The documentary The Secret of Mother Heil will premiere next week in the Chassé Theater in Breda. In this, adults talk about their lives after their mothers were forced to give up their babies at the Breda transit house for pregnant women. Eugénie Smits Van Waesberghe is one of these children. She talks about it in the Omroep Brabant program KRAAK.
She was handed over by her mother in 1964 after her birth, as happened with many children in the Roman Catholic transition home at that time. The unmarried pregnant women were left free to choose, according to Mother Heil, but in practice nothing seemed to be right.
Eugénie came into contact with her mother when she was 21. The initiative for this lay with the mother. “I think that my mother was very damaged by what happened to her. I was 21 and did not realize enough at the time what happened to me. That came later,” said Eugénie.
Later she looked up her own file and what she discovered changed everything. Her pregnant and unmarried mother came in and was written in the books as a healthy young woman of 19 with average intelligence. After a month, the psychologist came and called her compulsive, neurotic, and inept.
“They were not allowed to visit their children and later that was used against them.”
“The idea behind that is that the women were not capable and that they were not allowed to raise their child themselves. A diagnosis was put on it. Based on that, they worked towards giving up their child. They were completely aborted. If they had their baby later wanted to visit was opposed and if adoption papers were filed it was used against them, saying they had never visited their child.
“I called it criminal, but that doesn’t cover the charge.”
After the Second World War, there were many pregnant women and widows. That required shelter and that cost a lot of money. There wasn’t. “It wasn’t about the taboo at all, there was no taboo,” says Eugénie sharply. “There was a problem and it had to be solved. But that has worked out perversely. I’ve called it criminal, but that doesn’t really cover the load. It is inhumane and barbaric.”
There has been an investigation into the state of affairs within Mother Heil in Breda, but that did not go well. Now there is a new investigation with an independent commission, separate from ministries. “This month it will be revealed how the committee is composed. I am really looking forward to that,” said Eugénie.
Omroep Brabant employees Tom van den Oetelaar, Agnes van der Straaten and Bert Geeraets have made a documentary about mother salvation. It will premiere on October 9 in the Chassé Theater in Breda, where there is still tickets for sale. He can be seen on Omroep Brabant on Sunday 16 October.
Eugénie was born in a clinic for unmarried mothers and had no baby photo
Research into domestic adoption in, among others, Mother Heil must be renewed
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