1. I was struck by how differently the many adoptees in the book (Bauer, her brothers, her adoptee friends) approached the possibility of finding their birth parents. While I totally understood the author's need to find her birth parents I was surprised that other adoptees didn't feel that same urge, or that it was trumped by guilt or ambivalence. Did you identify more with the author's drive to find her parents at any cost or did you better understand better the other adoptees' ambivalence? Why?
I identify with Anne more than her brothers on searching. However, I definitely have a "need to know" part of my personality (evidenced by my most recent posts and thoughts toward infertility). I couldn't get a read on Anne's brothers because it seemed that their upbringing may have also contributed to their feelings of the hand they were dealt. I suppose that unless they write their own memoirs, we (and maybe even Anne) can never be privy to how they really feel toward their birthparents. Her brother Brian let her down because at one point he promised to help her search and then when she was determined to search, he rejected her.
2. Could Anne's adopted brother's drinking problem have been brought on by his tense upbringing verses heredity? With having such an alarming rate of adoptees with drug and alcohol issues, mental health issues leading to incarceration, could some of unhealthy adoptive home environments have anything to with the tragic outcomes as well? What could we do as a society to look at the root of the problem and come with some better solutions?
There was a study in Sweden that showed the following statistics studying 18 115 adopted children born between 1950 and 1993; 78 079 biological parents and siblings; and 51 208 adoptive parents and siblings. The conclusion from the available abstract: Drug abuse is an etiologically complex syndrome strongly influenced by a diverse set of genetic risk factors reflecting a specific liability to DA, by a vulnerability to other externalizing disorders, and by a range of environmental factors reflecting marital instability, as well as psychopathology and criminal behavior in the adoptive home. Adverse environmental effects on DA are more pathogenic in individuals with high levels of genetic risk. These results should be interpreted in the context of limitations of the diagnosis of DA from registries. In my opinion, this study concluded that the most at-risk individuals are those who have high levels of genetic risk. Not to mention that there are so many other factors that can contribute to the risk of drug and alcohol abuse.
Maybe this question is leading to how the adoptive parents approach the child's curiosity and issues toward their biological families. In some situations, no matter what, biological or adoptive, there will be a child who has issues with addiction. In situations, such as those described in Bauer's book, we aren't given all the facts. But there are a partial listing of facts. There was most definitely mental health issues and addiction in Anne's family. What we don't know is whether her brothers' biological families have addiction as well. In this particular case, it could have been both biological and situational, or the dysfunction within their family caused the stressors, which activated addictive tendencies. But, who's to say that addiction would not have played a part in their lives if they weren't adopted?
3. A variety of words are used to describe family in this book: mother, father, adoptive mother, adoptive father, biological relative, original family, first mother, birth mother, and even bionic mother (her Dad's word). Did you notice this word choice, and if so, what impact did it have on your reading?
As someone who struggles between first-mother and birth-mother on a regular basis (I like first-mother, but get annoyed when I have to explain it), the various terms tended not to bother me much. I did find it really odd that her father used the term "bionic" mother. It seemed sarcastic, like he couldn't really acknowledge the presence of her first-mother despite his acquiescence that Anne have a relationship with her. As the story progressed, I felt more and more uncomfortable with that term, and still feel a little un-moored thinking about it.
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