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June Cross' show on Frontline, "Secret Daughter" was not only a totally engaging personal story, but also a very well-made historical piece. I was very sad to see how June's mother chose her own interests time and time again; always putting her own (materialistic) goals above her daughter's feelings. Even now, this very lovely and very forgiving adult daughter NEEDS her mother's love and acceptance.

Even now, when it is safe - when the mother has financial security and the love of a nice man - she still expresses what I see as ambivalance about June, never recognizing June's pain. The mother recalls every heart-wrenching scene solely from her own vantage point. Even now, the mother is very concerned about what her friends will think of HER when the story is aired. This, like the comments toward June when she was a young child, leave a searing imprint on one's heart. Everything that I have learned from my own children adds up to this: as a parent, your children take their cue from YOU. If you are able to cope with challenges, maintain a sense of yourself and give them a strong sense of who THEY are, your children will learn to do the same.June was taught a version of shame by her mother.Her mother thinks she acted in June's best interests and maybe she did. But, the mother conveyed a powerful message to June that her racial inheritance was not only to be hidden from white society, but an active lie was imposed upon a beautiful little girl at a very young age. It was a lie that said, "This is not my daughter. She's too dark. Some black family in NY was abusing her, so I very kindly adopted her."

I kept waiting in the the two hours of "Secret Daughter" for June's mother to say how sorry and sad she was, to accept responsibility for burdening a child with the lifelong consequences of this tragic story. The mother never expressed regret in my view. I wish June every happiness. I feel pity for her mother. Even in the present, the mother is self-centered. Although I do not know June's mother, I feel shame for her.
Pasadena, CA

I have read with interest many of the comments on tonight's program. It seems to me that many of the people who were so deeply offended at the idea of a mother giving up her child could not have been alive during the time this was all happening. It was a time when having a child out of wedlock (much less an interracial child) was the worst thing a young woman could do. And it wasn't just the white folks who had problems accepting interracial dating, relationships and babies. (I do believe June said her dad's mother wouldn't see her either.)The men, of course, were never held responsible because the women always were the ones who had to control not only themselves, but the men too. After all wasn't it Eve who gave in to the serpent and enticed Adam to eat that apple? Anyway, to get back to June and her mother.

I believe that her mother tried to do the best she could under the circumstances and whether we want to face it or not, if we had been in the same boat during those times, we would probably have done it too. It also seems to me that June has come out of the experience with a lot more on the ball and an understanding and acceptance of her and her mother's circumstances than the viewers who now sit in judgement of the situation. Hindsight is always 20/20. Thank you, June for a loving and insightful look into your world. Hopefully this program has opened some eyes about what it was like for all of us to live in those times. Judging from some of the comments made by other viewers it doesn't seem to have gotten much better.
Berkeley, CA

I tuned into this documentary after reading the write-up about it in the Star Ledger. I think it was extremely well done. I found June Cross' willingness to forgive her mother commendable. But there is an unaddressed issue here. Norma Cross abandoned her Caucasian son as well as her black daughter. The real tragedy here is the fact that Norma's motivation as to the abandonment of both her children had more to do with expediency than race. She appears to have been a woman who wanted no real strings. She is to be commended, in a sense, for recognizing this personality flaw. She gave both children away and both have turned out to be upstanding and successful individuals. However, even now, within her segment of the documentary, she seems unable to connect emotionally with anything she has done. Larry Storch comes across as far more emotionally involved with Norma's children than Norma does. On a somewhat separate note, I hope we hear more from June Cross!!
Barbara Dennis
New Jersey

As always, Frontline presented and interesting and challenging program about a relevant issue. Although I can appreciate June Cross' feelings concerning her belief that she was betrayed, I felt from watching the program that her mother made a genuine effort to keep her family together. It always astounds me how black people act as though the concerns, sensibilities and pursuit of racial justice that exist today have always existed. I agree with others who think that it was June's mother who was truly courageous. I think the self-righteous dismissal of her mother's pain and trauma is truly insensitive. I applaud her mother for making the effort to give her to a family that allowed June to become the woman she is today as opposed to dumping her on a street corner or leaving her with a church or orphanage. My strongest sympathy went out to this young woman who had defied society and in return was outcast and isolated to such a point that men could stand around and watch her be beaten with a child and do nothing. I am also dismayed that much less blame seemed to be put on the father who did not seem to put a lot of effort into finding his child or an objective acknowledgement that he was the catalyst for a lot of the subsequent tragedy that followed. No one is in a position to judge either June Cross or her mother but I will say, June, try walking in someone else's shoes before condemning them.
Waltham, MA

