Confessions of a Birth Mother
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If giving up a child for adoption leaves a void in the mother’s life, what happens when she remains an active part of the child’s life afterward? That void must be carried with her.

When landscape architect Seek became pregnant at age 22, she and her boyfriend opted for an “open” adoption, an arrangement in which the biological and adoptive families maintain some degree of contact. Finding a suitable couple presented numerous challenges, but giving Jonathan to his new parents while remaining part of the family mosaic proved much harder. A counselor warned the author that the “window of open adoption would open both ways.” Just as she would see any difficulties the adoptive parents faced, her own pain and ambivalence would no longer be private. Seek writes in a style that feels intimate one moment, sterile the next, and she sharply renders her feelings for her son; giving birth, “I felt that my soul had stepped out and sat beside me.” The author marveled at the insignificance of her architecture major compared to the thrill of “building” a human being. Yet descriptions of the birth father, Jevn, are hard to decipher. Seek broke off the relationship and insisted on adoption, but her frustration with Jevn comes to the fore often, despite (or because of?) some lingering fondness. Numerous moves for school and work overlapped with visits to Jonathan and his growing family; the author drives home the point that even as life moves on, it’s a life cleft in two. What might have been was reduced to catching up on the latest developmental milestone, comparing her son with his siblings, and waiting for him to pose the inevitable question: why? She ultimately takes heart seeing her son thrive in a happy home, recognizing that she could not have offered the same stability.

An unflinching look at the consequences and rewards of open adoption, written with care and precision.

Pub Date: July 14th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-374-16445-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2015


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