To commemorate the end of the decade, Adoptee Reading has curated a list of 100 adoptee-authored books published between 2010 and 2019. This is not a comprehensive list; we were forced to leave out numerous additional titles in order to get down to a perfect one hundred. We’re excited and encouraged to discover such a high number of adoptees producing literature that improves everyone’s understanding of the adoption experience.
We hope you enjoy exploring this list as well as our complete catalog of books for adopted people.
A Princess Found: An American Family, an African Chiefdom, and the Daughter Who Connected Them All
by Sarah Culberson and Tracy Trivas
A biracial adoptee from West Virginia searches for her birth parents and discovers that her father is the chief of a Mende tribe in Sierra Leone. Her memoir is paralleled with the story of her father, recreated by a coauthor.
Red Dust Road
by Jackie Kay
From the moment when, as a little girl, she realizes that her skin is a different colour from that of her beloved mum and dad, to the tracing and finding of her birth parents, her Highland mother and Nigerian father, Jackie Kay’s journey in Red Dust Road is one of unexpected twists, turns and deep emotions. In a book remarkable for its warmth and candour, she discovers that inheritance is about much more than genes: that we are shaped by songs as much as by cells, and that what triumphs, ultimately, is love.
Some Girls: My Life in a Harem
by Jillian Lauren
At eighteen, Jillian Lauren was an NYU theater school dropout with a tip about an upcoming audition. The “casting director” told her that a rich businessman in Singapore would pay pretty American girls $20,000 if they stayed for two weeks to spice up his parties. Soon, Jillian was on a plane to Borneo, where she would spend the next eighteen months in the harem of Prince Jefri Bolkiah, youngest brother of the Sultan of Brunei, leaving behind her gritty East Village apartment for a palace with rugs laced with gold and trading her band of artist friends for a coterie of backstabbing beauties. More than just a sexy read set in an exotic land, Some Girls is also the story of how a rebellious teen found herself–and the courage to meet her birth mother and eventually adopt a baby boy.
Finding Our Place: 100 Memorable Adoptees, Fostered Persons, and Orphanage Alumni
by Nikki McCaslin with Richard Uhrlaub and Marilyn Grotsky
This unique one-volume reference guide provides positive and empowering biographical sketches of 100 famous and well-known adoptees throughout time, serving to counter the many negative stereotypes that exist that exist about people who were adopted, fostered, or lived in orphanages. This work looks at the lives of people who, despite circumstances in their childhood, were able to succeed in making important contributions to art, music, science, literature, politics, and entrepreneurship. This work answers the call to obtaining difficult-to-find information about well-known adoptees. High school students and general readers who are interested in learning more about positive role models in adoption and children’s issues will find this book invaluable. McCaslin outlines the parameters she used for inclusion in the book, and then discusses the history of adoption from ancient civilization to today’s society. Each entry focuses on the early life of the subject, as well as his or her career and achievements. Entries include Aristotle, Edward Albee, Ingrid Bergman, Oksana Baiul, Ella Fitzgerald, Faith Hill, Marilyn Monroe, Dave Thomas, Orson Welles and many more.
The Mysteries of Eva Miller Revealed
by Eva D. Miller
Former American Idol contestant Eva Miller takes you on an inspiring journey of both tragedy and triumph. Through her courage and faith Eva set out on a mission to unravel the mysteries that shrouded her life, she never knew what could possibly await her. Join her as she shares her story of abandonment, abuse, and deception as the mysteries of Eva Miller are revealed.
Songs of My Families: A Thirty-Seven-Year Odyssey from Korea to America and Back
by Kelly Fern with Brad Fern
In 1971, Lee Myonghi, aged five, was taken from her family and placed in a Korean orphanage. Six months later, she was flown to the United States, where she and two other Korean girls were adopted by a Minnesota couple. They renamed her Kelly Jean. Eleven years later, Kelly found herself at the doorstep of a Minnesota agency, although this time as a teen mother giving up her own child for adoption. Kelly later married and had two more children. Then, in 2007, Kelly’s husband found her original, Korean family, and so began a journey that reunited Kelly with the family whom she thought had abandoned her and brought her face to face with the daughter she herself had lost twenty-five years before. Told with refreshing honesty, Songs of My Families is the moving story of two generations of women forced to make agonizing choices as they coped with harsh economic realities and personal crises. It is also an affirmation of the strength of family, the importance of one’s cultural heritage, and the enduring power of love.
by Caradoc King
Adopted at eighteen months, Caradoc King was brought up in a large and growing family. His adoptive mother, a complex woman, was unable to bond with her newly adopted son and treated him with a harshness bordering on cruelty. At the age of six, he was sent to a boarding school run by two brilliantly eccentric brothers. But this happy time ended abruptly when his adoptive mother became a passionate Catholic and removed him from the school. From the age of eleven, Caradoc was shuttled from one school to the next, later failing to fulfill his mother’s wish that he should join a seminary. When he was fifteen, he was informed that he had been adopted and, a year later, his parents ejected him from the family. Two years later, he scraped into Oxford and there on his first day met Philip Pullman, who was to become his first client when he set up as a literary agent. Thirty years later, Caradoc went in search of his natural family and began to make sense of the mystery of his two absent mothers.
Indigo: In Search of the Color That Seduced the World
by Catherine E. McKinley
Brimming with rich, electrifying tales of the precious dye and its ancient heritage, Indigo is also the story of a personal quest: Catherine McKinley is the descendant of a clan of Scots who wore indigo tartan; Jewish “rag traders”; a Massachusetts textile factory owner; and African slaves—her ancestors were traded along the same Saharan routes as indigo, where a length of blue cotton could purchase human life. McKinley’s journey in search of beauty and her own history leads her to the West African women who dye, trade, and wear indigo—women who unwittingly teach her that buried deep in the folds of their cloths is all of destiny and the human story.
Becoming Patrick: A Memoir
by Patrick McMahon
When Pat McMahon risks the love of the mother who raised him by seeking out the mother who gave him away, he transforms from a mild-mannered engineer into a frenetic detective. After he overcomes the challenges of existential angst, bureaucratic roadblocks, and unemployment, the phone call to his first mother releases a torrent of long-buried feelings. During a sometimes turbulent long-distance unfolding, he absorbs her shocking revelations and comes out as gay once again. Their eventual reunion creates a profound bond, even as he navigates waves of conflicting emotions, merges past with present, and embarks on a new future rooted in truth and insights into the universal quest for identity and human connection. He is Becoming Patrick.
Hunting Shadows: An Adoptee’s Journey
by Dan Sandifer
“Today class, we are going to talk a little about genetics” With these words, Hunter begins a journey to reveal what it means to be adopted. As he sets out to discover all the branches of his family tree, he finds obstacles at every turn. Sometimes they are in the form of thoughtless assumptions, misleading information, misguided policies, as well as his own fear of his parent’s reaction and what he may find. Then there is the adoption agency, which is only too happy to help as long as Hunter has the money. With the support of good friends and a few helpful angels along the way, he continues his search for his roots and to look into eyes like his. The author is an adoptee and birth father.
GreenBean: True Blue Family
by Elizabeth Blake
More than anything, GreenBean wants to feel like she belongs in her family. She does not look like them. She does not like the same things as them. So she feels like an outsider. How can she possibly belong? An Early Reader for ages 4-8, this book has a following by teens and older readers as well.
Island of Bones: Essays
by Joy Castro
What is “identity” when you’re a girl adopted as an infant by a Cuban American family of Jehovah’s Witnesses? The answer isn’t easy. You won’t find it in books. And you certainly won’t find it in the neighborhood. This is just the beginning of Joy Castro’s unmoored life of searching and striving that she’s turned to account with literary alchemy in Island of Bones. In personal essays that plumb the depths of not-belonging, Castro takes the all-too-raw materials of her adolescence and young adulthood and views them through the prism of time. The result is an exquisitely rendered, richly detailed perspective on a uniquely troubled young life that reflects on the larger questions each of us faces in a world where diversity and singularity are forever at odds. In the experiences of her past—hunger and abuse, flight as a fourteen-year-old runaway, single motherhood, the revelations of her “true” ethnic identity, the suicide of her father—Castro finds the “jagged, smashed place of edges and fragments” that she pieces together to create an island all her own. Hers is a complicated but very real depiction of what it is to “jump class,” to not belong but to find one’s voice in the interstices of identity.
Stay Awake: Stories
by Dan Chaon
Before the critically acclaimed novels Await Your Reply and You Remind Me of Me, Dan Chaon made a name for himself as a renowned writer of dazzling short stories. In these haunting, suspenseful stories, lost, fragile, searching characters wander between ordinary life and a psychological shadowland. They have experienced intense love or loss, grief or loneliness, displacement or disconnection—and find themselves in unexpected, dire, and sometimes unfathomable situations. A father’s life is upended by his son’s night terrors—and disturbing memories of the first wife and child he abandoned; a foster child receives a call from the past and begins to remember his birth mother, whose actions were unthinkable; a divorced woman experiences her own dark version of “empty-nest syndrome”; a young widower is unnerved by the sudden, inexplicable appearances of messages and notes—on dollar bills, inside a magazine, stapled to the side of a tree; and a college dropout begins to suspect that there’s something off, something sinister, in his late parents’ house. Dan Chaon’s stories feature scattered families, unfulfilled dreamers, anxious souls. They exist in a twilight realm—in a place by the window late at night when the streets are empty and the world appears to be quiet. But you are up, unable to sleep. So you stay awake.
Parenting As Adoptees
Edited by Adam Chau and Kevin Ost-Vollmers
Through fourteen chapters, the authors of Parenting As Adoptees give readers a glimpse into a pivotal phase in life that touches the experiences of many domestic and international adoptees–that of parenting. The authors, who are all adoptees from various walks of life, intertwine their personal narratives and professional experiences, and the results of their efforts are insightful, emotive, and powerful. Despite its topical focus, the book will interest individuals within and outside of the adoption community who are not parents.
