In addition to the following books on adoption issues, please see Articles on this site.
Books for Adopted Adults and Their Parents:
Issues for Birth/Natural Parents & Adopted Adults
- Adoption and Loss (by Evelyn Burns Robinson)
- Adoption and Recovery (by Evelyn Burns Robinson)
- Adoption Healing … a path to recovery (by Joe Soll)
- Adoption Healing … a path to recovery for mothers (by Joe Soll & Karen Wilson Buterbaugh)
- Adoption Reunions (by Michelle McColm)
- Adoptee Trauma (by Heather Carlini)
- Birth Bond (by Judith Gediman & Linda P. Brown)
- Birth Mother Trauma (by Heather Carlini)
- Coming Home to Self (by Nancy Verrier)
- Journey of the Adopted Self (by Betty Jean Lifton)
- Lost & Found The Adoption Experience (by Betty Jean Lifton)
- Primal Wound (by Nancy Verrier)
- The Adoption Reunion Survival Guide (by Julie Jarell Bailey & Lynn N. Giddens)
- The Adoption Triangle (by Arthur D. Sorosky, Annette Baran, & Reuben Pannor)
- Touched by Adoption (by Blair Matthew)
- Finding Family (by Rick Ouston)
- Not Remembered Never Forgotten (by Robert Allan Hafetz)
- Outer Search Inner Journey (by Peter Dodds)
- The Other Mother (by Carol Schaefer)
- Reunion: A Year in Letters (by Katie Hern & Ellen McGarry Carlson)
- The Same Smile (by Susan Mello Souza)
- Swimming Up the Sun (by Nicole Burton)
- Without a Map (by Meredith Hall)
- The House with the Broken Two ~ A Birthmother Remembers~ (by Myrl Coulter)
General Books of Interest
- The Baby Thief (by Barbara Bisantz Raymond)
- Beggars and Choosers (by Rickie Sollinger)
- Birthmothers (by Merry Block Jones)
- Butterbox Babies (by Bette Cahill)
- Fallen Women, Problem Girls (by Regina Kunzel)
- The Girls Who Went Away (by Ann Fessler)
- Gone to an Aunt’s (by Anne Petrie)
- Sacred Bond: The legacy of Baby M (by Phyllis Chesler)
- The Stork Market (by Mirah Riben)
- Wake Up Little Susie (by Rickie Sollinger)
If you have read a book and want to let others know what you gained from it or how they may find it beneficial, please feel free to email Marnie with your report. If you are interested in a book, yet do not know if it would be of benefit to you, write a letter to Marnie asking her to post it in case another member or internet visitor has read it.
Evil Exchange, by Lori Paris and Joe Soll
A fast moving fictional account of some of the horrors that can take place in adoption. Lori and Joe have managed to weave a tangled web that is filled with mystery, suspense, truth, and laced it with humor. Those of us who have been affected by adoption, will find their fictional account of black market baby selling disturbing and sad. We will understand the feelings and thoughts of the main character, Todd Walters, as he makes the decision to finally search for his first mother.
The emotions that are described are those that have been felt one time or another by all of us searching adoptees who are honest with ourselves. The need to know who our mother is, the need to know the true story of what happened, and that fear of what we may find. Without being ‘preachy’, the reader also learns the need for support and preparation for those of us embarking on this journey.
The reader will learn how a Black Market baby selling ring works, the money involved is staggering, and the lengths those criminal minds will go to disturbing.
Even though ‘Evil Exchange’ can be a quick read, I found myself having to put it down, because of the emotions it brought up for me. I recommend it as a refreshingly truthful, though fictionalized account of how twisted life is for those adopted.
The Baby Thief
The Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby Seller Who Corrupted Adoption
By Barbara Bisantz Raymond
This book is about a subject that I knew little if anything about. I had heard that there were ‘black market’ babies, who I had assumed had been sold to their adoptive parents from private practices without the services of government agencies. It had never been explained to me what it really meant, or the degree of disrespect given to human life that was involved. The main motivation is money. “The Baby Thief” documents how Georgia Tann went about stealing babies and children from their families in order to make extreme amounts of money as well as creating a name for herself as a saviour of orphaned children in Tennessee between 1924 and 1950.
Adoption had never been popular, and certainly didn’t exist as we now know it. Americans were afraid to adopt, thinking orphaned children were flawed or damaged. If children were adopted, quite often they were used as hired help. Unwed mothers often kept their babies, and would bring them up in the family. Mother’s in homes would be encouraged to stay with their babies for longer periods, in hope that they would bond with their child and therefore want to keep it. What Georgia Tann discovered was that if she could ‘market’ these babies and children favorably, there was money to be made. Georgia was able to secure the help of a judge in the corrupt state of Tennessee, who would falsify birth certificates and whatever other documentation that was necessary in order for Georgia to obtain the babies and children she needed to supply her growing list of wealthy adoptive parents nationwide.
Young unwed mothers, or mothers that were impoverished and had just given birth would awaken to find that their babies had died never knowing that their babies had been secretly whisked away and sold. Sometimes Georgia would steal children from their poor families to fill a specific order for a certain look, for example she may have an order for a 2 year old blond blue eyed girl. Many times children would be returned for not being what the adoptive families actually wanted. These children would languish in some of the many homes that Georgia ran. Often children were sold into abusive homes, where they would be physically, emotionally and sexually abused. Some newborn babies that were stolen would die from dehydration, and buried in unmarked graves before having a chance to be adopted. Georgia’s greed and need for power knew no boundaries.
