“An unknowable number of stories exist in the world of adoption: compelling, inspiring, heartbreaking, provocative, introspective, poignant, and powerful. These words also describe Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston’s new book, “The Declassified Adoptee: Essays of An Adoption Activist.” Amanda is a calm, clear, thoughtful, lyrical storyteller. Like the best storytellers, she writes from her heart, leaving the reader with much to reflect on, much to mull over, much to savor and learn.
Amanda writes evocatively about her experiences as an adoptee, born in 1985, placed in foster care at 3 days old, officially adopted at 8 months old. Hers was a same race, closed adoption—though her first mother had been told it would be open. Amanda, after a lot of time and expense, has reunited with her first mother and several members of her original family. She remains closely connected with her adoptive family as well.
As the former executive director of 2 adoption agencies and an international adoption nonprofit organization, I believe that “The Declassified Adoptee” should be required reading for all prospective adoptive parents, for all adoptive parents, and for social workers and other professionals who work in any way with adoption. It should be required reading for all adoption agency executive directors, for those who sit on the board of directors for adoption agencies, and for those who provide any and all post-adoption services.
As an adoptive parent, I believe that “The Declassified Adoptee” would have provided me with both insights and icebreakers when talking about adoption with my children when they were growing up. I plan to share the book with each of my now-young adult children; though the details of their experiences may vary, I have no doubts Amanda’s story, and her insights, will resonate with them.
Like Amanda and most other adoptees (whether from the US or internationally adopted, whether adopted as infants or older children, whether adopted through private or public agencies), each of my children has dealt with the complex realities in adoption that Amanda writes about: trust, bullying, identity, truth, fantasy, secrecy, loss, grief, confusion, laws, lies, and love.
Her brief, insightful essays reflect the challenges that adoptees face: not knowing when to ask what questions, being startled and angered (and occasionally amused) by society’s views of adoption, and dealing with the truths of their stories. Those truths can be painful. One of the best gifts for first parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees from reading Amanda’s book may be her reflections on dealing with the painful circumstances that bring children to be adopted. Amanda writes candidly, gracefully, and hopefully about facing difficult truths in adoption, accepting them while not letting them overpower or define, and moving ahead with strength and resilience. “The Declassified Adoptee” deserves a wide audience in the adoption community, among adoptees, first parents, adoptive parents, social workers, adoption researchers, and anyone interested in better understanding what it means to be family.”
–Maureen McCauley Evans, M.A. Former executive director of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, The Barker Foundation (interim), and Children’s Home Society and Family Services-East; adoption writer/activist at lightofdaystories.wordpress.com.