Too Afraid To Cry
by Ali Cobby Eckermann
In Too Afraid to Cry, Ali Cobby Eckermann―who was recently awarded the Windham-Campbell Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world―describes with searing detail the devastating effects of racist policies that tore apart Indigenous Australian communities and created the Stolen Generations of adoptees, Aboriginal children forcibly taken from their birth families. Told at first through the frank eyes of a child whose life was irretrievably changed after being adopted into a German Lutheran family, Too Afraid to Cry braids piercingly lyrical verse with spare prose to tell an intensely personal story of abuse and trauma. After years of suffering as a dark-skinned outsider, Eckermann reveals her courageous efforts to reconcile with her birth family and find acceptance within their Indigenous community.
Cricket: Secret Child of a Sixties Supermodel
by Susan Fedorko
Susie always knew she was adopted out at the early age of eleven months. She discovers at the age of forty who her biological family is. Susie discovers her birth mother is the first Native American supermodel “Cathee Dahmen.” This is her story.
If I Should Die Before I Wake
By Eileen Munro
In her memoir As I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Eileen Munro vividly documented the abuse she experienced at the hands of her adoptive parents and, later, within the care system. The birth of her son, Craig, and her escape from the authorities’ clutches should have seen her turn a corner, but she remained haunted by the specter of her past. Here, as she searches for her real parents and battles for her son’s and her own education, she faces exploitation, suffers further sexual and physical abuse, and endures periods of homelessness and bad health. Still she perseveres, clinging to her hopes for the future, until she eventually finds the sense of belonging that has previously eluded her. In this harrowing but ultimately inspirational second volume of memoir, Eileen Munro proves that, against all the odds, happiness does sometimes come to those who never give up hope.
The Harris Narratives: An Introspective Study of a Transracial Adoptee
by Susan Harris O’Connor
This book consists of five autobiographical narratives by Susan Harris O’Connor, a social worker and transracial adoptee. These monologues were developed and performed around the United States in academic, clinical and child welfare settings to wide acclaim over the last sixteen years. They will be of immediate interest to scholars of race, identity, emotional intelligence, adoption, child welfare, as well as clinicians and those directly impacted in families created by adoption. The book will also speak to writers, performers and individuals interested in developing their voice through self-exploration. In her narratives the author explores in depth: the impact of foster care during the first 14 months of her life; her relationship with her unknown birth father; the role of race and racism for transracial adoptees who grow up in white communities; the development of her racial identity and a model derived from these experiences, and the relationships between her different identities or mind constructs, her inner strengths and vulnerabilities, and the outside world. There is a progression one chapter to the next, chronicling greater understanding, deeper reflection, and a developing voice. This is an original and sophisticated exploration of the inner life of a transracial adoptee and the forces that helped shape her life. It is at once a case study and an observation of the human condition with universal appeal.
Reunited: An Investigative Genealogist Unlocks Some of Life’s Greatest Family Mysteries
by Pamela Slaton (with Samantha Marshall)
In this poignant and heartwarming narrative, renowned genealogist Pamela Slaton tells the most striking stories from her incredibly successful career of reconnecting adoptees with long-lost birth parents. After a traumatic reunion with her own birth mother, Pamela Slaton realized two things: That she wanted to help other adoptees have happier reunions with their birth families, and that she had the unique skill to do so–a strong ability to find what others could not. Reunited shares the riveting stories of some of Pam’s most powerful cases from her long career as an investigative genealogist and the lessons learned along the way. From the identical twins separated at birth, unknowingly part of a secret study on development, to the man who finally met his birth mother just in the nick of time, Reunited is a collection of these unforgettable moments, told by the woman who orchestrated and witnessed them first-hand. Both heartbreaking and inspiring, they will move anyone who knows the true life-affirming power of family.
A Legitimate Life: A Forbidden Journey of Self-Discovery
by Melinda A. Warshaw
Adopted into an affluent and aristocratic family, Melinda A. Warshaw had everything a little girl could want—the best clothes, the best toys, horse riding lessons, anything else her heart desired. But what she didn’t have was answers. Why was she so different from the people she lived with? Why were her most natural artistic impulses disdained and discouraged regularly by her adoptive mother? Why? Why? Profound sadness consumed the young woman, and as she sought her true identity, she dodged a sexually abusive older brother, a lecherous father, and incessant pressure from her mother to develop into the WASP image she treasured. Suffering PTSD and encountering immobilizing triggers around every corner, Melinda soldiered on. From 1947 to the present, join the author on a road to truth, redemption, and most of all—answers.
A Law of Blood-ties: The “Right” to Access Genetic Ancestry
by Alice Diver
This text collates and examines the jurisprudence that currently exists in respect of blood-tied genetic connection, arguing that the right to identity often rests upon the ability to identify biological ancestors, which in turn requires an absence of adult-centric veto norms. It looks firstly to the nature and purpose of the blood-tie as a unique item of birthright heritage, whose socio-cultural value perhaps lies mainly in preventing, or perhaps engendering, a feared or revered sense of “otherness.” It then traces the evolution of the various policies on “telling” and accessing truth, tying these to the diverse body of psychological theories on the need for unbroken attachments and the harms of being origin deprived. The “law” of the blood-tie comprises of several overlapping and sometimes conflicting strands: the international law provisions and UNCRC Country Reports on the child’s right to identity, recent Strasbourg case law, and domestic case law from a number of jurisdictions on issues such as legal parentage, vetoes on post-adoption contact, court-delegated decision-making, overturned placements and the best interests of the relinquished child. The text also suggests a means of preventing the discriminatory effects of denied ancestry, calling upon domestic jurists, legislators, policy-makers and parents to be mindful of the long-term effects of genetic “kinlessness” upon origin deprived persons, especially where they have been tasked with protecting this vulnerable section of the population.
MIDDLE GRADE FICTION
by Tim Green
If anyone understands the phrase “tough luck,” it’s Harrison. As a foster kid in a cruel home, he knows his dream of one day playing in the NFL is a longshot. Then Harrison is brought into a new home with kind, loving parents—his new dad is even a football coach. Harrison’s big build and his incredible determination quickly make him a star running back on the junior high school team. On the field, he’s practically unstoppable. But Harrison’s good luck can’t last forever. When a routine sports injury leads to a devastating diagnosis, it will take every ounce of Harrison’s determination not to give up for good.
The Fifth and Final Name: Memoir of an American Churchill
by Rhonda Noonan
In a family memoir that reads like a detective novel, Rhonda Noonan recounts her thirty-year quest to find the truth of her own background–and what she uncovered will surprise readers as much as it did her. Rhonda was born and adopted in Oklahoma, a state with closed adoption records. And, although she was cherished by her adoptive family, she–like so many adoptees–felt a burning desire to find and make contact with her birth parents. Her three-decade-long search involved institutional stonewalling; the intervention of numerous judges, attorneys, and detectives; mountains of paperwork and court filings, and thousands of dollars in expenses. Tirelessly tracking down lead after lead–and with the otherworldly help of a friend named Lillie–Rhonda finally unearthed her true history. Her father was none other than Randolph Churchill, son of Sir Winston Churchill. The State Department of Human Services and the FBI laid down an intricate cover-up, with Averell Harriman and President Truman on the periphery. The evidence was clear–there was no question in her mind (though her efforts to secure incontrovertible proof in the form of a DNA test were stymied by the Churchill family). The events leading up to her discovery, as well as the aftermath of the astonishing revelation and her face-to-face confrontation of the Churchills, will leave you in awe of this intrepid heroine of her own life.
Searching for the Castle: Backtrail of an Adoption
by Barbara Leigh Ohrstrom
Like cowboys turning in the saddle to look at where they came from, Searching for the Castle documents the backtrail of author Barbara Leigh Ohrstrom’s adoption. It begins with her urgency as an eighteen-year-old woman initiating her search for her birth parents. Her recollection includes court petitions, letters, Division of Social Service documents, and other original documents usually buried behind the lock and key of the law. In this memoir, she narrates the unearthing of her history and that of her family. Some of her discoveries are filled with pain, while others are joyful, including locating sisters, another brother, and eventually nieces and a nephew. A story of how one woman comes to terms with her identity, Searching for the Castle tells of real people doing the best they can to live and love in the often heartbreaking circumstances of life. As Ohrstrom shares her journey to find her birth parents, she reveals her emotions throughout the process, discovering that her identity is self-created, but also that her being is governed, in part, by her ancestors and family lines. Searching for the Castle communicates the message that love creates families and that the family to which Ohrstrom belonged in foster care gave her a mother, father, and family filled with love and decency.
Toxic Mom Toolkit takes on super toxic mothers with humor, kindness, and practical tools to help readers build a peaceful and happy life. The book includes Wolfe’s memoir of growing up brave and scrappy in 1950s San Francisco, the daughter of three mothers: an absent birth mother, an abusive adopted mother, and a wonderful step-mother. Coupled with her honest memoir, are mini-memoirs of women from all over the world, whose stories of growing up with toxic mothers shine light on the varied ways in which toxic parents can hurt, damage, and undermine their children even into adulthood. There are helpful self-tests; positive affirmations and prompts; tools for contact and boundary setting; and lots and lots of wisdom wrapped in laughter.
The Tangled Red Thread
by Elle Cuardaigh
Born into the social experiment of closed adoption in the early 1960s, Noelle was taken home directly from the hospital at the age of three days. Her early life in rural Washington state seemed idyllic. With loving parents, two brothers, and her beloved pets, she had a childhood to be envied. But all that was ripped away, first by the violent loss of her innocence, followed by the slow death of her mother. Essentially left to raise herself, she embarks on a lifelong journey of self-discovery, guided at unexpected times by “the voice” only she can hear. Even the most mundane choices, such as where to go to college, seem to be divinely directed. Haunted by recurring loss, Noelle is determined to find her birth mother, to uncover the secrets of the feelings and visions she cannot contain or control. In surviving the breakdown of her husband and marriage, she realizes she has a psychic connection with the family she never knew, and in a series of incredible events reunites not only with them, but also eventually with her soulmate. A true account of one woman’s life, existing as not one, but two people: one born and one adopted, and enduring the reality of not completely belonging in either world.
Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina
by Michaela DePrince with Elaine DePrince
Michaela DePrince was known as girl Number 27 at the orphanage, where she was abandoned at a young age and tormented as a “devil child” for a skin condition that makes her skin appear spotted. But it was at the orphanage that Michaela would find a picture of a beautiful ballerina en pointe that would help change the course of her life. At the age of four, Michaela was adopted by an American family, who encouraged her love of dancing and enrolled her in classes. She went on to study at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre and is now the youngest principal dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She has appeared in the ballet documentary First Position, as well as on Dancing with the Stars, Good Morning America, and Nightline. In this engaging, moving, and unforgettable memoir, Michaela shares her dramatic journey from an orphan in West Africa to becoming one of ballet’s most exciting rising stars.
Family Medical History: Unknown/Adopted
by Nancy Kacirek Feldman and Rebecca Crofoot
Knowing where you came from often determines who you are. At the age of forty-five, Nancy Feldman knew how her doctor appointment would go. They would ask her about her family’s health history, and she would hear the doctor’s familiar sigh after she answered, “I don’t know, I’m adopted.” Being perfectly happy with the loving family she had, Feldman never took an interest in finding her biological parents until diagnosed with a disease that she passed on to her son. Suddenly, Nancy’s lack of family history was affecting someone else. Nancy wrote a letter to the Nebraska Children’s Home Society for help, and the adoption agency assigned her case to Rebecca Crofoot. This began a seventeen-year journey between the two women who were determined to find information about a family that might not know, or want to know, Nancy existed. Family Medical History: Unknown/Adopted is a heart-warming story of personal, medical, genealogical, and emotional discovery.
We Take Me Apart
by Molly Gaudry
Shortlisted for the 2011 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry. Nominated for the McLaughlin-Esstman-Stearns First Novel Prize. “There is no more perfect place to be than in Molly Gaudry’s tender, dirt-floored novella, We Take Me Apart. Oh cabbage leaves, oh roses, oh orange-slice childhood grins: this book broke my heart. Its sad memory-tropes come from fairy tales & childhood books. With language, Gaudry is as loving & careful as one is with a matchbook . . . when wishing to set the whole word on fire. –Kate Bernheimer, author of The Complete Tales of Merry Gold. “Molly Gaudry’s debut evokes the spirit of iconic fairy tales that have transported readers for centuries. Her variations on these themes delineate the psychological journey from girlhood to womanhood. But We Take Me Apart is more than a retelling. In it, Gaudry reconstitutes the essence of what makes fairy tales compelling, and she does so imaginatively and with great attention to language, the earmarks of poetry.”–Christopher Kennedy, author of Encouragement for a Man Falling to His Death.
Prison Baby: A Memoir
by Deborah Jiang-Stein
Even at twelve years old Deborah Jiang-Stein, the adopted daughter of a progressive Jewish couple in Seattle, felt like an outsider. Her multiracial features set her apart from her well-intentioned white parents, who evaded questions about her past. But when Deborah discovered a letter revealing the truth–that she was born in prison to a heroin-addicted mother and spent the first year of her life there–she spiraled into emotional lockdown. For years she turned to drugs, violence, and crime as a way to cope with her grief. Ultimately, Deborah overcame the stigma, shame, and secrecy of her birth and found peace by helping others–proving that redemption and acceptance is possible, even from the darkest corners
The Translation of Han
by Hei Kyong Kim
The Translation of Han is a collection of poetry and prose about the spiritual, psychological, personal and political aspects of historical and intergenerational trauma amongst a people; it explores issues of race, adoption, culture, gender, lateral oppression, violence, love, family, and grief and loss. It is argued that Han cannot be understood by others who are not raised within the culture, including adopted Koreans; however, Hei Kyong Kim argues that adoptees were born out of trauma, out of Han. This body of work reflects an immigrant experience that has too often been forgotten.
Jack & Emma’s Adoptee Journey
by Pam Kroskie
Jack & Emma’s Adoptee Journey is a children’s book that will help open the lines of communication between the adoptive parent and the adoptee. The book will also help the adoptees understand themselves and give parents the insight they need.
The Last Invisible Continent: Essays on Adoption and Identity
by Michael Allen Potter
These twelve essays span nearly twenty years of research and activism that chronicle one man’s search for his family. Together, they explore the concept of personal identity from the perspective of someone who was erased completely by adoption in The State of New York.
Lost Daughters: Writing Adoption from a Place of Empowerment & Peace
Edited by Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston, Julie Stromberg, Karen Pickell, and Jennifer Anastasi
A collection of writings by the authors of the Lost Daughters blog. The Lost Daughters mission is to bring readers the perspectives and narratives of adopted women, and to highlight their strength, resiliency, and wisdom.
Worthy To Be Found
by Deanna Doss Shrodes
Worthy To Be Found chronicles the joys and obstacles of a Christian adoptee relinquished at birth in the 1960s American South. Deanna was called by God from a young age. Driven to serve, and gifted in music and preaching, she excelled in her calling. Coming from an adoptive family of divorce, she was determined to create the stable marriage and family she constantly longed for. She had always wondered about her origins, and as she embarked on motherhood, Deanna was compelled to search. But even getting the chance to look her natural mother in the eye as an adult would prove to be an epic emotional and logistical task. Reunion was only the beginning. Readers will be moved to laughter and tears as they journey through the rollercoaster ride of reunion with Deanna’s natural maternal family and later grief at facing further devastation from the woman who gave her life.
by V.L. Brunskill
Imagine not knowing who you are, until you find yourself in a statue 800 miles from home. Join intensely passionate and fiercely independent New York college student Lara Bonavito on an unforgettable journey of self-discovery in sigh-worthy Savannah, Georgia. Adopted into an abusive and impoverished home, Lara’s quest to find her roots lands her in the southern jewel’s historic district. A vivid cast of characters help her unravel clues found in a cryptic letter hidden in the family bible for two decades.
Flip the Script: Adult Adoptee Anthology
Edited by Diane René Christian, Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston, and Rosita González
Flip the Script: Adult Adoptee Anthology is a dynamic artistic exploration of adoptee expression and experience. This anthology offers readers a diverse compilation of literature and artistry from a global community of adoptees. From playwrights to poets, filmmakers to photographers, essay writers to lyricists—all have joined together inside these pages to enlighten and educate. We encourage you to flip through this book and discover what it truly means to Flip the Script!
20 Life-Transforming Choices Adoptees Need to Make
by Sherrie Eldridge
As an adoptee, do you have mixed feelings about your adoption? If you do, you are not alone – adoptees often experience complex feelings of grief, anger, and questions about their identity. Sherrie Eldridge is an adoptee and adoption expert, and in this book she draws on her personal experiences and feelings relating to adoption as well as interviews with over 70 adoptees. Sherrie reveals how you can discover your own unique life purpose and worth, and sets out 20 life-transforming choices which you have the power to make. The choices will help you discover answers about issues such as: Why do I feel guilty when I think about my birth parents? Why can’t I talk about the painful aspects of adoption? Where can I gain an unshakable sense of self-esteem? Sherrie also addresses the problem of depression among adoptees and common dilemmas such as if, when and how to contact a birth mother or father. This fully updated second edition includes new material on finding support online, contacting family through social media, and features three new chapters, including Sherrie’s story of reuniting with her birth brother, Jon, in adulthood.
The Boy from Nowhere
by Gregor Fisher with Melanie Reid
The warm, funny memoir of Gregor Fisher, the much loved Scottish actor best known for Rab C. Nesbitt, told as he uncovers his dramatic family history. Growing up in the Glasgow suburbs, Gregor was 14 when he asked where he was christened and was told that he was adopted. But it wasn’t quite that simple. And so began an unfolding of truths, half-truths and polite cover-ups from his various families. In 2014 Gregor approached Times columnist Melanie Reid to help him tell his story. Together they travelled through the mining villages of central Scotland to uncover the mystery of his birth and early life. What emerged was a story of secrets, deception, tragic accidents and early death, coldness and rejection from the very people who should have cherished him most, but a welcome from the most unexpected of quarters. From the squalor of industrial Coatbridge after WW1 to his own 1950s Glasgow childhood, via a love letter found in the wallet of a dead man and meeting his sister outside lost luggage at Glasgow Central, Gregor shares his family story with warmth and blunt Scottish humour.
YOUNG ADULT FICTION
See No Color
by Shannon Gibney
Despite some teasing, being a biracial girl adopted by a white family didn’t used to bother Alex much. She was a stellar baseball player, just like her father—her baseball coach and a former pro athlete. All Alex wanted was to play ball forever. But after she meets Reggie, the first black guy who’s wanted to get to know her, and discovers some hidden letters from her biological father, Alex starts questioning who she really is. Does she truly fit in with her white family? What does it mean to be black? To find the answers, Alex needs to come to terms with her adoption, her race, and the dreams she thought would always guide her.
The Son with Two Moms
Tony was taken in at the age of three by Mary Hynes and Janet Simons, after being separated from his mother, who suffered from schizophrenia. After that time, he was shuffled in and out of his grandmothers home before being placed in an orphanage, where he remained for one year. After a tumultuous court battle, he went home with the only two women brave enough to raise him. However, neither he nor his guardians could have imagined the trials awaiting their family after the proceedings ended.
The “Unknown” Culture Club: Korean Adoptees, Then and Now
Edited by Janine Myung Ja, Jenette Moon Ja, and Katherine Kim
This collection serves as a tribute to transracially adopted people sent all over the world. If you were adopted, you are not alone. This book validates the experiences of anyone who has been ridiculed or outright abused, but have found the will to survive, thrive and share their tale.
Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe
by Lori Jakiela
Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe is a book about mapping lives–the lives we are born with and the lives we are allowed to make for ourselves. Belief is part adoption narrative and part meditation on family, motherhood, nature vs. nurture, and what it means to make our own authentic human connections. Belief extends the possibilities of creative nonfiction at a time when many people are talking about what exactly truth-in-memoir means. The book’s patchwork form mirrors the fragmented experience of being an adoptee confronting–and trying to heal–her roots. Belief is the story of one woman’s search for her birth mother coupled with the parallel story of her own motherhood and re-making. It’s about what it means to be a mother, what it’s like to have two very different blood connections, and what it means to form a family. Belief is about searching for roots and what that means, exactly. It’s about finding a balance between the families we’re born into and the ones we make ourselves.
by Rod Jones
In 1917, while the world is at war, Alma and her children are living in a sleep-out at the back of Mrs Lovett’s house in working-class Footscray. When Alma falls pregnant, her daughter Molly is born in secret. As Molly grows up, there is a man who sometimes follows her on her way to school. Anna meets Neil in 1952 at her parents’ shack at Cockatoo. She later enters a Salvation Army home for unmarried mothers, but is determined to keep her baby. Fitzroy, 1975. Student life. Things are different now, aren’t they? Cathy and David are living together, determined not to get married. Against the background of the tumultuous events of the sacking of the Whitlam government, a new chapter is added to the family’s story. The Mothers is a book about secrets. It interweaves the intimate lives of three generations of Australian women who learn that it’s the stories we can’t tell that continue to shape us and make us who we are. Rod Jones’s first novel, Julia Paradise (1986), won the fiction award at the 1988 Adelaide Festival, was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and was runner-up for the Prix Femina Étranger. It has been translated into ten languages and is now available as a Text Classic. His four other novels, Prince of the Lilies, Billy Sunday, Nightpictures, and Swan Bay, have all either won or been shortlisted for major literary awards.
Bastards: A Memoir
by Mary Anna King
In the early 1980s, Mary Hall is a little girl growing up in poverty in Camden, New Jersey, with her older brother Jacob and parents who, in her words, were “great at making babies, but not so great at holding on to them.” After her father leaves the family, she is raised among a commune of mothers in a low-income housing complex. Then, no longer able to care for the only daughter she has left at home, Mary’s mother sends Mary away to a small town in Oklahoma to live with her maternal grandparents, who have also been raising her older sister, Rebecca. When Mary is legally adopted by her grandparents, the result is a family story like no other. Because Mary was adopted by her grandparents, Mary’s mother, Patty, is legally her sister, while her brother, Jacob, is legally her nephew. Living in Oklahoma with her maternal grandfather, Mary gets a new name and a new life. But she’s haunted by the past: by the baby girls she’s sure will come looking for her someday, by the mother she left behind, by the father who left her. Mary is a college student when her sisters start to get back in touch. With each subsequent reunion, her family becomes closer to whole again. Moving, haunting, and at times wickedly funny, Bastards is about finding one’s family and oneself.
Two Peas In A Separated Pod: A True Story of Adoption
by Jeannie Lachman and Carole Sanguedolce
Take a journey with two women on the road to discoveries and realizations. Jeannie and Carole write about their lives growing up. Each is unaware of the other. Jeannie is raised in the Bronx, New York. She grows up knowing that she is adopted and loved. She feels connected, yet there is a void. Carole grows up an only child in a small rural community in Northern Ontario, Canada. After years of searching Jeannie discovers who her birth mother is and makes contact. She wonders if she is doing the right thing by disrupting other people’s lives. Carole is shocked to learn she has a sister but stands by her mother’s side. The two families meet and relationships develop quickly. There is still a lingering question. Who is Jeannie’s birth father? Jeannie tries desperately to get information on her birth father but it seems to be a taboo subject. Even on her deathbed her birth mother is unwilling to reveal who he is. While visiting her mom in the hospital, Carole stumbles on a key clue. It seemed that fate intervened. With this discovery Carole must choose whether to keep the secret that has stayed hidden for so many years or tell Jeannie who her father is. The decision Carole makes reflects the true bonds of sisterhood.
The Hundred-Year Flood
by Matthew Salesses
In the shadow of a looming flood that comes every one hundred years, Tee tries to convince himself that living in a new place will mean a new identity and a chance to shed the parallels between him and his adopted father. This beautiful and dreamlike story follows Tee, a twenty-two-year-old Korean-American, as he escapes to Prague in the wake of his uncle’s suicide and the aftermath of 9/11. His life intertwines with Pavel, a painter famous for revolution; Katka, his equally alluring wife; and Pavel’s partner—a giant of a man with an American name. As the flood slowly makes its way into the old city, Tee contemplates his own place in life as both mixed and adopted and as an American in a strange land full of heroes, myths, and ghosts. In the tradition of Native Speaker and The Family Fang, the Good Men Project’s Matthew Salesses weaves together the tangled threads of identity, love, growing up, and relationships in his stunning first novel, The Hundred-Year Flood.
A Family Apart: Sleuthing the Mysteries of Abandonment, Adoption and DNA
by Craig A. Steffen
A Family Apart: Sleuthing the Mysteries of Abandonment, Adoption and DNA is a fascinating ride into the methodical quest of an orphan to uncover the truth about his origins. Even more, this book delves into the questions that come from being uncertain about the realities of personal history — what is true and what is convenient folklore passing for truth in order to protect reputations or preserve innocence. Craig A. Steffen’s story, and the way he unravels it, is compelling from the start when he recounts his earliest memories of his holding pen — the orphanage where he spent two years after the disappearance of his mother who, as all would tell him for years, ran off with the family car never to be seen again. By the time the last pages are turned, Craig has taken you on a journey that includes sleuthing his true ancestry and learning of his sometimes tragic backstory — but always with a redemptive thread running throughout.
My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past
by Jennifer Teege and Nikola Sellmair (translated by Carolin Sommer)
This is the extraordinary and moving memoir of a woman who learns that her grandfather was Amon Goeth, the brutal Nazi commandant depicted in Schindler’s List. When Jennifer Teege, a German-Nigerian woman, happened to pluck a library book from the shelf, she had no idea that her life would be irrevocably altered. Recognising photos of her mother and grandmother in the book, she discovers a horrifying fact: Her grandfather was Amon Goeth, the vicious Nazi commandant chillingly depicted by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List–a man known and reviled the world over. Although raised in an orphanage and eventually adopted, Teege had some contact with her biological mother and grandmother as a child. Yet neither revealed that Teege’s grandfather was the Nazi “butcher of Plaszow,” executed for crimes against humanity in 1946. The more Teege reads about Amon Goeth, the more certain she becomes: If her grandfather had met her–a black woman–he would have killed her. Teege’s discovery sends her, at age 38, into a severe depression–and on a quest to unearth and fully comprehend her family’s haunted history. Her research takes her to Krakow–to the sites of the Jewish ghetto her grandfather “cleared” in 1943 and the Plaszow concentration camp he then commanded–and back to Israel, where she herself once attended college, learned fluent Hebrew, and formed lasting friendships. Teege struggles to reconnect with her estranged mother Monika, and to accept that her beloved grandmother once lived in luxury as Amon Goeth’s mistress at Plaszow. Teege’s story is co-written by award-winning journalist Nikola Sellmair, who also contributes a second, interwoven narrative that draws on original interviews with Teege’s family and friends and adds historical context. Ultimately, Teege’s resolute search for the truth leads her, step by step, to the possibility of her own liberation.
Vietnamese.Adopted: A Collection of Voices
by Indigo Willing, Anh Đào Kolbe, Dominic Golding, Tim Holtan, Cara Wolfgang, Kev Minh Allen, Adam Chau, Landa Sharp, Michael Nhat
Vietnamese.Adopted: A Collection of Voices is a group of writings each in their own form and style, un-censored in content or subject matter, allowing each person to speak on what being a Vietnamese Adoptee, Adopted Vietnamese, or Vietnamese War Orphan is to them, as well as in relation to the greater Vietnamese and world communities. Shaped by their own experiences, observations, country, and language, it is the goal of this book to make these narratives, opinions, and perspectives available to the greater adopted and Vietnamese communities.
Everything Is Possible: Finding the Faith and Courage to Follow Your Dreams
by Jen Bricker with Sheryl Berk
Jen Bricker was born without legs. Shocked and uncertain they could care for her, her biological parents gave her up for adoption. In her loving adoptive home, there was just one simple rule: “Never say ‘can’t.'” And pretty soon, there was nothing this small but mighty powerhouse set her sights on that she couldn’t conquer: roller-skating, volleyball, power tumbling, and spinning from silk ribbons thirty feet in the air. Everything Is Possible is her incredible story–a story of God working out his plan for her life from before day one. Readers follow Jen from the challenges of growing up different to holding captive audiences numbering in the tens of thousands. Everything Is Possible shows readers what they can accomplish when they remove the words coincidence and limitation from their vocabulary. Filled with heart and spirit, as well as Jen’s wit, wisdom, and no-holds-barred honesty, this inspiring true story points the way to purpose and joy.
Searching for Enda
by Paul G. Denny
Everyone has a story to tell. Some are of heartbreak, some of loss, some of passion. In Searching for Enda, a brave man asking questions about his adoption in Britain leads him to discover buried secrets swept under a conservative carpet of shame. We all deserve to know where we come from. When life takes you all over the world, you can lose sense of where you truly belong. For some, your place of true belonging is never known and if you’ve spent most of your life running from questions, the journey back for answers can be long and emotional.
by Paula Gruben
Charlotte van Katwijk guards herself like a secret. Kids are cruel, and she knows if they find out she’s adopted, she’ll be a bully’s easy target. When they are fourteen, Charlotte’s best friend’s mom commits suicide. It triggers in Charlotte a sense of urgency to find her birth mother before it’s too late, and the answers to her burning questions are taken to the grave. Seven years later, a tormented Charlotte comes face to face with her past. Will discovering more about her biological parents, and the circumstances surrounding her relinquishment, be enough to lay her demons to rest? Umbilicus is a coming-of-age story set in South Africa’s biggest port city during the dying days of apartheid. The tumultuous zeitgeist of the era mirrors the inner turmoil of an angst-ridden adolescent as she grapples to form an identity and find her place in the world.
