My publisher, Seal Press, posted a link to an article by Jennifer Lauck on The Huffington Post: Abducted Versus Adopted: For 1.5 Million of U.S. Adoptees, What’s the Difference? Lauck is the bestselling author of Blackbird, a memoir of a childhood that includes the early deaths of her adoptive parents and the upcoming Found: A Memoir, about her search for and relationship with her birth mother. Lauck writes:
Carlina White said she always had a sense she did not belong to the family that raised her. The twenty-three-year-old woman had been abducted in 1987 from a Harlem Hospital when she was nineteen-days-old. White was then raised by her abductor, Ann Pettway. Pettway is now in custody for kidnapping.
What White expresses about her sense of belonging is what I have felt for all the years of my own life — only I am called adopted versus abducted.
I have to wonder, what is the difference in these terms, especially when I consider the circumstances of my own birth and subsequent relinquishment.
Lauck goes on to tell how her 17-year-old unmarried birth mother was forced to relinquish Lauck as a baby, without ever holding the baby in her arms.
In my own case, the Catholic agency placed me in the home of a terminally ill woman. My adoptive mother died when I was seven. My adoptive father died when I was nine. I was homeless and wandering the streets of L.A. by ten. A long investigation into my case revealed that the Catholic agency knew of my parentless circumstances, noting the deaths of both my adoptive parents in their files, but they did not inform my original mother.
And it turned out that my original mother became a very good mother despite the fact she was told such a reality would be impossible. She married my father when she was eighteen and they had a second child. She went on to have another child as well. Both of my mother’s kept children grew to be successful, well-educated and productive adults.