Sacred Connections:
Stories of Adoption
Essays by Mary Ann Koenig; Photography by Niki Berg
Running Press, 2000

Reviewed by Barbara Free

     Sacred Connections is a large-format, “coffee table”-style book, with lovely black and white photographs accompanying essays of one to three pages, telling the stories of twenty-four families and individuals. Some of those featured are adoptees, some are birth mothers, some birth fathers, some adoptive parents. The author is an adoptee, the photographer a stepmother, mother by birth, and mother of a stillborn child. Their personal investment in the subject of adoption and parenting shows in the care and respect toward everyone involved that they have demonstrated in their words and pictures. Some of the persons featured are still children; others are elderly. The reader may want to read just one story at a time, to savor the experience and to keep from being overwhelmed by emotion. Each story is worth reading more than once. This might be a good book to share with prospective adoptive families as well as anyone who has already adopted, is an adoptee, or is a birth parent. It would be a beautiful gift for Christmas, or for parents newly adopting, or for a dear friend or family member who is searching.
     This book is $27.95, but will become a treasure to anyone who possesses it. Some of the persons featured may be known to O.I. members, such as Carol Schaefer (actually, her son, Jack Ryan, is the primary subject), Jane Guttman, and Delores Teller, while others will be entirely new to the reader. This reviewer purchased the book at the National AAC conference in Anaheim in April, 2001, and later saw it in Barnes and Noble in Chicago, but one might need to order it now. It can be checked out through the O.I. lending library, but some readers will want their own copies, or one to give to someone else. The stories include some of open adoption, some of closed adoptions later opened, and searches that revealed a birth parent was already deceased. The stories are sometimes sad, but show the healing power of knowing the truth, even when it is not what one might have hoped.
     There are many books concerning adoption now, but this is one of the best for helping those outside the triad understand the issues, and for helping those within the triad understand their own experiences and each other’s.

Excerpted from the January 2002 edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
© 2002 Operation Identity