Not Nicholson: The Story of a First Daughter, An Adoption Search and Reunion Memoir


Since 1977, Ann Haralambie has been a trial and appellate attorney in Tucson, Arizona, focusing on children: custody, abuse and neglect, adoption, and child advocacy. Adopted in infancy in New York, where all records were sealed, she wanted to know her biological roots and the true stories of her birth families. As a preadolescent she knew that someday she would try to find her birth parents, even though she loved her adoptive family. After attending college and graduate school, earning a BA in Creative Writing and an MA in English Literature, she went to law school and learned about the new adoptee rights movement. She began her active search while still in law school, continuing for more than 35 years before finally finding the truth about her roots. She has been able to share those roots with her late daughter, Katherine, and grandson, Dominic. She lives in Tucson, Arizona and Silver Lake, New Hampshire, where she spends time protecting the loons and their chicks.

As an attorney and adoptee, Ann became active locally and nationally in the adoptee rights movement, in legal and multidisciplinary organizations dealing with child custody and child welfare, and in policymaking related to children. She is a certified Family Law Specialist and a certified Child Welfare Law Specialist and has authored several books, book chapters, and many articles in the field as well as speaking nationally and internationally on these topics.

She is passionate about the rights of children, including the right of adoptees to know their birth heritage. In this book she has shared her journey and insights with the hope that it will help adoptees know that they are not alone and help all members of the adoption triad gain deeper understanding and healing. She also hopes that friends and families of adoptees and the professionals who deal with them will be better equipped to do so with grace and compassion.
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“Ann is such a good writer, it’s a pleasure to read. Not Nicholson is thoroughly engaging—I enjoyed it!” —Linda Ronstadt, singer and adoptive mother

“As a coordinator and search assistant for ALMA (Adoptees’ Liberty Movement Association) for thirty-two years, I applaud Ann’s sharing the story of her search for her biological families, which is very healing for all members of the adoption triad. Her book really points out that ‘knowing is better than not knowing,’ and finding ‘closure’ can be very healing.” —Marie Anderson, ALMA coordinator and search assistant

“Ann Haralambie combines an intensely personal narrative of adoption, her frustration with closed records, and her evolving sense of identity during the pursuit, with the expertise of a recognized family law expert and author. In light of its nuanced and multidimensional approach, Not Nicholson is both a gripping chronicle and an introduction to the history of adoption and the ongoing need for reform.” —Barbara Atwood, professor of law emerita, University of Arizona Rogers College of Law, and adoptive mother

“Ann recounts her life with the underlying theme of her adoption and her need to know and reconnect with her origins. The adoption theme runs throughout her life like a river, sometimes flowing underground, sometimes meandering, other times rushing through rapids and an occasional waterfall.” —Lexann Downey-Lewis, retired adoption and pregnancy counselor


This is a story about family, adoption, heritage, and identity. It is also about place and people. Haralambie invites you to accompany her on her search for her biological roots, the hurdles and misdirections, and what happens when she finally finds out who her biological family members are. Every adoption search and reunion are different. The results, and how each adoptee deals with them, are also different. But everyone who has been touched by adoption — whether directly or through friends, professional clients, or patients — can learn from others’ experiences. Haralambie’s journey will intrigue readers and may make them laugh and cry. It will surely get them thinking about their own identity and heritage. Her message for readers is to approach the quest with kindness and understanding.


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