The compelling, poignant true stories of victims of a notorious adoption scandal—some of whom learned the truth from Lisa Wingate’s bestselling novel Before We Were Yours and were reunited with birth family members as a result of its wide reach
From the 1920s to 1950, Georgia Tann ran a black-market baby business at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis. She offered up more than 5,000 orphans tailored to the wish lists of eager parents—hiding the fact that many weren’t orphans at all, but stolen sons and daughters of poor families, desperate single mothers, and women told in maternity wards that their babies had died.
The publication of Lisa Wingate’s novel Before We Were Yours brought new awareness of Tann’s lucrative career in child trafficking. Adoptees who knew little about their pasts gained insight into the startling facts behind their family histories. Encouraged by their contact with Wingate and award-winning journalist Judy Christie, who documented the stories of fifteen adoptees in this book, many determined Tann survivors set out to trace their roots and find their birth families.
Before and After includes moving and sometimes shocking accounts of the ways in which adoptees were separated from their first families. Often raised as only children, many have joyfully reunited with siblings in the final decades of their lives. Christie and Wingate tell of first meetings that are all the sweeter and more intense for time missed and of families from very different social backgrounds reaching out to embrace better-late-than-never brothers, sisters, and cousins. In a poignant culmination of art meeting life, many of the long-silent victims of the tragically corrupt system return to Memphis with the authors to reclaim their stories at a Tennessee Children’s Home Society reunion . . . with extraordinary results.
Advance praise for Before and After
“In Before and After, authors Judy Christie and Lisa Wingate tackle the true stories behind Wingate’s blockbuster Before We Were Yours, of the orphans who survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. With a journalist’s keen eye and a novelist’s elegant prose, Christie and Wingate weave together the stories that inspired Before We Were Yours with the lives that were changed as a result of reading the novel. Readers will be educated, enlightened, and enraptured by this important and flawlessly executed book.”—Pam Jenoff, author of The Orphan’s Tale and The Lost Girls of Paris
Customer ReviewsSee All
Bringing Fiction to Life.
I was so excited to receive an advance copy of “Before and After” that I immediately sat down and devoured it all in one day. The book is a collaboration of Judy Christie and Lisa Wingate, both authors with journalism backgrounds. After Lisa Wingate wrote her New York Times bestseller book “Before We Were Yours” which features a fictional account of a family torn apart landing the children in the Tennessee Children’s Home Society (TCHS), she could not imagine the impact it would have. It’s a heart wrenching story based on the real history of the TCHS run by Georgia Tann who became rich by selling babies and young children during the years of 1923-1950. “Before We Were Yours” was well written and touched me deeply. When I heard Lisa was teaming up with a friend to release a follow-up to her book with real life stories of people whose lives were touched by this horrific part of Tennessee history I was intrigued to learn more and couldn’t wait to read their new book. After “Before We Were Yours” hit the bookstores, Lisa began getting emails and letters from people relating their’s or a parent’s stories from being a TCHS child. Lisa, knowing these stories were important to be told, contacted her friend Judy Christie to help her with the task of gathering these stories. Judy spent countless hours interviewing and recording stories from anyone willing to share them with her, while Lisa continued meeting more people impacted by TCHS on her book tour. This book is a compilation of all these wonderful stories that deserve to be told. Most of the kids were taken from poor families and placed in homes of wealthier but many times dysfunctional families. Some were stolen from hospitals and the mothers were told their baby died. Some were taken from their own homes while playing in their own yards. It will amaze you what this woman managed to get away with for over 30 years aided by many other prominent people. You will feel for each of the stories from those who lived through this as they gather for a reunion to share information with each other. If you haven’t read “Before We Were Yours”, I highly recommend it either before or after reading this book. Everyone has a story to tell and I’m thankful that these two wonderful ladies decided to tell these very important stories.