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Adoptee memoir–The Sound of Hope

by Laura on April 2nd, 2013

Are all adoptee reunion stories the same? No. Do many of them encompass the same feelings of confusion, grief and loss? Yes.

The Sound of Hope chronicles Anne Bauer’s sometimes difficult upbringing as the youngest of three adoptees, through her marriage and the birth of her two children. The crux of the story is Anne’s reunion with her birth mother, which sets off a family drama as she finds that not everyone is okay with revealing secrets, creating new relationships and growing their hearts.

Revealing secrets, you say? Oh, yes, that is my forte here at Expat Adoptee Mommy, don’t I know it

For me, as an adult adoptee, much of Anne’s memoir is fairly familiar and straight-forward.

  • The sorrow of infertility swept under the rug thanks to the beauty of adoption? Check.
  • Always wondering about my birth family? Aching to know them? Adoptive siblings who don’t share the same curiosity? Check.
  • Instant connection and wonderment at reuniting with birth mother? Check.
  • Being scared to reunite and potentially alienate my adoptive mother, the only mom I’d ever known? Check.
  • Understanding intrinsically that adoption is not just a one-time event that happened when I was born, but rather an ongoing adventure of new and continuing relationships? Check.

The similarities don’t end there! Anne and I grew up in the same town in New Jersey. My birth father’s family is even from the suburban area in which she spent much of her adolescence.

I’m participating in my very first “book tour,” sponsored by my good friend, Lori Holden, author of The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption. As a part of the tour, participants choose among questions submitted by the other participants, and answer them on our blogs. Here goes nothing.

Unaddressed post-adoption issues–in adoptees

Question: Anne speculates that much of her brothers’ problems may stem from their verbally abusive adoptive father. Do you agree? Are there other factors that might have been at work in Thomas’ abandonment of his own young family and Brian’s years of social withdrawal?

Laura: For me, the answer was obvious.

Anne’s adoptive brothers, Thomas and Brian, felt so much (misplaced, misguided in my opinion) loyalty towards their adoptive mom, they couldn’t bear the notion of bringing her any pain. And so they pushed down any inkling of desire that they might have had to even think about searching. Those desires played out in other ways: Thomas mimicking his perceived birth father’s actions of abandonment and Brian withdrawing, avoiding any and all conflict (at the expense of truly living a life of meaning).

Of course, all of this is speculation. The only way to know for sure, to know whether the “not knowing” was creating post-adoption issues … would be for Anne’s brothers to SEARCH.

Unaddressed post-adoption issues–in adoptive parents

Question: When Anne has children, she says that everyone around her, especially her (adoptive) mother, would not admit to her children looking like her. [These are Anne's own biological children!] Why do you think that is, especially given that her parents were open about her adoption status (although not open to discussing it)?

Laura: Post-adoption issues are not reserved ONLY for adoptees. Adoptive parents certainly have them, and since the pain of infertility is often swept under the rug, they don’t realize their jealousy and contempt actually stem from unaddressed post-adoption pain.

This is exactly why, in my opinion, Anne’s adoptive mother denies that Anne’s biological kids look like Anne. Because … That would mean acknowledging that Anne does not look like the adoptive mother. And that would in turn bring to light the fact that Anne is adopted … because (drum roll please) Anne’s adoptive mom was (gasp) infertile.

Is the cycle of unacknowledged, unaddressed pain and guilt-tripping apparent yet? Have I spelled it out in an obvious-enough way?

Agencies who don’t “spot” mental health issues in the adoptive family

Question: How does a social worker know signs to look for if one of the adopted parents is a functional alcoholic or has an undiagnosed mental health issue?

Laura: This is exactly why reform is needed in adoption. When you have the adoptive parents paying exorbitant fees to an adoption agency, how could those who are employed by that very agency be expected to show any type of impartiality in determining whether the paying clients are fit to parent?

Take the money out of the equation, maybe add in some training, and I think you’ll see more social workers able to spot potential issues.

*  *  *  *  *

To continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at

  1. Laura, the Q&A is wonderful…this quote struck a chord with me …."Those desires played out in other ways: Thomas mimicking his perceived birth father’s actions of abandonment" …I, too, am an adoptee…I was adopted in 1953 and reunited with my birth mother in 1983 when she was 72 years old and I was 30. I discovered the All-Adoptee Growth Group at this link in 2011, and have found it to be a safe place where fellow adoptees encourage each other's growth through all the complex emotions in our adoption journey. The founder, Sherrie Eldridge, has asked me to serve as a facilitator for the group. We are working through the workbook Sherrie Eldridge and I co-authored, “Under His Wings…healing truth for adoptees of all ages,” chapter-by-chapter. It can be purchased for $10 on at this link: Here is a recommendation one of our All-Adoptee Growth Group members wrote recently: "I have been on this group for several years as well, and always enjoy hearing others' vantage points. The posts and workbook that is often used here have been a big help to me in seeing and understanding myself and the ways adoption has impacted me." We welcome other adult adoptees to join us <3

    • Laura permalink

      Thanks, Beth for this information–I hope it can be helpful to others, as it's been so great for you.

