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The Other Mother: A Woman's Love for the Child She Gave Up for Adoption Hardcover – January, 1991

4.8 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1965, as a pregnant, unmarried 19-year-old member of an image-conscious, Catholic, southern family, Schaefer found herself unusually hemmed in. In this emotional memoir she describes the harsh conditions imposed on her--she was sent in secrecy to a home for unwed mothers where she gave birth and atoned for her "sin" by relinquishing her newborn son. Although Schaefer married and had two more children, her longing for reunion with her first child did not abate. On his 18th birthday, she began the arduous, frustrating process of making contact with her first born, named Jack, and his adoptive family in the Los Angeles area, finally arranging a successful meeting that involved the birth father as well. This wrenching account, covering a range of adoption issues, is a moving testament to the bonding power of motherhood. Literary Guild alternate.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-- It is hard to remember the stigma placed upon unwed mothers during the early 1960s and 70s. Carol Schaefer was 19, in love, and pregnant, a disgrace to her Catholic family and a sinner against the Church. She was packed off to a convent home with girls in the same circumstances to await the her baby's birth. None of the girls had the option of keeping their children, and they were strongly discouraged from even seeing them after their birth. The young mothers-to-be were not to use their real names or form any friendships with one another. Carol gave birth to a son and spent the next 18 years haunted by his memory and her overwhelming need to find him. Although his adoption records were sealed, she surmounted all odds, and the two were reunited. This poignant story takes readers on a trip through sadness, despair, frustration, and joy. With so many adopted children searching for their roots today, The Other Mother gives a view of the other side of the search: birth mothers looking for lost children.
- Katherine Fitch, Jefferson Sci-Tech, Alexandria, VA
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 295 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Press; First edition (January 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0939149419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0939149414
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,087,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Carol Schaefer's career as an author originated from tragedy. After finding the son she'd been coerced to give up for adoption in 1966, while hidden away in a Catholic home for unwed mothers, she felt compelled to tell her story, one that over a million and a half women share. Since its publication in 1991, The Other Mother: A Woman's Love for the child She Gave Up for Adoption has been a catalyst for healing not only for the mothers but also for their children who were adopted, especially those who never realized their mothers thought about them let alone always loved them. Adoptive parents, as well, found healing as they faced the truth of their child's other mother.

Adapted as a television movie by NBC in 1995, The Other Mother, starring Frances Fisher, scored high in the ratings with 25 million viewers. Acquired by the Lifetime Channel, the movie aired many times from 2000 to 2008. The book was listed in 500 Great Books by Women, a Penguin Groups Readers Guide, a list that goes back to the eleventh century.

Her sequel to The Other Mother, entitled Searching ... (2014), chronicles her remarkable, creative and healing journey as she forges a lasting relationship with the son she placed for adoption, as well as with his adoptive family, in the aftermath of their reunion. In her attempts to reconcile her loss and its effects on her relationship with her parents, siblings and the two sons she raised, she offers insights on the impact adoption has on everyone involved, including her son's father by birth and his wife and her grandchildren - insights she hopes will inspire others on their own complex and challenging healing journey.

Schaefer has appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, MSNBC, and many local television and radio programs around the country and in Canada, including New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. She has often been a keynote speaker and given numerous workshops at adoption conferences. She has also facilitated TRIAD support groups for seventeen years, in San Francisco and New York City.

Her book, Grandmothers Counsel the World: Women Elders Offer Their Vision for Our Planet (Shambhala, 2006) has been translated into twelve languages. In 2002, Schaefer was commissioned by Crossroads Publishers to write a short spiritual biography of Mary Queen of Scots, which she's adapted into a full-length screenplay. Her play, The Sacred Virgin, had a three-month run in 2002 at the Thirteenth Street Repertory Company in New York City.

