A Reluctant Search for True Self Through Nurture, Nature, and Free Will
- by Jack F. Rocco, M.D.
As some of the puzzle pieces of his life click into place, others remain disconnected and swirling out of reach... and he makes a discovery
that shatters his very self-identity.
A powerful reflection on how identity is shaped by the stories we believe about ourselves.
An Air Force veteran and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jack Rocco's identity was built around his Italian heritage. And while he knew the story of his “Gotday,” he didn’t know the story of his birth day. Turns out he didn't know the truth.
Jack Rocco was a baby when he was adopted by a blue-collar, Italian American family. His was a closed adoption, and he only knew that his birth parents were a young couple—an Italian father and a German Irish mother—who couldn’t afford a child.
Recycled takes you along on Jack’s journey of discovering his true but hidden identity. On a first date, Jack learns she was also adopted. As she describes finding and meeting her birth mother, Jack discovers that his belief about closed adoptions—that there's no way to obtain details—and the birth story he's been told may not be accurate. He becomes obsessed, devouring books about adoption and adoption trauma. He tries to follow long and twisted tentacles of nurture, nature, and free will—which parts of him were due to genetics? The nurturing environment of his adoptive home? And which parts did he actually have control over?
As some of the puzzle pieces of his life click into place, others remain disconnected and swirling out of reach. And then, he makes a discovery that shatters his very self-identity.
It was Jack’s grandfather who coined the term “recycled children.” Recycled is for those directly involved in adoption—adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents—and also for anybody wanting insight into the impact that early maternal and cultural separation has on a child. It is also for those coming to terms with mixed-race identity.
It’s one of the most thrilling, shocking, yet hopeful books about hidden identity and adoption that you’ll read this year and may help you during your own identity inquiry.
What to Expect
Introduction: Coming Out of the Fog
PART I: NURTURE
Super Men and Wonder Women
PART II: NaTURE
She Yawns Like Me
“He Is Who He Is”
Part III: Free Will
His Story Changes Everything
In Recycled (excerpt)
Coming Out of the Fog
The nature, nurture, or free will questions are more than intellectual exercises for me. They’re personal.
As one of millions of infants relinquished by their mothers and put up for adoption, the concepts of nurture, nature and free will have played an integral, intriguing part in my existence. Being a part of the closed adoption system, neither my family nor I were allowed to know the parents from whom I originated.
I was adopted close to the end of what was called the “Baby Scoop Era.” Beginning around 1940 and going thru approximately to 1970, an estimated four million newborn infants were put up for adoption. The post World War II baby boom era, with its fast cars, sock hops, no sex education or birth control, also lead to a rise in unwanted pregnancies. The mother was often blamed for this lapse in judgment and encouraged to relinquish her child and be “rehabilitated” if she wanted to have any chance to re-assimilate into society. Adoption was presented as the only option by their parents, doctors, and priests. Just go away to visit an aunt, have the baby, give it up, and come back so no one would know.
Let me make this point strongly and frequently in advance: I had a great family and I have benefited from the upbringing and nurturing they gave me.
There are, however, well-known unintended consequences of this relinquishment and abandonment as an infant. Adopted children are not, in any way, a tabula rasa, or blank slate.
Everyone involved in an adoption needs to be aware and understand that this blessing of a chosen child is a unique individual carrying his or her own skills, baggage, and emotions with them.
Despite every effort to sugar coat or hide the fact, they have just lost their mother. This is not going to go unnoticed. At least not by them.
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