Book Review: Bonded at Birth: An Adoptee’s Search for her Roots, by Gloria Oren

Gloria Oren’s memoir, Bonded at Birth: An Adoptee’s Search for her Roots is quick and engaging. I am also an adoptee and writer, so I value what my adoptee colleagues have to say. Her story focuses a lot on her life growing up as an adoptee and what her adventures and challenges were as a young Jewish only child female from Brooklyn, New York.

While some readers / reviewers might criticize Ms. Oren for focusing so much on her childhood, coming of age and young adult life pre-search and reunion, I totally understand this. She wrote the book the way she did to show her appreciation of her adoptive family and how they shaped her life. (Let’s face it, adoptees are products of both nurture and nature, and one is not more important than the other.) How she was raised would have influenced how she searched for and initially connected with her biological family members.

The search and reunion part of an adoptee’s life is just a part. The fact that we LIVE with the adoption branding while we work, play, socialize, marry, divorce, parent or raise a puppy is a bigger thing.

In the book, the author discusses her concern and curiosity regarding accurate health history, which was denied by the state of NY for this writer / adoptee. This is an absolute basic necessity, which all adopted people should be allowed to have, but many state laws still sadly subscribe to the outmoded notion of privacy and secrecy when it comes to providing adopted citizens their original information. Her story does not address many specifics of health concerns she learned about after finding her bio-relatives, and this is one area where the author could have elaborated on the outcomes.

While reading this book the reader feels as though they may be sitting at the kitchen table chatting and sharing coffee with Ms. Oren. Her style is descriptive yet direct. The book is also flavored with family photographs which help the reader feel connected to the writer.

If you enjoy concisely-written memoir, appreciate Jewish culture, are influenced by adoption or generally like stories about family dynamics, this is an excellent choice.

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