Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Skeletons in the Closet, Life is Unfair

My Secret Sister: Jenny Lucas and Helen Edwards' Family StoryMy Secret Sister: Jenny Lucas and Helen Edwards' Family Story
It seems to me that many people use the quote "Life is Unfair" in a very flippant way! Usually when they don't get their own way about things. In the True Life story titled My Secret Sister, this quote really means what it says. I'd like to share this book with you and some thoughts of mine along the way, come along on my Review of My Secret Sister.

Jenny and Helen

Let's be clear, this is an autobiography of two women, who only recently became aware of each other. Their stories are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Jenny Lee Smith and Helen Edwards only found out about each other recently. Through lots of lies, half-truths, and wanton disregard for their feelings, these two sisters are finally putting all of the questions about themselves and each other to rest. They are busy making up for 44 years of searching that finally brought them together.


Jenny Lucas had a charmed life. Oh she wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but her parents doted on her and she was the center of their universe.  The only child in a family where mom and dad were on the "older" side, she was the apple of their eye.  When her father took up golfing, he brought his daughter along and taught her how to golf too.  He even made her the very first golf clubs she used because she was only a little more than a toddler. Golf became her driving ambition. She was such a natural with the clubs and it gave her precious time with her father, whom she adored. When her father died, she really felt lost.  Cleaning up after his death, Jenny comes across a birth certificate.  It's the first inkling that she has about the possibility that she is not who she thought she was.  Not wanting to hurt her mother, she files this information away.  

Helen on the other hand was abused physically, mentally and emotionally most of her life. Her mother and father were either hateful, selfish and self centered at any given time. If any of those two characteristics came together at once, Helen paid the ultimate price for their mental state. Always told she was at fault for any and every turn of bad luck, she quickly learned to steer clear of her parents or do their bidding, whatever that may have entailed. Beatings at the hand of her father were not uncommon and her mother would just watch in a state of indifference, lest she also become a target of his rage.  Helen has an older half-brother who doesn't live at home anymore, but comes around trying his best to save Helen from his step father's wrath.  He is her "knight in shining armor." 

For years these two girls each wanted a sister, a confidant, to share their stories, troubles and tribulations with. Each in their own way was longing for some sense of belonging that wasn't being fulfilled in their own lives.  It would be years though before they would find each other.
I don't want to give away too much of the story, but want to encourage you to read it. 
my secret sister, siblings, sisters and friends,  family secrets
There is nothing like having a sister in your life.

Insights from my perspective:

If you know of anyone who is adopted, or if you are part of a circle of "Family Secrets", I want you to understand that those secrets can be very destructive and divisive.  They hurt people who are looking for answers.  If someone in your family comes to you with questions and they are old enough to know the answers, I would encourage you to talk to the parents, but if they are no longer alive, then tell them the truth.  Don't sugar coat the truth, don't make excuses, don't embellish the story, just tell them what you know to be truth.  

I am so grateful for the opening up of adoption records, so that children who want to know about their birth parents have that opportunity.   It doesn't mean that everything will be rosy and perfect, there is no such state in life, but it gives the person seeking answers, a hope that could fill in a lot of blanks.

From my own experience, I have an adopted grandson and I'm so thrilled that he is in our lives. He came to us at 2 days old.  He knows he's adopted and he also knows that we love him dearly. When and if he wants to know more he will be told the truth by his parents (my daughter and son-in-law).

 I also have a niece that was given up for adoption 40 plus years ago.  We (our whole extended family) became reunited 3 years ago.  It was a most joyous celebration of lost family, found. She was able to express to her birth mother that she was happy, and the birth mother had a hole in her heart filled. We have her in our lives again and it's wonderful. 

Unwanted pregnancies are as old as time itself.  It is high time that we take the stigma off of being born "out of wedlock" or "not wanted" and realize that when children are given up for adoption, the mother and/or father are trying to make the best decisions for their child.  They should be applauded for understanding that they may not be equipped to be the best parents, but they should also be ready to possibly meet that child again when they are all grown up.