You Don’t Look Adopted
by Anne Heffron
Adoption can be wonderful and tricky. There is love of the parents, love of the child, but there can also be problems. The adopted child often wonders Who am I? Who was I? Why was I given up? When you don’t have a sense of who you are, you can feel like nobody. This is the story of what happens when an adopted person finally decides to chase after her story, the one that starts “The day you were born” instead of “The day we got you.”
Ten Ways Not To Commit Suicide: A Memoir
by Darryl McDaniels with Darrell Dawsey
As one third of the legendary rap group Run D.M.C., Darryl “DMC” McDaniels—aka Legendary MC, The Devastating Mic Controller, and the King of Rock—had it all: talent, money, fame, prestige. While hitting #1 on the Billboard charts was exhilarating, the group’s success soon became overwhelming. A creative guy who enjoyed being at home alone or with his family, DMC turned to alcohol to numb himself, a retreat that became an addiction. For years, he went through the motions. But in 1997, when intoxication could no longer keep the pain at bay, he plunged into severe depression and became suicidal. He wasn’t alone. During the same period, suicide became the number three leading cause of death among black people—a health crisis that continues to this day. In this riveting memoir, DMC speaks openly about his emotional and psychological struggles and the impact on his life, and addresses the many reasons that led him—and thousands of others—to consider suicide. Some of the factors include not being true to who you are, feelings of loneliness, isolation, and alienation, and a lack of understanding and support from friends and family when it’s needed most. He also provides essential information on resources for getting help. Revealing how even the most successful people can suffer from depression, DMC offers inspiration for everyone in pain—information and insight that he hopes can help save other lives.
Heartlines: The Year I Met My Other Mother
by Susannah McFarlane and Robin Leuba
In 1965, Robin, unmarried and pregnant, comes to Melbourne to give birth and give her baby up for adoption, then returns to Perth to resume her life having never seen her baby. After 10 days alone, the baby is taken home, named Susannah, and made part of a wonderful family that loves her. The adoption laws at the time guarantee that there can be no contact between birth mother and child. In 1984, the law is changed and sealed files can be opened. In 1989 Robin tries to make contact with Susannah who is now the same age as Robin was when she had her. Susannah replies to Robin in a letter, declining contact. In 2014, Susannah, at the same age Robin was when she wrote her first letter, writes Robin a different letter. The heartlines open. After nearly 50 years apart, a mother and daughter are reunited. But the path to a relationship is not smooth. Very few adoption reunions result in meaningful, long-term reconnection. The fragile relationships stumble and fall under the weight of years of repressed anger, hurt, grief and loss, different beliefs, and of whole lives spent apart. A feeling of connection isn’t enough. You have to fight for a relationship. This is the story of two women who did. Fast-paced, warm, and funny, this is an adoption story that pulls the reader on to a wonderful if wobbly rollercoaster ride, exploring themes of family, motherhood, loss, belonging, hope, courage, and the importance of never giving up.
The first Korean adoptees were powerful symbols of American superiority in the Cold War; as Korean adoption continued, adoptees’ visibility as Asians faded as they became a geopolitical success story—all-American children in loving white families. In Invisible Asians, Kim Park Nelson analyzes the processes by which Korean American adoptees’ have been rendered racially invisible, and how that invisibility facilitates their treatment as exceptional subjects within the context of American race relations and in government policies. Invisible Asians draws on the life stories of more than sixty adult Korean adoptees in three locations: Minnesota, home to the largest concentration of Korean adoptees in the United States; the Pacific Northwest, where many of the first Korean adoptees were raised; and Seoul, home to hundreds of adult adoptees who have returned to South Korea to live and work. Their experiences underpin a critical examination of research and policy making about transnational adoption from the 1950s to the present day. Park Nelson connects the invisibility of Korean adoptees to the ambiguous racial positioning of Asian Americans in American culture, and explores the implications of invisibility for Korean adoptees as they navigate race, culture, and nationality. Raised in white families, they are ideal racial subjects in support of the trope of “colorblindness” as a “cure for racism” in America, and continue to enjoy the most privileged legal status in terms of immigration and naturalization of any immigrant group, built on regulations created specifically to facilitate the transfer of foreign children to American families. Invisible Asians offers an engaging account that makes an important contribution to our understanding of race in America, and illuminates issues of power and identity in a globalized world.
Black Anthology: Adult Adoptees Claim Their Space
Edited by Susan Harris O’Connor, MSW; Diane René Christian; Mei-Mei Akwai Ellerman, PhD
People who identify as Black adoptees are vaguely known within both adoption circles as well as universal discussions. We are just beginning to be introduced to one another. This anthology allows for the opportunity to see the rich diversity of a people; the uniqueness within the individual stories. Inside this book, you will read the depth of struggle, and the pure grace, dignity and accomplishments achieved, sometimes connected to the privileges afforded us while in the midst of insurmountable odds.
An Affair with My Mother: A Story of Adoption, Secrecy and Love
by Caitríona Palmer
Caitríona Palmer had a happy childhood in Dublin, raised by loving adoptive parents. But when she was in her late twenties, she realized that she had a strong need to know the woman who had given birth to her. She was able to locate her birth mother, Sarah, and they developed a strong attachment. But Sarah set one painful condition to this joyous new relationship: she wished to keep it–to keep Caitríona–secret from her family, from her friends, from everyone. Who was Sarah, and why did she want to preserve a decades-old secret? An Affair with My Mother tells the story of Caitríona’s quest to answer these questions, and of the intense, furtive “affair” she and her mother conducted in carefully chosen locations around Dublin. By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, An Affair with My Mother is a searing portrait of the social and familial forces that left Sarah–and so many other unwed Irish mothers of her generation–frightened, traumatized, and bereft. It is also a beautifully written account of a remarkable relationship that survived seemingly intolerable pressures.
by Sun Yung Shin
Finalist for the Believer Poetry Award. Sun Yung Shin moves ideas—of identity (Korean, American, adoptee, mother, Catholic, Buddhist) and interest (mythology, science fiction, Sophocles)— around like building blocks, forming and reforming new constructions of what it means to be at home.
Adopted: An Adoptee’s Memoir of Healing Love
by David C. Alves
Adopted touches on the issues nearly every child or adult adoptee must face on the way to maturity, wholeness, and redemption. Along the way my personal narrative provides valuable insights to adoptive and foster parents who long to see their children whole. And to adult adoptees who wonder why they do what they do and how healing can be the next chapter in their life story.
Swabbed & Found: An Adopted Man’s DNA Journey to Discover his Family Tree
by Frank Billingsley
As Houston’s beloved KPRC weatherman for more than 20 years, Frank Billingsley seems like a relative to many people. His optimistic presence comes into their homes and reassures that even the gloomiest of rain clouds probably has a silver lining. He has such a way with people that it is obvious he comes by his sunny, outgoing demeanor naturally. Billingsley always wondered if he got his personality, his bright blue eyes, or his love of people from his mother or his father. But he was adopted, so he never knew. Swabbed & Found is the fascinating story of how he combined cutting-edge DNA tests and genealogical programs in combination with his investigative skills to put the pieces of his family tree in order. Along the way he discovered that people are not always who they seem, or even who they think they are. Each time he would think that he had come to a dead end, he found himself helped by a new friend or a newly discovered relative, until finally, he was able to find the family he had wondered about for his whole life. The science of genealogy is booming, and in his typical open fashion, Billingsley puts a human face on it. His story shows that who we are is not necessarily who gave us our eye color, but who we love. Knowing our genealogical background is important, but wielding that information with care and compassion is a vital part of this new science. Providing a clear road map of how the DNA discovery process works, resources, and explanations of just what second cousin-once-removed really means, as well as insight on life as a gay public figure in the South, this generous book makes it clear why Billingsley has found such a home in Houston’s heart.
Found and Lost: An Adoption, An Agency and A Search for Self
by Suzette J. Brownstein
Growing up with a secret is never easy. While mine seems innocuous now, it caused me a lot of pain in 1978. As an adoptee from the closed system where secrecy ruled, I felt adopted but never born. So when my birth father called me out of the blue at 18 years old, I was instantly traumatized. The call sets in motion a decades long journey of truth seeking, to search for the pieces of my past that were denied me but I also feared knowing. After gaining the courage to meet my birth parents, two people who experienced traumas of their own but survived, I built a wall around myself. I needed to protect myself from the feelings of confusion, sadness, anger and guilt. But by the strange and eventually healing coincidences of life, my call to volunteer with foster children at a residential treatment center who had been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect, landed me in my own realization: that I did not have to fear going back to my own beginnings. I was finally ready to make peace with my past. My time there brought new understandings of the lives of children in foster care and unexpected surprises. Found and Lost: An Adoption, An Agency and A Search for Self, is a a memoir about the power of family secrets, the complications that adoption can bring in spite of the best of intentions, and how truth seeking and acceptance can set us free.
Sorry to Disrupt the Peace
by Patty Yumi Cottrell
Helen Moran is thirty-two years old, single, childless, college-educated, and partially employed as a guardian of troubled young people in New York. She’s accepting a delivery from IKEA in her shared studio apartment when her uncle calls to break the news: Helen’s adoptive brother is dead. According to the internet, there are six possible reasons why her brother might have killed himself. But Helen knows better: she knows that six reasons is only shorthand for the abyss. Helen also knows that she alone is qualified to launch a serious investigation into his death, so she purchases a one-way ticket to Milwaukee. There, as she searches her childhood home and attempts to uncover why someone would choose to die, she will face her estranged family, her brother’s few friends, and the overzealous grief counselor, Chad Lambo; she may also discover what it truly means to be alive. A bleakly comic tour de force that’s by turns poignant, uproariously funny, and viscerally unsettling.
