“A glimpse into the lives of three women forced by society to gift their newborns to strangers.” This line from the synopsis of No Names to Be Given drew me to read about the unique perspective of ‘gifting’ a newborn. How could such a tragic choice be an everyday kindness from one woman to another? What happens when a woman entrusts the gift of life with another person? How were these three women brought together? The trauma of being left alone in a home for unwed mothers is the shared experience that connects these women for life.
The story of three young women who came of age in the same decade as this reviewer reveals the inhumanity, shame, and pain suffered by unmarried pregnant women. Many women of this generation witnessed the denial or outright lies that explained the absence of a friend, a cousin, or a sorority sister. Julia Brewer Daily reveals the anguish women experienced when they chose (or were expected to choose) to give birth away from family, friends, and support. Women were forced to give the child up for adoption and then return to their lives. It’s not easy, as the reader learns.
Sandy is self-reliant, yet teetering on the edge of the “world’s oldest profession” after she leaves home to escape emotional and physical abuse. Becca was raised in a family of privilege and wealth. She resists her family’s expectations and their prejudices towards their employees and plans to use her university education to have a challenging career. Faith was raised by her father, an evangelical minister who spoke to thousands of people, and a controlling mother. Faith’s greatest dream is to sing on the stage with her father during his events. Her parents shelter her in many ways, especially from the facts of life on sexual matters.
The author develops each character’s response to the pain of hiding the fact that she gave birth to a child. What happens when lifelong secrets are discovered and shared?
Women with unplanned pregnancies have more control and choices today. Woven into the story are the changes brought by science to help adoptees find their families. When Sandy, Faith, and Becca learn what happened to their babies, the reader learns the innocent have had their own challenges.
The author’s background as an adopted child, her research and sensitivity, make this a compelling read. The story is well told and timely, but the book needed more professional editing for the chapters presenting the “gifted” children’s points of view.