Taking Down the Wall [Book]

I returned from vacation today. I went to London for a week. As is typical of me, prior to my excursion, I loaded up my iPad Kindle with a few books. The only one I read was Taking Down the Wall by Christine Murphy.

Christine is a found adoptee and in her book she chronicles her experience and process of integrating the many facets of her adopted and reunited life. I could go on and on about it but for now I merely want to recommend it.  Overall, what I loved most was her raw honesty in it.  I suspect my daughter feels (or felt) many of the emotions Christine expresses.  In fact, thinking to the few emails I did receive from my daughter almost ten years ago  I know for sure she does.

I recommend this book highly to mothers who have been rejected/refused/limbo’ed in reunion.

Here is the link on Amazon.

Taking Down the Wall

Here is a link to an adoptee post about the book on Lost Daughters.  Rebecca (author of said post) was the one who recommended the book to me. I am glad she did.

5 Thoughts.

  1. Suz based on your recommendation I read “taking down the wall”. I have reviewed it a little and I also read the lost daughters post. There were many things I actually did not like about the book. Though I did learn a lot too. I learned what a possibly bad reunion looks like. I learned how hurtful an adopted person could be to their very own mother who sounds like she was nothing but very loving to her daughter. I learned how my superb reunion could have been something so painful. Actually my reunion itself was very painful it took me a couple of years of serious crying to be able to have a normal conversation with my daughter. I learned about all the things I could have done wrong, in fact I learned about all the things that I did do wrong, but I wasn’t met with such hostility. I’m sure my daughter wanted to tell me a lot of times to cool it or stop showering her with love, but she didn’t and I have always been grateful. Like Christine’s, my daughter’s parents have been very kind to me. At first they weren’t so thrilled, but they were grownups and realized that reunion was important to their daughter.
    Like Christine, my raised children have been very thrilled with their newfound sister and have been nothing but enthusiastic about including her in our family. Unlike Christine, I didn’t find my daughter she found me. Maybe that is a big part of her rebuffing her mother. Often If a woman tries to find her child, the child doesn’t appreciate it and wants to do the finding. If a woman doesn’t search for her child, the adopted person wonders why not and that the mother must not care.
    In my case, I never spoke of my daughter ever or about the terrible experience of having given birth to a child I had surrendered -for 35 years. I wasn’t ready for a reunion I wasn’t prepared for reunion I didn’t know anything about reunion. How could I – I had that experience buried in a tomb of granite. I didn’t know one person who had surrendered a child. I had never heard of a successful reunion. I didn’t know how a person could “out” themselves that way. I didn’t think I would be able to take the pain. and the truth is, I almost couldn’t take the pain. But I did, it was extremely difficult, but I can say eight years into it now my daughter has been nothing but the most loving person I could have found. I do not know how a person experiences what you did Suz where your child does not want you or want to know you. I understand the feeling on “lost daughters” the idea that the baby is left. That the parents just walked away. I can imagine that it’s very difficult. I also think it’s very hard to understand what it was like back then for the mother . Why can’t a person just buck the system? Well that would’ve taken a lot more guts than I had. Christine had loving parents, they sound like fantastic people. I wish I knew them I would like them. But in many ways I think Christine was very selfish and very spoiled. She actually had a few chilly relationships even though she told us often about how people are so crazy about her. Many times in the book, when she is talking about God’s will and opening doors and God’s plan etc. etc. I just had to shake my head. I grew up Catholic, I went to Catholic school for 16 years, I know about all that. I don’t think God would have ever wanted her to treat her mother the way she did. To be so cold uncaring hurtful dismissive. To unload on her when she sent her children a gift-and many other examples of “honesty”.
    I learned a lot as I said, and I can only wish that Christine gets treated somehow someway the way she treated her mother. And maybe her brother. And maybe her mother-in-law. I hope it happens, it might be a real big wake up call. I think people always justify their own actions, I think Christine learned something, but she also does on awful lot of justification of her cruelty to her biological family. I don’t think I ever would’ve been able to stand around and take that. Her brothers sound like lovely men, and so does her mother. And so do her parents. And I think her husband is probably a saint. I forgot the most important part. I did cause my daughter a terrible amount of pain for which I have been eternally sorry. Nine years before we reconnected a social worker called me from Catholic charities asking me if my daughter’s birthdate meant anything to me. I knew nothing, and I was so terrified I could not open myself to reunion. That kind of rejection is AWFUL.
    my daughter is such a splendid woman – that I caused her that kind of misery, is forever heartbreaking.
    At the end of the book, Christine suggests using a third-party intermediary. I think that works for some people. It most definitely did not work for me. The only thing that worked for me was a personal phone call, telling me she had gotten my name from a friend, (she’d actually also hired a private investigator for plenty of money ) asking me if I had a minute to talk, a very deep breath, and her birthdate. I was floored shocked stunned. I was thrilled, and could go on for an entire book myself about what our reunion has been like. It took me months to tell anyone she had called. It’s Eight years now and, it’s possible that she would want to tell me some parameters for her own life. I’m willing and receptive. But she has never been anything but completely wonderfully generously kind and lovingly fantastic to me. One thing that helped me, in that nine year span, is that I was able to do some reading. I read “Birthbond “. I read “waiting to forget”. The little I was able to find at the time (crying in library stalls) at least helped me be open to a conversation with my daughter. It was her perseverance that allowed us to get to where we are now. Yes Suz I also read “without a map”. I thought it was also excellent. In the eight years now since my daughter called me herself, I have read many many books, talked, gone to support groups, found a support group online- that saved me for sure. Also I truly think I never would have been able to search for my daughter myself. I was too broken. I was too afraid. I don’t know what I was afraid of now, but I would almost have a breakdown if I even thought of it. It’s insanity to give away your baby. And then to be told you would forget and that they were better off somewhere else. But I digress!! I’m glad I read taking down the wall, because I learned just how bad things could be and it allows me once again to be so very very grateful that my daughter has been so generous in her love and care.

