Pre-Release Review by Trish Ortiz, LCSW, Therapist for At-Risk Youth

In The Declassified Adoptee, adoptee and social worker Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston unpacks a myriad of issues that are remarkably personal and intrinsically important to the adoption community, and, indeed, to society-at-large. Transue-Woolston tackles difficult topics, including the circumstances of her own conception, with grace. While she is unflinching in the candor with which she discusses the world of adoption, the author manages to adeptly navigate its varied landscape without passing judgment upon those with differing experiences.

An inherent respect for the individual, unique narratives of every adoptee is woven throughout The Declassified Adoptee. Transue-Woolston is careful to clearly communicate to the reader that she is sharing her own narrative, and her own personal purview; at the same time, however, she successfully honors a broad diversity of adoptees’ experiences, never rejecting the stories of those who have had experiences dissimilar to her own. In this collection of essays, Transue-Woolston’s voice is both sensitive and candid, and her writing style produces a narrative that is accessible to – and that should resonate with – all members of the adoption community. We are privileged to accompany her as she navigates the challenging terrain of adoption, eloquently exploring and deconstructing the many emotional spaces that adoptees, and those who love them, occupy at various times in their journeys. As the reader is provided with a front row seat to the lived experience of this adoptee, The Declassified Adoptee persuasively illustrates that the emotional process of the adoptee is fluid, not linear. The curtains are parted to reveal a full spectrum of emotions, from pain to joy to rage.

In addition to exploring the emotional experiences of adoptees on an individual level, The Declassified Adoptee also provides an articulate, even-handed critique of a system that is flawed, without condemning individual participants in that system. Transue-Woolston is a champion for the marginalized, and seeks to increase transparency in adoption practices. She urges freedom from the secrecy that has long plagued adoption, and continues today in many cases.

As an adoptive parent, I urge all prospective parents, adoptees, and original and adoptive families to read The Declassified Adoptee for a comprehensive, sensitive deconstruction of the diverse perspectives that may be involved. As a social worker and therapist, I highly recommend the addition of this valuable resource to the bookshelves of all who work within the various sectors of the adoption profession, as well as mental health professionals who work with members of the adoption community in their practice.

Trish Ortiz, LCSW is an adoptive parent and the Clinical Director of a family therapy program for at-risk youth in New York City.

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