Skip to main content
PBS logo

Search - Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours
Before We Were Yours
Author: Lisa Wingate
ISBN-13: 9781432877583
ISBN-10: 1432877585
Publication Date: 1/3/2020
Pages: 604
Edition: Large type / Large p
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.

3.5 stars, based on 3 ratings
Publisher: Large Print Press
Book Type: Paperback
Members Wishing: 21
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review
We're sorry, our database doesn't have book description information for this item. Check Amazon's database -- you can return to this page by closing the new browser tab/window if you want to obtain the book from PaperBackSwap.
Read All 1 Book Reviews of "Before We Were Yours"

Please Log in to Rate these Book Reviews

reviewed Before We Were Yours on + 107 more book reviews
 This is a very readable book.  The story holds you and the writing is good.

It is based on the Tennessee Children's Home (TCH) Adoption scandal when Georgia Tann sold children that had been given up and kidnapped to adoptive families.  While waiting for sale the children were kept in deplorable conditions that included neglect, hunger, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse.  Many of these children were not orphans.  Friendly judges gave these children into the custody of the home.  The adoptions were often not legal.  Biological parents had not signed away custody, were not even aware what had happened to their children.  Many of the parents who adopted from TCH were not screened and not fit.

Georgia Tann is the reason that, to this day, most adoptions are closed-with no contact between old and new families.  The adults that the TCH children became had no way to trace their real families, nor did their grieving parents have a way to find them.

The given reason for this chaos, was that children in rich families have better prospects.  Tann apparently really believed that she was helping children by moving them from poverty to wealth, regardless of the character of the adoptive parents.  This remember, was the 1920s and 30s, before Hitler ruined eugenics.  Many people were open in their belief that there were superior and inferior people.  Surely a child would have a better chance being reared and influenced by a superior person.

This story tells of a family of children whose parents are tricked into signing adoption papers while their mother is in hard labor with the youngest.  The children are removed from their custody and taken to a branch of the TCH.  Always the oldest ones are trying to get home to their parents, but when they do things are not what they expect.

This story alternates with the story of a grand-daughter, a woman of class and privilege who is putting together this family history.  She is horrified and intrigued as she goes along.

Eventually the story has a mostly happy ending.

I have read as much as I could get on the TCH scandal and Georgia Tann.  I felt that the book has a little bit of PC revisionism that I didn't like.  First, the book did mention that Tann saw children as blank slates, but not that her stated motive was to do her part to destroy the lower classes by giving their children to upper class parents.  This is a very important point to the meaning of the story.

Another thing that annoyed me is that in real life a lot of the molestation was done by Tann and her friends.  However, in the book, the one male character had to be the molester because in the PC culture women do not sexually abuse people (they must be victims not aggressors) and lesbians (which Tann was at least as pertained to her abuse of children) must never be portrayed as villains.

The story is worth reading in spite of this twisting, but it would have been even better had Wingate chosen to portray reality as it is (a theme in the end of the book).