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40 Year Secret, The

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Grade Level: SrH-Adult
Producer: Lemm Communications
Closed Captioned: No
Running Time: 50 mins
Country of Origin: Canada
Study Guide: No

Copyright Date: 2009
Available in French: No

The 40 Year Secret examines a very dark period of Canada's social history. The 1960s are remembered as being a very liberating time, but it wasn’t so for everybody. Almost everyone knows of a girl who “went away” and then returned, no questions asked. The secrecy of the time period was meant to protect the social status of middle-class parents and keep the illusion that “nice girls don’t have premarital sex”. The reality was that lots of young people were having unprotected sex and many were getting pregnant. There was a sexual revolution taking place.

This was an era before legalized abortion, before birth control pill, pre-AIDS and years before infertility treatments for childless couples. Feminists were fighting for reproductive freedom and the problems encountered by pregnant teens just didn’t factor into that struggle.

"The 40 Year Secret" gives a voice to young women who for the most part did what they were told by, after giving birth, signing papers putting their babies up for adoption. These girls then returned home and tried to pretend that nothing ever happened. Their ‘secret’ would haunt them for decades. Many have searched unsuccessfully for the babies they lost. Access to adoption records has been inconsistent across the country, despite years of political lobbying by groups like the Canadian Council of Natural Mothers.

Meet one couple, Linda Dawe and Raymond Cave, who were teenage lovers and had a baby girl out of wedlock. Their lives were changed forever as they were forced apart by their parents and society, whose solution was to have their daughter adopted by a ‘married couple’. Forty years later Linda and Ray met again at their high school reunion. The spark was still there so they got married and started the search for their daughter. Their goal was daunting - to find their now adult daughter and tell her just how much they’d always loved her. But they must proceed carefully on this emotional journey because they discover their daughter has no idea she was adopted. Linda’s mother, now in her 80’s, struggles with the decision she made decades earlier to send her daughter away. Memories overwhelm Linda when she returns to the maternity home she stayed at as a frightened pregnant teen. The drama unfolds as this very special couple deals with the consequences of "The 40 Year Secret".

• Broadcast on CBC's The Passionate Eye

Links: www.dundasproductions.com

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