Closed adoption, heralded as the answer to the problem of unplanned pregnancy, shows its other side in A Life Let Go, A Memoir and Five Birth Mother Stories of Closed Adoption. These women tell how they experienced unplanned pregnancy in the restrictiveness of the last decades of the twentieth century. All of them gave up a child in closed adoption—the only option—understanding that they would never see their children again, a dark contract made under great duress.
1972: Patricia is not yet 16 when her parents learn she is pregnant. They decide that she will stay hidden in the house, give the baby up for adoption, and forever keep the baby’s birth a secret.
1983: Nancy, lost and wandering in her early twenties, is anxious to win the approval of her family by doing the “right thing” when she becomes pregnant.
1964: When Evelyn, married only a short time, becomes pregnant, her husband says he’s not ready to be a father. Evelyn believes she must choose between her husband and her baby and gives the child up for adoption. Two months later, she is pregnant again.
1959: Marti, the married mother of two young children, is already struggling to keep from having a nervous breakdown when she learns she is pregnant with her third child.
1969: Dena, a rebellious teenager who turns to drugs for release from a troubled home, learns she is pregnant and marries the abusive birth father. A brutal beating near the end of the pregnancy causes her family to move her halfway across the country to live with her aunt and her physician uncle. Dena loses her fight to keep her child.
1969: Kate, a young unmarried woman from a loving family, is ready to raise her baby and her family will support her decision, but a social worker talks her into placing the baby for adoption.
"In A Life Let Go… Patricia Florin dares to tell the truth, the painful truth, about women who got pregnant and were coerced by society’s rules to let their babies be adopted. This important book is a heart wrenching narratives about Patricia’s own experience and the experience of other women who could not keep their babies. If you have any connection to adoption, you must read this outstanding, well written book."
– Joe Soll, LCSW, psychotherapist and author of Adoption Healing… a path to recovery
"A Life Let Go" picks up where "The Girls Who Went Away” leaves off. I hope every adoptee (especially those who were born and adopted before 1990) and adoptive parent read this book, to get a greater understanding of the societal, religious, family, and economic forces in play that influenced mothers to do the most misunderstood and conflicted thing a woman could ever do—give one’s own flesh-and-blood child to strangers.
- Priscilla Stone Sharp, Mother of Loss to Adoption, Search Angel,
Adoptee Rights Advocate, Founder, Mothers of Loss (to Adoption) on
I have lived on the lip of insanity
Wanting to know reasons
Knocking on a door, it opens
I have been knocking from the inside!
It was extraordinary time in my life, busy with family and entering the next phase, when a desire to "know truth" pervaded me. This collection mixes the mundane with the search, only in the end to discover that I had, as Rumi says, been knocking from the inside.
“If it seems a mystery is hiding in plain sight in these poems, it is. It is Grace. Like a field biologist in camouflage, she steals through the vast territories of a woman’s heart, capturing its steady rhythm on the page.” — Heather Murphy
“From the deepest depths to the farthest reaches of a woman’s body, heart, spirit, and soul, Patricia taps into and brings forth a universal story of Woman. As I read her poems, and experience their essence, I feel as though I’m reading my own autobiography—although I did not write it. I keep her book by my bedside for when I need inspiration, a sense of direction, a different way of looking at things, or just for sheer pleasure.” — Judy A. Wells
“Patricia Florin’s poems open our senses to scenes and thoughts of another person’s life, lifting the veil of privacy and secrets in a charming way. Her words conjure a life rich in experiences, humor, and conflicts that connect and relate to our shared humanity. Reading these messages from inside out and outside in, whichever way, the funhouse mirrors pleasantly refract and bring into focus the value in being present in the moment and not regretting the past.”
A Life Let Go is a collection of compelling stories told with great insight and compassion, each one so different, yet all reveal the devastating impact of the closed adoption system and the tragedy of living in a rigid and judgmental society. It is impossible not to feel deeply for each of the mothers, so much so that other mothers will find comfort and support for their own stories, adoptees will gain a greater understanding of why they were never forgotten, and adoptive parents will feel empathy rather than fear for their child’s original mother. Highly recommended.
- Carol Schaefer, author of The Other Mother and its sequel, Searching…
"As an adoptive parent of the 1960s, reading A Life Let Go... by Patricia Florin was both painful and illuminating. Painful because it brought to the fore the experience of birth mothers exiled to a life of not knowing what had happened to their offspring... Illuminating because Florin explores both her own and other birth mothers’ experiences from the time of conception through delivery and “giving the child up” for adoption… This evoked deep feelings in me as an adoptive parent…. This is must reading for parents who adopted when records were closed as well as when they were open. It is also important reading for the children of both closed and open adoptions…. This book is also an occasion for appreciating and celebrating the shared experiences of its author, Patricia Florin."
—Herbert Long, Th.D.; Diplomate, Process Oriented Psychology; Former Dean of Students and Peabody Lecturer, Harvard Divinity School; Adjunct Faculty, Marylhurst University; Former VP, Labo International Exchange Foundation, Tokyo
"A Life Let Go invites us into the amazing transformation that is possible when the trauma of giving up a baby is healed through love, honesty, and courage. Patricia’s tale is heart rending and inspiring. A true story of a pregnant teen hiding in the house, frozen and blind to all possibility beyond invisibility, as a baby grew in the dark and a mother weds herself to shame. As her life unfolds, and her heart breaks open, she is found by her child and creates a loving family.
"I highly recommend these current and age-old stories of women who have given up their babies due to social mores, family pressure, or emotional and financial limitations. Follow the complex challenges of each birth, and some reunifications, to discover for yourself the miracle of sharing a life. This intimate confessional inspires compassion and deep healing."
– Becky Hale, Psychotherapist, Wise Women Care Center
Click on cover of book to be taken to Amazon.