Why I Wrote The Fifth and Final Name

Many times, over the past few years, I heard the comment “you should write a book.”  Write a book? I’m a therapist, not an author, I thought.

It wasn’t until I realized the importance of this story to the adoptive community; as an opportunity for education and dialogue and an agent for change. Growing up I always knew I was somehow “different” from my adoptive family; a fact of life for many, many adoptees. I was also sad – grief-stricken, really, but was told (by well-meaning folks) how lucky I was to have been placed with “people who wanted you.”  Indeed. I WAS lucky to have wound up with such a great family. However, I suspect few people would say that their choice would be to begin life by being abandoned; abandoned by the one person you know through nine months of intimate connection – your mother.

Science now tells us that infants, separated from their mothers, experience such a traumatic response, it can best be described as similar to a state of self-induced “coma,” with regard to the brain’s coping mechanism. A coma!!…an attempt to escape a situation so difficult it cannot be tolerated by a human being. For me, the result was a period of grieving and loss, distrust of caregivers, anger, and attempts to control my environment at all costs; difficulties with attachment and learning that there are people in the world who can be relied upon to not LEAVE.

Why I Searched for My Family and My Past

My search was a result of two things: trying to understand the impact of adoption on ME and hearing, from Lillie, that there was a biological grandfather who loved and cared about me. The idea that someone from that family might have cared about me ran in absolute contradiction to my beliefs at that time. I know that I am fairly “normal” in the adoptee arena, in the sense that I felt unwanted and unimportant; a throw-away, a mistake…someone “they” wished hadn’t come along and that had to be dealt with as a “problem.”

I have been hard-pressed to understand why adoptee rights have been so conveniently disregarded in the system(s); unnecessarily, and heinously so. It is a sad commentary on humanity. I hope readers on this site will check out the adoption myths and educate themselves on the FACTS around the history and practices in adoption, as well as research regarding sealed records, and the “agreements” given birthmothers and adoptive parents. No human being should have to spend their life searching for their ancestry and “the rest of the story”.  They should not have to couch their need to know in some socially acceptable statement such as “I need to know my medical history,” or “I think I may be Native American,” or any other “reason” other than “I need to know who I am.”

It is a basic, irrefutable human right.

Over the years, and work with more adoptees than I can count, I have come to believe that every person responds in their own unique way to loss and abandonment. Some adoptees “don’t care” to search and some live every minute in hope that they can find someone from their biological family. For those who do not want to search, I say “good for you.” For all of you who are afraid to search, or fear alienation from adoptive parents, I say “find a support group…do what your heart leads you to do…the people who love you won’t stop loving you… have courage, have faith, and have tenacity.”

I hope all of you enjoy the book and find that it brings something to you of value.






  1. Hi,Rhonda!

    We visited briefly on the phone Saturday about Lillie Werther, my late aunt.
    I would definitely be delighted to have a copy of your book. I am going to peruse your website as soon as I post this comment. What I have read so far is very intriguing.

    1. Well, I don’t know if my computer sent the first part of my comment or not, Rhonda. As I was was saying, I’m very much interested in reading your book. My address is;
      Penelope Dell
      PO Box 08
      I am Lillie’s niece (we visited briefly this weekend)

      I am going back to your website to read more!!

    2. I will get you a press copy in the mail in the next couple of days. Lillie was very dear to me. Few days go by that I don’t think of her and miss her lovely spirit. She was an incredible friend. As I talk about in the book, I still have communication with her through Monica Cervanyk when I am in Colorado. Very thankful for that. She still watches this moving forward!

  2. I got all teary eyed and almost cried reading the 3rd paragraph of this post. You started to describe something I felt at a very young age, before I even realized what I was feeling. I must read your book. Thank you for writing it!

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