Pre-Release Review of “The Declassified Adoptee: Essays of an Adoption Activist”
“Adoptees live at the intersection of political, moral, religious, and philosophical debates about how we, as a society, define family and self; their every day is shaped by an institution subject to the same cultural systems of privilege and hierarchy that influence all social institutions. This complexity takes root in the lived experiences of adoptees in moments both small and large: dealing with petty middle school bullying, facing a medical crisis, forging romantic relationships, holding one’s newborn son for the first time, having a well-meaning acquaintance ask a question or comment that one’s children look “just like you.” From addressing the experience of adoption — both on the sweeping social scale and the intimate, personal level — adoptees have found a generous, self-aware, and profoundly wise voice in Amanda Transue-Woolston and her collection of essays in The Declassified Adoptee. When discussing a flawed system that has fostered mistruths and secrecy, or the clumsy or mean-spirited questions that follow adoptees, or the politicization of adoption by those with little understanding of its impact on those living it, or her reconciliation with the story of her own conception, Woolston finds a framework that is graceful without being conciliatory, and sensitively diplomatic without being placating. In doing so, she criticizes a system without condemning individuals, and challenges us all to not only place adoption within its appropriate cultural context, but to listen to the stories of those most impacted as its own form of social justice activism.”
Gretchen Sisson, PhD is an adoption and reproductive health researcher with ANSIRH at the University of California, San Francisco.