Detachment: An Adoption Memoir by Maurice Mierau

An Adoption Memoir

by Maurice Mierau

September 2, 2014
5.5 x 8.5 paper 230 pages
CDN $21.95 | US $21.95

Buy Detachment now

Also available as an ebook:
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Winner of the 2016 Kobzar Literary Award
Winner of the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction
Finalist for the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award
Winner of the 2015 Alberta Book Publishers Book of the Year Award (Trade Non-Fiction)
Finalist for On the Same Page – 2015

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?

Does 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 Familycobbled 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

Read an excerpt of Detachment, as featured in the Toronto Star. >

Watch the book trailer for Detachment:


“[U]nsentimental and passionate, sparked with moments of humour–a must-read” — an interview between Lynne Van Luven and Maurice Mierau. Coastal SpectatorMay 15, 2015.

“Mierau doesn’t sugarcoat anything. Instead, he paints a truthful picture of the sheer difficulty that can come from parenting, and adoption. He doesn’t make himself out to be a hero, and is completely honest about his own shortcomings, fears and inabilities. The book is both a page turner and a highly emotional read.” — Daily Herald-TribuneMay 14, 2015

Interview, Writer’s Block, CJSW, April 2015.

“Writing with heartfelt honesty about his own self-doubt and self-absorption, Mierau is forced to do what he assumed… he could not—pay close attention to the daily, often mundane trials of fatherhood. As for the victories in Detachment, they are hard won and incremental and the more believable for it.” — Literary Review of CanadaMarch 2015.

“I was stunned upon finishing and tried to convince my husband to read it, but couldn’t quite describe why – not because it’s a how-to guide, or a how-not-to cautionary tale, or some lurid look at neglected children; it’s not any of those. Partly because it’s a parenting memoir by a dad, yeah, but mostly because it’s just so raw and honest.” — Bookstravaganza, December 30, 2014.

“Tremendously engaging… a resonant memoir.” — Buried in Print, December 11, 2014.

A 49th Shelf Book of the Year, 2014.

Interview, CJOB Radio, November 21, 2014.

Interview, CTV Calgary, November 7, 2014.

“Detachment: Maurice Mierau on Family, Adoption, and Memoir,” 49th Shelf, November 6, 2014.

“On the Ethics of Writing About Your Family,” All Lit UpNovember 5, 2014.

“Mierau feels disconnected from his father, at least in part because he doesn’t know what his father lived through, and now he’s disconnected from his sons because he doesn’t know what they’ve lived through either. Mierau stands between these two generations, and beautifully recounts the painful, aching, transformative process of becoming a fallible but deeply loving father.” — Geez MagazineNovember 5, 2014.

“Maurice Mierau chronicles long, winding road to parenthood in Detachment: An Adoption Memoir,” excerpt in the Calgary HeraldOctober 25, 2014.

“Road to parenthood leads Canadian couple to Ukraine,” excerpt in the Toronto Star, September 27, 2014.

“What We Should Have Known About Adoption and Attachment Disorder,” Canada Adopts, September 23, 2014.

“It’s a book that doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges of building a family across borders, with children who acutely remember what it’s like to have been abandoned. It also lays bare the sometimes-unanticipated impact on marital relationships, on a person’s confidence in themselves as a parent.” — National PostSeptember 12, 2014.

“[I]nternational adoption experts are commending Winnipeg author Maurice Mierau for bravely going public with his own family’s adoption struggles in his new book, Detachment: An Adoption Memoir.” — CBC News, September 9, 2014.

“Adoption struggles: Winnipeg father shares the dark side of international adoption,” CBC Radio Information Morning, September 8, 2014.

Detachment: An Adoption Memoir is a frank, tense and fully engaging story of the processes and consequences of adoption. And it’s more than this.” — Winnipeg Free PressSeptember 6, 2014.

“Get attached to new memoir,” The MetroSeptember 5, 2014.

Interview, CTV Morning Live Winnipeg, September 5, 2014.