I found Frontline's Secret Daughter interesting. I felt June's mother was very ignorant about some important issues in raising a child. Yes, June's mother raised June under some different circumstances and at a different time. Yet, even as she was interviewed on the show, her ignorance shown through. For instance, at one point she said something along the lines that it would be better for June to live with blacks because she wouldn't get in June's way, and June wouldn't get in her way. Of what relavance is the last portion of that statement? Whose decision was it to engage in activities that can result with the birth of a baby? Clearly, June's mother's child rearing abilities had been learned from June's grandmother who apparently treated her daughter in a similar way. But towards the end of the show, I became angry for an entirely different reason. In one of June's many discussions comparing blacks to whites, she said something about how whites treated blacks a certain, racist way. Excuse me? I don't recall the exact words but what could be more of a racist statement than to talk about what all whites think. I'm always angered by racists and, at times, June seemed to come across as one herself. I just wonder if such attitudes could be a result of the things she missed as a child.
Jonathan Wood
Irvine, CA

I was happy to see all the other messages posted in praise of Secret Daughter. I too was entranced for 2 hours last night and amazed at June's courage to dig this deeply into her own and her mother's psyches. What a horrible, painful way to grow up. I really wanted to blame Norma or be angry with her at the very least. But I think that in the end she proved herself a loving mother within the constraints of her times, her culture, and all the pressures around her. I'm not saying that I think she did the right thing. But at least in my mind, there was some sympathy for the incredibly difficult decision she made. In any event, we can only hope that society changes, that whites become more tolerant (of everyone) and that eventually we all become color blind so that people don't have to face ridiculous outside pressures that force them to cover up for their lives. Thank you to June and to PBS for this really wonderful show.
Chapel Hill, NC

After viewing your frontline piece i felt compelled to rave concerning its contents. You are truly an inspiration to the human race, and especially to our black community. I realyy want to stress a comment that you made during the program. You said (in so many words), that you are thankful that you were not raised by your birth mother. You should be!!! With all due respect, your mother could be the poster "adult" for total disfunction!!!! I was especially struck by her total admittance of self centeredness. All her life, it seems that she has focused on furthering herself, and she had very little time for her responsibilities. You are truly a saint for even associating with her today. I imagine it helps you with the healing. I however, do not (unfortunately) possess your tolerance of persons such as your mother. Once again, kudos for a job well done, June.
Craig A. Smith

P.S. You did not elaborate much on why your relationship with aunt peggy deteriorated towards the end of her death. What is the story behind that? Thanks.

I was riveted by June's story and very impressed by her braveness to pursue the truth about her life. I really felt that the racial aspect of the situation was a small portion of her mother's inability to be mother. She treated her son the same and sent him off to boarding school when he was only four! What kind of mother sends her child off to boarding school at four? I am so surprised that June and her brother turned out so well. I do agree with June's aunt whom she went to visit in the hospital that Norma must have gone off the edge in her life. She did seem to live a very wild life for that time and I think she thought only of herself. I applaude June! She teaches us a lesson, we all have tensions in our family but the thing that matters the most is that we can have a loving relationship with our parents. In the end it is all that really matters.
Stockton, CA

An excellent show, as was Lena Horne and Nat King Cole on previous evening. Wonder if June Cross saga is more about failure of a mother to meet her responsibilities, than race. My wife and I have been married 27 years. Bore and raised a 26 bi-racial son, who is and considers himself black. Lived on Army installations for seven of his developmental years. Our view was that choice of mates was our personal business, and society could take it or leave it. Can't understand the importance which June's mother placed on the acceptance of "friends." Most of our lives are monopolized by work and immediate family.
Louis J. Beasley, Jr
Reston, VA

I saw Secret Daughter last night on PBS and I had mixed feelings about what I saw. I can understand June's desire to produce this movie as it was an riveting human interest story. However, I cannot understand why she could not get angry at her mother.

I totally disagree with the opinion that June's mother gave her up for her own good. I think that this was a sign of weakness on her mothers part. Fitting in with society was more important than being strong for her daughter. Yes her life would not have been easy, but she willingly made the decision to cross racial boundaries, sadly she was not as willing to deal with the consequences. In the end her daughter paid the price.

