by Linda Hoye
Published by: Benson Books
Published: May 2012
Linda Hoye was in her early twenties when she found herself parentless for the second time.
Adopted at five months of age, her heritage, medical history, and access to information about who she was or where she came from was sealed; it was as if she had never existed before being adopted. When she was barely in her twenties her adoptive parents died and a pattern of loss was put into motion that would continue for years as, one by one, those she called family were torn from her life. Struggling to deal with the loss of her family of origin and her adoptive parents, she ultimately reunites with members of her birth family–but there is never a reunion with the woman who gave her life and she continues to feel lost, rejected, and disconnected.
Two Hearts charts a course through a complex series of relationships stemming from the author’s adoptive family, her maternal and paternal birth families, and an abusive marriage as the author seeks the one thing she so desperately wants: family. Hoye knows she must come to terms with the bitterness she harbors toward her birth mother when she becomes a grandmother and, soon after, faces the loss of the last remaining members of her adoptive family. She makes one final attempt to find something that will give her the sense of rightness that eluded her for so long.
This is the story of a strong and courageous woman’s journey through unfathomable grief; of what it takes to go into the abyss of deep-seated wounding, to feel the pain, and to come out the other side, whole, healed, and thankful.
(Synopsis from Goodreads)
Linda Hoye opens her memoir with a quote from Alex Haley:
In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage–to know who we are and where we came from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness.
I sat for some time focusing on these words because I felt they held the core of the author’s story. The words “vacuum,” “emptiness” and “disquieting loneliness” gripped my heart, and I had not read the first page.
Hoye shares her story with a compelling voice exuding genuineness and poignancy as she allows us to join her on a journey to find her biological parents, to fill that void. She never diminishes the love and care she received from her adoptive parents, Ed and Laura Brauer. However, certain actions on the part of the Brauers raises questions in Hoye’s mind. In the 1950s, two standard morés were in place: the “chosen baby” story and secretive behaviors about adoption.
Like all adoptive parents in the 1950s, Ed and Laura were programmed by social workers to reassure their new little daughter of five months that she was a “chosen baby.” She was “special.” Later, Hoye begins to question the uniqueness of the baby girl adopted by Ed and Laura. How true is this story? If she is so special and chosen, why was she given up?
Her parents’ obvious secretiveness at times is troubling to Hoye. One example she writes about is a visit to her pediatrician. When the doctor asks if there is a family history of certain conditions, her parents respond in the negative. Hoye questions in her mind how they would know anything about her family’s medical history when no one knew where or who her family was.
Even though the Brauers adopt another child, also a girl, making Hoye the older of the two vo children, she still feels insignificant and unnecessary. Despite these feelings, she is the older child who begins to assume a more responsible role in the family caring for younger Lori when the Brauers are out. Yet she doesn’t feel as brave as she thinks she should. Always doubting herself.
As an adult, she continues to long for the feeling of an intact family as well as her birth family. Unfortunately, like most of us, those yearnings can often lead to poor decisions and Hoye finds herself in an abusive marriage with two children of her own. Although she stays longer than is best for herself or her children, Hoye takes up the yoke of a heroine and finds her way to a safer place.
Along the way, complexities and questions continue to daunt her search for her birth family until she is finally able to obtain her adoption file. Throughout her story, the author allows her vulnerability as an adoptee telling this story so that others may see that the way has opened for adopters to search for their birth families. Having found some of her own truth and at the same time having faced some disappointments, Hoye joins the movement to bring to the attention of other adoptees adopted during the closed adoption system the possibilities that now exist for them.
Well written and compelling, Two Hearts is an inspiration to anyone who reads it, but especially to those among us who are adopted and searching for those roots Alex Haley wrote of many years ago. We all long for connection, for family ties and for heritage. Not all are as lucky as most of us and their journey is marked by disappointments, dead ends and often a lack of information.
My Recommendation: I highly recommend Two Hearts to anyone who is adopted and searching as it does offer hope and courage along your journey. Families considering the adoption process or going through it will find this book a gateway into the feelings some children have about being adopted.
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Meet the Author:
Linda Hoye is a writer, editor, adoptee, and somewhat-fanatical grandma. Her work has appeared in an assortment of publications in Canada and the US. In 2009 her piece, The Face in the Mirror, won second prize in the Susan Wittig Albert LifeWriting Competition. She is active in the adoption community and is an advocate for transparency in adoption. Hoye currently lives in the state of Washington with her husband and their two Yorkshire Terriers but Saskatchewan, Canada will always be her heart’s home.
She maintains a personal blog at http://lindahoye.com.
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UP NEXT: I’ll be writing about my finds in a local bookstore best defined as a house of treasures.