narrated her own and CUB’s backstory: “Stow Away: They told me to forget and I did. Now my memory has mutiny in mind.” She also narrates CUB’s early history in her follow-up book, “Cast Off: They called us dangerous women. So we organized and proved them right.” Both books are available in print through http://www.amazon.com/Stow-Away-forget-memory-mutiny/dp/1482082837 or in e-book format at Amazon or through your favorite e-book vendor. Be sure to Review the books after you read them to encourage interest in birthparents and CUB’s work.
Finally, some videos showing CUB’s early televised publicity and one of Lee’s keynote speeches are in the process of being uploaded to CUB’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/CUBAdoptionVideos/feed. Please leave a Comment!
Whether you revisit CUB’s early history through the thousands of artifacts on this website, or read about us in Lee’s books, or view some videos on YouTube channel, you will be pleased and proud to learn how hard CUB has worked on behalf of adoption reform for almost 40 years. During your trips back in time, ask yourself what has changed and what work you would like to see get done. Then JOIN US so we can FINISH UP!