GIVEN UP by Mary Sharon Bailey


Email this review


Debut author Bailey recounts her quest to discover her birth family in this Christian-oriented adoption memoir.

The author was born in Ottawa in 1948 to an unmarried woman. After six weeks with her birth mother, she was adopted by Margaret and Gerald Johnston and raised alongside their 7-year-old biological son, Joe. In this book, she recounts the peculiar experience of growing up knowing that she was adopted and the tensions and fears she had as a result. For example, she grew up attributing her parents’ treatment of her—both good and bad—to the fact that she was adopted, and she was afraid that they might return her to an orphanage if she failed to live up to their expectations: “I was trying to second guess my situation because of the adoption, when I should have been just growing up and acting out like any other child,” Bailey writes. When a hysterectomy at age 30 rendered the author unable to have children of her own, she realized that her only hope of knowing a blood relative was to seek out her birth family. With the help of an organization called Parent Finders, she began a search that involved a number of false starts and disappointments, but it eventually helped her to shed light on the person that she truly was. In addition to providing her own narrative, Bailey explores the logistics and practices of adoption from the 1940s to the present day. At less than 150 pages, this work is a quick read. Although the overall pace of the narrative is inconsistent at times, Bailey shows herself to be a capable writer who effectively conveys the emotional weight of her memories. Bailey’s religiosity, while present, is never overbearing; her belief in miracles appears to have been informed, at least in part, by her adoption experience. Readers interested in stories of adoption from a personal perspective, and particularly those with a religious bent, will find much to enjoy in this affecting account.

A short, thoughtful, and informative book about adoption and faith.

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-5127-5437-7
Page count: 148pp
Publisher: Westbow Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:


by K.C. Smith
NonfictionGOD AND JETFIRE by Amy Seek
by Amy Seek
IndieUPSIDE DOWN by Shannon Guerra
by Shannon Guerra