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Monday, November 19, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 19: Adoptee Writers

Today's prompt: Every adoptee's experience is different. Even so, the more we learn and read about other adoptee experiences, we realize we are not alone. Choose a book, paper, or blog written by an adoptee about adoption. If you're adopted, comment on similarities, or not, with your experience growing up, searching and/or reuniting. If you're non-adopted, could you relate personally in any way to the writer's emotions? Generally, were your views on adoption confirmed, changed, enlightened?


I am in the process of writing my graduate thesis, and I owe a big Thank You to fellow adoptee Meg Kearney for inspiration. My poetry class read Kearney's book of verse, Home By Now, which includes many poems on themes of identity, loss, and search. After the class ended, I picked up her other two collections, An Unkindness of Ravens, and the young adult novel in verse, The Secret of Me, which is written in the voice of a teen adoptee (a follow-up, The Girl in the Mirror, was released earlier this year). Kearney's skill at dealing with the complicated emotions of adoptees via poetry demonstrated how I might be able to do something similar with my own story--I abandoned the idea of writing a straight memoir and decided I would focus on poetry. (Later I decided to add short stories to my collection as well.)

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?
Meg Kearney is just one of the many adoptees who have written about their experiences. Many of us here at Lost Daughters have found solace in the words of 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.)