#23. Black Market Baby: An Adopted Woman’s Journey (Renée Clarke)

Book: Black Market Baby: An Adopted Woman’s Journey, by Renée Clarke

Genre: Memoir

Where I got it: Free Kindle download

Length: 365 pages

Briefly, it’s the story of a woman who was adopted as a baby in Canada in 1940, about her “growing up as an adoptee . . . with its inherent sense of rootlessness, abandonment and denial” (from the blurb).

Comments: This is a sad story.  The author was not just adopted but was a “black market baby”, victim of a system in which babies “were taken out of the arms of young mothers, often without their consent and sold to married couples. They were smuggled across the U.S./Canadian Border. Papers were forged or destroyed.”  Renée Clarke did not learn about her adoption until her teens, when it came as a total shock.  Her relationship with her adoptive parents was not a particularly happy one, and many of the wounds of her childhood carried over into her relationship with her first husband and with her own children.  She has not been able to trace her birth mother.

There are good things in her life too, of course: her love of the outdoors has seen her engaged in many wonderful hiking tours in the USA and Canada, often with her youngest daughter.  She is an accomplished sculptor.  Her relationship with her second husband has been a good one.  The overall tone of the book, however, remains one of unhappiness.

But at times I felt that the author needed to take more personal responsibility for her choices.  Can adoption and one’s adoptive parents be blamed for everything?  No.  There is a little too much “poor me” here for me to remain totally sympathetic.  I also found some of the descriptions of the hiking trips too long and invasive of the main story.  They might have made a better separate travel book.  The frequent recourse to “psychic readings” was a bit alarming, but it did help me to understand the insatiable longing of an adopted person to know her birth mother.

Challenges: Full House Reading Challenge (for the category “Non-fiction”); 2014 ebook reading challenge; non-fiction challenge.

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