The Other Mother has taken me on an extraordinary journey, one that I could never have imagined. While writing the book, I felt already connected to my readers in the most profound way. Whenever I doubted my story (the nuns weren't so cold!), the phone would ring and a mother would tell me her story and confirm my own. These were the early days, the book was published in 1991 and only a few books had been written on the subject. We were still the blind leading the blind, coming out of the secret woods and asking each other, "Did that happen to you, too?" Though our circumstances may have been different, we had in common our tremendous feeling of loss, betrayal, grief and love for our children - all leading to trauma.
"You told my story!" was the most common reaction to reading the book and the most meaningful to me. Our memories were out of necessity buried. I had needed to hear the stories of others to remember my own, and so I wrote the book to help awaken the readers' stories from their own buried memories. In the writing, too, I was determined to make it a great read, so that others couldn't put the book down and would have to understand why we needed to find our children.
What I hadn't expected was the reaction of adoptees: "I never realized she ever thought about me, never knew all she'd been through." Many decided to search because of their new understanding. One adoptive mother admitted to throwing the book across the room, as she was forced to face the cost to her child's other mother for her happiness. But newfound compassion enabled adoptive parents to let go of their insecurities and let their child's other family into their lives.
We can never underestimate the power of our stories. But we must keep in mind that, though we are entitled to our anger over all that was done, that anger only makes others defensive and no one is changed. As we tell our stories, trust the listener to react with anger and the romantic view of adoption can only crumble, creating greater hope for better relations and laws opening records that allow us to find each other.
My hope has always been that we come back together in love and not fear.