memoir, adoption
Skip to content

Catholic Shame, Secrets & Lies–Fire & Water Author Interview

by Laura on March 8th, 2013

A passionate love story full of family secrets, Fire & Water is a transcendent, lyrical tale. Author Betsy Graziani Fasbinder’s heroine, the brilliant surgeon, Kate Murphy, must come to terms with hidden bitter truths from her childhood to save her young family from a similar fate.

Read more from my review on Amazon.

Today I’m talking with Betsy about secrets. Read here about how I feel about adoption secrets and lies.

Catholic Shame and Adoption

Laura — I keep thinking about the bargain, if you will, in Fire & Water … One woman, married with a stable income, gets to be “the mother,” with the daughter effectively becoming what is a “late discovery adoptee.” In return, the birth mother gets to be in her daughter’s life.

On the one hand, it’s so incredibly hard, because the birth mother has effectively chosen a permanent solution to a temporary problem, a solution that reflected the social expectations of the times. She chose to avoid so-called Catholic Shame, and to have her child raised by two married parents.

On the other hand, isn’t this exactly what many open adoptions are about these days? The adoptive mother giving the birth mother a “seat at the table”?

Betsy — In a way, this story is a de facto “open adoption” story, though I didn’t set out to write it that way. Except, in the case of my character, the adoption is open to everyone but the child.

I set the story to take place in a somewhat earlier time period than today, partly for the reason that unwed pregnancy was a bigger deal back then. I think there’s been so much education and information in recent decades that birth mothers today feel they have more options. To be in the late fifties or early sixties, Catholic, unmarried, and pregnant was even more taboo than it is today in the U.S.

Not that women today don’t suffer shame and humiliation–particularly in more conservative families or cultures. But today women get married in maternity bridal gowns! Celebrities have babies out-of-wedlock and go on the cover of People with happy new baby photos. Very different than just a few decades ago.

But what Fire & Water really does is stretch the definition of what “family” is; not simply defined by biological and marital relationships but about love, devotion, loyalty, and ultimately trust. I also think that a birth parent who gives up a child for adoption because they believe that child will have a better life is a hero of large proportion. This is an extraordinary sacrifice.

You’re only as sick as your secrets

Laura — Upon learning difficult truths about her family, Kate struggles with stubbornly judging the people who love her the most. One character close to her, Dr. Schwartz says

“You must choose how to view this new information. Either you’ve been betrayed in the cruelest of ways… Or the people around you…flawed humans that we are… made enormous sacrifices on your behalf and now look to you for forgiveness and understanding.” (247)

What inspired you to tell the story in this way?

Betsy — I’ve heard the expression, “You’re only as sick as your secrets.”

In this story, many of the secrets were well-intended. Nonetheless, the secrets prove painful when discovered. I have also heard a quote, “There’s no such thing as a secret, only limited access to the truth.” That’s what occurs here. Kate has been kept in the dark her whole life until the biography she’s always held to be true about herself starts to unravel.

Then later, when the degree of her husband’s fragility is revealed, she defaults to the family’s unintentional lesson her family taught her of hiding painful things from those you love. So much pain in life could be prevented if we could be truthful from the start. We think we’re protecting someone (or even ourselves) but we ultimately hurt one another more.

There’s a difference between keeping something “private” versus keeping “secrets.” Privacy is just good personal boundaries, and defined differently by all of us.

Secrets are barbed, dangerous, and painful, when discovered.

*  *  *  *  *

Bio – In both her works of memoir and fiction, Betsy Graziani Fasbinder explores the unending complications of people living, working, and loving one another. As a practicing therapist for more than twenty years, she has been witness to the heartbreak, healing, and heroism of people from all walks of life. Fire & Water, available on Amazon, is her debut novel published by She Writes Press. Connect with her on Twitter @WriterBGF.

  1. Congratulations Betsy. I like your clarification of "secrets" and "privacy." Sounds like a very interesting book.

    • Betsy Fasbinder permalink

      Thanks, Grace. I do think that the distinction between secrecy and privacy is vital for our emotional heath. Those who live shrouded in secrets are often so haunted in their emotional lives. Those without a sense of privacy are doomed to have poor personal boundaries, and are often subject to emotional dangers as a result. A fascinating balancing act.

  2. Putting it on my kindle today! Thanks, Laura for the rec!

    • I do hope you enjoy the book, Corie. I'd love to know your reaction to the story when you're done! It's been fascinating to see how people engage with and react to this story.

  3. Betsy and Laura,

    This sounds like an intriguing story with many layers. Thank you for an interesting and informative interview.

  4. It has been the most exciting book that I have ever had to read from one of the most reputed authors. I am always interested to know if she has been working on some new projects.

  5. Thanks for such a great post and the review….

  6. kekini permalink

    Thank you very much has been sharing this information,
    Connectify crack

  7. hitet permalink

    Very nice, thanks for sharing to us Enjoyed every bit of your blog.Really looking forward to read more
    DriverPack Solution full version
    TweakBit License Key
    Easy Recovery pro
    PowerDirector Video Editor app
    Audirvana Plus 3 Crack

  8. From your blog, I can learn some new knowledge, I like the valuable information you provide in your articles.

  9. This is really an informative and awesome blog to see, thanks for sharing such a terrific blog.

  10. Nice blog and absolutely outstanding. This Post is very useful.

  11. I was reading the provided article with a great interest! This post is useful and informative.

  12. I'm always happy to follow this blog post. cool various posts here on friends in social media, various comments always fulfill my social media posts. many benefits, thanks writer, keeps the spirit.

  13. It is truly a great and helpful piece of info,Excellent blog,Thanks for sharing.

  14. I’m impressed with the special and informative contents, Thanks for sharing.

  15. Gippy permalink

    Best Toddler Life Jackets Reviews of 2017-Top Kids Life Vest
    I am very comfortable and pleased to come here. Thank you very much.

  16. Matoti332 permalink

    Playes Game
    I really enjoyed it!

  17. Great post thanks for sharing it

Leave a Reply

Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

CommentLuv badge

Notify via Email Only if someone replies to My Comment