Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cricket (Secret Child of a Sixties Supermodel) by Susan Fedorko

Book Review by Lynn Grubb

As newly Native American myself (as revealed through DNA), receiving Susan Fedorko’s book to review was perfect timing. As I began to be pulled into Susan’s life story, I realized other things we have in common – she was 40 when she first heard from her birth family, like myself. We both are 1960’s Baby Scoop Era adoptees who are related to a famous artist by birth.

As I was reading Susan’s book, I felt as though I was sitting on the couch with her, coffee in hand, listening to her tell me her story. She writes in a style that feels like you are instantly her friend, whether you know it or not.

Susan learns, much to her amazement, that she is the daughter of the first Native American 1960’s supermodel, Cathee Dahmen. I can only imagine the shock and surprise this revelation would bring in mid-life.

The book follows both Susan’s growing up and the parallels of what was happening at Cathee’s life at those same times. Susan does an amazing job of collecting facts, stories and information about her birth parents, considering she does this decades after the fact.

What I liked about this book was although it was intended to be a documentation of Susan’s life for her family, she went much further than that. I felt like I got the inside scoop regarding politics within the Native American tribes, the dynamics of her birth family (which is enormous) and was walking in her shoes when she describes how the reunion was affecting her other relationships.

Her story begins in Minnesota, a closed records state, to adoptees. Although Susan wanted very much to find her birth family, she was stopped by sealed birth certificates and closed adoption files. So Susan did what many other adoptees do: she posted what she knew of her birth and adoption on an adoption website and hoped for the best.

She was fortunate when a birth family member contacted her at work. I flashed back to myself at work the day when my social worker called me to tell me, at the age of 40, she had located my birth mother. I literally was jumping up and down standing at the fax machine as a letter from my birth mother was coming through by fax. My boss – a stoic and very large man and law firm partner – happened to be walking by as I was jumping. It was a surreal moment and I could definitely relate to Susan’s mind racing and being unable to give a presentation at work after that life-changing phone call.

Of course, that phone call not only changed Susan’s life but the lives of many others including her husband’s, her children’s and many adoptive and birth family members. We truly see played out in this book how one change in one family member affects all the others.

I appreciated Susan’s honesty about how she felt about her birth parents and the chaos that reunion can bring into one’s life. I felt by the end of the book that Susan was well on her way to assembling a new self –combining new information and relationships with the old--but at the same time, didn’t lose who she was before reunion. She held firm to her childhood, her loving adoptive parents and the family she made by choice but somehow blended everybody together as best as anyone can be expected to given similar circumstances.

Susan is a an everyday hero to other adoptees, but also to anyone who has ever wondered about where they came from and had the courage to open the door to find out.

You can order Susan’s book here.