Monday, September 9, 2013

Searching for your BIrth Parents?


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  For the past year, no, a little longer, I've been thinking about adoption, and foster care, and the bonds we have with our families and children. On the cover of THE WRONG GIRL (my new book that comes out tomorrow!) it says "What if you didn't know the truth about your own family?"

As a kid, I used to taunt my mother with "When my REAL mother comes and takes me away, you'll be sorry..." Sometimes my "real mother" was the queen of someplace, making me the long-lost princess who would--soon, I hoped ---be transported to some place where she didn't have to make her bed.

And,  thinking back, in grade school and high school, I don't think I knew anyone who was adopted. At least, no one who said so. (I was an outlier enough--in 1956, to have parents who were divorced was a cause for pity and a bit of ostracizing. (You don't have a father? Oh,gosh...)  Adoption was a mysterious and terrifying thing, back then 50 or 60 years ago,  something that happened to someone else.

And when a girl "got in trouble" and "went to visit her aunt"--well, enough said.

Either me or my sister...
But now of course, it's so different. I know many people who are adopted, and some who have looked for and located their birth parents. Whole websites and organizations are devoted to it.   Adoption in celebrity circles is almost de rigueur, and certainly being married is not a prerequisite, in many parts of society at least, for having a baby.  But still, but still. What makes our identity?

And as a reporter, I've done lots of stories about foster care...not only the incredible difficulties, but the stories of love and acceptance.



So  Reds, with THE WRONG GIRL and its themes of "What if you didn't know the truth about your own family?"--and more about that on pub day tomorrow!--do you have stories of adoption and birth parent searches?


LUCY BURDETTE: I can't wait for this book, Hank, sounds fascinating! It seems like the New York times has run a lot of articles recently about the failure of the foster care system. This is absolutely heartbreaking and these pieces always make me feel guilty that I'm not taking children in. Troubled teenagers, for example. Can you imagine the havoc that would wreak on your life? But how much is at stake…One of the best
books I've read involving foster case was THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS by Vanessa Diffenbach. Amazing descriptions of the homes the character survived and the meaning of family.

RHYS BOWEN: I'm also amazed how society has changed in its views on illegitimate babies. In my last Molly Murphy book, The Family Way, the story is all about what it's like to be pregnant and married, or pregnant and unmarried--literally a difference between life and death in those days.  Even when I was young there was really no choice about giving up a baby if you weren't married. I did know two girls who were adopted when I was growing up. Both with older adoptive parents who spoiled them horribly. And Hank, I also fantasized about my real parents coming for me one day! 
Yes, Sputnik
HALLIE EPHRON: We used to torture my little sister, telling her that she was adopted. Dropped in the yard by Sputnik (that's dating us). I know, it was mean.

More seriously, I don't know if I'd ever have started writing if I didn't know that my parents were writers and that I had the genes, even if I didn't have the disposition. Less thrilling is knowing I probably have a genetic predisposition to depression, bipolar illness, alcoholism, not to mention acute narcissism.

Hank is talking NOT knowing the truth about who your parents are. To be lied to would be a betrayal; to simply not know would be something else, and I think it depends on who you are whether it would be something that you'd need to find out.   

And I have read the book and loved it. It's fast, fun, at times scary, and very thoughtful on this topic.

(HANK: Oh, thank you, Hallie!)

ROSEMARY HARRIS: I knew my parents and still don't think I knew them, so what does that say? Too late now. Sometimes my sister and I felt like we'd been dropped into our family by aliens who wanted to learn about humanoid life forms. And they'd be coming back for us.

 Other than the aliens who didn't come to retrieve me, I have no personal stories of adoption. This summer I read a wonderful book called Orphan Train (edited by Hallie's editor, I think.) I'd been researching the orphan trains of the late 18th and early 19th century and this book was wonderful. Highly recommended.

(What were the orphan trains? - briefly, poor, orphaned or abandoned children , mostly from NY and Boston were shipped to the midwest to be adopted by farm families. Needless to say it didn't always work out.)

HALLIE: Ro's comment made me think about how many iconic children's stories are about orphaned kids. Cinderella, The Little Princess, James and the Giant Peach, Ann of Green Gables, The Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter...  