Adoption Is a Lifelong Journey
by Kelly DiBenedetto, Katie Gorczyca, and Jennifer Eckert
Meet Charlie, an adoptee who opens his heart and shares what’s on his mind through various phases as he grows up in his adoptive home. As the narrator of Adoption Is a Lifelong Journey, Charlie invites readers to see the adoption journey from the perspective of a child adoptee. This illustrated book — a tool for families touched by adoption and foster care — provides insight into emotions and thoughts an adoptee or foster child might encounter while also equipping parents and caregivers with timely responses and resources. While every adoption story is unique, Charlie’s voice brings to light common themes the authors encounter as post adoption therapists at Boston Post Adoption Resources (BPAR). The book begins with Charlie settling into his adoptive home and progresses as he grapples with challenges such as building trust, feeling a sense of worth, relating to his beginnings, and establishing his identity. The illustrated portion connects to recommendations for parents: things to think about, tips for conversations, family activities, and additional resources. Who can benefit from the book: adoptive or foster parents, mental health professionals, adoption and foster care agencies, prospective adoptive parents, teachers and school health facilitators.
Decoding Our Origins: The Lived Experiences of Colombian Adoptees
Edited by Abby Forero-Hilty
Decoding Our Origins: The Lived Experiences of Colombian Adoptees is written by seventeen authors who were born in Colombia and adopted internationally. Their individual stories illustrate different aspects of the transracial adoption experience. The traumatic loss of their mothers, culture and identities; racism; and severe abuse are amongst the tough topics addressed frankly and head on. However, these first-hand accounts also highlight the indomitable tenacity and perseverance embodied by the authors as they negotiate their way through childhood, parenthood, search, reunion, and the nail-biting wait for DNA test results. All of the authors of Decoding Our Origins started off life in similar circumstances, having lost their families, language, culture, and country via adoption to countries outside of Colombia. Though their lives diverged, an invisible connection remained amongst them: the need to search for their first families and reconnect with their original culture and homeland. With the advent and subsequent worldwide expansion of Facebook in the early 2000s, people with common interests or life experiences have been able to find each other and talk about myriad topics in a safe space. This is the first published nonfiction anthology written exclusively by Colombian adoptees. Intimate and honest, the powerful and moving stories in the words of the transracial adoptees themselves result in a unified voice that reminds us to never, ever give up hope. All proceeds from this book will go toward financing DNA kits for Colombian adoptees and Colombian first family members, in an effort to reunite families separated by adoption.
Goodbye, SaraJane: A Foster Child Writes Letters to Her Mother
by Sequoya Griffin
Dear Mama Katherine, This is your daughter SaraJane. I know you named me Sequoya at birth and I haven’t seen you since I was ten-years-old. I want you to know that SaraJane is the name my adoptive mother gave me. I was going to look for you as soon as I had the opportunity, but you became an angel before then. I heard you had been looking for me until the very end. I sure have a story to tell you! A lot has happened since I last saw you. I learned a lot about you. Guess what I found out? Just let me begin…
Almost Home: A Memoir
by Hilary Harper
While snooping in a closet as an adolescent, Hilary Harper discovers a secret: her parents are not her parents. Documents reveal her mother to be a vague, distant relative who died in a car crash. Her father is “unknown.” Vividly depicting the suburban Detroit neighborhood of her childhood, and the relentless search for her paternal roots as an adult, Harper’s memoir culminates in a DNA test that delivers unexpected results. A compelling, and ultimately triumphant story, Almost Home illustrates how strong the longing for an authentic identity can be, and how the choices made by one generation can have a lasting impact on the next.
Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA
by Richard Hill
Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA is the highly suspenseful account of an adoptee trying to reclaim the biological family denied him by sealed birth records. This fascinating quest, including the author’s landmark use of DNA testing, takes readers on an exhilarating roller-coaster ride and concludes with a twist that rivals anything Hollywood has to offer. In the vein of a classic mystery, Hill gathers the seemingly scant evidence surrounding the circumstances of his birth. As his resolve shores up, the author also avails of new friends, genealogists, the Internet, and the latest DNA tests in the new field of genetic genealogy. As he closes in on the truth of his ancestry, he is able to construct a living, breathing portrait of the young woman who was faced with the decision to forsake her rights to her child, and ultimately the man whose identity had remained hidden for decades. Finding Family offers guidance, insight, and motivation for anyone engaged in a similar mission, from ways to obtain information to the many networks that can facilitate adoption searches. The book includes a detailed guide to DNA and genetic genealogy and how they can produce irrefutable results in determining genetic connections and help adoptees bypass sealed records and similar stumbling blocks.
Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Marijane was adopted by an American military family at four months old. She grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in the deep South where hers was the only Asian face among a majority of white. Raised to believe she was Vietnamese and Japanese, she never doubted her ethnicity, until one day, she found her lost adoption papers. This discovery unloosed secrets that had been buried for decades, causing her to question her identity. With brave determination, Marijane set out on a quest to reconstruct her past and resurrect a birth heritage that had long been forsaken. Her journey took her halfway across the world to reunite with her birth family and a culture she realized she had longed for her entire life. Beyond Two Worlds is a poignant telling of one woman’s search for identity and belonging despite insurmountable odds, and is an inspiring true story for those seeking to connect to their original families.
YOUNG ADULT FICTION/POETRY
A student at NYU in Greenwich Village, Liz McLane is pursuing her dream of becoming a poet and, at the same time, determined to find her birth mother, no matter what the results may be. Through her journals, Liz records her struggle to navigate adoption bureaucracy and laws. In spare and poignant poems, she confides her fears and her prayers. Could her birth mother be the unknown guitarist in Washington Square Park, who sings a soulful song in a strangely familiar voice? Against a backdrop of college life―classes on Alice Munro and Billy Collins and an active social life―and with the help of her sister, friends, and a private investigator, Liz summons the courage to face the truth about her mother and herself. This is an unforgettable novel full of heart that addresses the primary questions all adoptees must answer for themselves: who was the woman who gave me life, and why did she decide to give me away? Based on author Meg Kearney’s own experiences.
by Sara-Jayne King
Born Karoline King in 1980 in Johannesburg South Africa, Sara-Jayne (as she will later be called by her adoptive parents) is the result of an affair, illegal under apartheid’s Immorality Act, between a white British woman and her black South African employee.Her story reveals the shocking lie created to cover up the forbidden relationship, and the hurried overseas adoption of the illegitimate baby, born during one of history’s most inhumane and destructive regimes. Killing Karoline follows the journey of the baby girl (categorised as ‘white’ under South Africa’s race classification system) who is raised in a leafy, middle-class corner of the South of England by a white couple. It takes the reader through the formative years, a difficult adolescence and into adulthood, as Sara-Jayne (Karoline) seeks to discover who she is and where she came from.
The Colour of Time: A Longitudinal Exploration of the Impact of Intercountry Adoption in Australia
Compiled by Lynelle Long for International Social Service (ISS) Australia
This sequel to The Colour of Difference examines the path of identity formation, openness within the adoptive family, and the long-term impact on intercountry adoptees. It highlights how open discussion and dialogue within an adoptive family — along with strong encouragement and facilitation to connect with culture — may assist an adoptee to grow up feeling well adjusted and with a healthy sense of self. Both these books are intending to give voice to the adoptee’s experience and offer insight to the adoptive community as a whole.
Describing the essential skills you need to help your adopted teen to confidently face the challenges of growing up, adult adoptee and family therapist Katie Naftzger shares her personal and professional wisdom. She outlines four key goals for adoptive parents: · To move from rescuing to responding · To set adoption-sensitive limits and ground rules · To have connecting conversations · To help your teen to envision their future Parenting in the Eye of the Storm contains invaluable insights for adoptive parents with simple strategies you can use to prepare your adopted teen for the journey ahead and strengthen the family bond in the process.
After the Truth: A Memoir
by Paige Adams Strickland
What do you do when you are an adopted adult, trying to balance biological and adoptive families in addition to your own home life? How could being adopted have an impact on your career, your friendships and parenting decisions? What do you do when your biological family members still do not know about you, but only live 20 minutes away? Being an adoptee is different as an adult-in-reunion compared to being an adopted child and knowing nothing, but the effects never disappear. In this sequel to Akin to the Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity, Paige reflects on key moments in life as a teacher, spouse, parent, daughter and friend and how being an adopted person affects her perception of these crucial parts of living. After the Truth addresses some unanswered questions from the previous book, Akin to the Truth and shares what being an adopted person experiences when they still might not have all the answers but must continue to successfully navigate through jobs, relationships and other aspects of adult life while waiting for more truths to be revealed.
Litany for the Long Moment
by Mary-Kim Arnold
The orphan at the center of Litany for the Long Moment is without homeland and without language. In three linked lyric essays, Arnold attempts to claim her own linguistic, cultural, and aesthetic lineage. Born in Korea and adopted to the U.S. as a child, she explores the interconnectedness of language and identity through the lens of migration and cultural rupture. Invoking artists, writers, and thinkers—Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Francesca Woodman, Susan Sontag, among others—Litany for the Long Moment interweaves personal documents, images, and critical texts as a means to examine loss and longing.
Parallel Universes: The Story of Rebirth
by David B. Bohl
In this poignant and powerful memoir, David B. Bohl reveals the inner turmoil and broad spectrum of warring emotions shame, anger, triumph, shyness, pride he experienced growing up as a relinquished boy. Adopted at birth by a prosperous family, Bohl battled throughout his earlier years to keep up a good front and surpass expectations as he tried desperately to fit in. An over-achiever at everything he undertook, whether in sailing, academics, or life as a trader on the Chicago Exchange floor, he continued his search for happiness, often finding it in a bottle or pill, and ultimately becoming a raging and wealthy alcoholic. Not until David marries and has children of his own does he feel compelled to search for his birth parents to discover if genetics played a role in the well-being of his offspring. “Baby Boy Bender,” as he was labeled in the adoption papers, had been born to a red-haired co-ed who struggled with alcoholism and an athlete who later died of a brain tumor. After several severe seizures and frequent blackouts, it was time to make a drastic change and admit his addiction. Raised with no religious teachings, David struggled with traditional recovery fellowships and sought out secular supports, where he finally fit in. This approach allowed him to learn the stark facts about mental health and addiction, as well as the monumental issues many reliquishees need to overcome to find peace and a quality of life they deserve.
