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I Must Have Wandered: An Adopted Air Force Daughter Recalls

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My new memoir is a lyrical collage of letters, vignettes, and images--an epistolary journey--of wondering and wandering, the known and unknown of an adopted Air Force daughter.

"I Must Have Wandered is an imaginative hybrid memoir that follows the author from her adoption in infancy by an Air Force couple in South Carolina in 1951. Her travels are told through vignettes, letters, articles, memories blended with fables, and lyrical prose that features people, places, even objects impressed on the “blank slate” of an adoptee’s identity.

      Adopted with sealed records and raised in a culture of secrecy, Gambutti was conflicted about her identity as a child and young adult coming of age in the 1960s.  Military family life, with its inherent transience and separation, the innocence and prosperity of the post-war era, and religious fervency all added to her struggles.

     She eventually connects with her genetic extended family and claims her heritage. I Must Have Wandered is a touching story of the recovery of pieces scattered and strewn like breadcrumbs when a natural mother relinquishes her daughter."





From the Foreword by Brooke Randolph, LMHC, therapist, author, speaker, and trainer specializing in adoption and Brainspotting ~ 

"I believe adoption memoirs are important for members of the adoption constellation in providing an opportunity to discover one's own personal ambiguous thoughts and feelings crystallized in another's words. Gathering these phrases and stories can be a way for us to come out of the fog of the false narrative about adoption. As you read, I hope you will find both truths and perhaps your own experience crystalized in Mary Ellen's words."

  Joanne Wolf Small, MSW, LCSW-C  

          "Shortly after reading Mary Ellen Gambutti's first book "Stroke Story: My Journey There and Back," I recall asking her if she would author a book about adoption. So, it particularly pleases me to say I found reading "I Must Have Wandered: An Adopted Air Force Daughter Recalls " an exceptional memoir. Because in telling her personal story, Mary Ellen hits the core issues most adopted people experience. Including concerns about belonging, differentness, loss, and loneliness. Besides combining excellent writing skills that reflect her poetic side, and leaving no stone unturned regarding her research, citations, documentation, and photographs...true examples of the diverse ways people in Mary Ellen's adoptive family handled adoption differentness; the various levels of acceptance Mary Ellen experiences after adoption into her new family; and step-by-step examples of Mary Ellen's unrelenting determination to reclaim her familial heritage and know her ancestral relatives. I highly recommend this book to adopted people and their parents, both birth/first and adoptive, as well as pre-adoptive parents, and child welfare professionals, for its authenticity, readability, and wealth of information."

Ande Scott, International Adoptee, blogger, and podcaster ~

   "Read This Book! Author Mary Ellen Gambutti writes her adoptee story using a wealth of original resources that I find absolutely stunning. As an adopted person, I know how for granted people who grow up in their biological family can take letters and photographs that document their lives and their family life. Mary Ellen provides us with a glimpse into an aspect of adoption that few people ever see. I applaud her generosity in sharing them with us." 

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