5.0 out of 5 stars
A book review by Donna Montalbano, Radio Host
Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child belongs in the pantheon of adoption classics. It is a powerful, complex, and unforgettable journey of an adopted child from birth to adulthood. As a member of the “adoption triad” and former radio host of adoption-related programming, I know the devastating dynamics of adoption: beginning with banishment, loss, lies, and betrayals, followed by a lifelong quest for identity.
The story begins the simple, sweet moment when two teenagers fall in love. A pregnancy results, and when the families find out, a cover-up is concocted to protect the mother and parents from social embarrassment. Because she was a teenaged mother, pregnant and unmarried, she was exiled from her family, friends, and community and forced to give her child to strangers in secrecy and ignominy. Surrendering her child at birth was not a choice. It was non-negotiable. That baby girl, the author of this book, was at first placed with a loving foster family, who were privileged to hear her first words and see her first steps. But when she was only one year old (old enough to suffer the trauma of separation), she was torn away again and adopted by a new family.
As she grew up, dreams and fantasies of her birth mother haunted her as a child. The most poignant parts of this book are the secret “letters” to her birth mother that begin each chapter, revealing her loneliness and longing.
Yet this book is also a detective story, as the title suggests. Tracing your roots is not as easy as the TV shows make it seem. The heartbreaking narrative of this adoptee deeply moved me. Still, at the same time, the mystery buff in me breathlessly turned the pages to find out how or if Judith finally found her truth. As you read this shocking and fantastic book, keep reminding yourself: these are true events.