Reviewer Persis ("Perky") Granger: Perky is
an avid reader and a writer of fiction and nonfiction, including
Adirondack Gold, A Summer of Strangers and Shared Stories from
Daughters of Alzheimer's: Writing a path to peace. She studied at the
College of Wooster (OH) and the University of Massachusetts
(Amherst), earning a BA at the latter. She later completed her Master
of Science in Teaching at SUNY Plattsburgh.
She presents programs to adults and youth, and hosts writers’ retreats in New York and Florida. Learn more at www.PersisGranger.com (also accessed as www.FictionAmongFriends.com.)
Author: Robert Hafetz
Whether the reader agrees or disagrees with him on this point, he will find Hafetz’s discussion about the adopted child’s grief at separation to be compelling and believable.
Author: Robert Hafetz
After the death of his adoptive parents, Robert Hafetz undertook the difficult and often discouraging mission of locating his birth parents. Having known since childhood that he was adopted, Hafetz says, he had feelings he couldn’t express—feelings he now describes as grief—for the loss of a mother he never knew. When he asked his adoptive mother for information about his “first” mother, she evaded his questions. Over time he stopped asking, out of respect for her feelings, and did not pursue the subject until after her death. He had a sense, later validated, that she had feared his birth mother might try to take him back.
Armed only with a the knowledge that his name had been “Marvin” and that his mother was Jewish and single at the time of his birth, the author clutched the birth certificate for “Robert Hafetz,” created by an unnamed adoption agency, and set out on his quest. He ran smack into the brick wall of New Jersey’s closed adoption policy. It was clear that his chances of locating his family without so much as a last name, were very limited.
The author is quick to say he had wonderful, loving parents and a very happy childhood. Why did he persist in this effort that even his wife does not fully understand? Hafetz says he believes that a baby taken from its mother, even immediately after birth, has a memory of that mother—a memory that defies language, since a baby has no language—but a recollection of sight, sound and touch, learned in utero and after birth. The author believes that when the tie between the mother and baby is severed, the child carries that grief-evoking memory and feelings of loss. This memory is impossible to describe, but is as real as the memories for which we do have words.
Hafetz was at first stymied by the barriers that impeded his progress, but he repeatedly encountered people who went out of their way to be helpful, to take extra steps to point him in new directions. He opened himself to all possible help, including guidance from a psychic, a step he never imagined himself taking. The combination of advice, support and persistence helped him to glean bits of information that he was able piece together to learn more about the family of his birth.
In “Not Remembered, Never Forgotten,” Robert Hafetz reveals himself as an ardent champion of the rights of mothers and children separated by adoption to have access to information that will enable them to find each other. Many readers will find this position controversial, but the author’s passionate defense is based on his own sense of loss. Whether the reader agrees or disagrees with him on this point, he will find Hafetz’s discussion about the adopted child’s grief at separation to be compelling and believable. He supports his arguments by citing not only his experiences as an adoptee, but also information learned from his work as a mental health professional. The reader harbors a measure of anxiety about the truths that may be revealed if Hafetz succeeds in his quest, but cannot help pulling for him as the book chronicles his rocky journey through the maze of red tape and sealed records. It’s a book to be remembered.