This post contains affiliate links. A few years ago, I saw Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate on a library shelf and felt compelled to read it based on the cover. I LOVED the book, and it haunted me for weeks, especially because it was based on a real orphanage that existed, The Tennessee Children’s Home Society. So you can imagine my anticipation of the non-fiction follow up, Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orpahns Who Survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society by Lisa Wingate and Judy Christie.
About Before and After
The premise of this book is excellent. Lisa Wingate and Judy Christie hear the stories of actual children who were adopted from Georgia Tann’s orphanage.
When Wingate’s novel, Before We Were Yours is published, she begins to hear from people all over the country who were directly involved in the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. One adoptee offers to arrange a reunion for the survivors. The reunion takes place when Wingate has several planned events in Memphis.
This book contains several stories of children who were adopted from Tann’s orphanage. It also contains stories of children whose parent was adopted out of the orphanage. However, this content is about 2/3rds of the book. The rest explores all the behind the scenes work that went into planning the event and the nervousness both Christie and Wingate felt at holding the reunion.
My Thoughts on the Book
This book had so much potential, but I just feel it missed the mark. Wingate and Christie write a lot about the required organization to plan and execute a reunion of sorts for the children who were adopted or their families. The thing is, I didn’t care about their behind the scenes work to make this happen. I know it was important for them, but I wish they would have left that information out of the book. I wanted to hear the true stories.
Even within the true stories that Christie did write about, I wanted more information. For intance, one family was tricked into giving up their three kids. When they realized what happened, they fought a four year legal battle to get their children back. The father was able to have a brief reunion with the older two (the oldest of whom was then 11) during the legal battles. The parents also went on to have two more children. I really wanted to know if the oldest was ever able to reunite with her parents or her younger siblings that weren’t accidentally given up. And if she didn’t, why not? Those are the details I wanted that the book didn’t provide.
As the book is now, I have more questions than answers.
I give Before and After 3 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.