  2. First of all, I apologize that the link I gave Laura was incomplete. The rest of the tour can be gotten to via….

    I was especially curious how this memoir would strike you, Laura, because I read it right after I read yours and was astounded at the parallels. I'm not surprised in the least by all your Checks.

    RE the brothers' issues, I hadn't thought of Thomas re-creating the abandonment he experienced, but that could very well be. I answered the same question :-)

    RE AP issues: YES!! on acknowledging being such a simple yet powerful start to resolving issues.

    So glad you lent your voice to the tour. I encourage everyone to also pick up your memoir, Adopted Reality, which they can find up there in your right sidebar :-)

    • Laura permalink

      No worries, Lori! I updated the link in my post, as well.

      Yes, the parallels were pretty uncanny … Thanks for the "plug," and I'm so happy, too, to participate in the tour…

  3. This is a fascinating issue; I'm moving a bit slow at the moment due to my workload for April, but I'm making good progress with your memoir, Laura. I look forward to doing a review…soon.

    • Laura permalink

      Thanks, Belinda! I can't wait to hear what you think of it …

  4. Wow, the same town. Let me know if you are still in the area.

    Laura, you were completely right with your assessment of my brothers. They still do not wish to search and I think they are still carrying around this burden buried deep within them.

    Yes, we were very loyal in regards to our mother, and I think that is only a part of the reason why they didn't search. That is the reason why it was so hard for me to write my memoir in the first place and why it took so long. I knew my story might not shed a nice light upon my parents if I told my story and I actually started writing it after my Mom passed in 2006. I also feel my brothers were and are still very angry at their first-mom's for giving them up for adoption and this reason also plays a big part in why they have no desire for contact .

    • Laura permalink


      I know, right? No, my adoptive parents moved when I was 7 to Maryland. Aaaaand now I live in Serbia. Long story.

      I can totally understand your brothers' perspective, however … and this is the rub, they won't actually KNOW the truth unless they search. Maybe they were wanted, maybe they've been trying to find the child they relinquished. What they believe to be true, may not actually turn out to be reality.

      Thanks so much for commenting!

  5. Here via The Sound of Hope book tour… I really appreciate your commentary on Anne's book and Q & A you shared here. I love your check-list and how you explained each component of it.

    As for Anne's brothers, your theory makes sense and also saddens me to think about how closed adoptions have impacted so many like this.

    This really struck me:

    "Post-adoption issues are not reserved ONLY for adoptees. Adoptive parents certainly have them, and since the pain of infertility is often swept under the rug, they don’t realize their jealousy and contempt actually stem from unaddressed post-adoption pain."

    As someone who struggled for many years with secondary infertility (though it was resolved and I do have two living biological children), I appreciate your discussion of how and where infertility plays into all of this, even if it is as obvious as you say.

    As for the last question, I couldn't agree more about taking money out of the equation! Though for slightly different, or at least additional, reasons… When my husband and I were at a turning point with our journey through secondary infertility and loss we were choosing between pursing assisted reproductive technology and adoption. We had great medical coverage at the time and thus our choice to do ART was as much financial as anything. Had adoption been anywhere close to the cost of ART, I have always felt we'd have gone with adoption. But who knows?

    I also really appreciate how you think taking money out of the equation and adding more training (in some cases at least) could really make a difference in the screening process.

    Thank you for sharing your take on this! I have a lot on my reading list at the moment, but hope to read your book too sometime in the future, as I like your writing style (from what I have read in this post) and would be interested to read your story.

    • Laura permalink


      Thanks so much for commenting here. It's really great to see others' perspective on The Sound of Hope. It's so hard, because infertility is a loss in and of itself that must be dealt with. That loss must be processed and understood–adoption is actually not a solution for

      The issue of changing how domestic adoption is practiced, in laws and regulations–that's a whole separate issue. And just the fact that propsective adoptive parents "jump" from one "solution" to another is problematic–agencies can prey on desperate parents, charging whatever fees they want … to get a baby in their hands as soon as possible. This, in my opinion, isn't how adoption should work.

      I'm glad you like my writing style! Please keep in touch–I'll love to hear what you think of Adopted Reality when you get a chance to read it :)


      • Oh, how I wish more agencies would tell adoptive parents this, that adoption is not a "cure" for infertility. They said this during the training we took with our agency, but I am not sure most of us in the room heard it. We were so focused on becoming parents.

        The part that I didn't realize was that, for me, as much work as you can do regarding infertility and loss before you adopt, there is work you can't actually do until you become an adoptive parent, and care for a child who so clearly does NOT look like you.

