Not Exactly as Planned
A Memoir of Adoption Secrets and Abiding Love
Book launch in Toronto
November 18, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Ben McNally Books
My life took a major turn when our son, adopted at birth, is diagnosed with irreversible brain damage from fetal alcohol syndrome. I am determined to change Michael’s prognosis and live with as much joy as possible while struggling to accept my new reality.
Not Exactly as Planned is more than a story of motherlove. It’s about birdwatching, bar mitzvahs, the collision of '60’s ideals with the real world, family secrets and woodcarving.
The book, published by Demeter Press will be available October, 2014.
Why I wrote the book:
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder affects an estimated one percent of all children born in North America. Yet, despite being the most common cause of developmental disability, most members of the public are unaware of it and of the ways it profoundly affects the lives of individuals and their families.
It is my hope that the book will bring comfort and hope to families struggling to raise children with FASD, and bring to professionals who work with these families a better understanding of the daily struggles these families live with.
Synopsis of the book:
Not Exactly As Planned chronicles Linda Rosenbaum’s arrival in Toronto in 1970 from the US after political upheaval and sexual violence in Washington, D.C. casts her on an unexpected journey north in search of safe haven. She lives a counterculture life in communes in Toronto’s American ex-pat community, eventually moving into the city’s mainstream. A move to Toronto Island, marriage, and parenthood through two unorthodox adoption processes finally bring a sense of safety and belonging.
Life takes a major turn when Linda’s son, adopted-at-birth, is diagnosed with irreversible brain damage from fetal alcohol syndrome when he is six. She was determined to change Michael’s prognosis, illustrating the expectations that those raised on the activism of the 1960s brought to their lives and families. She no longer fights for other people’s sons — picketing for civil rights or demonstrating to bring soldiers home from Vietnam. She has to fight for her own son.
According to statistics at the time, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) was a sentence to failure in his life: he'd drop out of school; he'd be incapable of holding a job; he'd live on welfare, on the street or worse. The brain damage, they said, was irreversible.
With love, devotion, hope and all the medical knowledge she could accumulate, Rosenbaum sets out to change the predicted course of events. Though truth of the old Yiddish saying “Man plans, God laughs” was testing her, she is determined to have the last laugh. She confronts the sexual violence in her youth; raises her children Jewish even as they share their father’s last name of Christmas; fights to save the iconoclastic Toronto Island community from developers’ bulldozers; and resolves to live with as much joy as she can while struggling to beat Michael's odds.
With compassion and humour, Not Exactly As Planned weaves the disparate threads of Rosenbaum's life into a story of acceptance, at once achingly unique yet universal to all parents. Not Exactly As Planned is a provocative story about hope, loss and acceptance.