The Names of My Mothers by Dianne Sanders Riordan

The Names of My Mothers by Dianne Sanders Riordan


In 1942, Elizabeth Bynum Sanders was a young woman who left home under false pretenses and traveled to Our Lady of Victory, a home for unwed mothers in upstate New York. Shortly after surrendering her daughter for adoption, she returned to her life in Johnston County, North Carolina. She never married and never had another child of her own.

Through writing that is both evocative and straight-forward, nuanced and poetic the author carries us into a world of reunion that is both celebration and challenge. Through story, it brings us into the complexity of the adoption world.

The Names of My Mothers is a moving and powerful memoir that tells of the profound need for connection. It is a story about identity, the hunger one feels for a sense of belonging, and the ineffable significance of blood.



Carol Schaefer, author, The Other Mother

“Just finished reading Dianne’s beautifully written and inspiring book and I highly recommend it. I hope that it especially reaches adoptees who connect with a mother resistant to reunion, for fear of people discovering her “shameful” secret.”

Ann Attayek Carr, George Mason University

“I could not put this book down. It is not only a beautiful story, it is a work of art – an elegantly written heart song. Having grown up nearby, I know the sleepy southern culture of the period. Dianne brings the members of her birth family alive on the page – I can hear their soft voices and see their faces and feel their grace. Her thoughtful description of the small-town rural culture gave me a new appreciation for my own Southern roots as I could see it and appreciate it through her eves. Her loving, intimate portrayal of her experience is better than a prayer. Get ready to fall in love with this family and this author.”

Keith Elkins, actor

“Last night I sat down to read for a few minutes. But I picked the wrong book. I ended up reading Dianne Riordan’s The Names of My Mothers straight through. Knowing a bit about separation from experience, I was deeply moved by the grace and respect with which the author reached out to find, and then establish a caring relationship with, the biological mother who’d given her up for adoption at birth – as well as by the courage with which her mother responded.”

Mary Herbst, co-author, Have Mercy

“From the beginning of this beautifully crafted book, I felt I was a witness to the compelling experience of the author as she searches for and finds her birth mother. With emotional depth and vivid description, Dianne Sanders Riordan allows the reader to be a part of her journey.”



Dianne Sanders Riordan and her husband Frank reside in Buffalo, NY where they resettled after twenty years serving as a Navy family. They have seven children and thirteen grandchildren.

Dianne received a B.A. in English from Rosary Hill College (now Daemen College). She recently retired from the Mental Health Association of Erie County where she worked as a Family Advocate.

As a member of TRIA (Truth and Reconciliation in Adoption), Dianne’s energies now focus on advocating for open records for all adult adoptees, especially for access to their original birth certificates!

For fun, you can find her strolling the beach (any beach will do!), reading or relaxing with her family. She meets weekly with fellow poets, sharing words and wisdom over coffee or tea. A yearly writing retreat at Martha’s Vineyard helps her keep balanced.

Dianne’s poems can be found in “Women of the Vineyard”, Volumes 1 & 2.


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