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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Conversation with Elaine Pinkerton, Author of The Goodbye Baby

In 1948 when Elaine Pinkerton was five years old, her mother, Velma, relinquished her and her younger brother for adoption by a college professor and his wife. Velma had married too young and too hastily, wanting to escape farm life in Iowa more than she wanted a family of her own. When her young husband, Giovanni, showed little interest in playing house, Velma left to pursue her own dreams, along the way pawning off her children first on family, then on foster parents.

Elaine felt her adoptive parents, the Beards, had rescued her. Life in foster care had been harsh. Who knew where she would have ended up if the Beards hadn’t found her? She did her best to become a real daughter to them. She began to keep a diary where she could express her innermost thoughts and feelings about her life. After forty years of journaling, Elaine decided to turn her private writings into a book, which ultimately became The Goodbye Baby: A Diary About Adoption.

The diary entries included in The Goodbye Baby begin in 1956, when Elaine was thirteen, and continue through 1990. Via her diary, we learn about Elaine’s rebellious preteen and teen years, her disastrous first marriage and struggles after her divorce, and her relationship with her two boys. We see her struggling to claim her identity while the shadowy figures of her original parents, Giovanni and Velma, loom over her shoulder.

As an adult, she spends time with both Giovanni and Velma, visits that seem to initiate more confusion for Elaine. She learns she has a half-sister who knows nothing about her. In the end, Elaine reaches the conclusion that “the cycle of emotions surrounding loss will . . . continue. What I’m able to change is my reaction to the negative emotions. I say goodbye to the sad child, the orphan me and hello to the strong survivalist . . . .”

Elaine Pinkerton
Elaine Pinkerton generously agreed to answer some questions about The Goodbye Baby for Lost Daughters.