Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Sound of Hope Book Tour

Even thought I haven't really had the time to post, I signed up for this book tour hosted by Lori. I'm relieved to read that other participants had time constraints as well, but I'm glad I signed on for this. Turns out I have lots of opinions and feelings about the subject. The book, The Sound of Hope: A True Story of an Adoptee's Quest for her Origins by Ann Bauer, is her account of growing up during the closed adoption era, and her search for her first parents. I am not part of an adoption triad. I am not an adoptee, a first mother, or an adoptive parent, but I have read quite a bit from those with firsthand experience with adoption. I am the mother of a child through an open embryo donation. Even though the situation is very different, there are lessons to be learned. Of course, I have also read and listened to what donor conceived people feel about their origins and secrecy, but adoption has a longer history and is much more widespread, so the adoption community where I often look for inspiration to help my daughter navigate her feelings about her origins.

Now for my answers to questions posed by other bloggers. (Admission: I just didn't have time to come up with any questions to add to the mix, but I love the thoughtful questions everyone came up with.)

1. There are many instances in which the people around Anne do not acknowledge her feelings about her adoption status. These instances range from her parents, especially her mother, her fiancee, her fiancee's parents, and even her birth mother.  Do you think these instances occurred because of the general outlook on adoption at the time, and do you think that this outlook has improved over time?

I do think it had to do with the outlook at the time. I think it's changed somewhat, but there's still a ways to go. I think this also relates to a question in the other set of questions about the way adoptions were matched based on physical similarity. This is very common with egg donation today. It's not even questioned. In my opinion, this opens the door to the possibility of secrecy. And secrecy is never in the best interests of the child. Secrecy is never about the child's feelings.

I had a hard time with the sections of the book where the people around Anne discounted or minimized her feelings. I grew up with a mother who felt she knew how I should feel about things, and would tell me I was wrong, and I should not feel the way I did. It hurt. It still hurts. (She still does it now and then.) Anne, I'm sorry you had to deal with that. I applaud you for standing up to them all and demanding that your feelings be respected. Because of my experiences, and maybe just because I'm a different kind of person, respecting and honoring Sunshine's feelings has always been a high priority.

2. A variety of words are used to describe family in this book: mother, father, adoptive mother, adoptive father, biological relative, original family, first mother, birth mother, and even bionic mother (her Dad's word). Did you notice this word choice, and if so, what impact did it have on your reading?

Yes, I noticed the word choice. I tend to notice word choice regarding family in general. I thought "bionic mother" reflected her father's mixed feelings about her search. I've chosen to refer to Sunshine's donor siblings as simply her brother and sister, as this seems to be the preferred language among donor siblings. A few months ago I was talking with one of my neighborhood mom friends. We were talking about Sunshine's origins, and about another mom and the son their family adopted. Then the discussion moved on to red hair, and how since it is recessive it needs to be on both sides genetically. She mentioned a friend who has a reheaded child even though neither parent has red hair. She then said, "And I know they're the real parents." I took a deep breath and said that I know she didn't mean it that way, but it would be more appropriate to have said, "I know they're the genetic parents." I reminded her that I am Sunshine's REAL mother and that our friend who is an adoptive parent is her son's REAL mother. She was horribly embarrassed, but I told her it was better that she made the error with me, and I was sure she wouldn't make that mistake again. Words matter. A lot. 

3. In the Afterword, Anne says "If children are to be told they're adopted, then society needs to embrace the full consequences of the truth." Does this statement subtly give "society" a pass, suggesting that perhaps children should not be told? What do you make of her assertion that "when children are kept in the dark regarding their origins, nobody wins."? What about her brothers, who never searched for their own origins? Is this "uncuriosity" normal? Acceptable? Preferable?

"Does this statement subtly give "society" a pass, suggesting that perhaps children should not be told?" I hope not. I'm curious to hear Anne's response to that, since she's the only one who can say what she meant when she wrote that.

"What do you make of her assertion that "when children are kept in the dark regarding their origins, nobody wins."?" I agree. Secrets keep us apart. Love and honesty bind us together. 

"What about her brothers, who never searched for their own origins? Is this "uncuriosity" normal? Acceptable? Preferrable?" It does seem, anecdotally, that boys/men seem less compelled to search. Normal? What's normal? Acceptable? Of course. if one is to respect curiosity, one needs to also respect "uncuriosity". Preferable? My gut response is no. Just looking at Anne's family, her brothers' "uncuriosity" appears steeped in guilt, anger, and resentment. No, that's not preferable.

I'm glad I read the book and pushed myself to find the time to put my thoughts together. This post is one I'd be happy to have my daughter read someday and discuss together. I'm going to try to find the time to comment on the other thoughtful posts.

To continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at