This is my first book tour post. I must admit, I’m writing it at the last minute. I also must admit that I waited until the last minute because I didn’t really enjoy Found: A Memoir, by Jennifer Lauck and the idea of pondering it deeply (or at all) was not appealing. Having said that, I recognize the value in returning to the book and working through some of the questions; perhaps I’ll learn something about myself as I find a way to articulate my feelings about the book.
On pp 17-18, Jennifer talks about a baby searching for her mother after being born. How did this sensory-rich passage strike you? What thoughts did it trigger about the role you play in adoption?
I think this was the first moment that I started to feel negatively about the book. There was something very upsetting–and incredibly hopeless–about this passage; it made me so sad for so many parents reading it, wondering if their own child had suffered in that way. And I’m not just considering the birth parents or adoptive parents of adoptive children, but those of babies in the NICU or who are separated in the first days for some other reason.
I realize that just because I don’t want something to be true doesn’t make it untrue but I didn’t feel that the author presented any resources to back up the very serious claims made during this part of the book. I’m assuming she got this information from Nancy Verrier – the author of The Primal Wound – with whom she mentions working closely. I must admit that I didn’t research that author’s findings on the subject, but I felt that starting that section with, “What is not commonly known–although it is commons sense–is that within moments of separation from the mother, a newborn will experience outrage, panic, and eventually terror,” without quanlify (or quantifying) that statement, seems irresponsible. How does the author know this to be true? And if it is true: How long does this go on? Did my daughter feel this when she was taken, hours after her birth, to get shoots and undergo basic testing? Did she feel it when I asked the nurses to keep her a couple of extra hours so I could get some rest after 24 hours of labor induced sleep deprivation? Do babies who are placed immediately in the arms of their adopted mothers feel this? Do babies in the NICU experience this continually for the weeks or months they are there? I just found the whole thing to be incredibly presumptuous and totally unsubstantiated. It felt irresponsible that she would include it without referring to validating scientific evidence or explaining under what circumstances a baby would suffer in this way.
What part of Ms. Lauck’s adoption journey challenged your idea of adoption the most?
At first I thought that Ms. Lauck’s adoption journey most challenged my idea that adoption is a positive experience that provides something wonderful for all parties involved (while of course still being a difficult and complicated experience, to be sure). In the end it didn’t challenge my ideas about adoption that completely, but I definitely had my moments throughout the book.
I would say that this book did challenge my belief that safeguards are in place to protect (at least as much as can be reasonably expected) everyone involved in adoption, birthmothers, adoptive parents and adopted children. Of course Ms. Lauck’s adoption took place long ago, when proceedings were more secretive and sometimes decidedly less ethical, but I couldn’t help but wonder, if it were so easy, then, for her to be adopted by a family that so clearly could not provide her with a good, stable life, how plausible would a similar situation be today? I’m assuming, from the limited information I have on the adoption process, that such a situation would not be take place now, but I also know that anything can happen and frequently does. The idea that a child can be placed with a family that is already struggling significantly is upsetting.
What did you believe was the take-away message of this memoir? Did that idea change for you when you read the afterward?
I honestly felt that the take-away message of the memoir was that adoption is a negative institution that should be avoided at all cost. That opinion only seemed to be solidified by the author in the End Note, where she mentions the horrors of American families adopting orphaned children after international disasters followed by how “unhelpful” it is to take a child away from her mother due to “economic struggles, her age, or even her education.” While I do believe that it is imperative we offer women all the resources necessary to provide for their children–if that is what they want–I also recognize that sometimes no amount of resources will render a parenting situation best for both mother and child. Ms. Lauck seems unable or unwilling to recognize that.
It’s clear that the author has been deeply wounded by her experiences and she has every right to feel the way she does; I just wish she would acknowledge how her experience might bias her opinion about adoption in general. Perhaps if she did so I would be better prepared to consider her assertion that the legal adoption of a child between two willing parties is the same as snapping up a child found lost and crying in a grocery store and “admonishing her to “forget that mommy, I’m your mommy now.” Instead, I found the author’s portrayal of her journey, and the author herself, to be so ascetic that her pleas ultimately fell on deaf ears.
I’m sure it’s clear from my answers that I didn’t not enjoy the book. While I thought it was beautiful written and marveled many times as the poetry of her prose, I continually felt unable to embrace her acerbic nature.
Or maybe it’s just that, as a woman who is hoping to meet her own older sister lost to closed adoption, I don’t want to acknowledge that adoption can end in such bitter remorse.
Thank you, Lori, for managing this book tour. I’m very interested to read everyone else’s responses today and over the long weekend!
To continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at The Open Adoption Examiner.