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Anne Hanson has written a remarkable memoir about her family. What it is really about though, is a woman forced to abandoned her child in the 1920’s due to Domestic Violence. This is her grandmother. Why I related to this book so passionately, is the fact that I was forced to do the same thing through Family Law Court in 1982. A time before the Family Reunification Act of 1987 and prior to Domestic Violence being a recognized issue of concern. Also, prior to my work with CPS (Children’s Protective Services) and being a psychotherapist in private practice. However, you can see that times did not change for a very long period. And, Narcissists get away with a great deal of things in court, even today.

This issue is one in which most women have no empathy for and men don’t care about. Anne took care to empathize greatly with her grandmother and, as an investigative journalist (albeit very biased) kept pushing to find answers. Women don’t generally care because they focus on one word “abandonment.” No one ever asks questions, they just assume. They don’t ever, ever wonder what it must have been like for the woman to give up her child. It is a difficult life to live, one in which I can say personally, was traumatic and extremely painful. Instead, the anger which builds amongst the family community and their friends will be based on “Why didn’t she?” or “How could a mother do that?” or “I would never have…”

This is the problem that faced many women until domestic violence became a more common concern that the courts and Children’s Protective Services began to care about. I have talked to many women and adult children of these women. There are always stories. No one ever just gives their child away. Even when the mother is high as a kite in the hospital, it didn’t begin that day. On the contrary, there are even stories where they willingly did this but I am sure there are stories in these cases as well. By society not caring about these women, we do an injustice to their mental health. We exacerbate their physical and mental health and I am not surprised one bit that her grandmother died of cancer. I would be willing to bet that even if she did not have a family history, she would have gotten it anyway. Holding in – the pain = cancer.

Grandmother, in this story, did something I fantasized about at one time. Only, I did not have a great love that would do anything to please me. Anne’s grandmother created a fictitious life and went undergound so to speak. I am still baffled by how they were able to get social security numbers, driver’s licenses and so forth without proper birth certificates to identify them. This wasn’t addressed in the book, but I doubt Anne would know this anyway since both grandparents were dead when she found out that her last name was not her ancestral name.

Grandmother and I both had a son. Both of our sons were never able to reconcile the past. While I have never not been in my son’s life; some years he even lived with me. The seal was broken when he was removed and sent to live with my parents at the age of two. Psychology tells us that the first five years are the most important in a child’s life. I only had two. The attachment process was broken and once it is, it is hard to repair. It was not enough years and when the parent leaves, the child begins a process of developing early coping mechanisms. They can only be repaired if the child can recognize this. His father was a drug addict (and alcoholic), as were his ancestors. My son took the same path for about a decade, bringing four children into the world from four mothers. None of which care about the duality of both families being involved. And, my story trails along with them so that they accuse me just like most other women have done in my life. This is disappointing and continues the pain that I must endure in a second generation.

Reading this book, I did not know where the path was going to take us. At first, I struggled and pushed myself to read each chapter. I am the genealogist in my family as well and felt Anne’s struggle. I make sure to put stories on Ancestry, about my family, so people will know the truth about my ancestry, as much of it as I know. However, I have met with struggles about other people connected to my family or with finding out, for example, Great Grandmother and Grandfather were divorced. None of my aunts/uncles or mother knew this because she died before they were born. They didn’t even believe me, even after I showed them the death certificate which clearly stated “Divorced” at death and was signed by her eldest son, not her husband, who was still alive and even married when she died. My grandparents would certainly not have pointed this out to anyone. My grandmother even hinted to her eldest daughters that she “may” have been married before my grandfather. I tried to go there but I don’t think I will put the energy into this that Anne did. If someone comes forward – someone did but it was my Uncle’s daughter – we will put them through the test again.

What I would have liked at the end of the book, if Anne updates her book, is a family tree at the back of the book, showing the corrected family lineage. Maybe she had not thought of this. I would have loved to have seen a photo of the son as well, with his mother. Just bringing mother and son to life in photos. Not keeping this buried. Acknowledgement through a photo would make Ida a mother again.

I hope you will read this book to find out why I titled this blogpost as I did. It is worth every step of the way, following Anne on her path toward the true identities of Frank and Ida Hanson.