Growing up adoption seemed like the most natural thing in the world. I thought my parents were orphans. Neither of these was true of course. The first bump came when my school friends bragged about being French or German. When I asked my mom what we were, she said American. I said but what else? We don’t know, she said, because your dad and I were adopted. We didn’t have the identity so many people take for granted.
As I began to learn about my grandparents, I began to suspect that being adopted and my grandmothers losing their own mothers at young ages (3 mos for my paternal, 11 yrs for my maternal) played a role in the fact that my sisters and I were not able to raise our own children. I began to suspect this strange detachment my parents had about parenting might have also been affected by our circumstances.
The impacts of being motherless daughters and being adopted did have effects. Then I learned about inherited family trauma. Our circumstances began to fall into place, began to make a bit of sense that I had not previously considered. My sisters and I were not purely failures at living, we were carrying wounds passed down to us.
Anyway, without giving too much of my story away, here’s a list of books that proved informative to me on my journey. The more universal are at the top of the list, the more personally specific nearer the bottom but all of them have proven useful to my own understanding.
 The Primal Wound – Understanding the Adopted Child by Nancy Newton Verrier
While written with a focus on adoption, this book offers a lot of insight into the effects of mother/child separations in general. Adoption is common in our family – Gale Patrick Hart, Julie Sue Hart, Susan Ostrowski and Thomas Patrick Parker – were each given up by their mothers for adoption.
 Motherless Daughters – The Legacy of Loss by Hope Edelman
While focused on mothers who died young and left behind daughters, a topic that appealed to me because both of my grandmothers, Lizzie Lou Stark and Dolores Abigail Hempstead – lost their own mothers at a young age; however, this book offers very deep insights into all mother/daughter relationships
 It Didn’t Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle by Mark Wolynn
Explores the possibility of inherited family trauma. I had suspected this was a factor in our own family dynamics even before I knew about or read this book.
 The Baby Scoop Era by Karen Wilson-Buterbaugh
Details about adoption practices from the 1940’s up through the 1970s and more.
 Hole In My Heart: A Memoir and Report from the Fault Lines of Adoption by Lorraine Dusky
The memoir of a woman who gave her daughter up for adoption and then later has a reunion with her.
 Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Although fiction, she did her research on the Georgia Tann/Tennessee Children’s Home Society scandal as the foundation of her engaging book.
 Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America by Jim Webb
Very good historical background of the clan in Scotland and their participation in the settlement and wars of the United States.
 The Diary of Joshua Hempstead of New London, Connecticut by Joshua Hempstead
Covering A Period of Forty-Seven Years From September 1711, to November, 1758
A glimpse into everyday colonial life by a direct ancestor through that family line.
 Memphis and the Super Flood of 1937 – High Water Blues by Patrick O’Daniel
Thorough account of that event.
 Images of America – Ocean Beach by The Ocean Beach Historical Society
Picture of The Door of Hope, a Salvation Army home for unwed mothers, is where Gale Patrick Hart was born. Image on page 116.
Even before I began uncovering my roots, I read The Baby Thief: The Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby Seller Who Corrupted Adoption by Barbara Bisantz Raymond – just after my father died. It made me very grateful for the couple that adopted my mother. It could have been much worse. There are other books as well but these were the most significant for my own self.