We’ve just added more books to the Adoptee Reading catalog. Check them out!
All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir
by Nicole Chung
Forthcoming October 2018. Available for pre-order.
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.
Little Fires Everywhere
by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.
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.
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.
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.
Other Words for Grief
by Lisa Marie Rollins
“The poems gathered in Other Words For Grief, are a spotlight turned inward. As Lisa Marie Rollins relentlessly searches the interior with a hot light scanning blood and baby pictures; sexual encounters nearly gone awry as well as family encounters that fall short, we are moved through her fantastic string of action: ‘What I know is black bodies are dropping. Crickets after the crop duster flies overhead. Mist to inhale and wrap our little shells so we disappear from the land quietly. What if his body was already coated in blood from watching reels and reels and miles and miles of footage of black bodies falling.’ Here is activity that not only provides detailed motion of an experience, but Rollins also elevates the moment, and brilliantly leads us to fully see ourselves, ‘this is how you call impossible/ ideas into being […] this is how you light candle spells. this is how you be.’ Other Words For Grief is a consuming debut that asks the hard questions one rather avoid, but leaves us better off than where we started, ‘so all we need do now is raise the dead.'” –F. Douglas Brown
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.
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.