I’ve just finished reading Dead Babies and Seaside Towns by Alice Jolly.
I had wanted to support this book when I saw it appear on the Unbound website some time ago, but for one reason or another I somehow put it off. I apologise to Ms Jolly for this, although it’s clear my support (or lack of) is irrelevant. The book gained momentum quickly and rightly so. The result is a memoir that is beautifully written, unabashed and brave. Brave how?
I had my reservations at first. Having read Jolly’s piece on the adoption process in a national daily, I had mixed feelings as to how far my sympathy would stretch. To be clear, I was heartened she was so honest about the horrors of the adoption process in this article and also later in her memoir (my husband and I also dabbled, until it was clear neither of us had either the patience needed to swallow down unending judgement or the strong legs needed to leap over mile-high hurdles), and I was also heartened to read how determined she was and how, like me, she suffered the occasionally well-meaning, but nonetheless crushing insensitivity of others.
It’s generous of her to share these feelings, and it’s makes me grateful, but I’m afraid warning bells still clanged in my ears.
Jolly can afford to be sniffy about adoption because she’s incredibly wealthy. She can afford to do what most infertile women cannot: she can turn her back on critical social workers. She can turn to America for a baby, and afford the best lawyer in the land to make her dream possible. As for you and me (and you and you) dream on, dreamer.
No matter. Yes. Really, if you want a baby enough, you will find the money. You will remortgage or sell your home, sell some land and move to rural Ireland where it’s cheaper to live. You will do whatever it takes. And what Jolly does in this book is remind you that you can do it, if you want to badly enough.
There’s precious little free information on the net on the surrogacy process. It’s still a dark, unlit path that few dare to venture down. There are no guarantees it will work out, even if you have the money. Reading this memoir is a bit like being a passenger with her on a rubber dinghy crossing the mediterranean in January. It’s icy and you feel every wave, every bump, you sense her hunger and you want to send her an emergency lifeboat. Money, like class-consciousness, is irrelevant when it comes to babies. Having read this memoir, I now know it’s possible for me and my husband to do the same. Yes, choice is good, choice is freeing, choice makes you feel in control. I think this is the lesson we can learn from this book. I’m glad it’s out there.