In Book 2 of this autobiographical series, a man attempts to reconcile with his adoptive daughter.
In Book 1, which related a bizarre and entrenched skirmish with the juvenile court system, Cambridge (Denied! Failing Cordelia: Book One, 2014) explained his complex relationship with an adopted daughter he referred to as Cordelia. In this second installment, the author explores a number of legal battles in which his “overriding objective” was reunification with the teenage Cordelia. It is a war, the reader learns early on, that has already been lost. By the time of the volume’s publication, Cordelia was legally an adult, and the author could not see her due to a restraining order. Nevertheless, Cambridge has a great deal to say about what happened and waxes on subjects ranging from restraining orders to an imaginary speech he would like to hear read in court. Throughout these pages, the author sees himself largely as a victim of Shakespearean proportions, whether at the hands of a disinterested attorney or from flaws attributable to his own Asperger’s syndrome. Then there is Cambridge’s penchant for extended metaphors (for example, he discusses a legal procedure that “could make the Titanic seem agile in trying to avoid the iceberg that sank it”). Such attempts at engendering sympathy do not always succeed, particularly since Cordelia, regardless of her own mental health and emotional challenges, for the most part seems to not want a reconciliation. And while the author may not be the most relatable figure to pass through the legal process, his perspective is an undeniably singular one. As he asserts: “Having direct experience of both adopting a legally free child and then of fighting for her in a dependency case, I feel uniquely qualified to be able to speak directly to the joys of the former and the cruelty of the latter.” The book digs deeply into child-parent legalities, and, though the conclusion is foregone, Cambridge’s many struggles are informative. Diverse challenges, like the “two-stage process” of a Section 388 petition, are explained by someone who has lived through them. The book manages to incorporate practical issues (such as hiring an attorney versus using a public defender) into an inherently sad and strange overarching story.
This work chronicles an instructively detailed, albeit odd, journey through family court.