DEBORAH CROMBIE: So interesting about all the iconic orphan stories, Hallie!  I loved all of them! Maybe there is an inherent mystery in either not knowing where you came from, or in having lost parents. 


I have a friend of many years who was adopted (as was her older sister, but not from the same biological parents). My friend did as an adult try to contact her birth mother for health-related reasons, but her mother refused the contact. That must be crushing. 

But so many story possibilities...

And I have, I realized, in my last few books introduced an orphaned child who has, and will continue to have, a big part in the ongoing series.




We think this is Jonathan and his mom

HANK: Debs, that happens all the time. Can you even imagine...? And I do think that the fantasy of retrieval by aliens or royal families or even being called to school via message from an owl shows how intent we are on understanding where we came from. And we know that search doesn’t always have a happy ending.


How about you all? Stories of adoption, foster care, searching?  (And don’t forget I’m off on tour starting Wednesday! Check my website for the schedule—I’d adore to see our Jungle Red team on #HankonTour!)  

And a copy of the amazing Sue Grafton's W is for Wasted to one lucky commenter! Her book comes out tomorrow, too! 

53 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

No adoption stories to share . . . I’m truly grateful to have had my mom around when I was growing up . . . .

Although her sister may not have appreciated it, I have to admit I really loved Hallie’s “dropped in the yard by Sputnik!”

I’m looking forward to reading “The Wrong Girl” . . . hope you have a wonderful launch day and tour . . . .

Edith Maxwell said...

Yes, happy launch day tomorrow, Hank. I'll see you in Brookline!

My older sister gave up a baby for adoption over 30 years ago, (after having four sons in 7 years), when she found out she was pregnant by the abusive husband she had just managed to leave. I still wonder where that niece of mine is, but my sister says she's not interested in looking for her and hasn't been contacted, either. That same sister's adult son (one of them) and his wife wanted to have a big family and ended up with just one biological child. They take in foster babies regularly for short periods and adopted a brother and sister two years ago. It's all working out really well.

There's a 13-year old boy in foster care across the street. When he casually told me, as he did some yard work for us, that his foster mom wouldn't allow him to go into our shed to get the rake, my heart just broke. Why is he in foster care? Where are his parents? It really brought it home to me. He's an energetic, smiling kid, a little needy of attention. I hope he thrives.

This has put a real emotional tint on my morning. Perfect as I head into an hour's writing sprint!

Kristopher said...

I also love both The Language of Flowers. And a co-worker told me all about Orphan Train, a period of American History I knew nothing about. I want to read that book at some point.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

There are so many stories, Edith..and so any we'll never hear.

(ANd JOan, maybe it's true!) It was fun to find the sputnik photo..who knew that's what it looked like?)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Kristopher! Hi! WHen's our interview up? xoxo MAke sure you give us the link!

Ramona said...

Rosemary, there is an Orphan Train Museum in Kansas. It is on my bucket list. I have been fascinated by that story since seeing a documentary on PBS.

Hank! Excited about tomorrow! As a child, I was completely convinced I was adopted. My three siblings all have a particular birth defect, and I do not. How's that for proof that I was switched at birth? The only catch--I look exactly like my mother.

Kristopher said...

Hank, our interview will go live tomorrow. And the BOLOBooks review will post on Wednesday.

Tuesday will be ALL HANK ALL DAY on the internet. As it should be!

Enjoy it!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Ramona--well, of course. MAybe they did that to fool you!

Aw, Kristopher...xoxoo

Libby Dodd said...

We adopted both of our children. Our son is from Korea and our daughter is from Peru. It's amazing how instantaneous the attachment was. We saw they referral picture and that was it. This was OUR child.
It isn't always easy. Some kids have identity issues because of adoption and there are the unknown health factors. But I wouldn't have it any other way. They are terrific! It must have worked pretty well--both have mentioned wanting to adopt children.

storytellermary said...

I have friends who were adopted into happy homes. One found out about his birth parents when he needed his birth certificate for our first storytelling cruise. The young couple who gave him up later married and had more children, so in his 60's he discovered full siblings he had never known about.
I used to thank my mother for our dull, ordinary life, usually after finding out about a student's situation. Toward Mom's final days, she did tell me some things I hadn't even suspected, so even in dull, ordinary lives there are secrets . . .
_The Wrong Girl_ is a terrific book, Hank -- keep 'em coming!

