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.
This book project was something I had never dreamed of back when I started blogging 4.5 years ago. 4.5 years ago I did not know that I enjoyed writing; I did not realize that I really had anything to write about. I embarked on this blogging journey in an effort to locate my original family. The process of searching soon became symbolic of finding myself. The process of unsealing my records soon became symbolic of unfolding myself as a person who was adopted as a child. Writing moved me from connecting to my family, to connecting to myself, to connecting to the larger community. The time you have spent reading my words has given my words meaning. Reading your thoughts has been invaluable.
Having my words published in a book is a privilege and I do not take it lightly that my voice is able to be heard in this way when so many others are equally deserving–and more so.
I extend my heartfelt thanks to the blog readers who have encouraged me all of these years. I thank my families by birth, marriage, and adoption for their support. I thank my friends for their openness and willingness to hear my voice on adoption–a topic they are not readily familiar with. I thank all those who have given me the opportunity to use my voice; who have believed in me.
I also extend my deepest appreciation to the individuals who helped this book become a reality: Kevin Vollmers from Land of Gazillion Adoptees, Adam Chau from CQT Media and Publishing, Carlynne Hershberger from Hersberger & Huff Studios, Julie Stromberg from Life, Adopted, and to the foreword author, JaeRan Kim.
I hope to see you at the Re-Framing the Adoption Discourse conference held by the APRC on November 16, 2013 in St. Paul, MN (register & hotel here) where I will be selling and signing my book along with the Lost Daughters anthology (several fellow Lost Daughters will be there to sign the anthology too!). The Lost Daughters anthology will be published in November. I will also be speaking on the policy panel for the conference. Keep an eye out for the second anthology I’ve co-edited, Perpetual Child: Dismantling the Stereotype coming out this winter.
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.
“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.
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
“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.”
“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.
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.