Council of Natural Mothers' Library
and Loss: The Hidden Grief
Evelyn Burns Robinson
Adoption and Loss deals with three very different elements.
The first section contains the story that grounds the book.
Ms. Robinson recounts the story of her childhood, showing how she came
to be at risk for having a child, her unplanned pregnancy and loss, her
adulthood and search for her son which finally led to their reunion. This
story is told compactly, with great openness and honesty. It is told without
self-pity, without a 'victim' mentality . Unlike the more frequent stories
of women who have gone into maternity homes, Ms. Robinson remained self-supporting
and at university during her pregnancy. The story tells of her son, Stephen,
who gives his own statement at the end of the book. In its clear understated
language, the book draws the reader into the story of loss, and makes
you empathize with the young woman who was trying so hard to do well but
suffered tragedy in the loss of her son.
The second section is perhaps the most valuable for readers who have
not themselves lost a child to adoption.
In this section, Ms. Robinson shows herself to be a scholar and social
worker, giving a succinct account of the relevant research into the effects
on mothers of losing their children, on adoptees who lose their first
families, and on adoptive parents who hope to erase their infertility
by adopting. She discusses the grief experienced by women who've lost
their children, pointing out that rather than diminishing it grows over
time because it is not resolved. She calls it 'disenfranchised grief'
because it must be hidden or covered and mothers who have lost their children
are not socially supported in grieving their loss. Suggestions for therapeutic
approaches to be used with natural mothers who've lost their children
In the third section, Ms. Robinson moves from the personal into the
societal and political realms to understand the larger scale consequences
of adoption on families, on women and on their children.
She concludes that adoption is about transferring children from the
less to the more powerful. The political experiences of Australian natural
mothers are discussed in this section.
Throughout, the clarity of language and straightforward approach deliver
much information in a compact fashion. The book is recommended to all
natural mothers for the story it tells, and to everyone for the understanding
of adoption's effects on natural mothers, adopted children and adoptive
Sandra Falconer Pace
Christies Beach, South Australia: Clova Books.
ISBN 1 74053 000 4
The Canadian Council of Natural Mothers