My Hero’s Story

Moses, a prophet to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, likely is the world’s best-known adoptee. His lifelong journey also emobodies the archetypal hero’s journey, as described by writer Joseph Campbell. The print showing Moses as an infant before his adoption and floating in a basket on the Nile comes from the Library of Congress, dated 1887.

Born a bastard in Detroit and given up for adoption because of societal stigma against single birth mothers and unwanted infants, Rudy Owens traces the major legal and public health impacts of modern adoption and how critical biological kinship, historic prejudice, and discrimination are to one of the greatest social experiments in American history. In 2014 he met his biological half-sister for the first time, nearly a half century after his birth. That experience showed him his lifelong quest for his original birth records, equality before the law, and his ancestral history may have been the makings of a meaningful and good life. Despite the mistrust and decades-long legal discrimination he encountered on his journey, Owens ultimately climbed the mountain, slew his dragons, crossed the ring of fire, and emerged a better person as only someone can after a true hero’s journey.


Find a chapter-by-chapter synopsis of You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are on my chapter summary page. See the timeline of key events in my adoption journey, from my relinquishment as an adoptee in the mid-1960s to overcoming the state of Michigan’s likely illegal actions withholding my original birth certificate decades after he had no legal grounds keep it from me. Click on each chapter link for an excerpt to the beginning of each section:

Chapter 1:  Meeting my Half-Sister

Chapter 2:  The Most Suitable Plan

Chapter 3:  A Place for Unwed Mothers

Chapter 4:  How Scott Became Martin: A Life Told in Records

Chapter 5:  Knowing You Are Adopted: Just Look in the Mirror

Chapter 6:  Blood Is Thicker Than Water

Chapter 7:  Legalized Discrimination Against Adoptees

Chapter 8:  Who Am I?

Chapter 9:  The Paper Chase

Chapter 10:  Flying to Detroit

Chapter 11:  Out of the Darkness: A Son Emerges from the Shadows

Chapter 12:  After the Discovery: Figuring out a New Identity

Chapter 13:  Battling Michigan for Records

Chapter 14:  Adoption Narcissism

Chapter 15:  Birth Certificate, the Final Journey