        I had the experience of thinking I'd let go of all those parenthood hopes before we adopted and comforted myself by remembering that as a lesbian mom, I never actually thought I'd get to have children. But once I became a mom, it suddenly became really obvious to me that I was raising someone else's child. Other adoptive parents don't like me to say it that way, they suspect I'm not securely attached or somehow not really embracing motherhood. I AM attached. My daughter is MY daughter. But she is another woman's daughter, too.

        On a pretty regular basis, I remember that my daughter's mom hurts for the loss of raising her. So there's this bittersweet gladness that is part of my life as a mom. But it's what is REAL and for me, that is what is most important. I grew up in a family with a lot of secrets, and I won't have those be part of my life now that I'm a mom.

      • Laura permalink

        I appreciate your thoughts. I agree, I think you recognizing that you are raising someone else's daughter, or however you want to say it — that acknowledges that your daugther has a shared history. She has a biological background that can exist in addition to her life with you. Like Lori likes to say, it's a both/and situation. And recognizing this is a result of "non-foggy" thinking.

      • Liz — I really resonated with your comments about how some of the grief over infertility doesn't happen until after you adopt. Even now — 8 years into our adoption journey — I still am often very sad when I have friends or coworkers who become pregnant. Because even though I adore my children and wouldn't trade our family for anything, I would have loved to have been pregnant and experienced that initial bonding time with my children.

        I also am always keenly aware that while my children belong to us and our family, they belong equally to their birth family. I often think about my children's birth mother and wonder how she's doing. And often when something happens that makes me really treasure being a mom, I feel a little twinge of sadness, and perhaps even guilt, that their birth mom is not the one who gets to experience that.

  6. Laura, I'd like to read your story as well. Will it be available in e-reader format anytime soon? I had to get after my publisher to get mine converted over.

    I also feel that the high costs involved with domestic adoptions are a major concern because many private agencies and lawyers charge extremely high fees and placing babies into good homes should not be a "business".

    • Laura permalink


      Yes! It would be great — I would love to hear your thougths on Adopted Reality. It IS an ebook — … Let me know once you read it, maybe we could do a Q&A/blog conversation on our respective experiences. I love to do these types of things on my blog.

      I agree, domestic adoption should not be a business …


  7. Core issues in adoption can and often do impact all "parties"–adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents–of the adoption mosaic. I really felt that Anne's parents, especially her mom, were impacted by loss, grief and shame tied to infertility issues.

    • Laura permalink

      Yes! They are all impacted, but no one wants to recognize it, think about it, talk about it. And so the wounds fester. It's sad, really.

  8. I very clearly remember a brochure we got from an adoption agency when we were beginning the adoption process…..the front said "We guarantee you a baby within 6 months." …… We didn't go with that agency, but it was a real indication of how much of a "business" adoption is. I agree — taking the money out of the picture would certainly bring some very positive changes to the whole process.

    • Laura permalink

      Wow. Guarantee? 6 months! This is so tough for me, because the moms are not birth moms. They haven't even relinquished yet, and they are considered "birth moms" already. They are still mothers considering their options.
      Take the money away? I agree … positive changes all around.
      Thanks for commenting!

  9. Laura, what really jumped out in at me when I read your perceptive post was your thoughts, "Adoptive parents certainly have them, and since the pain of infertility is often swept under the rug, they don’t realize their jealousy and contempt actually stem from unaddressed post-adoption pain."

    My adoptive mother is deceased, but sometimes I wish I could just go and make her listen and say, "I get it mom." She would have been shocked. I believe I understood her well-kept feelings and fears more than she was willing to admit to even herself. My adoptive mother would have just started to cry or become very angry had anyone including my stepfather been honest and told her the truth.

    Thanks for reminding me about what's important in life–loving each other despite our flaws and insecurities :).

    • Laura permalink

      I agree–I get it. I can totally see how that would have been shocking but perhaps ultimately healing for your adoptive mother. I know she kept those feelings deeply buried because she was told to get over it, be happy you have a baby that you adopted. And so they listened, but that hurt didn't go away. Even so, it can be SOOOO hard to relate to someone who has so many fears, because that fear plays out in unexpected ways–anger, resentment, passive aggression. It's great to know you!

  10. I really enjoyed your review, Laura. Participating in this tour has taught me a lot. My biggest lesson is how much I don't know about being adopted.

    I can relate to your second question, although in a different way. My mother -in-law, an adoptee, was always the one insisting our kids looked like themselves not like us, her parents. I always thought it odd that she said that but never related it to her being an adoptee.

    You did a great job with the review.

  11. The agency we work with is one that I feel does a good (not complete) job of training and acting transparently. They stress the need to follow through on any contact agreements (not enforceable in our state) and talking about potential issues after adoption. Where they definitely fall down is the infertility piece. I only know of one agency that does way more training for potential adoptive parents when it comes to grieving infertility. Unfortunately, they weren't a good fit for us in other aspects. Learning to separate the two parts of my being – adoptive parent and infertile person was a process I had to go through.

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