Women Who Have Relinquished Babies for Adoption Tell Their Stories
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 Candid, often moving report on the experiences of some 70 women who gave up their babies for adoption. Jones (Stepmothers, 1992--not reviewed) uses questionnaires and in-depth interviews to explore what relinquishing their children means to birthmothers and how the experience has affected their lives. Working with a small, nonrandom sample, the author doesn't pretend to present the definitive birthmother portrait: Her subjects are largely mainstream, emotionally stable women who have come to terms with their experience. All gave up their babies at least seven years ago, some more than twenty years ago. Each of the stories--told pseudonymously and usually verbatim--begins with the discovery of the pregnancy and includes the decision-making process (in which the mother often feels left out), delivery, relinquishment, and return to so-called normal life, which for most of these women means marriage and children. Denial, grief, and anger are common, as are nightmares, phobias, and depression; some women report suicide attempts, abusive relationships, and abandoned careers. When these birthmothers tried to find their children, the outcomes were often disappointing and sometimes even disastrous. While acknowledging that her sample is hardly scientific, Jones constructs a profile of the ``birthmother syndrome,'' which she sees as having an underlying theme of loss and hopelessness. She favors changing adoption structures to provide a place for birthmothers in the children's adoptive families--an arrangement that, she says, would give them ``legally protected open acknowledgement, recognition, and dignity.'' What it might do to the families is not carefully examined. A touching portrayal of the plight of women forced to give up their babies--although Jones's solution seems inadequately considered. (First serial to New Woman)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-55652-192-8
Page count: 300pp
Publisher: Chicago Review
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1993


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