Jana Wolff; 1997; Andrews and McMeel, Kansas City*
Reading Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother is like a good session with your therapist. It is insightful. You feel like you have been understood, and that there is a lot of “relating” going on. It can also make you uncomfortable. The truth is so bare.
Author Jana Wolff tells her own story, from infertility through adoption to reunion, in short, easy-to-read chapters. In fact, the whole book can be read in a single, uninterrupted evening – if you have such a luxury. Wolff is extremely candid about coming to terms (or not) with infertility, her son’s birthmother and her now interracial family. She discusses attachment issues from the personal side, rather than the clinical explanations we more often hear, and writes clearly about the mixed emotions inherent in so much of the adoption experience.
In some places, I found myself “disagreeing” with Wolff, but then I realized, this is just one woman’s personal experience. I just needed to “listen.” In other places, I read with amazement as I felt like my own thoughts were written there on the page. In all cases, though, I appreciated Wolff’s honesty and openness.
Obviously, every adoption experience is different. Even families who have adopted more than one child have very unique stories for each. Jana Wolff’s experience will not necessarily be yours, but I think she hits upon some universal emotions in the adoption process.
While some of Wolff’s secret thoughts are not easy to read, I do think the world (and adoptive parents) would benefit from more of us being as open as Wolff is about some of our own thoughts and fears. Ever since first reading this book several years ago, I have wanted to write the “sequel” from my own experience. But the courage and the time have been lacking, among other things. Maybe we could all contribute a chapter.
– Debbie Kaufman
*The second edition of this book came out in 1999. My review is from the older edition.