Found Jennifer and Did Not Slit Wrists

I am quite confident I was aware of the book. Awareness likely came from other adoption themed blogs or perhaps even a conference I may have attended. It was familiar to me when MyBirthNameisAllison mentioned it on her Facebook thread. She liked it. As someone who is both an adoptee and a mother that surrendered a child to adoption, I tend to be a bit more interested in her opinion on this as she has a unique view into this trauma of ours. She is double whammied so to speak.   LetterstoMrsFeverfew piped up on the thread and indicated she had read it and also liked it.

I joked that I might be interested provided it would not make me slit my wrists. Since MBNA had made a remark about mothers tossing away their children, I feared it was yet another angry rant by an adoptee. Not that adoptees dont have a right to be angry or rant, but I am just tired of reading about the evil abandoner mommies. I tend to avoid those.  MBNA and Feverfew assured me it was not and that while I may cry, I likely would not slit my wrists.

A few more comments and I was hooked. I downloaded the Kindle version of the Jennifer Laucks “Found” to my Iphone Kindle app and off I went.

Took me two days to read. I started it the first day, read for an hour or so and put it down. Picked it up again yesterday and finished it.

The short version? I liked it, I cried, I gasped and I did not slit my wrists.  I really liked it. I liked Jennifer as a character, author and would likely enjoy her as a person.  I found the book balanced with valid anger, fear, anxiety, rage, confusion, paranoia, and honesty.  MBNA’s comment concerning mothers who toss away their children coupled with my previous reading of adoptee memoirs (Sara Saffian comes to mind) made me cautious. I was expecting to read another angry memoir by an adoptee who claims not to be angry but clearly is angry all the while trashing her mother and not wanting her but clearly wanting but on her terms. (In a word, Ithaka, which you can likely gather by now I did not care much for. Yet, even as I say that, I think it is important to note that I am a in completely different place than where I was years ago when I first started reading adoptee memoirs. That being said, my statements may be far more a reflection of me and my state of mind – then and now – than the memoir or the author).

As expected, many parts of Jennifer’s story pained me, both as a mother who did “that” to a child and also as a parent now and an overall compassionate person.  I was struck by her early childhood, the parents that adopted her, passed away and the type of people she was passed around too.  Clearly, surrendering mothers are not thinking of lives like Jennifer’s early one when they surrender. At least I wasnt.  All mothers considering surrender really need to read the truth of adoption, what it is like to live as an adopted person. The professionals and know it alls definitely do not paint a complete picture. (For my oh my, what would people like Janet do when they want a baby girl but cannot have one due to health problems but do have friends who can pull some strings?).

I was struck by Catherine, Jennifer’s mother. I felt Jennifer understood her and why she was the way she was (cool, distant, wanting her to be more a girlfriend than a daughter). I appreciated the compassion and understanding Jennifer showed for mothers like Catherine.  I was further struck by the synchronicity in Jennifer’s and Catherine’s lives. Fascinating stuff (have you read LaVonne Stifler?).  I appreciated the candor with which Jennifer shared her difficulties with parenting her two children and how being an adopted person contributed to that mothering – be it good or bad. I really enjoyed the last few pages where Jennifer gives an incredibly clear explanation of adoption in the USA and how it needs to change. She gets it.

Now how do we make others do the same?

On a different note, Jennifer’s books, her writings, even her Facebook page have me thinking, yet again, about reviving my own efforts at writing a memoir.   I have stopped and started this over the years. Do we really need ANOTHER adoption memoir, I ask myself? Would anyone read it?  Would I be better off writing a young adult lit  book using my story as the foundation. I took a few novel-writing classes years ago, started a few shitty drafts, and always shelved them.  Jennifer and her writings have got me thinking.

Bottom line: I recommend the book and will be reading her others as well.

11 Thoughts.

  1. Re., writing your own memoir. DO IT! Why does the world need it? 1) It’s you. 2) Your story is unique. 3) Did I mention it’s YOU????

  2. I, for one, love to read adoption memoirs and really benefit (I hope for my kid’s sakes) when I read memoirs by adoptees and mothers that surrendered their children. I need to hear your stories so I don’t fuck this up too badly.

  3. In contrast, I have read all of Jennifer’s previous books, have admired her writing for years, and have not yet read “Found.” Although I am going to. When I picked up “Blackbird” many years ago, I didn’t know she was adopted. Her writing hooked me and after I read “Still Waters.” I suggest reading them in sequence. Then, there’s “Show Me The Way,” a series of essays. For years she said she would not search, which saddened me. Then she was found. I was thrilled to hear that!

    Suz, as for you writing your memoir, I say DO IT! Mine is coming out soon, and yes, there are many, but each one if a unique voice and story. There are at least six million of us out there, that many more adoptees, and lots of public who need educating on this topic. The need will never end. And you are a wonderful writer.

    XO Denise

  4. Suz, I try to read everything I can get my hands on regarding my experience of losing my child- finally- after so many years of denying the loss to myself.
    I happened on Found, and thought it was fantastic.
    The writing is so good, spare, honest, insightful.
    Her earlier book Blackbird is the ‘before’ and her book Found is the ‘after’. Same story, different purpose. Blackbird got great reviews, I liked Found even better. Thanks for the review. I agree, I like Jennifer ALOT.

  5. I’ve been thinking a lot about the question you raised about the need for yet another adoption memoir. And yes, while there are many such memoirs, there does seem to be a gap in the collection of memoirs written by firstmothers who were in some way, shape, or form punished by their found child. You’re an excellent writer and I believe you could make a valuable contribution in this area.

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