My eyes were filling and my throat choked up by the second page of Denise Roessle's memoir, Second-Chance Mother. I hung on every word of this extraordinary account of the experience of a birth mother as she reunites with her son twenty-seven years after relinquishing him for adoption. Nothing about their developing relationship was simple. Referring to her emotional state before the call that opened a portal into another level of existence she says, "I might as well have been dead." She builds on that base as she interweaves accounts of coming to understand and reconcile with her own mother and her struggle to understand and accept a son who was less than a dream-come-true.
While this volume is generally touted as a mother's reunion experience with a child, it is at least equally as much the story of coming to terms with her own mother's emotional distance and how that has affected her. In a very real sense it is a coming of age memoir as Roessle belatedly learns to recognize and work with emotions she has frozen out since before her child was born and she reunites with feelings and emotions locked deeply within her since before the birth of her son. She recounts her journey of self-discovery and transformation simply in freshly candid terms that build bridges straight from her heart to the reader's.
The story has value far beyond the adoption community. The issues of physical and emotional abandonment Roessle wrestles with will be thought-provoking for any readers who have longed for deeper, more supportive relationships from parents and others. Her experience working through the tendency to avoid confrontation, live a chameleon-like existence, and generally focus on pleasing others at personal expense can provide both inspiration and roadmap for anyone in similar situations.
I applaud her frankness and thank her for her willingness to lay her soul bare to give hope to others who may follow in her path.
Read an excerpt from this book.
When Denise Roessle became pregnant out of wedlock in 1969, she inadvertently joined the ranks of the million-plus young women who fell prey to the "Baby Scoop Era" a time when relinquishing their newborns for adoption was the socially-accepted solution to erasing their sins and filling an increasing demand for adoptable infants. She was told to move on with her life, assured that she would forget and have other children she could keep. She finished college, married, and became a professional copywriter and graphic designer. But she never had more children. And she did not forget. After reuniting with her grown son in 1996, Denise began writing on this more personal topic. Visit her website & her blog.
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