Patty's Journey: From Orphanage to Adoption and Reunion

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9780816628667: Patty's Journey: From Orphanage to Adoption and Reunion
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In 1936, four-year-old Patty Pearson was taken from her parents and placed in the State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children in Owatonna, Minnesota. Once at Owatonna, Patty was separated from her sister and brother, was sexually abused by the school janitor, and contracted tuberculosis. She was placed in two foster homes where she endured a variety of emotional and physical abuses. Eventually adopted at the age of seven, she would not see her sister again for more than thirty years. Through her late childhood and teen years Patty learned to negotiate the shoals of life as an adoptee - striving for full membership in the family, repressing her anger at being forbidden to discuss her past, wondering what became of her sister, brother, mother, and father. As a young woman coming of age she grew to appreciate the good things her adoptive family offered her even while holding on to a sense of self they wanted her to suppress. Patty's Journey is a richly textured account of people struggling through the Great Depression and war years, but it also illuminates the customs and small victories of that era, often in surprising and humorous ways. Although it provides a disturbing look at child-rearing practices in state orphanages at the time, it is ultimately a redemptive tale of one woman's bravery in facing her past - and moving ahead toward a future that included both her selves.

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About the Author:

Clement is associate professor of history at Pennsylvania State University, Delaware County.

Norling is a freelance writer.

From Publishers Weekly:

When she was seven years old, the author was told about a girl named Donna Ruth. "Do you like that name?" asked her new adoptive father. "I nodded my head dumbly... 'Good,' he said, apparently satisfied, 'then that will be your name from now on.'" In that moment, Patricia Ann Pearson was replaced by Donna Ruth Scott. Three year earlier, in the depth of the Depression, Norling's father had been arrested for burglary. A few months later, Norling, her older sister and baby brother were placed in Minnesota's Owatonna State Public School. After being bounced from foster home to group foster home and back to Owatonna, Norling had become a toughened, somewhat cynical observer of adult behavior; of dormitory pillows that were on beds during the day, in lockers at night; of state examiners who prodded her about her favorite foods when the institution mandated cornmeal mush; of her new-minted identity. Despite her adoptive family's well-meaning, if misguided, attempts to erase Norling's past, she retained both her toughness and her skepticism. There is refreshingly little self-pity?which doesn't mean that Norling isn't sharply aware of her own position and of the combination of shame and sentimentality that surrounded adoption. Norling uses a slightly childish tone in the earliest pages that is beneath her generally fine prose. But her observations of children, adults and finding one's self in the most changeable circumstances are what make this book an excellent addition to the many memoirs coming out this fall.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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