Monday, August 24, 2015

Old Professors

In 1985, I was 21, pregnant, alone.  My parents had disowned me, pushed me aside for their country club set and stopped talking to me.  The supportive friends from my sorority and classes stepped in and helped me figure life out.

When my son was born, he was put up for adoption.  Back then, the parent did not get to meet the parents or have any contact with them. The best one could hope for was a semi-open adoption with yearly updates redacted by social services for any personally identifiable information.  However, the parent could choose the parents by reviewing their files (also redacted) and making a decision.

The first part of the process is to terminate the parental rights.  It's a legal document stating the understanding the parent has that terminating the rights is final.  It is done in court, in front of a judge without counsel.  Or at least, it was back then.

On April 16, 1986, my son was 30 days old, in foster care when I signed away my rights.  At 21, I'd been pressured by my parents to give him up... the courts, however, also require a 10-business day reprieve after signing the termination agreement to allow the parent to change the decision.

Starting April 17, 1986 I started reviewing family files the social services department had given to me, trying to decide who would raise my son.  Narrowed it down to two families and went to have dinner with a lifelong friend.

It was April 23rd or so.  The clock was ticking.  On April 30th, my rights would be terminated.  I had to choose the family.

At dinner that night, talking about the two families, my friend asked me a question, "Why are you doing this?"

I responded that I was too young (despite having had 16 year olds in my labor classes), and she quickly said, "I don't believe you.  I think you're doing this because of your mom.  This is not a puppy you're rehoming but your flesh and blood; you'd better think long and hard about this."

To which the discussion changed to, "How can I do this alone?  without help without anything while in college?"  (and failing, I might add).

Enter my psychology professor.  The one who taught me Piaget, and Erickson and the others.  The one who let me cry when I'd terminated my rights.  The one who now sat with me as I asked her, "What am I missing?  I've got a place to live, funding for school, daycare for the baby.  I have 5 days left to decide."

Dr. Jane Maddy spent probably 3 hours with  me as we mapped out everything.  Diapers, housing, food, clothing, healthcare, AFDC, school, and my life.  She supported me every step of the way through my decision ...

I kept my son.  Named him Austin.

Of course, life always throw me a curve ball.  Diagnosed with CF that summer, Austin passed away in the fall of that year.

Dr. Jane Maddy was there for that as well.  She tried to help me understand that it was not my fault, that I'd saved another family who could not have a child the horror of losing an adopted child that they'd waited so long for, that this family that I was going to choose had indeed adopted and loved their child.

Today, in trying to find old syllabai from those old schools, I found out she'd passed away 4 years ago.  My heart sunk.  In reading her obit, I was absolutely astounded at what she'd been involved with.  Way back when.

Below is her obituary.  RIP Dr. Maddy... will think of you for the rest of my life.  And by the way, THIS is how you enact change!

Dr. Jane Ellen Maddy, 79, passed away in her sleep on Tuesday, May 3, 2011.

Jane Ellen Turner was born July 19, 1931, in Centerville, Iowa, to Merle and Beatrice (Brown) Turner. She was raised in southern Iowa, graduating from Chariton High School in 1949, as valedictorian, she noted. She then attended Iowa State College, now ISU, where she graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in 1953. While there, she met the love of her life, Clarence Maddy. They were married in Chariton, Iowa, on Jan. 11, 1953, after Lieutenant Maddy returned from service in Korea.
Following brief stays in Columbia, Mo., and Fridley, Minn., the growing family moved to Duluth in 1960. Despite the joys of raising four sons, Jane was involved in several community activities such as WADSO, Congdon Park PTA and the Newcomer's Club, which she chaired for two years.
The next chapter of Jane's life was to return to her love of education. She completed her Master of Arts degree in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1968, where she then began teaching in the psychology department. She continued her own studies and received her doctorate from Walden University in 1987, with her thesis "A Study of the Impact of Social Change on the Development of Mid-life Women". She officially retired from UMD as an associate professor in the department of psychology and mental health in 1996, although was frequently asked to come back and teach some of her specialty classes such as abnormal psychology, psychology of adulthood and aging, and her favorite, the changing roles of women. She last taught college classes in 2009, at the age of 77, having literally taught thousands.
While at UMD, Jane was twice recognized for her outstanding teaching, first with the University wide Horace Morse Award for Outstanding undergraduate teaching and the Jean Blehart Award for excellence in teaching at UMD. She established the first women's studies course at UMD, later working to establish it as its own department. She served as the first chair of the UMD Women's Commission. Much of this was the result of her efforts as part of the Rajender decision which addressed the issue of employment discrimination on the basis of gender in the university system. She was the only woman on the faculty union negotiating team for the first three contracts. For these efforts, she was recognized as the UMD Woman of the Year in 2006 by the UMD Commission on Women.
Jane was also very active in the community. She was a long time member of American Association of University Women, including being the state president. She was on the board of the Women's Health Center for 10 years, and the board of the Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse. She was involved with the Human Development Center where she was past chair and still active on the HDC Foundation. Jane was an initial supporter of University Nursery School. She traveled to Peking for the International Woman's Conference as an emissary for the University. She served on the Duluth Human Rights Commission which she also chaired. In her retirement, she was instrumental in the development of the University for Seniors program at UMD, where she had continued to teach until this year. In honor of all of these efforts, she was recognized by the YWCA as a Woman of Distinction in 2010. She was a leader in the struggle for women's rights. In the 1960s and 1970s, she worked with the Greater Minnesota Women's Alliance to pass the ERA.
Even with all of these responsibilities, she was always to be found in her snowmobile suit and pack boots on the snow bank of a local hockey rink or on the sidelines or in the stands supporting her sons and then her 10 grandchildren in their many school and athletic activities. She and her wonderful group of friends were constantly at local theater and symphony events and she was a member of Chapter BY, PEO. Let's not forget being a Bulldog Hockey fan forever, or being home with her grandchildren baking and sharing recipes.
In lieu of flowers, Jane has requested that memorials be sent to the Jane Maddy Scholarship at UMD, the Jane Maddy research grant at AAUW, the Human Development Center, or University for Seniors at UMD.

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