Black Steel Magnolias in the Hour of Chaos Theory
by James Cagney
The poems in Black Steel Magnolias in the Hour of Chaos Theory interrogate identity, family, loneliness, and the expectations of masculinity. Using dreams, blues, and a chorus of voices, this collection of poems examines the complexities of intimacy for an adopted person trying to find balance between two families–one rattled by age and illness; the other, holding space for a son that doesn’t exist.
All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir
by Nicole Chung
What does it mean to lose your roots―within your culture, within your family―and what happens when you find them? Nicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. From childhood, she heard the story of her adoption as a comforting, prepackaged myth. She believed that her biological parents had made the ultimate sacrifice in the hope of giving her a better life, that forever feeling slightly out of place was her fate as a transracial adoptee. But as Nicole grew up―facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn’t see, finding her identity as an Asian American and as a writer, becoming ever more curious about where she came from―she wondered if the story she’d been told was the whole truth. With warmth, candor, and startling insight, Nicole Chung tells of her search for the people who gave her up, which coincided with the birth of her own child. All You Can Ever Know is a profound, moving chronicle of surprising connections and the repercussions of unearthing painful family secrets―vital reading for anyone who has ever struggled to figure out where they belong.
Through Adopted Eyes: A Collection of Memoirs From Adoptees
Edited by Elena S. Hall
Through Adopted Eyes explores the world of adoption from the viewpoint of adoptees. Russian adoptee Elena S. Hall shares her own story and thoughts on the subject of adoption in addition to interviews from other adoptees of different ages, heritages, and perspectives. Whether you are an adoptive parent, curious about adoption, or an adoptee yourself, this unique collection of memoirs provides real insight into lives directly impacted by adoption.
Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption
Susan Devan Harness
In Bitterroot Susan Devan Harness traces her journey to understand the complexities and struggles of being an American Indian child adopted by a white couple and living in the rural American West. When Harness was fifteen years old, she questioned her adoptive father about her “real” parents. He replied that they had died in a car accident not long after she was born—except they hadn’t, as Harness would learn in a conversation with a social worker a few years later. Harness’s search for answers revolved around her need to ascertain why she was the target of racist remarks and why she seemed always to be on the outside looking in. New questions followed her through college and into her twenties when she started her own family. Meeting her biological family in her early thirties generated even more questions. In her forties Harness decided to get serious about finding answers when, conducting oral histories, she talked with other transracial adoptees. In her fifties she realized that the concept of “home” she had attributed to the reservation existed only in her imagination. Making sense of her family, the American Indian history of assimilation, and the very real—but culturally constructed—concept of race helped Harness answer the often puzzling questions of stereotypes, a sense of nonbelonging, the meaning of family, and the importance of forgiveness and self-acceptance. In the process Bitterroot also provides a deep and rich context in which to experience life.
by J S Lee
Shay Stone lies in a hospital bed, catatonic—dead to the world. Her family thinks it’s a ploy for attention. Doctors believe it’s the result of an undisclosed trauma. At the mercy of memories and visitations, Shay unearths secrets that may have led to her collapse. Will she remain paralyzed in denial? Or can she accept the unfathomable and break free? Keurium threads through one adopted Korean American’s life of longing and letting go. On a quest for family, sanity, and survival, it challenges saviorism and forced gratitude. Woven through its heartbreaking fabric is a story of love and resilience.
Not My White Savior: A Memoir in Poems
by Julayne Lee
Julayne Lee was born in South Korea to a mother she never knew. When she was an infant, she was adopted by a white Christian family in Minnesota, where she was sent to grow up. Not My White Savior is a memoir in poems, exploring what it is to be a transracial and inter-country adoptee, and what it means to grow up being constantly told how better your life is because you were rescued from your country of origin. Following Julayne Lee from Korea to Minnesota and finally to Los Angeles, Not My White Savior asks what does “better” mean? In which ways was the journey she went on better than what she would have otherwise experienced? Not My White Savior is angry, brilliant, unapologetic, and unforgiving. A vicious ride of a book that is sure to spark discussion and debate.
Nearly 50 years after he was relinquished for adoption, Rudy Owens learned how fortunate life can be. In 2014 in San Diego, Owens met his biological half-sister for the first time. That meeting inspired Owens to tell his adoption story set against the larger adoption narrative that has impacted millions of adoptees, their birth parents, and their collective biological and adoptive families. Owens’s memoir offers insights on the widespread American institution of adoption, a national social-engineering experiment that remains mired in discriminatory laws and partisan politics, not equality and fairness. Owens’s lifelong journey as an adoptee unravels the controversies and complexities of adoption. That adventure started in the mid-1960s, with his birth in a Detroit hospital created to serve socially scorned single mothers and place their infants for adoption. Twenty-four years later, he finally met his birth family and learned of his biological family history. It would take another quarter century and a bitter legal battle for the State of Michigan to release his sealed birth certificate that it illegally held for decades. Owens combines his successful family discovery story with public health and evolutionary biology research to highlight the importance of kin relations and the damaging myths and archetypal prejudices that still cloud popular views of illegitimate children and adoption in the United States. Instead of seeing his experience as a loss, Owens finds greater purpose in having dedicated decades of his life to answering life’s most essential question, “Who am I?” His lifelong journey for his original birth records, full equality before the law, and his ancestral history ultimately gave him the makings of a meaningful life.
An Adoptee Lexicon
by Karen Pickell
Lyrical and informative, An Adoptee Lexicon is a glossary of adoption terminology from the viewpoint of an adult adoptee. Contemplating religion, politics, science, and human rights, Karen Pickell, who was born and adopted in the late 1960s, intersperses personal commentary and snippets from her own experience with history and statistics pertaining to child development and the adoption industry. The collection of micro essays is presented as an organically ordered glossary, along with a robust list of sources and suggested reading as well as an alphabetical index, creating layers of association between words commonly used when discussing adoption. Pickell draws connections between contemporary American political issues and the social climate that led to a tsunami of adoptions in the decades following World War II through the early 1970s–a period known as the Baby Scoop Era–and also touches on the complexity of transracial and international adoptions. Throughout An Adoptee Lexicon, the focus remains firmly on adopted people–their perceptions, their needs, and their right to fully exist in exactly the way non-adopted people do.
MAY 2014. The Irish public woke to the horrific discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of almost 800 babies in the “Angels’ Plot’ of Tuam’s Mother and Baby Home. What followed would rock the last vestiges of Catholic Ireland, enrage an increasingly secularised nation, and lead to a Commission of Inquiry. In The Adoption Machine, Paul Jude Redmond, Chairperson of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Homes Survivors, who himself was born in the Castlepollard Home, candidly reveals the shocking history of one of the worst abuses of Church power since the foundation of the Irish State. From Bessboro, Castlepollard, and Sean Ross Abbey to St. Patrick’s and Tuam, a dark shadow was cast by the collusion between Church and State in the systematic repression of women and the wilful neglect of illegitimate babies, resulting in the deaths of thousands. It was Paul’s exhaustive research that widened the global media’s attention to all the homes and revealed Tuam as just the tip of the iceberg of the horrors that lay beneath. He further reveals the vast profits generated by selling babies to wealthy adoptive parents, and details how infants were volunteered to a pharmaceutical company for drug trials without the consent of their natural mothers. Interwoven throughout is Paul’s poignant and deeply personal journey of discovery as he attempts to find his own natural mother. The Adoption Machine exposes this dark history of Ireland’s shameful and secret past, and the efforts to bring it into the light. It is a history from which there is no turning away.
Never Stop Walking: A Memoir of Finding Home Across the World
by Christina Rickardsson; translated by Tara F. Chace
Christiana Mara Coelho was born into extreme poverty in Brazil. After spending the first seven years of her life with her loving mother in the forest caves outside São Paulo and then on the city streets, where they begged for food, she and her younger brother were suddenly put up for adoption. When one door closed on the only life Christiana had ever known and on the woman who protected her with all her heart, a new one opened. As Christina Rickardsson, she’s raised by caring adoptive parents in Sweden, far from the despairing favelas of her childhood. Accomplished and outwardly “normal,” Christina is also filled with rage over what she’s lost and having to adapt to a new reality while struggling with the traumas of her youth. When her world falls apart again as an adult, Christina returns to Brazil to finally confront her past and unlock the truth of what really happened to Christiana Mara Coelho. A memoir of two selves, Never Stop Walking is the moving story of the profound love between families and one woman’s journey from grief and loss to survival and self-discovery.
by Greg Santos
In Blackbirds, Greg Santos delves into the raw, private mythologies of parenthood, adoption, ethnicity, and uncertain histories. These lyrical poems bring us from Lisbon’s winding ways, to cramped Paris quarters and sacred spaces, to Cambodian street markets–all those rooms, wombs, and ruins that make up a complicated and poignant personal history. Building on the wit and charm of his previous full-length collections, here Santos brings us to a space both dark and dear.
YOUNG ADULT FICTION
The Girl and the Grove
by Eric Smith
Teenager Leila’s life is full of challenges. From bouncing around the foster care system to living with seasonal affective disorder, she’s never had an easy road. Leila keeps herself busy with her passion for environmental advocacy, monitoring the Urban Ecovists message board and joining a local environmental club with her best friend Sarika. And now that Leila has finally been adopted, she dares to hope her life will improve. But the voices in Leila’s head are growing louder by the day. Ignoring them isn’t working anymore. Something calls out to her from the grove at Fairmount Park.
