“Hole in My Heart” Lorraine Dusky’s New Adoption Memoir

“Hole in My Heart” Lorraine Dusky

Much More Than a Birthmother Memoir

 “Hole in My Heart” Lorraine Dusky

Lorraine Dusky‘s “Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption” is more than a good compelling story. While it is a gripping tale of one woman’s journey though life as a birthmother; it is a story of an adoptee and the very real risk and challenges that many adoptees face. It is a story about forks in the road, choices lost and missed communications. It is a story about adoption, the history of adoption, and the story of adoption reform in the United States. With all this any reader will receive a true education about the reality of adoption.

Validation for Birth Mothers

Sadly, I occupy the same place in adoption as Lorraine. We are both birth mothers. And so, there are certain aspects of the shared experience that  are indeed very difficult to explain to others that don’t occupy the same space. So with that lens on, I found myself reading and nodding in agreement as Lorraine carefully put down the feelings of horror and guilt and of sadness to paper for all.  The constant underlying burning need to find our children; the sense of unrest that permeates every aspect of our existence. And then, one of the things that spoke to me most powerfully:

‘You don’t want to end up like Lorraine. Yet, there I was, on national television, indeed proclaiming how I have ended up. I am someone I was not supposed to be. This is not how I wanted to end up. Not at all. “

Hearing the same struggle; knowing all too well that feeling. This is not the life I was supposed to have either.  And the finality of adoption relinquishment there is no do-over. Something that, still, I struggle with. In that personal space, it is always both comforting, validating and horrifying, to find the same feelings and emotions felt by another so acutely.  As one of us, all our voices tend to whisper though Lorraine’s pages.

Facts and Truth on the Risks of Adoption

It’s pretty much impossible for me to image what a non adoption affected person might respond in reading this. What Lorraine does do beautifully, is weave story around factual informational and documented research in a way that  greatly adds to one’s understanding about adoption practices in America. I would hope that a “normal” reader could accept and want to understand the reality given the parameters of the story; it is the story, sad and heart wrenching as it is, that makes the research more palatable.  At least I hope so.

For me, I love that Lorraine does manage to weave in what really can be considered major points about adoption that must be understood. I was soothed by the familiar mentions of studies on the long term outcomes of birthmothers ( not good), the risks of secondary infertility, the suicide risks posed to adoptees, challenging the concepts of adoptees as “healthy and happy“, the mythology of birthmother confidentiality, the current adoption practices with questionable ethics, and the history of sealed adoption records along with the quest for adoption reform most especially in New York.  These are the facts that make this so much more than a memoir and a book that should be read by anyone who is at all touched by adoption.

The Irony and Frustrations of the Past

A friend and reader for many years now, I knew Lorraine’s adoption story didn’t have a “happy” ending, but it wasn’t the final closure than left me closing the pages of “Hole in My Heart” with a feeling of weight in my heart.

Reading through the history of Lorraine’s brave outreach, coming out as a birthmother with “Birthmark“, going on national TV, facing testimony and rude conversations; brought me such a personal sadness knowing that I had somehow missed, light ships passing in the night,  the truth that Lorraine had lit up. What if I had read ‘Birthmark” when I was younger before I had also relinquished? Could I ever had seen her or Lee Campbell on TV and that somehow got morphed in my foolish brain into glorifying the loss? There is a residual of anger at myself for missing an opportunity that I never knew I had.

It was the continued knowledge that all that Lorraine had gone through, all the pain and troubles felt by Jane,  still continues to this day in so many ways, coarsely disguised as acceptable current adoption practices, that added a feeling of despair. Would anything every change? Seeing all the time and effort that Lorraine had dedicated over the years, knowing the  toll and time and tears that this work takes, I am angered for her that it always seems too much or our messages are taken in vein.

Lorraine first testified on a New York “Open Records” OBC bill in the New York Legislator in 1976. I was in second grade.  Ironically enough, the day I sat  down and read “Hole in My Heart” I was still believing that perhaps we were close to finish the job Lorraine started in 1976.  Just days later, all hope is crippled and the fight to free adoption records in New York  continues; constantly for almost 40 years.  I know the level of disappointment I feel, after only 1/4 of the time invested, and I can’t help but to nod my head to the steal reliance of Lorraine and others who have been  on the battle fields of truth for so  much longer.

“Hole in My Heart” Recommended Reading Indeed

“Hole in My Heart” isn’t light reading, but it is compelling and necessary. Perhaps it is best described as s strong dose of medicine; a strong antidote to adoption mythology, and a injection of raw honesty wrapped up in a riveting story of a life uncommon to most, much like a spoonful of sugar. The truth goes down smooth leaving needed ethical questions emerging as an aftertaste.

Yeah, it’s OK if I end up like Lorraine. 

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About the Author

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Musings of the Lame was started in 2005 primarily as a simple blog recording the feelings of a birthmother as she struggled to understand how the act of relinquishing her first newborn so to adoption in 1987 continued to be a major force in her life. Built from the knowledge gained in the adoption community, it records the search for her son and the adoption reunion as it happened. Since then, it has grown as an adoption forum encompassing the complexity of the adoption industry, the fight to free her sons adoption records and the need for Adoptee Rights, and a growing community of other birthmothers, adoptive parents and adopted persons who are able to see that so much what we want to believe about adoption is wrong.

1 Comment on " “Hole in My Heart” Lorraine Dusky’s New Adoption Memoir"

  1. Damn, Claud, I read the post for a second or third time just now and teared up–you know I am a crier–but even now, all these years later, even after writing it all down–the feelings still stir me up.

    No, hole in my heart isn’t light reading, but then my goal is to change the way people think about adoption, and made sure that more women “don’t end up like us.”

    The fact that you were in the second grade when I testified in ’76 blows me away; changing the world indeed a taking a longer time than I thought. But now we have the next generation–that’s you–to take up the work and finish the job.
    xxx lo

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