In 1965, Carol Schaefer was 19, a freshman in college and deeply in love. She was also pregnant. When her boyfriend's family opposed their marrying, her parents sequestered her in a Catholic home for unwed mothers a state away, where she was isolated and where secrecy prevailed. She had only to give up her baby for her sin to be forgiven and then all would soon be forgotten she was told. The child, in turn, would be placed with a good family, instead of having his life ruined by the stigma of illegitimacy. Carol tried to find the strength to oppose this dogma but her shame had become too deep. The first time I looked deep into my son's eyes, I felt like a criminal. As I unwrapped his hospital blanket and took in the heady fragrance of a newborn, I feared the nurses or the sisters would come in and slap me for contaminating my own son. Finding way out, she signed the fateful papers leaving her son in the hands of strangers, but with a vow to her baby she would find him one day. For years, Carol struggled to forget and live the rmal life promised, t understanding the consequences of the trauma she'd endured. On his eighteenth birthday, she set out to find him, although the law denied access to records. Her search became a spiritual quest to reclaim her own lost self, as she came to understand the emotional and psychological wounds she and other mothers like her had endured. Against all odds she succeeded in finding him and discovered that in many ways they had never really been apart. With her son's encouragement and his adoptive mother's cooperation, she tells their story. REVIEWS: Strength, sadness, joy, and the power of undeniable love abound in this book. 500 Great Books by Women (A Penguin Books Reader's Guide, 1994) The list of authors goes back to the 11th century. Nominated One of the best books of 1991. American Library Association. .. . flows as forcefully as the finest fiction. ... This 'ten-hankie-read' never descends into sentimentality but simply reveals the unvarnished truths of the human heart. Wilson Library Bulletin This wrenching account, covering a range of adoption issues, is a moving testament to the bonding power of motherhood. Publishers Weekly An astonishing revelation of the emotions that come into play throughout the adoptive process - a must read for all concerned. Kirkus Reviews Literary Guild Alternate Selection. Inspiring ... a heart tugger. Patricia Holt, San Francisco Chronicle A chronicle of a time with the starkest of emotions revealed ... Readers quickly understand the trauma that lingers on deep in the hearts of birthmothers every day of their lives. Elliot Bay Booktes It should be a must read for anyone who considers adoption the 'easy' answer to an unwanted pregnancy. The Philadelphia Inquirer As she experiences pain and love, you're on that roller coaster with her, as if the life she lived was yours. St. Petersburg Times Poignant and powerful, The Other Mother shatters the myth that unwed mothers, unprepared for the sacrifice they make, go on to lead rmal and untouched lives. Booklist Any woman who has gone through any part of her experience, or has been close to somebody who has, will attest to the story's authenticity. The Washington Post I recommend it with all my heart. Its courage, integrity and love make it a treasure. ... t only for adoptive families and birth families, it is for everyone who longs to kw how deep the levels are that connect us, and how precious. Gary Zukav, The Seat of the Soul .. . addresses intimately the experience of a Birthmother as other book has - or probably ever will. Expertly written. Jone Carlson, Editor People Searching News Courageous, moving and heartening. Betty Jean Lifton, Journey of the Adopted Self A wonderful book. From my professional perspective the book is right on target. Reubon Panr, coauthor, The Adoption Triangle
Carol Schaefer's first book, a memoir entitled The Other Mother: A Woman's Love for the Child She Gave Up for Adoption (SoHo Press, 1991), is considered a classic in adoption literature. The Other Mother is listed in 500 Great Books by Women, a Penguin Books Reader's Guide, a list that goes back to the eleventh century. The book was a Literary Guild Alternative Selection and nominated as one of the Best Books of 1991 by the American Library Association. It has been translated into German and Italian. Adapted as a television movie by NBC in 1995, The Other Mother, starring Frances Fisher, scored high in the ratings with 25 million viewers. The story of the making of the movie was featured in McCall's Magazine. Acquired by the Lifetime Channel, the movie aired many times from 2000 to 2008.The film is now available for viewing on Youtube. She has appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, MSNBC, and many local television and radio programs around the country and in Canada. As an Adoption Reform Advocate, she has often been a keynote speaker and given numerous workshops at adoption conferences since 1991. She has authored three other books, including Grandmothers Counsel the World, which has been translated into 12 languages. She also works as an editor, journalist and photographer. The sequel to The Other Mother is just completed.