Jennifer Lauck, Blackbird and Found

Found shows we never really understand the full effects of separation from our first mother until later in life.

The author says:  ‘Blackbird was a book I needed to write.  Dead parents, a spate of homelessness, and countless moves from Nevada to California and back to Nevada had me emerge from my childhood in a spinning haze.

‘The voice I discovered was that of a child who seemed to be in shock.  Writing was like debriefing a disoriented witness.  As I wrote, I tried to form opinions about all I had gone through, but like my narrator, I could only feel numb and amazed.  I found myself asking a series of questions instead:  Did my life have to have some meaning beyond all the loss?  Was there some higher purpose to suffering?  Could a person heal from such a childhood?

‘Over the next few years, a series of extraordinary events unfolded and are detailed within this book.  It seemed that in writing Blackbird, I had begun a long journey that, in the end, would provide answers to all my questions and much more.

‘Blackbird was a witness account conveyed by a little girl.  Found is a widened perspective narrated by a reflective woman and mother.  Both memoirs are my truth.  As part of the creative process, I have taken liberty with conversations, with time, and with identity.

‘My great hope is that this story will be of benefit to all who read it.’

Jennifer Lauck, Portland, Oregon

I read Blackbird first and wondered how a young child could live through so much.  I thought it was not a book I would recommend to other adoptees, because whatever happened to Jennifer in that book was about her personal experience of adoption in the USA, which would not necessarily apply to others.  Personally, I was also a bit jealous of the intimacy she appeared to have with her first adoptive mother, who was sick when she adopted Jennifer.  Other people probably won’t have that reaction.

I was really glad I had read it when I came to read Found.  It was good to have that background, although not necessary.

Found shows we never really understand the full effects of separation from our first mother until later in life.  There is a powerful account of the changes in an adoptee woman after giving birth to her own children, and the fears that arise when returning to the Labour Ward as a mother, but also as a child with a relationship severed from her own mother at birth.  I relived my own experience, and could even hear the words of my first son when his first child was born.  He had the same sense that his child had to be with its mother from the moment of birth, and strode the hospital corridors to make it happen.  It is a sign that such experiences are stored in our memory, even if we cannot recall them.   Other people might be distressed to be momentarily separated from their newborn child, but for a child born for adoption, there is an overwhelming sense that the separation will cause death.  In reading this I felt some affirmation of my own experiences, which at the time I felt were completely weird, and did not see them in relation to the separation from my own first mother.

Jennifer also meets her first mother, and provides amazing descriptions of the internal battles and driving needs, as well as the fears and reluctances that are in both sides of the reunion.

Jennifer makes the decision to have children.  This book may not work so well for adoptees that have made the decision to not have children, or who have not thought purposefully about such a decision.  With those provisos, I thoroughly recommend reading Found.

Jennifer shows what we believe to be true.  To be enfranchised in our own lives we need to tell our stories.  Jennifer was a professional journalist and did it by writing beautiful books that she shares with us.

How will you record your story?  Who will you share it with – your family, other adoptees, or the whole world?  You might like to contact IdentityRites for some ideas.

About sofie gregory

I'm an adoptee; co-founder of the group IdentityRites - peer support and advocacy for adoptees.
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  1. Yan says:

    I read Found, and I’m an adoptee who has decided (now permanently) not to have children. Only a part of that is my own trauma — mostly I just have no drive to parent and don’t want to do something so important in a half-assed fashion. But though I find stories of the revelations of giving birth outside what I can relate to, I overall related to Found anyway. I can’t relate to the earlier traumas of the author, either, but I do know what adoption feels like.

    My personal awakening happened like so many of my moments of decision — I can mull things over for years before doing a thing, but at a certain point, I’m done with thinking and ready for doing. And I got lucky — with the help of a search angel, it took me a matter of months to locate my first mother. The aftermath has been so much more than I expected, in every possible direction, but I know a lot of things I didn’t, about everyone in my life.

    Also, I just found your website last night, and I am so glad of it already.

    • Thank you for your comments. It is my hope that we can each talk about the way we are affected by adoption, and there is no reason why it should be the same for each of us. My hope is that we can all be part of this dialogue, for our own benefits, but also to show the market for babies that adopted children are not the same as your own children. I’m glad you got lucky and have the opportunity to know so much more about your life.

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