Adoption: The Facts, Feelings,
and Issues of a Double Heritage
by Jeanne DuPrau
Julian Messner, 1990
Reviewed by Barbara Free, M.A.,
is not a new bookit first appeared in 1981but is a good reference
for those considering search, and for family members and friends if those
who are searching or considering searching for birth family. It is very basic
in explaining the reasons one might want to search, the usual difficulties
involved in searching, and the pros and cons of search and reunion, of closed
and open records, and it touches rather briefly on the pros and cons of open
Although many readers who have been involved
in search and reunion circles and adoption support groups for some time will
not find new material in this book, there are far more individuals and families
for whom the idea of search and reunion, let alone open records or open
adoptions, is a whole new and strange world. Some believe records have always
been sealed everywhere, and that only closed adoptions, through agencies,
have always been the only way to adopt. Others, including many professional
therapists, have assumed that anyone could have access to their own records,
at least as adults.
The idea that birth parents might also want
access, or want to search, does not occur to many more people, who assume
its only adoptees that ever want to search, or should have the right.
Even the author of this book focuses mainly on the adoptee, to a lesser extent
on the adoptive parents who oppose search or open records, and only briefly
addresses the thoughts and feelings of birth parents. When the issues of
birth parents are mentioned, the impression is left that about 50% are open
to reunion or want to search, although the author does state that only about
one out of a hundred refuse reunion if located. The reasons given for refusing,
according to this book, are mostly that the birth mother has a great marriage
and other children, but the new family knows nothing of the relinquished
child, and if they were to find out, It would be the end of my marriage
and he would get custody of the children.
As a reunited birth mother with several children,
and a husband, this writer and therapist questions how wonderful
a marriage could be where one partner has been keeping such a huge secret
the entire time, apparently in great fear, and wonders how wonderful this
partner is if he would abandon her for having had a child before he was even
in the picture. Unfortunately, the book does not address this.
Nevertheless, this rather small book can provide
some facts and issues for open discussion in families where search is a
possibility or a reality. It also might be a good beginning bock for those
considering adoption, as it discusses some of the issues of open vs. closed,
infant vs. older child, etc.
There is also the assumption, unfortunately,
that most people want to adopt a healthy white infant, as if
that is one word, healthywhite. This also assumes that potential
adoptive parents are also all white. These assumptions bothered this writer,
but may not be so big for readers new to various adoption issues.
The book opens with stories of two adult adoptees,
one of whom found out he was adopted somewhere during his childhood (not
really early), but was discouraged from searching until after his adoptive
mother died, and the other story is about a woman who did not know she was
adopted until after her adoptive mother died. Interestingly, this woman was
black, adopted by black parents. The Epilogue again mentions these two persons,
and says that Operation Identity helped her find her birth family by going
to court. Operation Identity is not previously mentioned in the book!
In short, this is still a valuable book for
beginners, and a good resource for professionals, who are not in the adoption
field, to have available. An updated revision, with more information about
birth parents and the current ideas about open records and open adoption,
along with states that have opened their records to some degree, would be
even more helpful.
Excerpted from the April 2009
edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
© 2009 Operation Identity