Karen B said...

My mother was on the board of the Children's Home Society in the 50s-70s and I heard many horror stories of abandoned and abused kids who ended up there. Several times in the middle of the night my dad would be called by the police to pick up a child and take him to the home. All of our outgrown clothes, books, furniture, toys went to the kids. I remember having things disappear - "someone needed that doll/toy/dress more than you." All these volunteers provided a safe comfortable home for many kids over the years. I was surprised years later to find that I knew and had gone to school with some of these kids.

Bless all of those who do so much!

storytellermary said...

I just remembered other friends who adopted six children (maybe more, I moved and lost touch) and this poem:

For my friends seeking to adopt children, with much admiration (I took out names but not my love):

The Child Collectors
by Mary F. Garrett

My friends collected children.
They began with one, with a weak heart,
An outcast in Vietnam
Because of his African-American father's blood.
Then another, with one eye destroyed by lack of vitamins.
The third had nightmares for weeks, remembering the bombs.

As their hearts opened to more children,
Their house grew crowded; they added more rooms
And more children.
A fourteen-year-old boy found his way
From Saigon to an American ship.
They couldn't say no.

Two sisters from Mississippi would have to be separated
Unless someone would make a home for both.
One had a heart problem, not diagnosed.
They said, "Send them to us right away.
We have experience with heart problems."

Tenderly, with love and discipline,
They gathered and healed the injured children.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Storyteller Mary.. you are truly a treasure.

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Such a lovely poem Mary.

And wouldn't this make a great first line:

even in dull, ordinary lives there are secrets . . .

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Oh, yes, Roberta!

Use it at Bouchercon! (WHere we're doing a big hilarious panel on first lines..) Anyone out there going?

Jody said...

We had a lot of adopted kids in our small community (only about 900 folks in town) for some reason. I was the oddball child with only one parent due to my father having died while my mother was pregnant with my brother.

Most of those adoptions had happy outcomes. A couple did not. One of my classmates was not happy and blamed much of it on being adopted. After his girl friend broke up with him, he committed suicide. This was the year after we graduated from H.S.

My brother's classmate searched out her birth mother after H.S. Not sure how it all worked out. I do remember that her adoptive mother was unhappy, but supportive.

Rather than thinking I was adopted, I usually created scenarios where my father had lived.

We did have one 8th grade girl go away to have a baby when I was in 7th grade. Of course, we weren't supposed to know that back then. It was very hush hush.

Looking forward to the book.

Denise Ann said...

I have always been fascinated by adoption -- in grade school, my friend Michelle was "a French war orphan." I have a cousin who is older than me -- but, I am the "oldest" because he is his mother's child (incredible story of her determination, but also of him not knowing his own story). We have three nephews and a niece who are adopted. My sister and her (female) partner adopted three children who have the same birth mother -- in recent years, as young adults they have met their biological mother and half-siblings. Our other nephew was adopted by my brother-in-law and his wife who were not able to have children.
The best story is my BFF -- she had lost her family (father died when she was 10, brother was a suicide, and mother died after years of dementia) & needed a birth certificate for a passport.
NEW BIRTHDAY! NEW BIOLOGICAL HISTORY.
She had a chance to spend time with her birth mother, and has met siblings on both sides.
You can't make it up!
But great raw material for great writers like Hank who had me on the edge on my seat with "Wrong Girl."

Hallie Ephron said...

Love it when there's a happy ending, Denise Ann - how lovely.

Interesting how some people need to know who their birth parents are, and others really and truly do not.

Deb said...

Lovely poem, Mary. Such good stories! And it is nice to know that some have happy endings...

Hank, so excited for tomorrow!!

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Oh Jody, of course you imagined that! Losing a parent leaves such a hole--at any age...

Mo said...

I was in junior high when my older sister was getting ready for her wedding in the late 1960s and there was a panic in the kitchen one evening. My Mom was saying she couldn’t find the adoption papers needed for the marriage license. In my confusion I looked at the two of them and asked how could she be adopted when she looks just like Grammy? The room became dead silent followed by a chorus of “Oh, we forgot to tell you”. That is when I found out My Mom was divorced with three children in the early 1950s, then she met and married my Dad and I was born. Due to the stigma of divorce, especially for Catholics, back then they lied about their wedding year, adding enough cover all the children. My siblings all knew but they never got around to telling me since they thought I wasn’t affected. And really, other than the paperwork issue, there was no way to tell we were any different. Dad was truly Dad to all of us.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Jody, oh..I can just see little you, imagining that. Of course you did...

