Canadian Council of Natural Mothers' Library

Can You Wave Bye Bye, Baby?
Elyse Gasco

This collection of short stories is linked by the theme of adoption: each of the stories centers on a critical point in the life of someone touched by adoption. In one story, a widowed adoptive mother frets over her teenaged daughter's desire to know her family, and decides to lie. She fakes a message from the daughter's natural mother expressing a desire not to know her daughter. In another story, the raised daughter of a mother who lost her first daughter is never able to bond with her own infant. The damage of removing the first sister is played out in parallel in the life of the younger sister. In another story, a mother who was herself adopted tries to come to terms with having a baby herself. Each of the stories describes some facet of the losses of adoption.

The characters of these stories are complex, rounded people with both strengths and weaknesses. The girl asked to speak about adoption who has only the uncomfortable truth of her own experience, the mother left alone with her own child, wondering what she is supposed to do, these are people we can identify with, but they are uncertain in this life. In some ways, perhaps that is the message about adoption in this book---it leaves one uncertain about life at best, and damaged at worst.

There is truth, often unpalatable truth, in each of the stories of this collection. Having said that, the stories are difficult to read, not only because of their emotional content, but also because they are told in a first person, stream-of-consciousness style that may seem disjointed or difficult for many readers. The reader must often interpret from what is barely indicated what has actually happened. Thus, this collection will be more suited for the literary than the general reader.

Some readers will appreciate the insights in this book; others may admire the style. Some readers will find the stories very confusing. Adoption supporters will dislike the hurts portrayed. It is not a book for everyone, but can offer much for those who wish to understand the experiences of those 'touched by adoption.'

Reviewer: Sandra Falconer Pace

ISBN: 0-7710-3298-6
Toronto: Emblem Editions, McClelland and Stewart

© The Canadian Council of Natural Mothers