American Baby is a new non-fiction book about the history of closed adoption in the United States that takes a critical look about adoption in America. The book has received high praise and has been reviewed widely. The New York Times Book Review described it as "a singular story to tell a universal truth." But I wanted to review the book from the perspective of an adoptee. Because I have been reading and writing about adoption for years, I was curious what we, the adoption constellation, would think of the book.
First of all, I was surprised to find that the author, Gabrielle Glaser, is not part of the adoption triad herself. Most of the books I've read about adoption were written by adoptees. A notable exception is The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, which was written by a journalist who helped a mother find the child that the Church had forcibly taken from her and sold into adoption. Glaser was inspired by the story, and curious about how what similarities that adoption in America might have had.
Looking at a picture of me as a baby, I'm struck by how much I look like my son when he was the same age. I'm relieved to know that he will never have to wonder where he was, what happened to him. His history is complete.
It struck me that perhaps having someone from outside the adopted constellation can tell our story in a way where people are more able to listen. For her, it's not personal, it's just horrific._________________________________
Cathy Heslin is a reunited adult adoptee of closed domestic adoption in New Jersey. She is a freelance writer with a focus on adoption and reunion. Her most recent work has been in a joint project with her birthmother called Kathleen~Cathleen that includes a memoir (in process), songwriting, music and performance.