    • Katrina – Thank you for the comment! I think you highlight so clearly how conflicting, problematic, wonderful, awful, fabulous, etc. reunion is for all and yet how very different it can be.

      I am intrigued that you found Christine as you did. I found her book, her approach, her voice one of the honest, balanced, fair etc. Have you read Ithaka by Sarah Saffian or Mistresses Daughter by A.M. Holmes? If not, I encourage you. I would love to hear what you think of them. (They are not my favorites by any means).

      Yesterday I downloaded Paige Stricklands book Akin to the Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity. Will start soon.

  2. Suz I did read Ithaca and I did read A.M. Holmes’s book. I did not like them. I could tolerate Ithaca I really didn’t like the other the mistresses daughter. I didn’t like her -the author, the book itself was okay.
    I very very often recommend “without a map.”
    I loved Jennifer Laucks book “found “I am reading a group of true stories written/edited by Kate Inglis from Australia they are painful, very, I always weep when I read them, but I still learned many things from it.
    I really liked Patrick McManus’s book, “finding Patrick.”
    I liked “late discoveries”.
    I liked Evelyn Robinson’s books, because they explained to me early in my reunion about why I was so completely destroyed and afraid.
    I enjoyed English American. And “May the Circle be unbroken”, and that same smile, and others that arent popping into my head right this minute. I found it very touching when Christine in her book talks about going outside after seeing her mother and brother at a restaurant, and seeing her mother sort of fall against a wall when she thinks she has gone. I think Christine is pretty wrapped up in her own self and has very little sympathy for her mother. It would be pretty great, and a just world, if the people who want to be found and have a relationship with their surrendered child, found a person who wanted the same and full of care and at least friendship. And the ones that don’t want to be found, met up with someone who was equally dismissive and indifferent.
    I can tell you, something you already know and every woman who ever lost her baby, that I thought about her and grieved for her every single day of her life and wept over her loss. I was badly damaged by the experience and I’m better but I’ll never get over it. Nevertheless every day I’m grateful that I have what I have, and I wish it for every person who wants it, especially you.

    • i also love jennifers books and without a map. i also like Birthmothers: Women Who Have Relinquished Babies for Adoption Tell Their Stories by merry jones. i know people hate the b word but for me it was the first book i read about adoption trauma and it caused my soul to weep. to know that others felt as i did was so validating. still remains a favorite for me.

  3. I loved it too. The merry block jones book.
    I read that after the social worker called me, sitting in my car, hiding, crying, while my raised daughter was playing volleyball. It was enlightening and painful and true.

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