Schaefer earned her B.A. in Psychology from Winthrop University, where she was selected for Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"The Other Mother" by Carol Schaefer is still the best memoir written by a woman who gave up a child for adoption. Although many others have come out since, none have surpassed it. In many ways, Carol's experience as a middle-class pregnant single woman in the 1960's is the archetypal adoption story, especially for those birthmothers whose families sent them off to Homes for Unwed Mothers. She tells her story in plain, vivid, and very moving style, that lends itself well to the movie this book became. As a birthmother myself, I found that every word rang true.
The reunion portion of the book is the fairytale that most birthmothers long for, but few achieve. Carol Schaefer handles this material with rare humility and grace--what in lesser hands could have become self-congratulatory and smug is presented here with wonder and gratitude--the wonderful reunion as a gift, not a right, nor the result of "doing it right."
This is a fine book for anyone to read--but it is especially relevant to those touched by adoption. Adult adoptees can learn a lot about what many birthmothers experienced in the 60's, and adoptive parents can gain insight into the "other side" of the adoption coin--the pain that became their joy. Birthmothers can see their own experience validated and brought out into the light in Carol's story--they will find themselves saying "yes, that is how it was, that is how it feels." This is a well-written, sincere, and lovely book, and the author's generous and kind soul shines through every page. I highly recommend it!
Mary Anne Manning Cohen: Birthmother, Poet, Origins Co-Founder
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Format: Paperback
I recommend this book to everyone who is seeking to understand the birthparent journey. I am an adoption professional involved with searching for 19 years. I find Carol's book to be a gem. Carol has done an outstanding job of encapsulating the birthparent experience. She raises the consciousness of anyone who reads her story.
Adopted persons tell me consistently how impacted they have been by what they have learned. Empathy toward their birthmother is deepened and courage to pursue a search is enhanced.
Birthparents tell me how validated they feel after years of loneliness and anguish related to the loss of their children. Carol speaks their journey through her story. Powerful outcome.
Adoptive parents have also been impacted as they learn the effect of the adoption experience of birthparents. This allows them to better support their children's expressed needs which may include a search for birthfamily. Their empathy grows and their fear of the search and the birthmother diminishes.
Professionals also benefit from learning from Carol. No matter what role they play in the field of adoption, building sensitivity about the birthparent experience is crucial. This book can accomplish this.
I highly recommend this book to anyone involved with, or interested in, adoption.
Patricia Martinez Dorner, MA, LPC, LMFT co-author, Children of Open Adoption, author, How to Open an Adoption: a guide for parents & birthparents of minors, Adoption Search: An Ethical Guide for Professionals , Talking to Your Child About Adoption.
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Format: Paperback
This book was RIVETING!!!!! I am an adoptee who is in the reunion process with my birthfamily and have always read materials that related to other adoptees and their searches. This book explores the most intimate feelings a birthmother deals with, including the pregnancy, the birth and the separation. It helped me to completely understand how my birthmother is/was feeling and what I can do to help her. Thank you for writing this book, Carol!!!! I felt your pain, your grief and your happiness!! You are truly an inspiration to every member of the triad!!!!!
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Format: Paperback
Jane Guttman GiftJGDC@aol.com
Inspiring... Eloquent... Healing...Extraordinary... A Mother's Tender and Poignant Love Story
The Other Mother has been a profound catalyst in opening my mind and heart to the birthmother's journey. Carol Schaefer has offered her voice as teacher, as guide to those of us who have travelled the tragic road of relinquishing a child. Her poignant and extraordinary account of the dark and despairing birthmother experience has fostered the expression of courage to seek further healing and resolution.
As I shared in my book, The Gift Wrapped in Sorrow, Carol's book is a sacred offering to those touched by the anguish of adoption.
I recommend this book to all who have endured the sorrow of separation and consider it to be a great tribute to every mother and child "lost" to one another.
This book stands as a classic in adoption reform and brings us all closer to our own humanity and compassion. This author, this mother has brilliantly captured the essence of the primal bond that characterizes a mother and her child.
Jane Guttman D.C., Author, The Gift Wrapped in Sorrow, Holistic Health Practitioner, Soma Sound: The Voice of Memory
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A must read for anyone connected to an adoption... 5 stars is just not enough!
I am a 37 year old adoptee that has finally made the decision to find my birthparents.

My stomach did flips through the entire book. What really intrigued me is that I have the same exact feelings as Carol (a birthparent), but I am an adoptee. How is that so? I could feel everything Carol went through with tremendous emotion. I felt so connected to every wince of her pain. Each experience she described tore open my heart, yet I felt comfort in it. I have never been able to identify with another on such a strong level. The book was an experience and I am sure I will read it once or twice more. Just like a roller coaster.
If you are a birthparent, adoptee or an adoptive parent you owe it to yourself to read this book - trust me.
Your own feelings will jump off of every page and hit you right in the heart.
Absolutely incredible!
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