By Lorri Antosz Benson
When Lorri Antosz Benson, a 24-year-old successful producer for a groundbreaking national television show, finds herself in an impossible situation, she digs deep and faces the heartbreaking reality that the best choice for her beloved new baby is to be raised by someone else.
To Have and Not to Hold is the poignant account of Lorri's momentous decision to give her daughter for adoption, the resulting heartache, and later, the unexpected joy of reconnecting with her daughter and her daughter's adoptive mother. With agonizing yet heartwarming honesty, Lorri offers a profound look at a deep connection of two mothers that is born with the cry of a newborn daughter. What begins as a fragile, tenuous link develops into something dreams and miracles are made of—relationships that go to the soul, are meant to be, and are devoid of fear and possessiveness. To Have and Not to Hold holds much inspiration for any adoptive parent, adoptee, or first/birthparent, but it's a story that anyone will find impossible to put down.
"Lorri Benson’s book is wonderful for many reasons: It offers important insights into a too-little-understood means of forming a family, it provides a mirror for our own reflections about love and parenting, and it simply tells a compelling story. The aspect of it that resonates most with me, though, is how genuinely it portrays the vulnerable human beings involved in the process and the extraordinary impact that it has on them—before, during and after an adoption. Agree or disagree with the author’s ultimate decision, To Have and Not to Hold will pull you in, will make you cry and will teach you a lot. Quite a combination for quite a book. "
—Adam Pertman, President of the National Center on Adoption and Permanency and author of Adoption Nation
"Anyone touched by adoption needs to read this book and inhale Lorri's story. Lorri's circumstances as a 24 year old, employed woman are not completely typical of women who find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy. However, her emotional experiences of learning of her pregnancy, forming a relationship with her unborn baby, grappling with her options within herself and with people in her life, and finally making a decision after Aimee's birth DO completely represent the truth of each birth mother's journey. Board members and staff of adoption organizations should especially take note: adoption is not a transaction. Our obligation is to recognize and honor the fact that the decision to make an adoption plan becomes a part of the fabric of each birth parent's life. And it is a powerful fabric indeed."
—Julie Tye, President of The Cradle
"To Have and Not to Hold boosts us all high enough to peek over the wall that surrounded the author during this deep and very personal drama. We become witnesses to the moral courage of a cast of people who know what love means, most especially the mother who was the answer to Lorri's prayers—the mother who adopted Aimee and fiercely loves her daughter—Katherine."
"To Have and Not to Hold is a beautiful memoir about a woman who made an adoption plan and lived to tell about it. It is a fantastic read for everyone touched by adoption or even those who are curious about it."
"I don't know Lorri personally but after reading her memoir I feel like I do. I guess that's the point with memoirs—to peek into someone's life and attempt to feel what they were feeling. Almost immediately, I knew that she was someone I'd want to be friends with. I loved this book because it was honest. I could put myself into her shoes as she detailed the ups, downs, doubts, insecurities, surprises along the way, and the joys. The difficulty of her decision weighed heavily on me throughout the book, especially early on. But I was also struck by the strong influence of the people around her. There was a cast of characters in her life that shared their opinions like her parents, boyfriend, siblings, social worker, boss, colleagues, friends, etc. For good or for bad, this is true for all expectant mothers. There are so many voices that it can overwhelm an already overwhelming situation.
My . . . hope is that all birth mothers have an adoptive mother as loving, selfless and respectful as Anne was and is to Lorri. The subtitle alludes to this, but the bond between these mothers is really beautiful. I'll save those details for those who choose to read the book. But I can only imagine that this story could also be difficult to read if you do not have a close relationship with your child's adoptive or birth family. Though I was encouraged by Lorri's closing thoughts in her epilogue . . . "