Early Praise for The Declassified Adoptee: Essays of an Adoption Activist by Mary O’Leary Wiley, PhD, ABPP

“Written with the eye of a social worker and the perspective that only someone who has lived the life of adoption can bring, Amanda H. L. Transue-Woolston expresses herself in ways that are both individual and universal. The Declassified Adoptee reads with the power of a novel, yet provides a perspective that I have not yet seen in adoption literature or memoirs. She does this by sharing her own experiences as an adoptee and then broadening her lens to allow the reader to share a broader view of timeless issues in the adoption world. She tackles topics that some find difficult with deep insight, humor and sensitivity.

This book will be a very valuable resource to mental health practitioners, students, researchers, families and others who would like insight on the adoption experience. It is also a true gift to adult adoptees who will find their experiences validated and expressed in deeply profound ways. Thank you to The Declassified Adoptee for bringing us a remarkably current and fresh look at the experience of adoption.”
Mary O’Leary Wiley, PhD, ABPP
Licensed Psychologist in Independent Practice, Altoona, PA
Adoption therapist, researcher, author and Co-Chair of the Special Interest Group on Adoption Research and Practice in the Society of Counseling Psychology (a division of the American Psychological Association).

Early Praise for the Lost Daughters Anthology: Susan Harris O’Connor, MSW

Lost Daughters provides us with a viewing of brilliance, social justice and activism. Moving beyond racial, ethnic and professional silos frequently observed in adoption, Lost Daughters brings us together to witness the courage, strength and amazement of a diverse group of women who represent the true fabric of adoption. This anthology, a collection of stories written by adult adoptees, is a must read for clinical and social service professionals and all those touched by and/or interested in learning about adoption journeys.

Susan Harris O’Connor, MSW
National Speaker, Solo Performance Artist, Activist
Author, The Harris Narratives: An Introspective Study of a Transracial Adoptee

Early Praise for the Lost Daughters Anthology: Lorraine Dusky

Lost Daughters Anthology is a tough book for mothers who relinquished to read because whatever we may have told ourselves about the “good” reasons to let our children be adopted, these poignant, sad, moving essays belie that with the sheer force of a body blow. I found myself with tears in my eyes as soon as I started reading, and they didn’t totally dry up until long after the last page.

Taken in one gulp these writers remind us that being adopted is the singular aspect of their lives out of which everything else flows—just as it is the opposite side of the coin is for first mothers like myself: birthdays, family trees, motherhood, familiar traits, loss. Julie Stromberg writes about how comfortable it is to be with another adoptee because they can talk to each other in ways they cannot to others; Michelle Lahti writes her son’s assignment to do a family tree was more painful for her than him; Elaine Penn remarks on the moment she first heard someone say about her daughter: that’s where her dimple comes from—and referring to Elaine, the baby’s mother; Von tells how she found her love of cooking in both sets of natural families; Nikki Mairs-Cayer Pike talks about the scary, exhilarating moment she got the envelope with the name of her mother; Samantha Franklin sums up the experience of finding her first family: I am whole, no longer cut in half,” and elsewhere: “…We adoptees get mixed messages galore. We are a crisis, unwanted, abandoned orphans. Yet also chosen, special, lucky gifts. Our first mothers are told they are incapable, yet also heroic. Our very identities are “amended” to fulfill a role, and we’re expected to cut ourselves off completely…from the identity, heritage and family in which we were born.”
The book concludes with a longer essay by Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston, author of the highly regarded and popular The Declassified Adoptee blog, of being overwhelmed in a college course when she was asked to speak critically of her parents: “I did not want to admit that my parents are not perfect when I had already been so busy trying to prove to the world that they are perfect. Reunion, and everything that comes with it, was my choice and not a response to what some people might assume to be parenting failures.”
Brevity demands not including every writer here—though all deserve to be—for their selection in this superb collection covers the gamut of the adoptee experience in all its painful reality. The editors—Amanda Transue-Woolston, Julie Stromberg , Karen Pickell and Jennifer Anastasi –have chosen well.
These are brave, strong essays written from the heart by talented, courageous women who pull no punches. Anyone not already familiar with the inner ramifications of being adopted to the adoptee will be blown away. In a perfect world, I would make every legislator who has not voted for unsealing original birth certificates, every adoption facilitator who makes their living off adoptions, and every adoption attorney, every clergyman or woman who has suggested “adoption” to a desperate pregnant woman, every adoption worker sit down and read the book through in one afternoon. It would change the world.
Lorraine Dusky is the author of the first memoir from a first mother, Birthmark, published in 1979 to great controversy, or some would say, notoriety. A founding member of the board of ALMA, she has been involved in the adoption reform movement since the mid-Seventies.Her articles on adoption have appeared in Newsweek, Town & Country, Parent’s and numerous other publications. She is the founder of [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum, which she writes with Jane Edwards.

Pre-Release Review by Susan Harris O’Connor, MSW, National Speaker, Performance Artivcst, & Author

Amanda H. L. Transue-Woolston’s book of essays is heartfelt and brilliantly written. It is an original piece of work that sheds light to many of the core issues with being an adoptee. In her unique way of holding her experience, Amanda illustrates the power of one’s story; as she moves from the personal, to the role of educator, to that of an adoption activist. The Declassified Adoptee is a must read for all!
Susan Harris O’Connor, MSW
National Speaker and Solo Performance Artist
Author, The Harris Narratives: An Introspective Study of a Transracial Adoptee

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.