Famous Adopted People
by Alice Stephens
Lisa Pearl is an American teaching English in Japan and the situation there―thanks mostly to her spontaneous, hard-partying ways―has become problematic. Now she’s in Seoul, South Korea, with her childhood best-friend Mindy. The young women share a special bond: they are both Korean-born adoptees into white American families. Mindy is in Seoul to track down her birth mom, and wants Lisa to do the same. Trouble is, Lisa isn’t convinced she needs to know about her past, much less meet her biological mother. She’d much rather spend time with Harrison, an almost supernaturally handsome local who works for the MotherFinder’s agency. When Lisa wakes up inside a palatial mountain compound, the captive of a glamorous, surgically-enhanced blonde named Honey, she soon realizes she is going to learn about her past whether she likes it or not. What happens next only could in one place: North Korea.
Who Am I Really: An Adoptee Memoir
by Damon Davis
“Who Am I Really?” is a question many adoptees ask when they realize they have another family of genetic relation. Damon L. Davis shares his journey through life as an adoptee to becoming an adoptive parent himself. He explores his desire to find his birth family as sparked by the flood of emotions that accompanied the birth of his son, Seth — the first blood relative he had ever known. In his story, you’ll follow his introspection when considering a search for his birth family while coping with the heartbreak of his adoptive mother’s mental illness. Within months of taking his post in the Obama Administration in 2009, Damon found his birth mother working only two blocks away and years later, his real birth father’s identity was revealed unexpectedly on AncestryDNA. You’ll be amazed by the coincidences that brought Damon face to face with his birth mother in a tearful, yet joyous, reunion. And your heart will be warmed by the acceptance of his birth father who didn’t even know he existed.
Fixing the Fates: An Adoptee’s Story of Truth and Lies
by Diane Dewey
The secrets, lies, and layers of deception about Diane Dewey’s origins were meant for her protection―but eventually, they imploded. Living with her family in suburban Philadelphia, Diane had grown up knowing she was born in Stuttgart and adopted at age one from an orphanage. She’d been told her biological parents were dead. Then, in 2002, when she was forty-seven years old, Diane got a letter from Switzerland: her biological father, Otto, wanted to bring her into his life. With that, her world shifted on its axis. In the months that ensued, everybody had a different story to tell about Diane’s origins, including Otto when they met in New York City. She struggled to understand what was at stake with the lies. Like a private eye, she sifted through competing versions of the truth only to find that, having traveled throughout Europe and back, identity is a state of mind. As more information surfaced, the myths gave way to a certain elusive peace; Diane discovered a tribe in her mother’s family, found a Swiss husband, gained a voice, and, for the first time, began to trust in the intuition that had nudged her all along. One-part forensic investigation, one-part self-discovery, Fixing the Fates is a story about seeing behind artifice and living one’s truth.
Searching for Mom: A Memoir
by Sara Easterly (with Linda Easterly)
Searching for Mom is a “disarmingly honest” mother-daughter story. Sara Easterly spent a lifetime looking for the perfect mother. As an adoptee she had difficulties attaching to her mother, struggled with her faith, lived the effects of intergenerational wounding, and felt an inherent sense of being unwanted that drove her to perfectionism, suicidal ideations, and fantasy mothers. When she became a mom, her search to find and become “the perfect mother” intensified … until her mother’s death launched a spiritual epiphany. Sara’s perspective as an adoptee offers insight for anyone in the adoption constellation. And her hopeful story with themes of belonging, family, forgiveness, and being known are universally relevant to all mothers and daughters.
MIDDLE GRADE FICTION
For Black Girls Like Me
by Mariama J. Lockington
Makeda June Kirkland is eleven-years-old, adopted, and black. Her parents and big sister are white, and even though she loves her family very much, Makeda often feels left out. When Makeda’s family moves from Maryland to New Mexico, she leaves behind her best friend, Lena― the only other adopted black girl she knows― for a new life. In New Mexico, everything is different. At home, Makeda’s sister is too cool to hang out with her anymore and at school, she can’t seem to find one real friend. Through it all, Makeda can’t help but wonder: What would it feel like to grow up with a family that looks like me? Through singing, dreaming, and writing secret messages back and forth with Lena, Makeda might just carve a small place for herself in the world. In this lyrical coming-of-age story about family, sisterhood, music, race, and identity, Mariama J. Lockington draws on some of the emotional truths from her own experiences growing up with an adoptive white family. For Black Girls Like Me is for anyone who has ever asked themselves: How do you figure out where you are going if you don’t know where you came from?
Disrupting Kinship: Transnational Politics of Korean Adoption in the United States
by Kimberly D. McKee
Since the Korean War began, Western families have adopted more than 200,000 Korean children. Two thirds of these adoptees found homes in the United States. The majority joined white families and in the process forged a new kind of transnational and transracial kinship. Kimberly D. McKee examines the growth of the neocolonial, multimillion dollar global industry that shaped these families–a system she identifies as the transnational adoption industrial complex. As she shows, an alliance of the South Korean welfare state, orphanages, adoption agencies, and American immigration laws powered transnational adoption between the two countries. Adoption became a tool to supplement an inadequate social safety net for South Korea’s unwed mothers and low-income families. At the same time, it commodified children, building a market that allowed Americans to create families at the expense of loving, biological ties between Koreans. McKee also looks at how Christian Americanism, South Korean welfare policy, and other facets of adoption interact with and disrupt American perceptions of nation, citizenship, belonging, family, and ethnic identity.
Born in a California women’s prison in 1963, Laureen Pittman was relinquished for adoption. As a child, Laureen was conditioned to believe that being adopted didn’t matter. So, it didn’t . . . until it did. Through scraps of information, Laureen stitched together her history – one that started in the psychedelic sixties and ended up in a future where DNA could solve mysteries. She never imagined that spitting into a plastic tube, along with painstaking research and the explosion of technology would reveal the answers to her identity. Laureen’s tale is for anyone who has ever questioned who they are, where they came from, or how they fit in. Her journey to find her truth illustrates the strength and power of our need for connection, belonging, and healing through knowledge.
by Leah Silvieus
Arabilis integrates the ordeal of othering into the fundamental uncertainty of life to produce a collection that is honest in its pain, confusion, and joy. Beautiful and desolate as a rural upbringing, these poems delve into the complex relationship between the self and the indifferent world it inhabits. In this cogent work, the lonely thrill of existence is characterized by gunpowder, bone, and Bud Light empties. Presented through the perspective of a person of color adopted into a white family, this collection simultaneously acknowledges the senselessness of life and demands an explanation for it. Silvieus’ poems advance through the changing of the seasons, paralleling the introspective nature of youth and adulthood alike through an examination of faith, nature, and memory. Sacrilegious discourse is converted to sacred invocations as this collection examines the viscera of life and loss. Belying each poem is a tenacious grasping for answers to questions impossible to express, validating the intuition that though we turn to God, Earth, or another person, we may never receive a fulfilling reply. In the face of this apparent helplessness, these poems continue to stumble in the dark, reaching with the God-want of their hands, relentless in their search for that which might finally reach back.
My Name Is Why
by Lemn Sissay
How does a government steal a child and then imprison him? How does it keep it a secret? This story is how. At the age of seventeen, after a childhood in a foster family followed by six years in care homes, Norman Greenwood was given his birth certificate. He learned that his real name was not Norman. It was Lemn Sissay. He was British and Ethiopian. And he learned that his mother had been pleading for his safe return to her since his birth. This is Lemn’s story: a story of neglect and determination, misfortune and hope, cruelty and triumph. Sissay reflects on his childhood, self-expression and Britishness, and in doing so explores the institutional care system, race, family, and the meaning of home. Written with all the lyricism and power you would expect from one of the nation’s best-loved poets, this moving, frank and timely memoir is the result of a life spent asking questions, and a celebration of the redemptive power of creativity.
Palimpsest: Documents From a Korean Adoption
by Lisa Wool-Rim Sjöblom
Thousands of South Korean children were adopted around the world in the 1970s and 1980s. More than nine thousand found their new home in Sweden, including the cartoonist Lisa Wool-Rim Sjöblom, who was adopted when she was two years old. Throughout her childhood she struggled to fit into the homogenous Swedish culture and was continually told to suppress the innate desire to know her origins. “Be thankful,” she was told; surely her life in Sweden was better than it would have been in Korea. Like many adoptees, Sjöblom learned to bury the feeling of abandonment. In Palimpsest, an emotionally charged memoir, Sjöblom’s unaddressed feelings about her adoption come to a head when she is pregnant with her first child. When she discovers a document containing the names of her biological parents, she realizes her own history may not match up with the story she’s been told her whole life: that she was an orphan without a background. As Sjöblom digs deeper into her own backstory, returning to Korea and the orphanage, she finds that the truth is much more complicated than the story she was told and struggled to believe. The sacred image of adoption as a humanitarian act that gives parents to orphans begins to unravel. Sjöblom’s beautiful autumnal tones and clear-line style belie the complicated nature of this graphic memoir’s vital central question: Who owns the story of an adoption?
Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related.: A Memoir
by Jenny Heijun Wills
Jenny Heijun Wills was born in Korea and adopted as an infant into a white family in small-town Canada. In her late twenties, she reconnected with her first family and returned to Seoul where she spent four months getting to know other adoptees, as well as her Korean mother, father, siblings, and extended family. At the guesthouse for transnational adoptees where she lived, alliances were troubled by violence and fraught with the trauma of separation and of cultural illiteracy. Unsurprisingly, heartbreakingly, Wills found that her nascent relationships with her family were similarly fraught. Ten years later, Wills sustains close ties with her Korean family. Her Korean parents and her younger sister attended her wedding in Montreal, and that same sister now lives in Canada. Remarkably, meeting Jenny caused her birth parents to reunite after having been estranged since her adoption. Little by little, Jenny Heijun Wills is learning and relearning her stories and those of her biological kin, piecing together a fragmented life into something resembling a whole. Delving into gender, class, racial, and ethnic complexities, as well as into the complex relationships between Korean women–sisters, mothers and daughters, grandmothers and grandchildren, aunts and nieces–Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. describes in visceral, lyrical prose the painful ripple effects that follow a child’s removal from a family, and the rewards that can flow from both struggle and forgiveness.