Bonded at Birth: An Adoptee’s Search for Her Roots by Gloria Oren is a memoir of her adoption, from how she came to be adopted to her search for her birth mother, right through to the first meeting with her biological family. It is a story of loss, survival, determination and persistence, and, thankfully, one with a happy ending. I had never before read such a story as this so, combined with my general nosiness, I knew it was one I had to pick up.
The main thing I liked about Bonded at Birth was how beautifully written it was. The language was simple yet descriptive, and not packed with too much information. It brought some wonderful images to mind, particularly the recalled time of a childhood trip to Coney Island. The visuals which I imagined made me feel like I was really stepping into Gloria’s shoes.
The hardships which Gloria endured, as well as the hundreds of emotions she felt, were related very well. Adoption is not a process I have ever had experience in but I felt a tug in my heart when Gloria’s search hit a dead-end and had an elated feeling each time she was connected with a family member. However, what stood out to me the most was the apparent love she had for her adopted parents and I enjoyed how she told of her special bond with them. Yes, it might be easy to write about such things when you have experienced them yourself, but I really think Gloria’s talent in writing is what successfully transferred these feelings to the reader. What really struck a chord was the chapter which told of her adopted father’s death. I was saddened but equally amazed how many years later Gloria could recall this time as if she were still a child.
As a side note, I found that this book personally brought to me more than an adoptee’s tale. Gloria was raised in a Jewish household and throughout the book, she mentions a number of Jewish traditions which I didn’t know about, but found very interesting. I also found I learned some tidbits about Israel as she told of her time there. Yes, this information doesn’t have much to do with the main story, but it was something that pulled me in a bit more.
Unfortunately, there was one small negative to this book: in my opinion, there was not enough of the book spent on her search. For me, over half of the book was spent by Gloria speaking about her childhood. I do think it was necessary to have that information in order to build a rounded story, however, I do think it was a bit much and took away from the point of the book, her search.
Overall, I would recommend Bonded at Birth, not only to adult adoptees who no doubt would benefit from reading this, but anyone who enjoys a heartwarming story. Should Gloria Oren ever decide to expand more on her life, she can count me in as a reader.
I was sent a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.