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Second-Chance Mother: A Memoir [Kindle Edition]

Denise Roessle
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When Denise Roessle became a mother at 45, her long-held dream came true. She felt as if she were 19 again, the age at which she got pregnant out of wedlock and relinquished her newborn son for adoption. Suddenly, he was back — this stranger she had given birth to — and he wasn’t just searching for his roots. Joshua was looking for a mom. Eager to embrace the second chance she had been granted, Denise leapt wholeheartedly into the role.

“It’s a BIG boy,” she announced to her family and friends, setting free her twenty-six-year secret. But Joshua was not a boy. He was a grown man, with a history that fell far short of what she had envisioned for him when she’d been assured he would be “better off” without her. His adoptive parents had essentially given up on him at age thirteen, sending him away with only an eighth-grade education. He drifted through a series of institutions and group homes, and ultimately onto the New York City streets, where he fell into drugs and crime. When an early marriage failed, he and his young wife surrendered an infant and toddler to adoption. By the time Denise and her son reunited, he was in his second marriage to a teenaged runaway who was six months pregnant with their first child. Despite her disappointment and his obvious problems, Denise was determined to restore their severed bond and give him the unconditional love that had been lacking in her own childhood.

At the same time, she struggled with her parents’ adverse reaction to her reunion and their refusal to acknowledge their grandson’s existence. The shameful event that they had worked so vigorously to bury was back to haunt them. They could not accept their daughter’s happiness at having found her lost child.

Still reeling in the overwhelming mix of joy and grief, gratitude and guilt triggered by reunion with her son, Denise received a letter from an aunt she never knew existed. Aunt Mabel revealed some startling information about Denise’s mother, who had claimed to be an only child raised by a kindly couple after both her parents passed away. In truth, she was one of nine siblings tossed to the winds by their mother after the death of their father in 1929. As she got to know her new-found aunts, uncles and cousins, Denise became obsessed with understanding how her grandmother could desert her children and how her mother, who so clearly bore the scars of abandonment, could then force her own daughter to give up a child.

A year into their reunion, after Josh’s wife left him with their ten-month-old daughter, the rage that he had initially denied surfaced. Denise went from feeling like a new mom to the frustrated parent of an out-of-control teenager. In the face of his angry outbursts and threats to cut her off, she remained intent on “fixing” him, believing that, in time, she could heal his wounds. Once more, she put her own pain aside and stood by him as he married twice more and fathered another child.

Only when Josh and Denise reached an impasse in year five, did she recognize how emotionally shutdown she had been since relinquishing her son — and how she had let her fear of losing him again hold her hostage. In the silence of their estrangement, she began the hard work that ultimately allowed her to resolve her own issues, reclaim the young woman she had left behind after surrendering what turned out to be her only child, and make peace with the past. She found acceptance and forgiveness for her mother, her son, and ultimately herself.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"Raw and riveting, Second-Chance Mother is an incredibly courageous story about the complexities and importance of the journey toward healing after reunion. I highly recommend it." 
-- Carol Schaefer, author of The Other Mother 

"An honest account of Denise's second chance to be a mother to the son she gave up to adoption. Intricately woven into the story is her fragile relationship with her own mother, which emphasizes the difficulties of picking up where one left off when the original relationship goes awry."
-- Nancy Verrier, MFT, and author of The Primal Wound and Coming Home to Self  

"A compelling look at the devastating and long-lasting effects of adoption that reunion alone cannot 'cure.' Vividly illustrates how separation affects not only the mother and child, but all family members and across generations. Natural mothers and their relinquished children, and those seeking such a reunion, would gain from its wisdom and honesty."
-- Lorraine Dusky, author of Birthmark

"A rich memoir, told with raw intensity and startling in its honesty."
-- Debra Baker, filmmaker, "Broken Ties" and "Lost and Found"
 