As ROberta says...any age.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Denise Ann--so amazing. And how different it makes the world feel, you know? What's "real" and what isn't? And what we believe?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Mo. Amazing. Wow. The emotion just comes through so profoundly--you're using that in your writing,right? I am shaking my head.

"Oh, we forgot to tell you?"" ANd in fiction, you know, you'd never believe that.

Jayna said...

I am adopted. There was never any secret about it. I had a wonderful children's book called The Chosen Baby that told me all about it. I have never searched for my birth mother because my adoptive mother would have been so hurt I just couldn't do it. Of course, I went through the stages of rejecting her and fantasizing about my real family. And as an adult I really regret that I have no family medical history. My mother was funny about it - she insisted it was all nurture - but she wanted me to become a teacher and kept telling me about the teachers in my biological family.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Jayna, I do hope you'll readTHE WRONG GIRL. I'll be especially fascinated by what you think.

Thank you, so much..

Deb Romano said...

When I was around eight years old, I learned that the son of friends of my mom had been adopted as an infant. I asked my mom if I was adopted, and was kind of disappointed to find out I wasn't! I was in a happy and loving family but thought it would be exciting to have a "secret past"! Also, I did a LOT of reading and had read about kids who were adopted.

My niece/godchild and light and joy of my life was adopted from Korea when she was six months old. I cannot imagine my life without her. I have a bond with her that I don't have with anyone else in the family. A few years ago she started sending one or more of her stuffed animals home with me after a visit. It is my responsibility to rehab them (apparently they behaved very badly with her)and to write to her about their progress. I write little stories about their antics and send them along to her. She responds with advice...that I usually do not take! (Yes, she still wants me to do this!) She is a senior in high school this year. She was born with some serious health problems and has had several surgeries, beginning a couple of months after she joined our family. In the past year and a half other health problems have surfaced, and she may need surgery for one of them. Despite having experienced pain and discomfort almost from birth, she has a cheerful, sunshiny personality. We've joked that that should be the first clue that she was adopted! On top of everything else, the poor kid had appendicitis in April.

She has an intense interest in learning as much as possible about South Korea, and follows the North Korea vs South Korea news. She worries about the welfare of her family there if war breaks out. Most of the time she is more interested in the foster family she was with from birth until coming here. Her foster mother sent baby pictures and clothing with her to the US. In some of the photos, she is with her foster mother or with one of the foster mother's biological daughters. She once told my sister that her foster family feels more "real" to her than her biological family because she has pictures of them.

We have other relatives who have adopted children, too. Adoption is just normal and ordinary to us.

mimirose41209 said...

Adoption is very much apart of my 'family'. My husband's sister and husband adopted their son thru a domestic adoption. The birth mother went into the hospital to have the baby and had no adoption plan and didn't even see the baby after birth. The hospital called the next adoption service 'on the list' and my SIL and her husband were next on the agency list.

My husband's brother and wife went all the way to Russian to bring their son home. The child spent the first 18 months in an orphanage. They took the best care of them as they could.

Both of the boys are happy, healthy children that are well loved.

Fran said...

It's an interesting question, Hank. I've never met my biological father; I've got a stepdad, who brought his own set of perceptions to our family (or we to his, depending, of course).

But I've always wondered if I had half-siblings out there somewhere. No idea. And would it be cool or unpleasant? Fifty-fifty chance either way, right?

I'm looking forward to your signing next Saturday! We at Seattle Mystery Bookshop are jazzed, to say the least!

Karen in Ohio said...

Can't wait to read the new book, Hank, and Sue Grafton's new one! So many good things happening this week.

My stepsister's adopted daughter searched for and found her birth parents, still together, and with three other kids. I can't imagine how that would make one feel, and Amy never talks about it. But she has gotten close to her siblings and parents over the years.

