Reviews - What do customers think about Shar's Story: A Mother and Daughter Reunited?
A Familiar Estrangement Feb 28, 2007
In the very small, very modernly industrial and upwardly mobile town where I lived in the 1960s, there was an imposing, stately though neglected, Victorian picturebook/gingerbread mansion that my family drove past every Sunday on our way to Mass at Holy Angel's Church. "Don't forget to say a prayer for the girls this morning," my father would say to us--my mother and my two sisters--by way of acknowledging "them," the nameless, faceless, "unwed mothers" who "lived" there but who were from places far away from "the families that wouldn't have them."
Shar Shaw Elrod wasn't, but could have been, one of those girls. Reading her incredible story of strength, self-reliance, intelligence, compassion and boundless good fortune at its simplest level for me was at last getting a glimpse into the world of the "girls from the Home." And what a delicate and humbling view it is. Perhaps because Shar was 23 and pregnant as an adult woman when she decided to "defamiliarize" herself in every literal sense by opting for anonymous adoption after self-selecting seclusion during her pregnancy, her story of this decision sounds so level-headed, reasonable, almost matter of fact. As if there were no other choice. And while there wasn't a state-sanctioned "choice" as we may think of one alternative today, there is, in her parent's suggestion that she "do something to straighten [herself] out" an ominous hint that Shar had other "options," if not choices, than to give birth. Remembering those days myself, the late 1960s, early 1970s, I know this much: given her situation, adoption had to have been both the most heartbreaking decision for her as well as the most living-giving for her daughter, "Baby." For me, that is the real impact of this book in all its brevity. That is the crux of the mother-daughter story in its entirety and for all women, no matter what their birth or mothering experiences.
Indeed, it is the very nature of "birth" to give oneself--body and soul-- over entirely only then to give over one's child entirely, be it to clear and present dangers of the world or, in Shar's case, to the maiden arms of a nun who has vowed chastity, if not virginity, who then hands the child into the waiting arms of another stranger whose heart is full of the mysterious type of parental love that needs no matching blood type, no common DNA, so great and heartbreaking itself is that empty aching need that only a child can fill, knowing, as all adopting parents do, that one day that very child must be surrendered yet again, to the truth and knowledge of their origins, regardless of what they choose to do with that knowledge.
In the case of Shar Elrod, and her daughter known as Kate, the series of coincidences, welcomings, and risked rejections overwhelmingly reinforces that for these two, at least, the adoption process "worked." And no wonder, since it is women like Shar and her husband Jerry who devote themselves to its success. Dr. Shar Elrod herself carried on in life working as an Adoption Director and continues to this day to work with a national adoption congress. Her husband worked in another, more denominationally specific, ministry. Together, they raised a son, Joel, whose biological mother and Shar were for a time friends. Be ready for his own "birth mark" to show: the fabulously vivid and poignant cover art is his creation!
In fact, while the book is about Shar's pregnancy, her decision and the past, present and future impact of her actions, it is at least as much a book about family dynamics at all levels of success, failure, transformation and blending. It is the story of birth in the sense of "generating" beginnings and endings that stretch far into the past and cast a glimmer, at least, of hope for the future.
This book is a birth certificate of miracles. It is a testimony to the strength of one young woman acting on the values of her upbringing and testing those values against the degree to which they can be broken. If I have one reservation about the book it is that it is not complete. It is the "first draft for the rest of a life," to jimmy a cliche into new meaning. It is a marker along the way. A placeholder, yet not a tombstone. And just as I wondered in silent, nonjudgmental awe each week as I and my family passed the home for estranged young girls, I now admire in equal but vociferous awe the woman, Shar, and her family, reunited.
Mother daughter story Sep 12, 2006
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (9/06)
Being pregnant out of wedlock in the 1960s was despicable. Pregnant girls were shunned, blamed and shammed. Parents, of the pregnant girl, deplored her and insisted the pregnancy be kept a secret. She was usually sent away to a "home" to finish out the pregnancy and give birth. Giving the child up for adoption was the only recourse. Those were the 1960s and that was the case for author Sharon Shaw Elrod.
At age 22 Shar became pregnant during a summer romance. With no support from her parents she checked herself into a home for pregnant women (mostly teenagers) run by Catholic nuns. She waited out her term, alone and unsupported by most of the staff, until her baby girl was born. Shar immediately relinquished her rights to the child and the baby was adopted by a family.
On the child's 21 birthday Shar advised the American HomeFinding Association, in the event her daughter attempts to find her, that she is available for contact. It was not until her daughter was 35 that she made the first attempt, contacting the Association to initiate communication. This was July 2002. Shar received her first e-mail from her biological daughter giving her a brief synopsis of her life and her family. Shar responded. Then the wait began. Expecting an immediate response, Shar didn't get it. In fact, the response didn't come until 5 agonizing months later.
As a reader, living the era of the 1960s, and an adoptive mother myself, I couldn't help but share Shar's feelings, trials and tribulations. Shar's passionate writing draws the reader into each feeling as she waited for the e-mail, constantly checking for a response, and being on the verge of accepting the fact that she may never hear from her biological daughter again.
But, as wonderful stories do occur, Shar's daughter contacted her in December 2002 and steady communication prevailed. In February 2003 Shar and her daughter met for the first time. The meeting was surreal. As for anyone meeting for the first time, there is much to discuss, much to learn about each other, and much to share. Shar and her daughter did just that.
"Shar's Story" is only 100 pages, however, it is packed full of emotions - tears, laughter, sadness, joy. And most of all, it's a story of the reconnection of souls of two beautiful women who were separated for 35 years on one level, yet connected on another. It's a story of a Mother's love that is never ending, and a story of the daughter's acceptance. It is a story of adoption that has a happy ending.
Great read! Dec 5, 2005
I loved this book! I sobbed big tears --- of joy!
Shar's Story by Sharon Shaw Elrod is a personal revelation that will lift your heart. Elrod reveals that as a recent college graduate in 1966, she had a baby out of wedlock which she gave up for adoption. Following the mores of the time, she "went away" to a home for unwed mothers. Her family never revealed their shame, even to other family members.
Thirty-six years later, a series of coincidences set in motion the cosmic forces that culminated in Elrod's biological daughter contacting her. This could have been a dry, factual log of events, but instead is beautifully written and makes the reader feel connected to the author. Elrod reveals her deepest and most intimate thoughts as she experiences anxiety, fear, love, and joy as she reunites with her daughter. Shedding guilt is one of the messages of this captivating book. There are lessons to be garnered here that have nothing to do with unwed motherhood. It is about relationships --- all kinds of relationships. Everyone can benefit from reading Elrod's story and the uplifting message.