Memphis 1939 - twelve year old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family's Mississippi riverboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge. Strangers arrive and wrench the family from their home and they are taken to the Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage. The mother is then told the twins she gave birth to had died.
Aiken, South Carolina present day - Avery Stafford, born into wealth and privilege, returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family's long hidden history.
Before we Were Yours is a gripping story based on a real crime scandal in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis based adoption organization (Tennessee Children's Home Society) kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country. Newborns were also taken from hospitals and their parents told the baby was stillborn. Over 5,000 children and babies were kidnapped from 1920 to 1950 (many died while at the home) and because so many officials were bribed (a local judge - Camille Kelley - assisted Tann in threatening legal action if the parents tried to recover their children) it wasn't until 1995 that the sealed records were finally opened. Lisa Wingate does a wonderful job at telling the story from the points of view of Rill and Avery.