One of my dearest friends is married to a survivor of the orphan trains. He is now in his late 70's, and has had some strokes so is no longer as cognizant as he once was. But several years ago he and I polished off a whole bottle of wine while he shared tale after tale of his horrific life during that time. He said the first place they sent him to was pretty much exactly like the story in the book "Holes", except that he did not have to fill the holes in again.

Reine said...

Dearest Hank,

My husband and I had twelve foster children, not all at once but in a series except for the last three who were siblings and coincidentally three of twelve.

The oldest nine were not available for adoption. We adopted the three. One changed his mind and left us. It was tragic for the others and probably for him as well. We were devastated. Another left us the day after her 18th birthday in search of her birth parents and for what she thought would be an easier life. We were in shock, because she never showed any signs of such distress. She asked for her birth certificate and called us Mr. & Mrs. Carter. We haven't seen her in many years.

All we wanted was to love children who had been abandoned.

This month is the anniversary of our oldest daughter's death. She'd had a baby in high school and decided to allow a couple in Los Angeles to adopt her. They'd been married for 10 years without a child and were thrilled, we thought. Shortly after the adoption was finalized, the adoptive mother divorced her husband and returned to her home country in Europe.

After many years of searching we reconnected with our granddaughter and have discovered an unexpected blessing in our new relationship.

She looks like a twin of our daughter. I knew who she was from a long distance in a crowd of disembarking passengers at Logan Airport. She could have been our daughter. She looks like her and sounds like her, despite her accent. Her uncles and aunts and older cousins have to remind themselves she is not their sister or cousin.

My husband who experienced all of this alongside me is solid and sturdy, or we would never have survived as a couple. This is a difficult month for us.

xo

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. Our local library bookclub is reading Orphan Train this month, so I read it last month in preparation, and will share some of my family's history. My interest is particularly because one of my great-grandmothers and her twin sister rode an orphan train to Iowa. Here is the story one of my cousins wrote for a special project some years ago. http://iagenweb.org/history/orphans/biographies/crocker1.htm Some additional facts have been found more recently about her birth family and other descendants. [The hexadactyly in her descendants is of interest as well.]

My husband and I adopted our son 2 weeks after his birth. We have always been open about it, but so far he has expressed no interest in knowing more about his biological parents. Several members of my family (maternal and paternal) have also adopted children, including one from Korea. Family stories are so interesting, and full of the drama of the "human condition." I have great admiration for the wonderful foster families in our community.

Looking forward to your book, Hank!
Gail in Seguin, Texas

TFJ said...

I'm number 7 of 10 kids and in first grade, my sister, #6, came home and said she needed to know where she came from as Sr. Ann Bernard was expecting an answer the next day. Without blinking an eye, my dad replied, "Page 221 of the Sears Catalog."

A classmate in high school gave her son up for adoption; he sought her after graduating college; moved in with her for a few years; and now, at 38, lives in the same town as his mom and his half-siblings.

On a more serious note, like Rosemary, every time I hear of the need for more foster parents or the overcrowding in group homes, I feel guilty for not taking in as many foster children as I could handle.

Looking forward to reading your take on this whole issue, Hank.

Anonymous said...

If you believe in reincarnation, you expect to be reborn again and again within the same circle of souls who travel together through many lifetimes on the wheel of life. In my tradition, if you die of suicide or violence you may just pop into any available baby without planning or working out a life purpose (unless you spend some time as a bird or cat or other animal as a sort of respite.

In the 30s and 40s so many people died around the world of violence that perhaps there are many spiritually displaced persons who might have fantasies of being adopted.

Darlene Ryan said...

Have a happy book day tomorrow, Hank. I'm looking forward to The Wrong Girl because The Munchkin is adopted.

She says to tell you the book is going to do well because tomorrow is also her 16th birthday. (How can she be 16 already?)

She truly has been the joy of our lives for the last almost 15 years. The only thing she hates with a passion is when someone says we're not her "real" parents. (It doesn't really bother her dad and me.) She once gave a humorous speech at school about what makes a parent real and--I kid you not--tried to dress like Hank to look professional when she was up onstage speaking.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

DebRo--a secret past! Exactly.. We'd all love to have one-and it seems exciting..but some people really do..

So would you want to know?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Mimirose..that is a wonderful story..aren't they the luckiest kids..and the luckiest families?

