Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Girls Who Went Away Review

Thanks to your suggestions, I just just finished reading Ann Fessler's The Girls Who Went Away. Wow! I mean wow wow. I've known I wasn't alone. The statistics prove that. My research shows that. I've been speaking and counseling for years on this topic, and it never ceases to amaze me that whenever you throw out the word 'adoption' in a room, you can just see the ripples.

Although I thought my adoption in the 1980's was hard, I had no idea what hard is. I could identify with many things the ladies had to say. The feelings they felt, the way their lives have been touched or damaged or torn apart. So many similarities.

I think the thing that struck me the most was the shame of it all. My parents claimed they loved me, yet when it came to such a pivotal time in my life and my development and my health, they rejected me. For so long the line "this is what's best for you" made me question if it wasn't the best thing for them.

About 5 years ago, the pregnancy center where I was serving connected me with a new volunteer. Guess what she told me? She talked about her own set of circumstances and the daughter she had placed with an adoptive family almost 40 years ago.

And she also said that I was the first person she had ever told besides her husband! That is still so amazing to me. The only way I've been able to get through the loss and grief and all of it is through talking, sharing, writing, and speaking. To be silenced by shame would be the worst.

I think my mom would be more comfortable if I would stop talking, to be honest. I love her and we have spent many years building our relationship, but this is a subject we just don't talk about. It's kind of awkward for me since this is what I speak about, write about and can't shut up about.

You know, when I was in graduate school, one of our projects included looking at 3 generations of our family on both sides. It was interesting having conversations with my mom and dad about the history of them and their families.

What was shocking is that when I finished, there was an obvious pattern of unwed pregnancy. My aunt is the first one I know about. She got pregnant in the late 1960's and stayed with my parents during her pregnancy. Then she went on with her life. The only reason I know is because my mom told me after finding out I was pregnant.

It was appalling to learn that I hadn't done something unique, but rather just the opposite. I had unwittingly carried on the 'family tradition' of getting pregnant without being married. No wonder my parents were so mad at me.

But it has lead me to wonder, how does that happen? What is it about the family dynamic that allows something secret like out of wedlock pregnancy to be repeated generation after generation?

Those thoughts are too much for today. This book has changed the way I view things. 
Have you read it? If so, what did you identify most with?

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1 comment:

  1. I feel for you, girlfriend. I myself ended up telling my parents after the adoption was final because the pain overwhelmed me and I wanted him back. But my mom just cried with me over the loss, and eventually came to terms with it, as I did--after quite some time. My mom supported me as best she could. However, there have been no other cases but mine in my family of unwed pregnancy. Not everyone has that experience. Just food for thought.