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

Katie Hern, Author, Ellen McGarry Carlson, Author, Ellen McGarry Carlson, Joint Author Seal Press (CA) $16.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-58005-030-2
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.)
Reviewed on: 10/18/1999
Release date: 10/01/1999
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!