Lisa Wingate’s best-selling novel Before We Were Yours touched so many lives and struck a chord in so many hearts but apparently none more than the true victims of the infamous Tennessee Children’s Home Society scandal. From the many, many responses Wingate received from adoptees and their families, she realized that it was so much more than a novel – it was the story of people’s lives and it too needed to be told.
I was already a huge fan of Lisa Wingate when I read Before We Were Yours so it was a given that I would read and enjoy it. I have lived in the Memphis area my entire life and I too have a family member who may have been one of the Tann children but he and anyone who would know the truth are no longer alive. The only hint was a conversation my mother overheard when she was a child so his story will always remain a mystery.
Before and After is the non-fiction account of true stories of a few of the actual victims who contacted Lisa Wingate or her friend Judy Christie, an author and journalist who helped organize a reunion of TCHS victims and compiled most of the stories related to her by these men and women.
It is a sad truth that many of the stolen children actually grew up in a better environment with more opportunities in life than they would have had with their birth families. Yet regardless of their improved circumstances, almost every one of these children spent their life feeling that they didn’t fit in or that something was missing. Reading their stories was a touching and eye-opening experience that made me question whether even legitimate adoptions leave the children wondering about their true identities.
The era of the Georgia Tann and TCHS black-market baby business in Memphis was truly a tragic mark on the city’s history. It also left indelible marks on the lives of so many children and their birth families. I can’t help but think of the current epidemic of human trafficking that is being experienced by families all over our country, indeed the entire world. I pray that God will send his people to put a stop to this disgrace quickly.
I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by the authors. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
The compelling, poignant true stories of victims of a notorious adoption scandal—some of whom learned the truth from Lisa Wingate’s bestselling novel Before We Were Yours and were reunited with birth family members as a result of its wide reach.
From the 1920s to 1950, Georgia Tann ran a black-market baby business at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis. She offered up more than 5,000 orphans tailored to the wish lists of eager parents—hiding the fact that many weren’t orphans at all, but stolen sons and daughters of poor families, desperate single mothers, and women told in maternity wards that their babies had died.
The publication of Lisa Wingate’s novel Before We Were Yours brought new awareness of Tann’s lucrative career in child trafficking. Adoptees who knew little about their pasts gained insight into the startling facts behind their family histories. Encouraged by their contact with Wingate and award-winning journalist Judy Christie, who documented the stories of fifteen adoptees in this book, many determined Tann survivors set out to trace their roots and find their birth families.
Before and After includes moving and sometimes shocking accounts of the ways in which adoptees were separated from their first families. Often raised as only children, many have joyfully reunited with siblings in the final decades of their lives. Christie and Wingate tell of first meetings that are all the sweeter and more intense for time missed and of families from very different social backgrounds reaching out to embrace better-late-than-never brothers, sisters, and cousins. In a poignant culmination of art meeting life, many of the long-silent victims of the tragically corrupt system return to Memphis with the authors to reclaim their stories at a Tennessee Children’s Home Society reunion . . . with extraordinary results.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
|Judy Christie is an award-winning journalist and the author of eighteen books of both fiction and nonfiction. A former editor at daily newspapers in Tennessee, Louisiana, Florida, and Indiana, she holds a master’s degree in literature from Louisiana State University in Shreveport. She and her husband live in rural Colorado.|
|Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the author of numerous novels, including the New York Times bestseller Before We Were Yours and the national bestseller Tending Roses. She is a two-time ACFW Carol Award winner, a Christy Award nominee, an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, and a Southern Book Prize winner. She lives with her husband in North Texas.|