I read this book last night. Yup. The entire book. Bought it at 7 pm and finished it around midnight.
It’s not long. I had already read the New Yorker essay so I knew the general topic of the book.
I have mixed thoughts on it. It felt (and I feel after reading it) so fractured.
I did not find it hugely emotional for me (unlike many other adoption books I read) but my adoptee friends say it is for them. I suppose this makes sense since it is written by an adoptee.
I closed the book feeling incomplete – like the author held back something, did not tell the entire story, or maybe was a bit numbed in writing it. It felt less emotional or direct than I would expect it to be. Sure, there were some very emotional passages that at times made me choke up but overall I did not find it deeply stirring or emotional. It felt like she was being very cautious in her words. Trying to not be to negative, too emotional, to be pro or anti adoption. There maybe reasons for this (if it’s true) but as such it lacked something for me.
Very hard to explain.
I felt bad for her. If her natural parents were indeed as wacky as she writes about them, it must have been terrible.
I felt bad for her natural mother. Her experience of loss seemed to be glossed over. The damaging affects of the loss were obvious but the experience was lost. Perhaps that is because the author never really discussed it with her mother or simply did not feel it added value since the book was a memoir and about her experience, not her mothers.
I was left wondering what her adoptive parents really felt or thought about the experience. The author did not talk much about them at all or their feelings. Was that intentional or was she holding something back? Or protecting her adoptive parents?
I wanted to hunt down Norman myself when I got the DAR/DNA section. Grr. That made me seriously angry. I cannot imagine what it was like to be in her shoes. I felt sorry for her mother and I detested her father.
I got rather lost on the genealogical components towards the back. Same holds true for Grandmothers table. How did that help her? Did she walk away feeling more connected and more integrated once she had done all the family history research? I could see that might be the case. I don’t know if she came right out and stated it. Perhaps I overlooked it. It would have been close to midnight by the time I hit that section. I remember reading a review of the book that alluded to what I felt in reading it. The author started out great and then the last sections of the book lost a bit of momentum. Seemed misplaced. Perhaps she could have ended it with the section where she goes through her mothers belongings. That was powerful and that part I felt.
I read one review on iRead that stated that natural parents were “the typical self absorbed types and made it all about them”. That kind of stung me. I would guess that reviewer was maybe an adoptee or someone with no real knowledge of the trauma experienced by mothers and fathers who lose their children.
I agree that the author’s mother had issues with boundaries but I also understand the mothers deep need to reconnect with her child and to be pushed so far away and held at a distance. It is not easy. If you are not educated on reunion, adoptee psychology, etc. you could very easily screw the entire thing up with your own needs. As mothers who had everything taken away from us – many times against our will with incorrect or no information on the damage done by adoption, its often hard to balance the overwhelming primal desire to have our children with the reality that by the time we find them they are not what we fantasize about. Even harder to realize they want nothing to do with you when you want everything to do with them. It can be a rude wake up call. Some handle it better than others.
I was pleased that the author developed some compassion for her mother after her death. I hope somehow, in the afterlife, mother was able to feel and see that.