Fran! Cannot wait to come to Seattle--and thank you for your kind words.. We'll have to chat about half-sobs. I have a few..and its an interesting relationship.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Like Holes..oh, my gosh, KAren. ANd AMy never talks about is--that's what's so constantly fascinating. We can never know..

Reine, you are such a gift. I cannot tell you. Every day you bless us.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Thank, Gail! xoox How old is your son?

TFJ, I know. Between us.. There were times I thought--how can I write a book about this and not do it?

Anonymous...that's incredibly fascinating. Thank you.

I'm loving this day on Jungle Red. I am about to cry.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Darlene! Hey "sister"--you and your DARLING Munchkin!

Wow. I am so proud of her! And cannot wait to meet her some day...and we'll be singing to her on Jungle Red tomorrow..wait, we'll start now! zoo

"Real" parents--that's in THE WRONG GIRL, too...

Mary Martinez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Martinez said...

I definitely need to read this book. I just happened to be on Twitter when I saw the Tweet come through “Do you know your birth parents”. No, I do not. I was born and adopted in the mid 50’s in fact so were my siblings. My two sisters were older when my parents adopted them. They knew why they were adopted and who their birth parents were. My one sister was adopted before I was born.

My other sister had two birth sisters who were adopted by our neighbors at the same time. I remember driving to Texas to pick up my new sister. I was in kindergarten at that time. And her two sisters came to our house more than they were at their adoptive families home.

Both my sisters are ten years older. The one from Texas got married when I was in fourth grade. So growing up she was more like an aunt to me.

I was the only child adopted at birth. My birth certificate only has my name as Baby Andersen, which was signed one year after I was born. Back then, there was a one-year waiting period.

When I was in school there were kids who wouldn’t play with me because I was ‘adopted’ and my own parents didn’t even want me. Why would they like me?

After my adoptive mother passed away, I set out to find my birth mother. I live in Utah and all the records are sealed. If I were to have a medical emergency, the state would release my file.

I hired someone. They found out my mother’s name was June Andersen (I honestly can’t remember if it’s Andersen or Anderson since I do not have my adoption papers in front of me) and there were four women/girls in the area with that name, at the right age, around that time.

Two of them they ruled out. The other two were want they called ‘boarders’. My adoption papers were signed at the end of April and shortly after, those two June Andersen’s left the state. One was a graduate of the University and the other had to be my mother. However, they lost track of both of them after they left the state. I’ve never been able to find out anything more.

I would really like to find my birth family, I’d love to know if I have siblings. I had such a dysfunctional family growing up, not that my adoptive parents didn’t love me or take care of me, or treat me as if I were not their own. But, it was just different. Maybe if it were now days instead of back in the 50’s when everyone sort of steered clear of the ‘different’ I wouldn’t have noticed anything different about me. Who knows.?

I’ve always felt hatched, or that I came from a different planet and was just dropped off, pretty much that I came from nowhere. It’s a weird feeling to have and very hard to explain how it actually feels to have no idea where you came from your nationality, etc.

I figured I could be from wherever I want—I decided I’m Irish…

I will be picking up The Wrong Girl. Great interesting post, thank you!
Thanks for listening.

Deb Romano said...

In the 1920s my paternal grandmother's sister had a child out of wedlock. She gave the baby girl to childless neighbors who wanted a child! The girl didn't know anything about this until she was about to get married and needed her birth certificate. I never heard this story until around 25 years ago when my mom asked me if I knew if my youngest sister's friend "X" was just a friend or if they were dating. Mom said she thought he might be the son of Great Aunt A's biological daughter! I had never even heard of him (my sister was never very open about who she was dating) so I wasn't able to answer my mom's questions. A couple of years ago some cousins and one of my sisters and I were getting together to share family information and photos, and this came up. Based on what various family members said, I don't think my youngest sister's friend is related to us. (I have still never heard of him from my sister!) But what a story! I did learn that this great aunt, who eventually married several times, never had any other children. We THINK that she and a male friend, NOT one of her ex husbands, were very fond of a youngster who was the daughter of some friends of hers. We suspect that the child was her biological daughter and that the male friend was the child's father.

Marianne in Maine said...

I'm late to this. Hank, I'm so excited for your book release day! It must be the most exciting day for an author.

