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Detachment: An Adoption Memoir

by Maurice Mierau

September 2, 2014
5.5 x 8.5 paper 230 pages
978-1-55481-206-6
CDN $21.95
Published by: Freehand Books

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In 2005, Maurice Mierau and his wife, Betsy, travelled to Ukraine to adopt two small boys, ages three and five. After weeks of delays while navigating a tangled bureaucracy, they returned to Canada as a proud new family of four.

Now what?

Detachment-cover-June11LowRes-194x300Does fatherhood begin the moment that the adoption papers are signed? Is family something that is created in an instant? And what happens when everything seems to be on the verge of falling apart?

In Detachment, Maurice Mierau probes not only the process of adoption but what comes after—the challenges of becoming a family, the strain on his marriage. While his son acts out and gets in trouble at school, Maurice feels removed, detached, thinking instead about his own emotionally distant father. Also born in Ukraine, Maurice’s Mennonite father has a traumatic, mysterious past of his own. If Maurice can come to understand his father’s life, perhaps he can start to make sense of his new sons…

Detachment is a moving, darkly funny, and searingly unsentimental memoir about learning to become a father and a son.

“Detachment is a startling portrait of a real Modern Family–cobbled together across continents, haunted by old wars and buried trauma, held together by the stubborn human need for love and connection, for belonging. Maurice Mierau’s attempt to understand the people who made him what he is, while holding his own invented family together, is completely compelling: brutally honest, harrowing, and compassionate.” – Michael Crummey, author of Galore

“In the first half of Detachment, Maurice Mierau tells a fascinating story of working through the byzantine bureaucracy of the adoption industry to bring two boys home from Ukraine. In the second half, he recounts the hardest part of the journey, learning the emotional language of being a dad. Maurice Mierau is a smart and unsentimental storyteller, and I loved this book.” – Joan Thomas, author of Curiosity and Reading by Lightning

“With wry honesty, Maurice Mierau surprises the reader again and again with the failure, the vulnerability, the surprise, and the tenderness of relationships. For all its coolly detached tone, this story has incredible heart. And the children. Oh, the children.” – David Bergen, author of The Age of Hope and The Time in Between

“In his perceptive memoir, Detachment, Maurice Mierau deals with the random, shuffled fortunes of a family. He holds a twisting handful of remarkable stories together with unique, accomplished, and unflinching prose. It is an exceptionally rewarding read.” – John K. Samson, singer/songwriter, The Weakerthans