Continuing on with the Adoption Reading Challenge 2011, I am here to report that I found a book that just about any birth mother can read and find some part of herself in the words.
Good Girls Don't is the memoir of Patti Hawn ... birth mother, publicist, traveler, writer and sister to Goldie Hawn. Patti was in love and hopeful for a bright future when her world was turned upside down in her high school years. Finding herself pregnant at 17, Patti was from a generation when the girls who were pregnant and unwed were often sent away to give birth to their children and then place them for adoption. Patti had support from her mother, who helped her with all the planning and travel to an aunt's house for the duration of her pregnancy. Patti, at first, was feeling lonely in her new surroundings, but soon used her wonderful imagination and charm to take on a new personality when deciding to go to school while pregnant. One of the things I loved about Ms. Hawn's book is that she always had a pretty good sense of humor along with an insatiable need to be her own person ... regardless of what that person's identity was.
Unlike so many of that generation of women sent away to have babies, she knew ahead of time that the end result was going to be adoption. No one drugged her, no one lied to her and most of all she had a big hand in the decision to choose adoption for her child. So when the time came, she gave birth and let go of her baby boy just as she had planned to do. Returning to her hometown after giving birth, Patti tells a very touching story about how Goldie welcomed her home with homemade signs and a little sister hug that melted her heart. There were many touching moments in this book, but that was one of my favorites.
Determined to start again, Patti searches for a job at the State Department where she had previously worked. She was excited to get on with life, to get back to as much normalcy as possible after such a life changing event. Unfortunately, as was in those days, her dreams of that job were soon crushed because of circumstances surrounding her adoption. (This part of the book just blew me away, amazing the stigmas that are attached to women who have children out of wedlock.) Patti soon dives back into the dating scene only to find herself pregnant again, only a year after she let go of her first born son. Knowing that she could not do another adoption, she decides to parent her second son after his birth regardless of the fact that the father was not the ideal man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.
Single motherhood was hard, and after four years of raising her son alone, Patti finds love again and gets married. Rocky relationship turns into divorce, but not before she is blessed with another son. Haunted by what has happened in her life, Patti needs a change ... a change of scenery, a change in career, a change in life. She moves to California with her boys in tow and begins a fantastic odyssey that involves travel and soul searching. She finds Nepal, or rather I should say that Nepal finds her, and it is there that her heart begins to heal from the immense pain that she has been carrying around since giving birth to her first son. This is where Hawn begins to shine in her writing, telling about the adventures that would lead her to her own mind, her own discovery and her own healing. What an amazing spirit she writes with, almost as if the Himalaya's were her own Mecca ... releasing her soul from years of pain.
After the her time in Nepal is when she begins the journey to search for her son. She finds him, and to her surprise he would like to meet her. This is what I really liked about this book. Not only was it the story of how she was lead to adoption, but it is also a complete story because she comes around to find the little boy that she had only seen once, 40 years before in that hospital back East. I don't want to give the rest away because it is so worth the read, but this reunion is a breath of fresh air. It is the first book that I have read by a birth mother that includes the reunion of mother and child.
Ms. Hawn has done an amazing job writing this memoir with her honesty, compassion and details that lead you through the story of her life. And the best part is that she is now a mother who knows all of her children, including the one that she was separated from for so long. I for one want to thank Patti for having the courage to write this memoir from her heart. I am sure that it will help so many other birth mothers out there come to terms with their own story. This book will also solidify that many women out there are not alone in their journeys, they can take comfort that Patti was brave enough to share her story with the world.
I would give this book an 8 out of 10
Patti Hawn ~ Good Girls Don't
Good Girls Don't Facebook Fan page
On a personal note, I also want to say a hearty thank you to Patti for exchanging books with me. I feel honored that she responded to my request and feel that I have a new friend in the adoption world! So, thank you.