Finding Jane: My review

Finding Jane: Brenda Secor



Children are supposed to be protected by their parents, grandparents and close friends. But, not all women view parenthood as something special, wonderful or cherish their child or children. Many parents fall prey to the wiles of a spouse, a boyfriend or someone through for a short time, others find pleasure in hitting, torturing and embarrassing their child or children for lack of anything else to do to make up for their own inadequacies or are not so sadistic and cruel that they cannot see or if care that what they are doing is beyond wrong. Boyfriends come and go and some women as you will learn when you hear Brenda’s story about her mother, the men in her life and the excuses she makes for the behaviors she inflicted on her child, will let you know that some children should be in protective custody, schools need to pay closer attention and friends in the neighborhood need to be more aware. So, why did her mother allow so many men to use her child and turn a blind eye or accuse her of lying? Why would a parent verbally and physically humiliate their child in front of friends? Unfortunately, Wanda, her mother is gone and we cannot ask her these questions but by reading her story and hearing her words maybe others will become more aware of their own behaviors, children will be more protected, teens will speak out rather than stay quiet and parents will learn that the one blessing in their lives are their children.


From the moment she took her first breath the author was knew in her own mind that she was an unwelcome visitor in her mother’s life. Pawned off to many others to care for her she learned to fend for herself at a young age. But, no matter how hard she tried, cried, pleaded and begs her mother who never listened to her cries, cared about her tears or worried about her safety. Wanda was an alcoholic and all she cared about was which man was in her bed and which bottle she could open and drink first. Feeding and caring for Brenda was not even on her list and expecting her young infant child to care for her, clean up after her one of her main priorities and thought her right as a parent. But, Wanda was not by any definition a parent to Brenda or anyone else. She was self-absorbed, mean, cruel and abusive. Survival is hard when you are dealing with a parent who allows others to sexually abuse you and not even acknowledge the truth or care. Survival is hard when you are the only who cares about you and the one man, Daniel, who came into your life because of your mother is ripped out because of her need to have just any man in her bed, the bottles that they shared and the unhappiness she felt in her life taking it out on her child.


Being drunk seemed to the only way both Albert and Wanda could deal with life plus blaming her troubles on Brenda. Smart, creative and definitely quite brave in many respects, Brenda was able to deal with CAS when they came and took her away along with her little sister. Two children caught in a web red tape, lies and a system that seemed to have failed not only her but her sister too. Reading the transcripts and notes of each of the emergency workers you wonder whether they were really concerned about her welfare, turned somewhat of a blind eye or just doing the bare minimum. When a child comes to school with bruises, misses school and you know her mother is a total drunk, you have heard her rants and raves and know her issues you wonder why they ever returned Brenda to live in this horrific environment. But, when Wanda and Brenda remained at a friend’s house what Brenda experiences you just won’t believe. But, being placed before in Foster Care was no better than being at home but one incident would change it all when Brenda finally admitted to the guidance counselor what her mother did to her. Then she was placed with the Lakes a loving family and she hoped she would remain. Reading the caseworkers notes the author shares the decisions made the placements, her separation from her sister and the end result being made a Ward of the Crown. Would this create more stability for her and what about her relationship with her mother? Brenda and her mother could not really co-exist in the same home and with Albert there major decisions about her life had to be made.

Jane was the one person that made Brenda feel whole and special when she needed dental care she made sure she received it. Jane wanted to adopt her but could not. Pages 60- 72 are quite enlightening and compelling. At times you can feel the pain inflicted on her, see her tears and know what somehow she was strong had the courage to survive and stand up for herself against the her mother and the system.


Then she was placed with the Smiths a great family, great school, friends and yet felt out of place. But, her combative personality soon won over, rifts in the new family, trying to fit in and when William, the father tried to show her affection, she rebuffed it and could not handle his kindness. Unable to trust adults and learning to try and understand her new family things happened that she considered abuse but were they really. A brother names Bobby that was overly affectionate and then she threatened to leave. The following pages will explain why her adoption fell through, the reasons and the behaviors she exhibited that caused the Smith family to terminate her stay. Defiant, angry, confrontation and belligerent were just part of it but you might say afraid or scared of being accepted and then turned away. As an educator I have dealt with CAS, foster care situations and have seen some children thrive while others abused. Child abuse is not something that is foreign to me and reporting it was not something that came easy but I did without giving it any second thoughts knowing that I would save a child’s life. Unfortunately in every instance I was right to report what I observed or learned. But, returning to the Lakes would give her some stability until the father lost his job, drinking became a household occurrence and all of the children except Brenda and one other were removed from their foster care. Jane, her worker came but she pushed her away. Drugs, alcohol, playing hooky and total rebellion were the norm until the Lakes decided to move and Brenda refused to leave her mother but at fourteen years old she ran away to Ottawa with her friend Peggy. But, where she and her friend wound up was not better than with her mother and Albert if not worse. Then, she met a man named Terry and her life would be more of a nightmare for the next four years. But, at 15 years of age she became pregnant, changed her date of birth so the doctor would think she was 16 and gave birth to a daughter named Janie. Living with Terry, his daughter Lynn and now their child, Brenda was caught in a web of horror dealing with a man whose moods were changeable and trying to be a good mother to her own child.


Becoming a parent would change her perspective on life to a point. Coming to terms with her own goals and deciding what she wanted for herself and her child would be paramount. Meeting Anthony would be the first positive and it would take time before their relationship would grow. However, not everything would remain the same and the author shares more about her life with Terry, the custody battles, Janie’s conflicts and her own desire to break the pattern With three children and a loving partner what would the end result be. But, sometimes hormones and physical conditions dictate your actions and what she shares is not uncommon and what happens hopeful.


What Brenda has done by sharing her story is bringing to light the seriousness of spousal, child, sexual and verbal abuse and the amount of red tape that goes within our court system to care for the victims. Not every situation turns out right and not everyone is courageous enough to share their story. What will your co-workers think: I would think they would be honored to be your friend, colleague and admire the fact that you are taking readers on your life’s journey from despair, depression and hopelessness to success and love.


This is one book that counselors, teachers, guidance counselors, judges and anyone related to dealing with CAS and the court system should read to learn first hand what can happen if you don’t fight back. As for Jane she must be a special person and Finding Jane: well let’s say you found each other.


Fran Lewis: reviewer