Pre-Release Review by Laura Dennis, Author of "Adopted Reality, A Memoir"

If you’ve ever wondered, What are these adoptees complaining about?
If you’ve ever thought, Hey, they grew up in stable adoptive families, and got to reunite with their origins, what’s the big deal now?
If you ever supposed that adoptees are treated equally under the law, and that “we’ve gotten better” with regards to the stigma and secrecy that permeated previous generations of adoption …
This book is for you.
With clear, succinct language—resorting to neither sanctimony nor sentimentality, Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston’s The Declassified Adoptee: Essays of an Adoption Activist, provides an understandable context for the change needed in adoption as an institution. In this compilation of writings from her blog, the author uses personal anecdotes to highlight the need for sympathy and understanding for the adoptee, while arguing logically and unapologetically for specific change within the system.
And in a few key articles, she even made this jaded adoptee shed a few tears. In “A Letter to my Prospective Adoptive Mother—What a little baby might have wanted to say,” Amanda encapsulates the heartache and frustration for the closed records adoptee and the mom trying to raise her:
Then, with no family medical history, I will discover a tumor. I will cry for you sick with pain and anesthesia when I wake up from surgery. You will ask God “why” and I will be okay. (39)
For adoptees and non-adoptees alike, this anthology will answer questions you never knew you had and clarify issues about which you always felt strongly. It’s time for social justice for adoptees, and this book is must-read educational preparation.
—Laura Dennis, B.A./M.F.A. Dance Performance (in a whole other life), adoption advocate blogger, wife and mom, and author of Adopted Reality, A Memoir.

Pre-Release Review by Damian Adams, Research Scientist

“Within the words that Amanda writes lays the truthfulness of an adoption story, her adoption story and experience. It is these narratives that provide the reader with an in depth view and analysis of what it may be like to be adopted. This is extremely important as no other person will know what it is like to be adopted except an adoptee, and while each adoptee’s experience will be different, every story is valid and a real outcome of an institutionalised process of both family severance and construction. It is only through truly listening to narratives such as these can society better understand and empathise with adoptees, but more importantly learn from their experiences and improve the current paradigm. I have found Amanda’s approach to both the analysis of her own adoption as well as the adoption process to be insightful and full of critical analysis while taking a sensitive approach that will endear this work to the reader. I am sure that every reader will learn something from this book just as I have.”

–Damian Adams, Research Scientist, donor conceived person, and advocate for the rights of children separated from their biological families.

Pre-Release Review by Diane René Christian, Author of "An-Ya and Her Diary"

In her mid twenties, shortly after the birth of her son, Amanda Transue-Woolston found herself in reunion with her biological mother. In those first emotional moments of reunion, Woolston was faced with the gutting task of unraveling lies and sifting through adoption laden secrets.

Woolston’s collection of essays, contained within The Declassified Adoptee, invites readers on a riveting and educational journey. It is a journey which flows seamlessly through turbid adoption issues, adoptee realities and some unexpected truths.

The Declassified Adoptee is a compact book covering a broad scope. As an adoptee, Woolston offers a poignant narrow personal lens. As a social worker, she widens the lens and offers an enlightening and comprehensive point of view. Written with a tender hand, this book speaks with clarity and strength about the complexities of an adoptee’s life and the complexities inherent in adoption.

In the opening of The Declassified Adoptee, Woolston writes, “I am pro-human.” Her powerful and moving words will cause readers to reflect on what it means to be humane.

Highly recommended reading for anyone touched by adoption… and beyond.

-Diane René Christian, author of An-Ya and Her Diary, adoptive mother, and founder of the AN-YA Project

Pre-Release Review by Joy Lieberthal Rho, LCSW-R

“I am tremendously grateful for Amanda Woolston and her declassified declaration proclaimed in this book of her personal essays. The Declassified Adoptee is a challenging, beautifully woven narrative of how adoption has impacted a life. While I subscribe to the idea that no two adoptees have the same story, Amanda was able to encapsulate so many of the challenges of being a whole person with a history full of holes, lies, misunderstandings, half-truths, stereotypes and other people’s fears imposed on the adopted one. So neatly organized, Amanda was able to give the non-adopted and the adopted the full breadth of experiences and feelings that are entwined in the journey to self discovery. Amanda shows how she tackled the toughest and most sensitive issues in adoption with grace and compassion all the while pushing the reader to stretch commonly held beliefs on who is right and who has rights. I sincerely hope that fellow adoptees, adoptive parents, adoption professionals, child advocates and legislators alike read Amanda’s words.”

–Joy Lieberthal Rho, therapist, social worker, author, and speaker

Pre-Release Review by Lorraine Dusky, Author of "Birthmark" and First Mother Forum

“Amanda Woolston is a voice of understanding and reason in the complicated, difficult and often painful world of adoption reform and reunion–not only that, she is a forceful writer exploring topics with sanity and insight that adopted individuals–as well as first mothers–deal with on a near daily basis. Amanda is a breath of fresh air for all of us and as a voice on the topic we share, I cherish her dearly. Her essays in The Declassified Adoptee will be read and appreciated by many for years to come.”

–Lorraine Dusky, author of Birthmark and blogger at First Mother Forum.