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Dear Jeff

Dear Jeff is a chronicle of an adventure in cross-racial adoption, growing up black and white, fighting for civil rights in rural Mississippi in 1965 and of an integrated family's estrangement and reconciliation, hope and joy. In Dear Jeff the author offers a collection of letters endeavoring to reach a posthumous emotional reconciliation with his adopted African-American son, Jeff. Seeking to fill voids in his relationship with Jeff, Gough shares experiences that greatly impacted his decision to adopt six year old Jeff and his twin sister Sheila. He describes emotionally movng events of his childhood, empathizing with the traumas of Jeff's early years; his awakening as a young soldier to the evils of race discrimination when he ran Fort Ord's off-post housing service and blew the whistle on the Army's unlawful connivance in housing discrimination on the Monterey Peninsula, his summer as a civil rights volunteer in Mississippi and his work as a Justice Department attorney in Mississippi in 1966 and 1967. When Gough and his wife adopted Jeff and Sheila, their goal was a happy, racially integrated home. Jeff, however, tried their patience and their love. Either as the result of foster home abuse or some hidden mental issue, the young man was prone to angry and destructive outbursts. Jeff's truancy, illegal acts, and incarcerations were traumatic not only for Jeff, but for the whole family. At times, in desperation Gough wondered if Jeff's adoption was a mistake. He would never know. Jeff's life was cut short by a motorcycle accident. Writing with candid and often brutal honesty, Gough discusses the abuse Jeff suffered as a foster child and in a failed early adoption, his troubled relationship with Jeff, the mistakes he made as a father, and those precious moments when Jeff was the charming, loving, mischievous son and brother the family longed for. An insightful, personal look a both Gough and his son, exposing the intricacies of interracial adoption and raising troubled children, Gough's letters ultimately seek peace for himself, his famiy and especially for Jeff.