Reunion in Stringtown: Finding Faith, Family, and Healing by Joyce A. Connelley, Ronél Alberts

Reunion in Stringtown: Finding Faith, Family, and Healing by Joyce A. Connelley, Ronél Alberts

Illustrator: Detta Penna
Editor: Scott Dailey

Abandoned by her birth mother, abused by her adoptive mother, and then rejected again by her birth mother, Joyce embarks on a 25-year quest to untangle the web of secrets and lies behind her relinquishment, failed relationships and recurring psychological traumas. Ultimately, she needs not just tenacity, but also subpoenas and DNA tests to break down the doors to her past. Before she’s finished, she recovers from alcoholism, redefines her understanding of love and family, and embraces the faith of her ancestors: Judaism.

Growing up, Joyce knows she’s adopted. But her parents keep the details secret. Joyce buries her curiosity, and invents grandiose tales to fill in the blanks. Still, her fantasies never relieve her deep sense of shame, abandonment, and lack of belonging.

When her adoptive mother dies in 1992, Joyce makes a surprising discovery that opens old wounds and propels her to seek answers to the questions she’s always suppressed. As she works toward the truth, she fights bureaucrats and others over her right to know her heritage. When she finally locates the woman who abandoned her in 1954, Joyce must confront her own worst fears. Through newfound siblings, she begins to reconstruct her life. But finding her birth mother unexpectedly starts another journey. A DNA test in 2016 proves two keys to her past: that she is Jewish, and that the man whom her birth certificate lists as her father is, in fact, no relation. Convinced she will never find her birth father, she immerses herself in the religion of her mother’s ancestors. Then Joyce suddenly receives news of a paternal genetic match and learns she has more family just a few miles away.

This engrossing, cathartic, and true story will inspire anyone who has endured child abuse and struggled to form rewarding relationships. It will also captivate all those who have wondered how genealogy can help them discover their lost heritage.

Year first published: 2024

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