Surrendered Child
A Birth Mother's Journey

Karen Salyer McElmurray

An unforgettable true story of a teenage mother's choice to give up her child


"This is a very moving and pungent narrative, which quickly engages the reader's imagination, as its gorgeously remembered details spill onto the page, not necessarily in chronological order but by patchwork design and as if on their own."
—Beverly Lowry, author of Crossed Over: A Murder, a Memoir

"Graceful, shocking, sensuous, and gritty, this book questions consequences. It ends at the beginning and begins at the end. A wonderful, almost unbearably honest book."
—Sheri Reynolds, The Rapture of Canaan

More / Hide

Surrendered Child is Karen Salyer McElmurray's raw, poignant account of her journey from her teen years, when she put her newborn child up for adoption, to adulthood and a desperate search for the son she never knew. In a patchwork narrative interwoven with dark memories from her childhood, McElmurray deftly treads where few dare—into a gritty, honest exploration of the loss a birth mother experiences.

The year was 1973, a time of social upheaval, even in small-town Kentucky, where McElmurray grew up. More than a story of time and place, however, this is about a girl who, at the age of sixteen, relinquished her son at birth. Twenty-five years would pass before McElmurray began sharing this part of her past with others and actively looking for her son.

McElmurray's own troubled upbringing and her quest after a now-fully-grown son are the heart of her story. With unflinching honesty, McElmurray recounts both the painful surrendering and the surprise rediscovery of her son, juxtaposed with her portrayal of her own mother, who could not provide the love she needed. The dramatic result is a story of birthright lost and found—and an exploration of the meaning of motherhood itself.

Association of Writers and Writing Programs Award for Creative Nonfiction

Page count: 272 pp.
22 b&w photos
Trim size: 5.1875 x 8


List price: $22.95

buy button
View Shopping Cart

List price: $19.95
Check ebook availability

Karen Salyer McElmurray is the author of two novels, Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven (Georgia) and Motel of the Stars, and the memoir Surrendered Child (Georgia). She is associate professor of Creative Writing at Georgia College and State University, where she is nonfiction editor for Arts and Letters. She also teaches in the low-residency program at Murray State University.