What Was Mine

COMM 411 - Amanda Riojas

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What Was Mine

  • Helen Klein Ross
    IKEA in New Jersey 1990
    - 2011
  • Manhattan, New York
  • Published Jan 2016

“There was only one thing Lucy couldn't do that she wanted to do: have a baby. So she took someone else's.”

One day at IKEA, Marilyn leaves her baby Natalie alone where Lucy snatches her and keeps her a secret for 21 years. Natalie, renamed Mia by her new mother, is led to believe she was adopted and never questions herself or her mother. Marilyn searches on and on for years to find her kidnapped child, and while continuing to search for her daughter, reads a story on kidnapping written by Lucy in her time as a writer. Lucy was to present at a book reading and signing event, where Marilyn met her. Lucy, concerned with keeping her secret, knew about Marilyn and was following her life after she made national news 20 years ago. Mia called Lucy while Marilyn was talking to Lucy, and Marilyn recognized the caller ID face as similar to her own. She later decides to contact her and Mia starts to question her identity and the truth.

While Lucy is away from the house, Mia opens up a hidden suitcase to see that Lucy kept newspapers and magazines of the kidnapping.

The Mothers

Lucy Wakefield

The kidnapper.

The story starts off with Lucy married and trying for a child at 30. She’s obsessed with having a baby and raising a child and having a family. She’s been a focused advertising woman in the city and comments a lot on the parenting styles of mothers she sees. She wished she was “ big hearted enough to take in an older child who needed mothering. But [she] wasn't that generous. [She] wanted a baby.” She had forsaken her marriage in “futile pursuit of parenthood.” She raised Lucy her whole life on her own with the help of a babysitter, Wendy, but her priority was work. Lucy is ordinary, smart, and unsure, but also charming, cunning, friendless, and a pathological liar.
Thinks east sixty fourth street is a perfect location to raise a child, because it's next to the zoo. She couldn't imagine being pregnant and walking up five flights of stairs several times a day while "the suburbs were a better place to raise a baby. "
  • " So many people have children they don't deserve. "

  • " I explained that while most mommies have to take the baby given to them I was a lucky kind of Mommy. I got to choose my baby myself. "

  • " I had treated Mia kindly, provided for her generously, but there had been brutality in my wrestling her from the life she'd been meant to live. "

  • " 'Abductor’ they call me. ‘Baby snatcher.’ Nothing about how well I raised Mia, nothing about expensive schools and private tutors and bedtime stories or a full time nanny and trips to beaches and Disney world. Nothing about how well she was loved."

She doesn’t think Marilyn is the real mother either. She says the Marilyn and Mia resemblance is only skin deep and Marilyn acts as if she crafted her.
  • " I had taken her baby, had inflicted on her the worst thing a mother can imagine... Her daughter was my daughter... My daughter was grown. My child had been taken too, in a sense. She'd left home for college. She’d turned twenty-one on her last birthday. Nothing could bring the baby she had been, to either of us; that baby was lost to both of us now. "

Marilyn Featherstone

The Mother of Mia.

She quit her job, couldn’t sleep for years after the kidnapping and had nightmares. She feels that she has always made the worst mistakes but never gave up on her search for Natalie (Mia). She was depressed and broken and didn’t cook or eat well and could no longer trust herself to rely on her own judgement. She practiced yoga, peace, forgiveness, and spiritual cleansing. She starts to become obsessed with reading books on kidnapping. She felt a need to have an organic connection and encourages her children to be spiritually healthy.

She hangs crystals in the house, positions mirrors for water energy, and owns dreamcatcher earrings. She trusts medical herbs and veganism and had a sweet, homey, and caring voice. Her other children, Chloe, Connor, and Thatch feel as if she focuses her attention on Mia and neglects them as soon as she arrived. She tries to forgive Lucy, but at the same time constantly calls her an abductor, and not her real mom.

  • " I couldn't explain it. But something was driving me, and later, Sonya explained that it was my mother's instinct, keeping myself open for coded messages, intimations that would lead me to Natalie. "
  • " I learned that every time I thought of my child I was sending her love. "
  • " We began dealing with the tragedy in different ways. His way was denial. Mine was denial of everything except the loss of our daughter. "
  • " And I got a strong burning in the center of my chest as I shared at her face, imagining all the milestones is missed, the birthdays, the firsts, the time she said “Mother,” and I mourned the loss of our years together, grateful that the Oneness was finally guiding her home. "
  • " My heart filled with desire to hold her, to impart to her wisdom and love and maternal cautions. "
  • " The woman who took my daughter also raised her with love. Like it or not, she is part of my daughter. Hurting her would hurt would be hurting my daughter."

Wendy Ma

The Babysitter.

Wendy, the babysitter from China taught Mia Chinese and helped her grow for 15 years when Lucy was unable to be there. Wendy has her own children that continue to live in China while she is in the United States for years. She doesn't regret not being there for her family because she was able to be with Mia anyway. She comforts Lucy too and helped Lucy get into good health when she was sick, alone, and homeless in China.

  • " I missed my son who I love so much, enough to leave him. "
  • " Wendy's English was lacking, she was beautifully versed in the language that mattered most to a six-month-old, the nonverbal language of taking care of a baby.”
Wendy also says that she had a daughter Jin but because of one child policy she dropped her off at a foreigner hotel.

  • " If Jin knows I give her away, she thinks she has a bad mother. But really, she has a mother who loves her."

Mia's Comments and Views

Mia Wakefield

The kidnapped daughter Natalie, now Mia.

Her name means "Mine."
Mia has a normal life and presents herself as a city girl who can't drive but is very educated. She learns to speak Chinese through her babysitter and has a great childhood until she is contacted by her birthmother. She finds out her life is a lie when she is a senior in college. She says Marilyn is selfless and caring and builds her life around kids to keep them happy and safe, while Lucy's priority was work. She thought Wendy was the only one who actually took care of her. During her discovery, her boyfriend cheats on her, she has reoccurring bad dreams and takes sleeping pills.


  • " Lucy was never satisfied with how I was and always tried improving me with dancing lessons, riding lessons, tutors, and piano lessons. Marilyn loved me the way I was. "
  • " I liked my life. I didn't want to change it. And having a birth mother would definitely change it. "
  • " This woman has no idea what she's talking about. This woman who raised me is actually crazy. "

  • " I thought I had a mom who didn't lie. She'd been honest about things other mothers lied about. She told me the truth about Santa's as soon as I really wanted to know, warning me not to tell other kids. She told me the facts of life in fourth grade so I didn't freak out…. "

  • " It wasn't just that my mother was gone. My image of her as a good person had been taken away. "
  • " I knew plenty of girls who didn't talk to their moms every day. Now I'd be one of them. "
  • " I thought she was a good mother. She was a good thief! "
  • " What she did was wrong. But she also raised me with her whole heart. She's a huge part of who I am. I don't want her to spend the rest of her life in jail. "