Georgia Tann had many celebrity clients, Joan Crawford being one of them. The babies and children that Georgia stole were sold all over the United States, and into Canada as well. Tennessee was run by a corrupt political network that allowed her to carry on for almost three decades untouched. When questions were raised either the law would be rewritten by Georgia’s personal lawyer Abe Waldauer, or those questioning would be run out of the state by “Boss” Ed Crump’s people.
This book is very disturbing in it’s subject matter, and covers a very dark time for the state of Tennessee. Unfortunately it wasn’t the only state that had black market baby sellers, and equally unfortunate is that this is a practice that still does exist today, with adoptions taking place in North America and Internationally. The woman who arranged for one of Angelina Jolie’s adoptions, was American broker Lauryn Galindo, who between 1997 and 2001 arranged for adoptions of Cambodian children to Americans, making an estimated $8 million in the process. Eventually she would serve 18 months in prison for falsifying names, histories, passports and birth certificates for these children.
Barbara Raymond interviewed survivors of the horrors of what Georgia Tann did. In the end some were reunited with siblings, and sometimes parents. These damaged souls were able to find some happiness after so many years of pain. It wasn’t until 1999, that the records were finally opened in Tennessee for all adopted people and birth parents in that state.
As difficult as this book is to read, I was able to learn more about why adoption became and still is sadly viewed as an option for infertile couples to make a family at the expense of the pain of others.
Book Review by Marnie Tetz
Throwaway Daughter, by Ting-xing Ye
Throwaway Daughter is classified as a junior fiction novel, but it in no way handles the issues of overseas adoption with kid gloves. The story starts off in small-town Ontario where there are very few Asian people living but, as the story winds down to a conclusion, it bounces back over to China a couple of times depending on who is sharing their story. The perspective is of a narrative tone told from the view of all the members of the adoption constellation, including the biological grandfather, the biological mother, the adoptive mother, the adoptee, the woman who cared for the adoptee at the orphanage, the biological father and the biological father’s new wife. From hearing their perspectives, the book unwinds the story of how a Chinese baby grows up in Milton, Ontario with Caucasian parents.
Throwaway Daughter is concluded in China 20 years later with a very powerful and realistic reunion. The book explores the social/ political pressures that forced the relinquishment of a baby girl from a mother who courageously fought for her daughter’s life. This writer gives a great deal of credit to the author for the realism and accuracy of her story. The greatest problem with the story is the same problem as with other stories dealing with such subject matter—the book ends at the point of first contact between adoptee and biological mother. It never explores the emotional challenges of developing a relationship and the relationship reaching the point of normal. Overall, this writer wholly recommends the book Throwaway Daughter to anyone interested in a short but powerful read.
Reviewed by Denise Kelly-Jones
REUNION: A Year in Letters Between a Birthmother and the Daughter She Couldn’t Keep
By Katie Hern & Ellen McGarry Carlson
This is a book about a reunion between a birth mother and her daughter, written through a collection of letters and e-mails over the first year of their discovery of each other. I highly recommend it just because of the honesty that takes place. There were several times that I had to put this book down because of the emotions that were stirred from that honesty in the correspondence between the two, getting to know each other through their letters and the anticipation of their first meeting. The intensity of emotions after that meeting is expressed in such a beautiful way that the reader can feel the pain and joy that the mother and daughter share. For example, the daughter, Katie, comments of her mother, Ellen: “I can understand why you might not want to think about the difficult repercussions of adoption for adoptees. It was a painful enough experience for you, without adding the pain it has caused me. And you’ve already shouldered too much shame and guilt for one human being.” This book is so well-written, I believe that everyone who is involved in the adoption constellation would benefit from reading it. Both birth mothers and adoptees will come to a better understanding of what the other has gone through.
Reviewed by Marnie Tetz, adoptee.
The Art of Forgiving, by Lewis B. Smedes
I found this book to be a very good place to start overcoming and dealing with the issues of forgiveness. The author has created quite a simple format in which the entire book does not necessarily need to be read. Just to give you a taste of the literary style:
“…But the original wallop is only the beginning of pain. There is a reflex pain that comes hard on the heels of the original blow—the reactive pain of frustrated fury. Fueled by our resentment, our memory tucks this pain in an inside pocket of our spirits where it fattens on our happiness. It becomes a pain that swells in the spirit long after the original injury. This is the pain that forgiving was invented to heal.” (at page 18)
Dealing with everything from what is “forgiveness” and what is it not, to forgiving oneself and dealing with the question of who we can forgive. The book continues,
“…Every victim moves through three stages of unfair pain. The first stage is the original wallop. The second stage is remembering the wrong that happened. The third stage is the vengeance stage, the futility of wishing at least equal pain on the person who gave her pain. If the victim allows herself to get mired in the third stage, she will allow the person who hurt her once to go on abusing her in her memory until she dies. Some fairness.” (at page 58) This book is certainly worth the time invested and you can expect returns not only in your own day-to-day issues, but in your life-long issues as well.
Reviewed by Colin James-Deen Bannon, adoptee.