(A Birth Mothers
by Rebecca Harsin
Fithian Press, 1991
book is the personal story of a woman who had her first child, a girl, in
1971, at the age of 17, and relinquished her very much against her will.
She had been sent to a home for unwed mothers in Washington State and left
there after persuading her mother to come and get her. The baby was born
prematurely the day after she left, before her mother could put her in a
similar home in Boise, Idaho.
She was repeatedly told that her desire to
keep her child was selfish and that she would forget she ever had the baby,
if only she would do the right thing and relinquish her daughter.
She steadfastly refused, but was finally pretty much forced into it by her
mother. This is such a common story that casual readers might think Oh,
thats the same old story. Whats new? But to any birth mother,
it is painfully real story.
The author went back to school, later married
and had three more children, and was considered a good mother,
but, of course, she never stopped grieving f that time or her first-born,
and always told herself she would find her when the girl turned 18. When
arrived, in 1988, she began to search. She had a good marriage and peaceful
life with her husband and three children, but she had always known she could
not feel complete until she found her first child.
By that time, search and support groups were
beginning to form across the country, and she began to get in touch with
some, and later co-founded one herself. Her mother, who had been so adamant
about her relinquishing her daughter at birth, was now supportive of her
search. What the author still did not know about were the family secrets
concerning pregnancy and adoption in her fathers family, which had
influenced her mothers and her paternal grandmothers insistence
that the author could not keep her child.
She does ultimately have a happy and successful
reunion with her daughter and her daughters adoptive family. The real
twist is in her learning those family secrets and helping her father achieve
his own reunion.
This book is a good one for persons who are
considering searching, or are at the beginning of a search. It is not long
or difficult reading, and does have a positive outcome. Birth mothers may
identify with the author and her story, adoptees may find encouragement in
her continued love for her daughter, and in the successful reunion, and adoptive
parents may find good role models in the daughters adoptive parents,
as well as a deeper understanding of the birth mothers and adoptees
Excerpted from the April 1999
edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
© 1999 Operation Identity