"Denise Roessle peels back the veneer of giddy expectations and happily-ever-after fantasies to reveal a three-generational secret of relinquishment. She finds out how powerful secrets keep seeding the generations unconsciously until we stop them."
 -- Linda Joy Myers, president of the National Association of Memoir Writers, author of The Power of Memoir

About the Author

When Denise Roessle became pregnant out of wedlock in 1969, she inadvertently joined the ranks of the million-plus young women who fell prey to the Baby Scoop Era — a time when relinquishing their newborns for adoption was the socially-accepted solution to erasing their sins and filling an increasing demand for adoptable infants. She was told to move on with her life, assured that she would forget and have other children she could keep. She finished college, married, and became a professional copywriter and graphic designer. But she never had more children. And she did not forget. After reuniting with her grown son in 1996, Denise began writing on this more personal topic. Her articles have appeared in national adoption magazines and newsletters, and she continues to be active in the post-adoption, adoption reform, and birthmother support arenas.

Product Details

  • File Size: 464 KB
  • Print Length: 268 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Red Willow Publishing (November 16, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00695T7P4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,519 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book about acceptance and families November 30, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Perhaps because Denise and I lost children to adoption during the same time period, the Baby Scoop Era, and both lost sons, her book resonated with, perhaps more so than any other adoption book I have ever read. So many of the experiences she describes are mirrored in my own life, and in my reunion.

While her experience with her son was fascinating, and she described so well the up/down, push/pull that is many women's experience of reunion, I was even more fascinated with her experience with her own mother and father. My parents are deceased and have been since years before my own reunion, and so many of the questions and feelings she describes are ever so similar to my own. I admit to ambivalence in my own feelings about my parents, and I found Denise's descriptions of her feelings were my own as well.

I admit that when I saw that she had written a book about her own reunion experience, I thought "Oh, Goody, another adoption book". However, I was wrong. This was a smart, insightful and well written memoir which I would heartily recommend for any mother who is reunited, thinking about reunion, struggling with reunion, or past reunion. I am sure that this was a painful book to write, and it was sometimes painful to read, but it was well worth it.

I would like to thank Denise for writing this excellent contribution to Adoption related literature. And, thank her for describing MY experience of loss and reunion so adeptly. Well done, Denise!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tangled Web of Adoption November 29, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Now and then a book comes along that reaches deep into the reader's soul and opens the door to new perspectives on life. SECOND CHANCE MOTHER is one of those rare stories that will capture and change your life. The author, Denise Roessle, has woven an exquisite, seamless tapestry of love, regret, hope, rejection and finally acceptance of what was and is. Her blending of past and present is written smoothly and the transitions add to the power of the book. The adoption community is fortunate to have this new voice to help parents, children and friends sort out the tangled web that is adoption.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, with Unmatched Honesty December 17, 2011
By JoAnn
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Wow. This book is one you will long remember. Denise's account of loss, love and her continuing efforts toward redemption reads like a novel--except it's heartbreakingly real. You do not have to have given up a child, or adopted a child, or even be a mother to appreciate the power of this story. Well written and fast-paced, I found this book to be a compelling read. If you're reading on an e-reader, sample this book and I guarantee you will want to read all of it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful, honest, well written story December 15, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There aren't that many "birthmother" books out there. I've read a few this past year and just finished reading Denise's book last night. In fact I stayed up to 3 AM to finish it. This is not something I routinely do.

If you are in any way connected to adoption...either as a birth parent, adoptee, or adopted parent or grandparent or sibling. If you have a friend that was adopted or one who gave up a child...then you MUST read this book.

For me as an adoptee that found my birth family 36 yrs. ago at the age of 22 - this topic is still part of my every day life. I'm still working on my issues. I'll probably be working on them until my last day on this earth. That's just how it is.

I wish my birthmother could have told me things about herself and that we could have had a better relationship after our initial reunion. Things were good at first but time and distance made having a relationship very difficult. I didn't try hard enough I guess and neither did she. It takes 2. Whether it's between a parent & child or between siblings or spouses. You have to value the relationship enough to make it a success.

