Found: A Memoir
by Jennifer Lauck

Seal Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-580-05367-9.
Reviewed by Linda Hoye
Posted on 04/08/2011

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Relationships

At first Jennifer Lauck's latest book, Found, seems like just a book about adoption and reunion, but scratch the surface and you find a multi-layered story about grief, abuse, spiritual awakening, and ultimately forgiveness and healing.

Lauck joined her adoptive family when she was two days old. By the time she was nine, she was orphaned and by the time she was ten, essentially homeless. A second adoption by relatives of her first adoptive parents thrust her into a life where she was horribly mistreated, neglected, and abused.

As an adult, like many adoptees, the birth of her children caused what she referred to as an "awakening from life-long slumber" that forced her to face her feelings about having been separated from her birth mother. Lauck has done extensive research into the impact of adoption on the child and she writes about the deep trauma that infants experience when they are separated from their mothers, and how this trauma manifested in her own life. As part of her research she worked with adoption expert, Nancy Verrier, who ultimately encouraged her to look for her birth mother in an attempt to fill the mother-shaped void in her soul.

She takes us behind the scenes of those tear-filled reunions we see captured by the media to the truth of the gut-wrenching emotion and conflict she experienced when she was eventually reunited with her birth mother and struggled to build a relationship with her. In speaking about life post-reunion, Lauck says "I feel a new self mature within my core and my old sad and protective self is being shed like the skin of a snake. I'm working myself free. I'm emerging into a new world."

Woven throughout the adoption and reunion story is an account of the challenges Lauck faced, as a woman who did not have a childhood, in becoming a parent and experiencing childhood through the eyes of her children. "My kids were just so...childlike" she says, and "Their very nature was perplexing to me. Vexing at times."

She also writes about her experience as a spiritual seeker, the lengths she went to find what she was looking for, and her devotion to the art of meditation. Peppered throughout the story are a series of "coincidences" linking Lauck's life to that of her birth mother long before the two met.

Jennifer Lauck has an easy style of writing that draws the reader in. Adoptees will identify with aspects of her story and will recognize the lack of a sense of self, desire to please, and sense of disconnectedness that Lauck describes feeling throughout much of her life. In addition to being a fascinating read, this book can be used a teaching tool for those seeking to understand the adoptees in their life.

Jennifer Lauck is an award-winning journalist and the author of the memoirs Blackbird, a New York Times bestseller, and Still Waters. Lauck has been featured in Newsweek, Harper's Bazaar, Talk Magazine, People, Glamour, and Writer's Digest. Before becoming a memoir writer, speaker, and teacher, Lauck worked for eight years in television news for ABC affiliates from Montana to Oregon. Her investigative reports have appeared on CNN and the ABC Nightly News. Visit her website.

Check out our interview with the author of Found.

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