Patty's Journey: From Orphanage to Adoption and Reunion

Priscilla Ferguson Clement, Author, Donna Scott Norling, Author
Priscilla Ferguson Clement, Author, Donna Scott Norling, Author University of Minnesota Press $47.95 (186p) ISBN 978-0-8166-2866-7
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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. (Sept.)
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