Besides genre, what speaks to me in Kearney's books is how she navigates the confusing tangle of emotions an adoptee feels toward her adoptive family, her birth family, and ultimately toward herself. Her poems illustrate the hope and fear, grief and joy, bewilderment and enlightenment that I think most adoptees experience through the course of their lives. Here are a few lines from her poem "Rescued:"
Though my heart wheezed like a bagpipe, I was
saved by my skin: illegitimate but convent
white. I thank God for that, and for the man
who gave me his name. Do you blame me?
Betty Jean Lifton, including Rebecca Hawkes, Dorothy Sands, Cathy Heslin, and myself. Lifton penned three books for adult adoptees: Twice Born: Memoirs of An Adopted Daughter, Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience, and Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness. She also wrote two adoption books for children, I'm Still Me and Tell Me a Real Adoption Story. (Lifton died in 2010 at the age of 84.)
Jane Jeong Trenka, who was raised by white parents in rural Minnesota but now lives in her birth country of Korea. Trenka has written another book on her adoption experience, The Language of Blood, and also co-edited an anthology, Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption.
Sarah Saffian, who at age twenty-three was found by her birth parents. They had married and had other children together, so Saffian was faced at once with entire family of blood relatives which threw her into a tailspin. Lynn also recommends The Family of Adoption, written by adoptee Joyce Maguire Pavao, who is a nationally known family and adoption therapist.
Adopted Reality: A Memoir, in which she talks about her adoption, reunion, and a brief bout with insanity.
Cathy Heslin has co-authored a book with her birth mother called Kathleen~Cathleen, which covers their twenty-three-year reunion. Their book has not yet been published, but you can follow the status of the book on their Facebook page.
Amanda Woolston is in the process of collecting posts from her well-known blog into a book of essays. The Declassified Adoptee: From Aquiescence to Activism is slated to be published in 2013 by CQT Media and Publishing in conjunction with Land of Gazillion Adoptees. Amanda has also published an essay in the anthology Are Adoption Policies Fair?
Previously in 2012, CQT and Land of Gazillion Adoptees published Parenting as Adoptees, a collection of essays edited by Adam Chau and Kevin Ost-Vollmers.
Nancy Verrier. The Primal Wound was the first book I read that validated the feelings I'd had all my life about being adopted. Coming Home to Self was a pivotal book for Rebecca.
I Wish for You a Beautiful Life: Letters from the Korean Birth Mothers of Ae Ran Won to Their Children, edited by Sara Dorow, comes highly recommended by Jaesun. Lynn Grubb also likes May the Circle Be Unbroken: An Intimate Journey into the Heart of Adoption, written by birth mother Lynn C. Franklin, who reunited with the son she relinquished to adoption.
This post is by no means an all-inclusive list of the many fine books that have been written by adoptees, as well as by adoptive and birth parents and other relatives touched by adoption. We would love to hear your recommendations. Please share your favorites in the comments below.