Coming Together: An Adoptee’s Story
by Martha Shideler
TigerEye Publications, 2011

Reviewed by Barbara Free, M.A.

     This book was sent to me by the author, who is the adoptee in the story. I found the book well-written, both from a technical point of view and as interesting reading. She begins by citing various studies and well-known adoption-related literature, interspersed with some personal memories. Then she tells her life story, about which she has learned many details.
     Shideler discusses her adoptive parents, both the positive aspects and the negative. The author has quite a sense of humor, and seems like a person one would enjoy knowing in person. She recounts with both exasperation and humor several incidents after her adoptive father’s death, such as the cemetery saying they could not bury him in the designated plot without the owner’s permission, the owner of the plot being her aunt, who had been dead many years and was buried in the adjoining plot. Later, the bank said they couldn’t take his name off the checking account without his permission, even though he was dead. Her recounting of these stressful episodes, handling them with some humor, made her really come alive in the book.
     She also recounts going to the adoption agency that had handled her adoption and trying to get information. She had her birth mother’s name, and had told her adoptive parents she was going to do this. The woman she encountered at the agency was shaming and gave her no information. She later learned her birth mother had contacted the agency wanting to be notified if her daughter was searching.
     She did search, off and on, which is also fascinating reading, and did finally find her birth mother, who had also been searching for her for years. After their first reunion, also filled with crazy incidents such as the airline tickets being written for the wrong airport, in Tennessee instead of Michigan, she found out who her birth father was and located his grave, between his wife and another man, with whom she had also had children!
     Ms. Shideler states that finding her birth father’s family was not as satisfying as finding her birth mother and those siblings, but she is glad to have done it all. She ends the book with a brief chapter entitled “What next?” and hints of a possible second book dealing with ongoing reunion relationships. If that happens, we’ll be more than eager to read it. We would highly recommend this book and hope it will encourage both adoptees and birth parents to keep searching!

Excerpted from the April 2012 edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
© 2012 Operation Identity