We have a state representative who has an amazing story of being adopted. He was a black child in the upper midwest (Wisconsin or Minnesota, I can't remember.) After years of searching he was able to have his birth mother there when he was sworn into office by the Governor. He goes into much more detail of this marvelous story but it served to teach me, who had known no adopted person until I met him, a lot more about adoption rights.

THE WRONG GIRL should be in my library in two hours. I'm looking forward to it. Have a fabulous release and tour, Hank!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Mary Martinez--oh, so fascinating. Where are you? I'd so love to hear more. I'd love to talk with you. That gap in your history sounds
like it's so important to you. Remember, you, just you, right now is also important. So happy to hear from you. Thank you.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

DebRo...that's such a story. I'm so grateful to hear it..it makes me realize, not matter what we authors make up, there's nothing as compelling and riveting as real life. Thank you. Thank you.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Marianne in Maine. Really. Astonishing. Truly truly stranger, well, more wonderful than fiction. And you are NEVER too late. oxo

Mary Martinez said...

Hi Hank,
I'm about 15 minutes west of Salt Lake City. I have a friend who told me to post on Social Media to find my family. Just haven't got up the nerve to do that. It's so public. Oh, wait so is a blog post.

I'd love to talk about it more if you want to hear.

PS I've pre-ordered The Wrong Girl!
Mary marylmartinez3@gmail.com

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Oh, rats, Mary. No plans for Utah anytime soon. Grr. I'd adore to meet you. I'm sure it'll happen..and you know you can email me any time..just go to my website and click on contact. xoo So delighted to hear from you...tomorrow, more abut THE WRONG GIRL! And love to hear your stories.

Reine said...

One more story—then I'll stop. Promise. One of our many family myths was that my great-grandmother, who lived in a beautiful house on Lafayette Street in Salem, Massachusetts, was adopted. This myth is so ingrained in our family that no one believes me when I show them the proof straight from the priest in Québec. I think the story has held up as a rags to riches kind of tale, and no one wants to let go of that. Truth is even stronger for me, because the evidence appears to show that as a girl she was farmed out. She was sent to live and work on a neighbor's farm. Fortunately she met my great-grandfather, and they found their way to Salem—where his English ancestors had settled in the early 1600s, something he never knew. He thought he was French only. Somehow he found his way and returned the family back to the very same town—just a short walk across Salem Common where our English ancestors lived.

Anonymous said...

My Adoption Story

As a birth mom from the 70's when being a single Mom still had a stigma - adoption totally sucks !!!!!!!!

I'd be thrilled to meet my son, his Mom and I found each other on internet about 9 yrs ago ( he was wanting medical info, which I always kept updated in case he ever contacted me wanting it)

I send him BD and Christmas cards and have received one card from him - 7 yrs ago when he moved sending me his new address :)

He tells his Mom he wants to meet me someday, but I think he is afraid it will change things in his life.

If I could go back, would I change things - YES............I would never have placed him for adoption, no one told me that there were programs available to help single Moms - Wic, help with rent, food stamps, I would have been able to keep him had I known there was some assistance out there (his father walked out on us and literally skipped town, actually the state)

Not all Birth parents want to see their birth child, some have never told their spouse, children that they placed a child for adoption and fear if they do now that their spouse, family would walk away or never trust them again...........though really it is none of their business since it happened before their life together

I'm blessed that my spouse has always known about my son and supports my desire to meet him

I pray someday my son will choose to meet me, even just once.

I never got to hold him or see him when he was born, so first I saw what he looked like was when his Mom sent me pics 9 years ago......very bitter sweet

I also feel blessed that my son was placed with very loving parents - so obvious in all the pictures and emails from his Mom - he and his Dad are very close, as it should be

Also, there are many adoptees who have no desire to meet their birth parents and/or birth siblings



Anonymous said...

So many moving stories we have been privileged to read today! Thank you, everyone. And to Hank, who asked, my son is now in his early forties.

Mary Martinez said...

Anonymous,
As an Adopted person who would love to find her Birth parents I'd love to talk to you about you being a birth parent and want to reunite with your son.

I couldn't figure out how to reply just to you off the blog for all to see. So if you're interested please email me.

Thanks
Mary
marylmartinez3@gmail.com