“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” Thomas Jefferson
I am pleased to welcome back memoirist Paige L. Strickland to share her thoughts on truth in adoption. Paige is the author of two memoirs. Akin to the Truth and her latest memoir, After the Truth.
Also, Paige wants you to know that she does a lot of book / film review entries on her WordPress blog, especially if they pertain to adoption. Sometimes it’s fiction, usually memoir but open to anything related to the adoption community. If a potential reader has an adoption-themed poem, film, book, article or other piece of art to share, she is happy to help cross-promote if she can. “We writers need to support one another!”
Welcome back, Paige!
Reflections on Truth in Adoption by Memoirist Paige L. Strickland
I don’t know if it’s a myth or a misunderstanding going around, but a lot of folks seem to think that adopted people are either happy and grateful or angry and militant regarding being adopted. The notion suggests that happy and grateful adoptees never feel the need to search for and reunite with their family of origin, and that the furious adoptees want to liberate themselves from their adopters and other authoritative institutions of society that conduct adoptions: public and private agencies, lawyers, the Church, etc. The angry folks believe that all adoptions past and present are manipulative, illegal, immoral and do not put the child’s needs first. The happy adoptees believe that being adopted is a special gift and makes you and your adoptive parents blessed and always pleased with life.
Reality is somewhere in between, and this is the essence of all my writing regarding adoption. Specifically, I can only speak honestly about my own adoption and how that continues to affect my life, which is where my two memoir books, Akin To the Truth and the newest one, After the Truth come in.
The purpose of the first book was to share what being an adopted kid was like while growing up in the 1960s-80s. After The Truth is about how being adopted has been a part of all my relationships from parenthood, as a friend, spouse, co worker and member of two family circles all at once: the one in which I was raised and the one I found and reunited with between 1987 and 2002. It is about what do we do as reunited family members now and how reunion with biological family feels. It is about how we accept today and do not dwell excessively or negatively on the past while remaining realistic and curious about events long ago. It is about loving the ones you are with and seeking to understand and be understood. It is about the cycle of losing and gaining family members over the years as we find new ways to bond as siblings, cousins and parents.
After the Truth began slightly before I finished the first book. In other words, I didn’t plan to write a sequel initially, but something came to me one day, and there I went, but I knew it was not right for the first story. Writing, especially memoir writing, is a healing process providing closure for the author. I still had healing to do as I approached the conclusion of the first memoir.
Also, as I networked in new territory via social media and real life support groups for people involved in the adoption community, I saw a common thread: Adoption never goes away, even when you grow up, get married, get a job, have kids, shop for groceries, attend a sporting event or whatever. Many adoptees have feared publically discussing their feelings about being adopted unless it is to only say positive things.
My memoir, After the Truth, although not scathing and negative, hopefully gives a voice to the many (possibly majority of) adoptees who want acknowledgement that even on the best of days, being an adopted child or adult is not always easy and simple. Being adopted does not have to make you tearful, bitter and irate over unfair laws regarding closed birth records or rejections from bio-family, nor it does not obligate you to be a forever-grateful “servant” to those who adopted you. Regardless of how an adoptee feels about adoption, they should never be shamed or invalidated by family, authority figures or fellow adoptees.
After the Truth shares what I have observed and experienced as an adoptee while in joyous reunion with one side of my birth family but curiously waiting for communication from the other side of my birth family. It is about balancing my adoptive and in-law family relationships along with birth family because to me all members matter. It is about parenting my children and explaining as they were developmentally able to understand what happened to me and who is related to whom and how because when you are an adoptee, your own children become semi-adopted by default if your history is missing. You realize that having an authentic identity does not stop with you but carries into the next generation.
Thank you, Paige for exploring the many facets of adoption that affect people. Although I’ve never experienced adoption myself, I experienced the consequences of an ex-husband’s adoption. He was the father of my two children and very secretive about the topic. He didn’t want to offend his adoptive parents by exploring his biological origins, yet seemed to hold a lot of anger inside. Also, this leaves my children’s medical history in the dark. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on your adoption experience and shedding your light on truth in adoption.
How about you? What are your thoughts or experiences with the truth in adoption?
We’d love to hear from you. Please join in the conversation below~
Synopsis of After the Truth:
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.
Paige Adams Strickland is a teacher, writer and fitness instructor from Cincinnati, Ohio. She is married with two daughters and two sons in law. Her work is featured in several anthologies including Sonia Marsh’s My Gutsy Story, Laura McHale Holland’s Sisters Born, Sisters Found, and Lynn Grubb’s The Adoptee Survival Guide.
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“Getting Through the Revision Process as Painlessly as Possible”