Reunion: A Year in Letters Between a Birthmother and the Daughter She Couldn't Keep

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9781580050302: Reunion: A Year in Letters Between a Birthmother and the Daughter She Couldn't Keep

After decades of separation, 26-year-old adoptee Katie Hern writes to her birthmother, Ellen McGarry Carlson. Written over a course of one year, this book follows the women's progress - from elation to understanding to accepting - and efforts to create an honest relationship. After several months, mother and daughter finally meet face-to-face in an emotional and exhilarating reunion.

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From Publishers Weekly:

This unusual and occasionally disturbing collection of letters traces the evolving relationship between a birthmother and her daughter after they were reunited. In February 1996, Katie wrote her first letter to Ellen, her birthmother, who had relinquished her for adoption 26 years earlier. Within five days, she received Ellen's eager response. The first six months of contact, according to Ellen, were "like a courtship": the two were so delighted to know one another that their letters overflowed with happiness, consideration and self-disclosure. Ellen had been brought up in an insular Catholic household; after she became pregnant and her boyfriend refused to marry her, her deeply ashamed parents urged her to move into a home for unwed mothers and give up her baby. Despite this straitlaced background, she had no reservations about embracing her daughter's gay identity. At first, Katie insisted that she had never felt abandoned because she had been adopted, and said she was looking forward to visiting with Ellen, her husband and three young children. After several meetings between the women and their families, however, Ellen was unable to connect with Katie's overwhelming feelings of loss, which she had previously denied. A further complication was that Katie's adoptive mother felt resentful and threatened by Ellen and Katie's reunion. Despite such obstacles, however, it appears certain that the two women will continue to be a part of each other's lives. Their letters will fascinate anyone involved in adoption. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

This unique and intimate portrait of an adoptee and her birth mother begins when Hern, a Californian teacher, finds her birth mother and begins corresponding with her. Her letters and her mother's replies form the core of the text. Through them, the reader watches two strangers meet and confront each other, most prominently on the subjects of sexuality, betrayal, and abandonment. As the correspondence continues, readers can see the growth of the ties between birth mother and daughterAa process that is both happy and painful for each woman. Unfortunately, the structure of the book doesn't allow for a discussion of Hern's adoptive family and their reaction to the unfolding of her relationship with her mother. Nor does Hern delve deeply enough into the issues that arise in her correspondence. Overall, however, this is an interesting book that raises many important questions. Recommended for public libraries and collections strong on the issue of adoption.AMee-Len Hom, Hunter Coll. Lib., New York
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Hern, Katie
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