This is the second year I’ve participated in an adoption memoir blog tour, orchestrated by my friend and colleague Lori Holden. As part of the tour participants have been asked to reflect on different questions pertaining to Anne Bauer’s The Sound of Hope:A True Story of an Adoptee’s Quest for Her Origins.
When reading The Sound of Hope I was again struck by how the lack of openness in adoption further impacts the adoptee (I’ll use the term adoptee here if I may, since that is what Anne refers to in her subtitle). I’ve read a number of adoptee memoirs and they share common threads mired in feelings tied to core issues—loss, rejection, grief, guilt and shame, identity, intimacy, and control. The Sound of Hope is no different.
I’ve selected three questions and provided my answers below. But hey; let’s have a conversation. I welcome your viewpoint in the comment section. Let’s get started…
Question: In her adoption memoir Anne Bauer speaks of her connection to her birth mother and father, “The bond between us couldn’t be completely severed as everyone, as everyone wanted it to be. Another part of me existed somewhere in the world, a part I was once attached to and depended on for life. To me, the umbilical cord served a function that was much more than physical. It was my essence, my origin, my connection to my biological ancestors. As far as I was concerned, the chord was still attached. Who were these people who were the cause of my existence? Did they wonder about me in the same way I often wondered about them?” What are your thoughts about this passage from your lens (adopted person, birth parent, adoptive parent)?
Of course, my lens for the purpose of this blog tour is that of an adoptive parent. I appreciated how Anne used the umbilical chord as a metaphor to express connection to her biological roots. I do feel what a person feels is affected by their temperament, life experiences and perspective. Some are more driven to know about their roots than others.
Question: Anne writes of her adoptive family, “On the outside, we look very much alike. We have the same eye color, the same fair complexion – yes, the adoption agency did its job well.” What are your thoughts on how important appearances were at that time (the 1960s)? Have we made progress? In what ways? And what do you think contributed to the change?
I remember reading this passage and thinking “we’re getting there.”
This may sound harsh, however I feel looking the same was one way in which adopting parents could shelter their “secret,” perhaps stemming from shame of not being able to create a biological child, perhaps on not understanding how to parent a child who was adopted, avoid the discomfort of the truths.
I sense we’re making more progress in how families are created—trans- and multi-racial, gay parents, single parent, and in openness—open adoptions and access to original birth certificates. And I believe the pressure has largely come from those who have suffered silently for so long, adult adoptees.
The focus in the past was more on the parents whereas it should have been on the child and their emotional health, their future.
I work with hundreds of families annually and this is where we focus, on the child. And I encourage parents to be open and shine light on all of the truths—even the tough ones, weakening their hold.
Question: Why do you think Anne’s father called her original mother her “bionic” mother instead of “birth” mother?
I felt it was his way of dealing withthe situation, although I didn’t find it agreeable. When I reflect on the term bionic, I think of strength, perfection, superhuman. It seemed that although Anne’s dad thought he was being open, it only went so far, and he was unsuccessful in convincing Anne’s mom to be open and supportive. Anne’s father wasn’t able to fully acknowledge that Jo was Bauer’s biological mother. Jo was bionic because she conceived and gave birth, something Anne’s parents failed to do.
Be part of the conversation. Please feel free to share your thoughts on any or all of these questions in the comment section. Discussion typically yields perspective and growth. I look forward to it! And remember, to continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at LavenderLuz.com.