June on the other hand, seemed to be seeking approval from her mother. It was astonishing the way June laughted when her mother expressed the fact the she did not abort her pregnancy because of the lack of money. In essence I believe that she still has some issues to deal with. I think that If June's mother accepted her responsibilities as a mother, she would not be so totally clueless about her daughter's experiences as a black person in America. I would have liked to hear her tell her daughter that she understood her feelings and was sorry for her mistakes.


I watched the program last night and have thought about it all day today. Anger and sadness alternate in my heart. We always love our mothers so much. We want so much for them to love us and accept us. I saw this over and over in the piece. It was in June wanting her mother's love and it was in Norma repeatedly saying her mother never accepted her (Norma). If Norma felt it was better for June to be raised by the black family, why not cut ties completely and let them adopt June? There was so much information in the piece yet there seemed to be chunks missing: June seems close to her brother. When did they spend time together? It didn't seem that they had ever had extended time to be together unless this was part of the 'visitation' life spent on summer vacations? Why was Storch disinherited? Mention is made then 'we're getting ahead of the story' but never went back. What was June's life like at Harvard? And did she get there with support from her mother? How distant could her mother have been.

I have watched this show twice, and I cannot fathom why June isn't angrier with Norma. If Norma had really cared for her daughter, she wouldn't have given her this disorienting yo-yo life, back and forth between the African American world that both welcomed and nurtured her, and the white world of her mother's chosen life -- let me stress, this is the world and the life and the *persona* her mother chose! -- that rejected the essence of this beautiful child. Wouldn't it have been healthier for June to be raised in the loving and empowering arms of her adopted family and exended community, instead of leaving that world over and over again for the harsh and self-centered rejection of her "true" mother?

Maybe Jimmy did the right thing: he gave her up entirely. Norma was too selfish to do the right thing for her daughter. It's a miracle June has turned out so well with a mother as thoughtless, cruel and fundmentally bigoted as Norma. Some would say Norma is a product of her generation and her upbringing. I can't deny that. But look how her selfishness cut to the core of June, whether June acknowledges it or not in the film. It breaks my heart. It simply breaks my heart. I'd love to see an objective FRONTLINE producer's treatment of this story as a follow-up.
Atlanta, GA

I really enjoyed this show. I watched it because of the article about it in the Washington Post. It was engrossing and moving (I even stayed up past my bedtime!). Both June's and Norma's situations and feelings were understandable given given the times and circumstances. I found it interesting that in spite of her fears of the secret coming out and how the society of the time would react, that Norma maintained regular contact with June. Though that can't necessarily make up for what they missed in their relationship, I think it says a lot for the love that she has for June. After all, I think June's half- sister's life was probably the more common outcome in those days. The situation created by Norma's fears of acknowleging June reminded me of another show I watched recently about Irish babies that were taken away from their unwed mothers and set to the U.S. for adoption. It was sad that while some of the women didn't mind that people knew what happened and were actually looking for their children, others, even today, didn't want anyone to know. Though the reason for their fears was different (not race but the stigma of unwed motherhood), it was still based it the fact that they had violated their society's values. In both cases, the children and their mothers can't have the life or relationship that they are entitled to.

I found this presentation to be incredibly though provoking and powerful. I applaud June for diligently searching her roots and finding out who she is. I cannot understand, however, her mother's obvious preoccupation with the difference of her skin and that of her daughters. I don't feel she did the right thing by giving her up-she allowed racism to come between her and her daughter-I thought blood was thicker than water. Regardless of this, June has presented herself as a very strong, intelligent, individual. Bravo!

As I read through the viewers frequent criticism of Norma, I noticed no one was particularly concerned about the behavior of June's father--he didn't marry June's mother, or the mother of his other daughter, also white, or the woman identified as his common-law-wife. He was an abusive alcoholic. Yet many viewers criticized Norma for letting someone else raise her daughter. I'm an adoptive parent, and I believe that a woman can have both her own best interests and the child's best interests at heart when she makes that difficult decision. It was a wonderful show and I thank Frontline and June Cross for giving us the opportunity to see it.
Columbus, OH

I really enjoyed June Cross's program. As a white mother of three grown bi-racial children my heart ached for June. I know that life would have been hard for Norma but June was her child and I can't say that I understand how she could not keep her. It almost seemed more cruel to visit Norma "under cover" and then to go home again. I wish she would not be so accepting of her mothers decision. I think her mother should be forgiven but there needs to be more talking done! June did not deserve this treatment. June has certainly become a wonderful young woman and should be very proud of herself.
Sue Nettro
Elkhart, IN

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