The Baby Scoop Era — from 1940 to 1970 — was a period during which an estimated 4 million mothers in the United States relinquished babies for adoption. Here are five books written by adoptees born during this time frame:
Ithaka: A Daughter’s Memoir of Being Found
by Sarah Saffian
Adopted as an infant twenty-three years before, living happily in New York, Sarah had been “found” by her biological parents despite her reluctance to embrace them. In this searing, lyrical memoir, Sarah chronicles her painful journey from confusion and anger to acceptance and, finally, reunion–but not until three soul-searching years had passed.
The Last Invisible Continent: Essays on Adoption and Identity
by Michael Allen Potter
These twelve essays span nearly twenty years of research and activism that chronicle one man’s search for his family. Together, they explore the concept of personal identity from the perspective of someone who was erased completely by adoption in The State of New York.
The Fifth and Final Name: Memoir of an American Churchill
by Rhonda Noonan
In a family memoir that reads like a detective novel, Rhonda Noonan recounts her thirty-year quest to find the truth of her own background–and what she uncovered will surprise readers as much as it did her. Rhonda was born and adopted in Oklahoma, a state with closed adoption records. And, although she was cherished by her adoptive family, she–like so many adoptees–felt a burning desire to find and make contact with her birth parents. Her three-decade-long search involved institutional stonewalling; the intervention of numerous judges, attorneys, and detectives; mountains of paperwork and court filings, and thousands of dollars in expenses. Tirelessly tracking down lead after lead–and with the otherworldly help of a friend named Lillie–Rhonda finally unearthed her true history. Her father was none other than Randolph Churchill, son of Sir Winston Churchill. The State Department of Human Services and the FBI laid down an intricate cover-up, with Averell Harriman and President Truman on the periphery. The evidence was clear–there was no question in her mind (though her efforts to secure incontrovertible proof in the form of a DNA test were stymied by the Churchill family). The events leading up to her discovery, as well as the aftermath of the astonishing revelation and her face-to-face confrontation of the Churchills, will leave you in awe of this intrepid heroine of her own life.
Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe
by Lori Jakiela
Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe is a book about mapping lives–the lives we are born with and the lives we are allowed to make for ourselves. Belief is part adoption narrative and part meditation on family, motherhood, nature vs. nurture, and what it means to make our own authentic human connections. Belief extends the possibilities of creative nonfiction at a time when many people are talking about what exactly truth-in-memoir means. The book’s patchwork form mirrors the fragmented experience of being an adoptee confronting–and trying to heal–her roots. Belief is the story of one woman’s search for her birth mother coupled with the parallel story of her own motherhood and re-making. It’s about what it means to be a mother, what it’s like to have two very different blood connections, and what it means to form a family. Belief is about searching for roots and what that means, exactly. It’s about finding a balance between the families we’re born into and the ones we make ourselves.
A Girl Named Connie
by Carol Perkins with Connie Wilson
In 1946, being adopted was a social curse and a lifelong sentence. I was born that year, but not to prosperous business owners, Bill and Cloteel Wilson as I had thought. When I was six weeks old, they brought me to their rural Kentucky town, and I would not know I wasn’t theirs until I was in the sixth grade. A disgruntled classmate announced during recess that I as adopted. Even though shocked, I did not have the nerve to confront my parents, who could be quite volatile. For the next forty years, my life was one performance after another, and I played their daughter well. I struggled with thoughts of my birth mother, wondering why she had given me up, and if I had siblings elsewhere. Was she a tramp, a prostitute, or a victim of incest or rape? No doubt, I was illegitimate, and no one wanted to be the illegitimate child of anyone. My friends knew I was adopted, but when I ask them, they would tell me nothing. They did not want to cause trouble in my home. My dad was a kind business owner, but he was also a powerful man and one most people found intimidating. My mother was not much different. No one would ever think of asking them where they “got” me, including me. Many other secrets, rumors, and speculations about my birth emerged over the years, and in time, I would find out the truth. It would come in the form of a phone call late one night from an unlikely source.