ADOPTION STORY: A Son Is Given by Marguerite Ryan


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An adoptive mother's own account of every adoptive parent's nightmare: the birth mother changes her mind months after the newborn settles in; the adoption agreement appears to be legally shaky; all parties end up in family court. New York City professionals, the Ryans had arranged adoption of newborn Christopher from Angelina, an unmarried Salvadoran domestic. Although lawyers handled the adoption details, conflict over interstate regulations, coupled with Angelina's change of heart, led to a wrenching trial. After two appeals and despite Chris' deep attachment to the Ryans--he was more than three by the time of the final decision--Angelina emerged victorious. With the Ryans, Chris had attended Montessori school, vacationed at their Cat-skills summer home, and enjoyed the advantages of an urban, upscale lifestyle. Although he liked Angelina, who began weekly, court-appointed visits when he was two, he firmly clung to Marguerite as his "real Mom." Yet in the months and years of this story, Angelina and Marguerite reached across a gulf of language, status, and emotion to determine the best course for Chris. Angelina moved to New York to work as a live-in for an affluent family; the Ryans included her in family parties and vacations; and both women sought guidance from a bi-lingual counselor. But at one point, Angelina nearly ran back to California with Chris. At other times, the Ryans vented their fears, anger, and frustration: Jeremy, the adoptive father, could barely speak to Angelina. Most of the time, however, the two women, bonded by maternal love for the same child, found ways to sacrifice for Christopher: he now lives with the Ryans but understands that Angelina is his biological mother. A disturbing yet uplifting book. Well written and tautly paced, it reveals emotional turmoil both through what is recounted (mostly the Ryans' experience) and what is not (Angelina's). And despite a seemingly tidy resolution to the story, one is left feeling the tension of this awkward arrangement and the risks of adoption.

Pub Date: May 2nd, 1989
ISBN: 89256-338-9
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