I have no idea what kind of pain my BM had during or after her pregnancy and my birth. Denise's son is lucky that he has the opportunity to ask questions and get honest answers. He's lucky that Denise made every effort to be a mother from the very start (which is what he said he wanted and needed). She had to jump in with both feet and deal with somebody who was already an adult. A person that somebody else had already tried to raise. That is beyond hard, if not impossible.

I was in awe of her generous and courageous attitude towards everybody and everything through-out the story. Really. She seems like a Saint to me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Touched My Heart June 28, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Denise is forced by her parents to give her baby boy up for adoption. When she's reunited with him as an adult, Josh has become an imbalanced, angry, needy individual. The conflict in the relationship shows the difficulties many parents endure when dealing with difficult offspring. The author struggles to bring her newly found son into her life without completely overturning the life she's established, which isn't easy when Josh is constantly making demands and venting on her. And whenever she sets boundaries, he makes ultimatums, which makes her fearful he'll be gone from her life forever. The author strives to establish a manageable relationship with her son and grandchildren, expand her connections to newly found family members, find peace with her relationship with her own mother, and overcome the trauma and guilt associated with having to give up her baby as a youth. The book is so honestly written and touching, I don't see how any mother can read this without creating a tear puddle you could drown in.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars great book
I thought this book was unique in that it seemed different from the usual adoption reunion stories. I would recommend this book to anyone in the adoption triad or anyone who knows... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Nana Joy
3.0 out of 5 stars Second-Chance Mother: A Memoir
I thought this mother put up with way too much from members of her family. It became tiresome to read.
Published 1 month ago by Jane Austen
5.0 out of 5 stars Other side of adoption
I really liked this book. I think it took a lot of courage to open up your feelings to print. Interesting to read about the birth mothers feelings and how family history plays into... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Roxanne Eckles
4.0 out of 5 stars True story
Good view of one birth moms story on reconnecting with her adult son and the difficulty in reconnecting. Not a story filled with the typical perfect ending!
Published 10 months ago by nichole
4.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful
Denise was very brave in writing this book. She shared it all; the good the bad and the ugly. You could feel her angst as well as her son's. I pray he has found peace by now.
Published 10 months ago by bookanne
3.0 out of 5 stars gut-wrenchingly honest
I'm not an adoptee or birth parent but identified with the family dysfunction and applaud the writer's courage in delving into the deeply personal details of her life and healing... Read more
Published 10 months ago by P. Holcomb
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful Insight into adoption reunions
I am also a natural (birth mother). At seventeen years old I was forced to relinquish my newborn son to adoption and it was only a few short years later that I began my 30 year... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Word Wizard
5.0 out of 5 stars I Was Expecting a Satisfying Read.......
...but I didn't expect how deeply this book touched me and forced me to think about something I'd rather not think about - my relationship with my mother. I am not adopted. Read more
Published 11 months ago by M. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Take a Chance on Second-Chance Mother!
Denise Roessle's memoir, Second-Chance Mother is informative and engaging. It takes the reader into the heart and thinking of a birth mother who was forced to relinquish her infant... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Paige A. Strickland
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and Real Emotion
Second Chance is a refreshing glimpse into the writer's life and emotions. Few of us have the courage to open ourselves to the reading world on this emotional roller coaster. Read more
Published 11 months ago by DW
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More About the Author

When Denise Roessle became pregnant out of wedlock in 1969, she inadvertently joined the ranks of the million-plus young women who fell prey to the Baby Scoop Era -- a time when relinquishing their newborns for adoption was the socially-accepted solution to erasing their sins and filling an increasing demand for adoptable infants.

She was told to move on with her life, assured that she would forget and have other children she could keep. She finished college, married, and became a professional copywriter and graphic designer. But she never had more children. And she did not forget.

After reuniting with her grown son in 1996, Denise began writing on this more personal topic. Her articles have appeared in national adoption magazines and newsletters, and she continues to be active in the post-adoption, adoption reform, and birthmother support arenas.

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