Linda Hoye’s memoir, “The Presence of Absence,” follows her search for her birth family and explores why her mother felt she had to give her daughter up for adoption while having kept some of the other children to whom she had given birth. Even though she had a loving adoptive family, Hoye never felt a sense of being beloved, something for which she ached for many years. Following the death of her adoptive parents within a relatively short time of each other, she felt even more adrift.
Having been born and growing up in Canada and living most of her life there, Hoye appears to have been able to access information about her adoption fairly easily. She acquired information about her birth mother and the adoption process that both her mother and her adoptive parents went through – things like transcripts of interviews of her adoptive parents by the agency through which they worked. Finally, she got a copy of her birth certificate. And even with that information, she felt no connection to her birth family. She still had longings and many unanswered questions. Following her retirement from over thirty years as a business analyst, she had much more time to feel the lack of family love and the presence of brokenness. Her job had kept her so busy that she did not have time or energy to think about these other feelings.
Hoye’s faith provided her a means to question and to learn and to finally feel beloved. Added to this inner sense – a long time in coming – of being beloved, she was finally able to locate and meet cousins she had not known until after her 60th birthday. Knowing that there was family and discovering where the family had geographic roots finally fulfilled life-long yearnings. Upon visiting family in Saskatchewan, she finally had a sense of peace and understood why she had always felt a girl of the prairie even though she had lived on or near the coast much of her life.
The memoir is well-paced, primarily covering the later years of Hoye’s questioning and her search. She is a gardener and is able to see how her life and her search are much like the gardening that gives her such peace and purpose.
What Hoye experienced is something with which I have no familiarity. I found Hoye’s struggle, her openness about her questions and yearnings, and the eventual resolution of her struggle a fascinating read.