Go Out and Live:
A 27-Year Journey of Courage
by Doris and Ken Hall
Beaver’s Pond Press, 2003

Reviewed by Barbara Free

     Go Out and Live is the story of a young woman, an adoptee, told by her adoptive parents after her death at twenty-seven, after an eleven-year struggle with cancer. The title comes from a doctor’s advice when she was first diagnosed with a malignant tumor attached to her back. At that time, they predicted she would live no more than two and a half years. She spent the rest of her life accomplishing all that she could, some of which her parents heartily disapproved of. This story is not particularly about Allison Hall’s adoption, although the Halls also have an adopted son. In those days, nearly all adoptions were closed, and the Halls were just excited to have their two children, born just eleven months apart. It did not occur to them to ask for more information than they were given. They were fortunate enough to take their babies directly home from the hospital just three days after birth.
     The Halls tell their story, and their daughter’s story, in a straightforward way, sharing their feelings and insights along the way. In spite of their daughter’s long illness, the book does, not take a maudlin tone. The massage-many adoption triad members will take from the book is that life is short, no matter how long it is, and that delaying a search for one’s birth parents or offspring might result in not finding them soon enough. In Allison Hall’s case, her birth mother, Frances Armitage, did not find her before her death. When she did, the Halls were still grieving for Allison, although it had been five years since her death. They had not expected the birth mother to find them, based on the closed adoption system at the time of Allison’s birth. At first, they were reluctant to respond to Frances, feeling it would only intensify their loss to have to face her loss of never having known her daughter. However, they acknowledged their mixed feelings to themselves and each other, and wrote to her that they would he willing to meet her and correspond with her. Then they called Frances, fearful that her voice would sound like Allison’s, which it did not.
     In her search, Frances had already learned that her daughter had died, though she did not know the reason. She had married and had three more children. The Halls recalled that Allison had fantasized a similar situation. After a telephone conversation on what would have been Allison’s birthday, they decided to meet Frances in Phoenix, where she lives and where Allison was horn. They found she did resemble Allison in many ways, and her love of animals might be attributed to the birth father. Frances shared with them parts of her journal over the years, her thoughts about her daughter, and some family history of concern. They have continued their reunion and presented together at the AAC Conference in Kansas City recently. Adoptees and birth parents will no doubt find the chapter about Frances finding the Halls to be their favorite, and will wish it were longer and even more detailed. The Halls now wish they could have been reunited while Allison was still alive, of course, and are urging their son to do his own search.
     This is a well-written book, with an unusual twist at the end. We would love to see a sequel, perhaps written by Frances Armitage, telling of her own life and her search.

Excerpted from the July 2004 edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
© 2004 Operation Identity