By: Howard Frederick Ibach
Publisher: Juju Books LLC
Publication Date: December 5, 2023
Review Date: January 15, 2024
Howard Ibach, in his debut memoir, Already Home: Confronting the Trauma of Adoption, sets pen to paper and shares his experiences and approach to how adoption affected his life.
Howard Ibach does not recall the day he was adopted. How could he? He was an infant. In November 1955, a drunk driver killed the husband of Howard’s future mother. In her grief, the mother found comfort in the arms of another man. Roughly a year after the accident, Howard’s mother gave birth to ‘Howard,’ and shortly after his birth, Howard was put up for adoption. Howard has no complaints about his adoptive parents, Martha and Howard Ibach, a physician father and scientist mother. He clearly sets this tone from the start of his story. It is when he meets Zoe, the ‘love of his life,’ and they hit a rough patch months into their relationship, that questions begin to surface. The couple decides it is worth their while to see a couples therapist. Ibach states: "...It was Zoe who led me in 2015 to the therapist who introduced me to the author of two books that would change my life: Nancy Newton Verrier, M.A, a psychotherapist in private practice and an adoption specialist. Two people—my couple therapist and Verrier—marked the beginning of my education about what I think most people would agree was a consequential event in my life, but one that I never gave much thought to. Everything I knew about adoption would be challenged..." And so began Ibach’s journey to understand...
Ibach is insistent that he never felt abandonment or rejection, nor was he compelled to prove his worth. What he does center his defining moment around understanding is to focus on (perhaps) sublime emotions and possibly suppressed stress that he didn’t know he carried until furthering his self-educational journey of the impacts of adoption. The encouragement to journey down this path began when Zoe suggested to Howard in their first therapy session: "...talk about your adoption..." Their relationship ended shortly after, and Ibach began researching his childhood for evidence of emotional distress—were there occasions when he acted out that could point to the fact that he was adopted? Were these feelings so deeply buried he wasn’t equipped to address them until now as a 58-year-old grown man? Fortunately, not long after these questions rose to his surface, the State of Wisconsin opened its adoption records. It allowed children to delve into finding their birth parents for the first time. Ibach learned his birth mother’s name and also the fact she had died many years prior. The effect this had on Ibach was to embrace the information as a door that opened into a search that would uncover the backstory he had never known before.
Ibach writes with an unassuming tone, and his story plays out across the pages through a voice of revelations and experiences as he converses with his audience for the first time. There are moments where he questions what the correct terminology is to use. Should it be Bloodline? Ancestry? Parentage? He talks about his deceased mother and father, Harold and Martha. Granted, they were his adoptive parents, but again, the ‘parents’ he knew who raised him. At the beginning of his quest for information, he is insistent on setting the record straight that he is not a ‘victim,’ but there are times when a sense of uncertainty will be prevalent during his quest to understand. The overarching sense throughout this memoir is Ibach was compelled to share his journey of self-exploration in a light of positivity and something that was important to him to share for the finality of his personal acceptance. This is as much an informative read as it is emotionally captivating.
Quill says: Already Home is a story of inspiration as much as an affirmation that nobody has to be a ‘victim’ in his/her search for the truth.
For more information on Already Home: Confronting the Trauma of Adoption, please visit the author's website at: https://howardfrederickibach.com/