Hole in my Heart is the story of relinquishing my daughter to be adopted in 1966 to a family I was never supposed to know. Yet something made me feel that she needed me, and I began writing to the adoption agency when she was quite young, and getting letters back telling me she was "fine and happy" with her family. However, she wasn't--she had epilepsy--and in fact her adoptive parents were trying to find me. We didn't find each other until she was fifteen.
I wrote this book to shed some light on a subject that is much in the news today but about which many actually know little, and what they do know is far from reality. To that end, and because of my journalism background, I include material that places my individual story in a larger context. In 1979, I published the first memoir from a natural mother (as we were called back then), Birthmark, which ends before I found my daughter. Highly controversial, it helped push the door open for women like me. Hole in my Heart is what came after.
Hole in my Heart is the story of losing my daughter in the supposedly swinging Sixties (not in my world was that decade swinging), reuniting with her in the early eighties, and the triumphs and tears, mistakes and miracles of our relationship--and of mine with her adoptive parents--over the next quarter of a century. Reunion is a rocky road for everyone.
My daughter died in 2007. She knew I was working on a memoir, and the book includes a chapter in her own voice, discussing not only adoption, but also the emotional toll of her seizures. Epilepsy and adoption burdened her with a double whammy. Both left scars.
The book is also about how I reclaimed my life after relinquishing her, and my involvement in adoption reform since the mid-Seventies. I have been fighting for the rights of adoptees to learn their true heritage if they wish, and to give natural mothers a voice. We are usually overlooked once a baby is handed over, except as some ghostly figure "out there" who many adoptive parents fear, even in this day of open adoption.
Yet for every family that is enriched by adoption, another family suffers a loss, and none so great as the mother who gave up the child. We end up damaged, and we do not forget. At the same time, many adoptees search for their family of origin, no matter how loving their adoptive families are, for wanting to know the truth of one's origins is a basic, primal impulse. Because old attitudes persist, because most legislators have never questioned who they are, or how it might feel not to know, adoptees in most states are still denied what the rest of us take for granted: knowledge of one's true identity.
Writing this book has been a difficult and emotional process, prevented me from taking writing jobs that would have kept me solvent, and has taken five years to complete. Conventional publishers stayed away, insisting that a big enough audience did not exist, ignoring that there are several million adoptees, and thus several million mothers who bore them, as well as the fathers and families who lost one of their own. Instead, one can find numerous books about the difficulties of getting a child to adopt, whether here or abroad, and the joys of having done so. The true and full story of adoption is one that many adoptive parents do not want to hear, yet it needs to be told. I wrote this book for the millions of mothers who never forgot the child they lost to adoption, to provide solace to the adopted individuals who seek their original parents and extended families, and to lend crucial, needed perspective to adoptive parents and those considering adoption.
With Hole in my Heart I hope we can prove conventional publishers wrong. And I hope it does not sound foolish to say this book is the culmination of my life's work.
Risks and challenges
I'm hoping to publish this in the next six weeks. The amount I asked for was the bare minimum to pay the people I need to get this over the finish line: copy editors, book designer, art director (I'm including pictures so you can see who the characters are). Anything over that will be used for promotion to get this story out and the book into wider distribution. As someone noted to me the other day: there is so much magical thinking out there about adoption. In a way, I am asking you to pre-order the book so that I can get it off the ground and into the world.
While this is underway, I will be working on a short book "How to have a Healthy Reunion" with Jane Edwards, the woman I blog with at First Mother Forum.
I don't know what happens when the manuscript is in the hands of others--there can always be unexpected delays--but I don't foresee any problems.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)