ARC AUDIO BOOK REVIEW: Shameless by Marilyn Churley

Publication Date: October 15, 2022
Format: Audio
Genre:  Memoir/adoption
Narrators: Ellen Davis

Publisher: Between the Lines 
6 hours 45 min
Buy: Kindle | Audio


In the late 1960s, at the age of eighteen and living far from home amidst the thriving counterculture of Ottawa, Marilyn Churley got pregnant. Like thousands of other women of the time she kept the event a secret. Faced with few options, she gave the baby up for adoption.

Over twenty years later, as the Ontario NDP government’s minister responsible for all birth, death, and adoption records, including those of her own child, Churley found herself in a surprising and powerful position–fully engaged in the long and difficult battle to reform adoption disclosure laws and find her son.

Both a personal and political story, Shameless is a powerful memoir about a mother’s struggle with loss, love, secrets, and lies–and an adoption system shrouded in shame.


I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through I am leaving this review voluntarily. 

As the Executive Director of an adoption agency this spoke to me.  The struggle of adoptees to obtain a copy of their original birth certificates is still going on.  Although many states have now allowed this there are many that have not.  With the new normal of open adoption this isn't as much of an issue for this new generation but there are hundreds of people who have no medical history and no understanding of their roots.  Some aren't even sure what race they are. 

Marilyn Churley's honest and gripping tale of being a pregnant woman during a time when this was not considered acceptable could be any woman's story.  She wasn't special or different than any of the other however her ambition did take her to a place where she could make a difference.  And through years of struggle and fighting she finally helped pass adoption disclosure laws in Canada and found her biological son that she placed for adoption. 

Marilyn Churley shines a light on the struggles so many women at that time faced and her fight in the legislature helped so many be able to reunite, discover their medical background and openly grieve for the losses they encountered. 

This is a wonderful book, the narration is excellent and it really opens the doors to practices that were barbaric, unhealthy and filled with shame and judgement. The judgement still remains but practices are much different now and more empowering to the women who choose adoption. 

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