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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Secret Storms" by Julie Mannix von Zerneck and Kathy Hatfield~Adoption Story & Guest Post


A pregnant, upper class nineteen-year-old Philadelphia Main Line debutante is confined, against her will, to a state mental hospital. She spends her pregnancy surrounded by the mentally challenged and the criminally insane. On April 19, 1964, she gives birth to a child, whom she is forced to give up for adoption.

A loving middle-class couple adopts a month-old little girl from Catholic Charities. She is adored and cherished from the very beginning. It is as though she is dropped into the first chapter of a fairy tale—but we all know how fairy tales go.

This is the story of a mother and daughter. Of what it is to give up a child and what it is to be given up. Of what it is to belong, what it is to be a family and what it is to yearn deeply, and to never lose hope—because anything is possible.

In this exquisite memoir, Julie Mannix von Zerneck and Kathy Hatfield recount the stories of their lives. Deliciously strange, surprising and sweetly funny, this tenderly written book takes us on a wild and frightening journey. Written in two distinct and deeply expressive voices, their stories seamlessly meld together in a breathtaking ending.


Published by:  Blue Blazer Productions
Pages:  330
Genre:  Non-fiction/Biography/Memoir
Authors:  Julie Mannix von Zerneck and Kathy Hatfield
Learn more:  http://www.secretstorms.com


Picture of Julie (left) and Kathy (right) when they were featured guests on the Katie Couric show

Here's a link to the show!!!    http://www.katiecouric.com/videos/adoption-reunion

Julie Mannix von Zerneck was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She traveled with her parents, living in Paris, on the isle of Capri and in several boarding schools around the world, before settling down at Sunny Hill Farm at the age of nine. There, she lived with a menagerie of animals, including a cheetah and eagle and her very own baby spider monkey. After attending the Neighborhood Playhouse in NYC, she became an actress on Broadway, had running roles in three soap operas and guest starred on many TV series. She is married to the TV producer, Frank von Zerneck. They have three children and four grandchildren and reside in Toluca Lake, California, where, for 26 wonderful years, they were the owners of Portrait of a Bookstore. She is a lifelong collector of antiques and antiquarian books.

Kathy Hatfield was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and grew up surrounded by two brothers, twenty-five cousins, and two sets of grandparents in Indialantic, Florida. She attended Florida Atlantic University, after which she worked as a mortgage broker while running her own small business selling men’s neckties. She now teaches World Literature at a high school in Florida where she serves as English department chairman. She and her husband of 25 years live in a quaint beachside community with their two daughters. She is a freelance writer and moderator of the Adoption Reunion Stories Facebook page, which currently has over 2,800 members. She’s a competitive runner and participates in 5k races when she’s not correcting papers.
Can be seen on their website at:   http://www.secretstorms.com
A Bookish Libraria is proud to bring you this wonderful guest post from Kathy Hatfield regarding her transition experience.  Thank you, Kathy, for sharing your intimate family life with us here.

"Cut from the Same Cloth"


            I’ll admit it;  I’m vain.  Upon discovering that I had a full-blooded sister, whom I had never met, my very first thought was does she look like me?  As an adopted child, I had spent my entire life wishing I looked like someone in my family, wishing I had my mother’s eyes or my father’s thick hair, wishing that -- for once-- someone would say you look just like your mother (or father, or brother, or cousin...).     Five years ago, that wish came true.   At the age of 44, I reunited with my birth mother, who eventually married my birth father and went on to have two more children:  my brother and my sister.  I had grown up with only brothers, and was completely enthralled with the idea of having a sister, who - quite possibly - would look just like me. 

            As it turns out, I had known my sister for decades.  Watched her on TV in the 1980s.  Scheduled my college classes around the soap opera on which she appeared daily.  For two years, she played the role of Lou Swenson, the love interest of  John Stamos, on the wildly popular General Hospital.   And for two years, I had no idea she was my sister. Now, on this side of the adoption reunion, I can’t believe I didn’t see it:  we don’t just look like one another, we also share the same laugh, the same intonation of voice, the same sideways tilt of the head when we speak in earnest.  And after spending time with her, I have also realized the semblance resonating on a much deeper level.  I saw it when she spoke about politics, about literature, about her daughters;  I saw  a passion, a fire in her belly, a glimpse of what made her tick - and understood it immediately.  We, though strangers, had been cut from the same cloth - and I felt the same thing that other biological siblings must feel - an unspoken connection.

            But is that all it takes to be siblings?  Shared features, shared mannerisms, shared passions? Can a sharing of chromosomes supersede years of playing catch in the backyard and fighting over who gets to ride in the front seat?    I had assumed that our genetic bond was the only requisite to be sisters, but I was wrong;  we will never have the shared memories of childhood, which are the links in the chain that fasten us to our families. Yet, what remains is my greatest hope: that we may come to realize that sisterhood is not a destination, but a journey to be shared and enjoyed.  And maybe someday, we too will come to form our own memories in common and redeem what could have been our past. 

Kathy Hatfield

 Kathy far right, Julie next to her in pink jacket.


Reading this book was a rare experience for me.  I had no idea it would be so engaging.  From the first sentence, I was captivated by the story of Julie and how she was thrown into an asylum for the mad and criminally insane simply because she had become pregnant as a teenager.  This is a book told from the depths of the souls of two amazing women.  One not to be missed!

Julie writes from the heart about her experiences.  I simply could not put her book down.  You can "hear" her voice coming through the pages.  There is not a moment's pretension from this woman, nor is there an ounce of self-pity.  Rare in these circumstances.  Her side of the story of loss and reclamation is pure and true.  I appreciated that honesty from a woman who had suffered the indignities and betrayals she had.

Kathy is buoyant and forgiving.  Her outlook on her adoption, finding her birth family and the fulfilling of her new life is up-lifting.  She sheds a hopeful light on how one can grasp the whole process and build a lasting relationship from what could be the bitter ashes of life.  Kathy is to be admired.  I appreciated her optimism and openness.  Her unconditional love is heartening.

This is a story of love and redemption in the face of some nearly insurmountable odds.  Julie, in particular, faced the cold upbringing of a child passed from links of inconsistent parental love.  It's a wonder she has the well of love she has to draw from given that background! 

I highly recommend this book to readers of all genre.  You'll enjoy the writing style.  It's a fast read because it flows so well.  It's absorbing.  The story may appear to be ordinary in the hearing, but it's extraordinary in the reading.

5 stars                                  Deborah/TheBookishDame


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