My Secret Sister was not an easy book to read, maybe because of our family dynamic.  In the end, there is still longing and heartbreak, but there is also hope and joy.  It was a very interesting and enlightening book!

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  1. This sounds like an important book to read, not for the usual desires of entertainment but rather for the ability to gain some insight and compassion in our lives. Thanks for the great review!

    1. Thanks Beverly Owens for your comment. This book raises many questions and really needs to be read by people who lived through the keeping of "family secrets". It is a harmful practice that does not in any way make anyone's life better! The truth should be readily available, even if it's not the greatest truths to be known.

  2. Definitely a book I would find interesting as I am 'auntie' to 4 adopted children in my family. My sister adopted a boy and a girl as she could not conceive herself, and my brother & wife adopted two girls for the same reason. There are many childless couples who are overjoyed being able to adopt a child. And I believe it is important that siblings be kept together. My dad and 2 siblings were raised for years in foster homes, different ones over the years, but always together, which made them very close all their lives. My Secret Sister has definite reading appeal to me.

    1. I so agree with you Pat. Not being able to have children of your own is a sadness that only the couple themselves know too well. Adopting is a wonderful way to fill in "holes" in people's hearts, but when that child wants to know more about their own beginnings, it's only fair to let them have that information. So many children are stone-walled and searching all their lives. We have been blessed both ways, my grandson is a light in our lives and our newly re-found niece is a joy as well.

  3. No doubt there are many who will identify with the My Secret Sister story. Your review of this book is powerful, made more so by your personal account of adoptions within your own family. For me, I grew up, not adopted but with family secrets kept behind closed doors, secrets that would haunt my life to this day. I agree with you... the truth should be told... set the skeletons in the closet free!

    1. Thank you Ruth Cox, I can believe that those secrets still hurt you today. It is so unnecessary to hide those skeletons to begin with. If children are told the truth, in a loving way, acceptance of the truth is much easier. It still makes a difference, but the child then (hopefully) has capacity to understand and forgive. For each person it will be a different journey.

  4. I applaud the women who don't have abortions and parents who choose to give birth to a child instead. Giving a child up for adoption is one of the most unselfish acts I have ever witnessed. There are a myriad of reasons for why someone would give a child up for adoption and I personally think the birth parent's identity should be protected and confidential. But this book is about the reuniting of sisters and I am sure it is a wonderful, uplifting story.

    1. Cynthia, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Abortions are not the answer and giving a child up for adoption is a most unselfish act ever. I also agree that the records should be confidential until the child reaches an age where they are able to find out their truths (if they haven't been told already). My grandson knew he was adopted and at age 9 was able to meet his birth mother if he wanted to (it's a long story), he chose not to meet her. I pray everyday for those mothers who have to make the choice to give up a child, that they be at peace with their ultimate decisions and for the children adopted, that they may realize how blessed their new mother and father are for having them.

  5. Excellent! I know the perfect person that will benefit from reading this.

    1. Please pass it on to them in a loving way. It's a difficult subject and depends so much on what their lives have been like up to this point. <3 I hope it is read in a spirit of understanding.....thank you Martha DeMeo.

  6. There are so many interesting reunion stories, now that the records have been opened. I'm glad your reunion was a positive one, Olivia <3

    1. Thank you Kyla, not all of them have positive outcomes and if you read this book you will see that there are still many unanswered questions, but, even if the reunion is not positive at first, in time it has the potential to become positive!

  7. What a great review! I'm definitely interested in reading this book, since I did adopt two children. I only wish all adoption stories had happy endings.

    1. Yes Barbara, you would find this an interesting read because you have lived it too. There is much in this book that leaves you shaking your head and other parts that make you smile in delight.....that's life and yes, not all of these stories have happy endings.

  8. Excellent review. I'll have to add it to my reading list (if I ever start on this list!) - It sounds like a book I would thoroughly enjoy as well


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