Pre-Release Review by Sociologist Dr. Gretchen Sisson

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.

Pre-Release Review by Maureen McCauley Evans, former Executive Director of Joint Council on International Children’s Services

“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

Pre-Release Review by Marianne Novy, Professor of English at University of Pittsburgh

Pre-Release Review of “The Declassified Adoptee: Essays of an Adoption Activist”

“Amanda Transue-Woolston’s book The Declassified Adoptee does an expert job of combating some of the widely held beliefs about adoption that stigmatize or otherwise harm many adopted people. Showing what she has learned from a persistent search for her birth records, it is full of love for both her adopted and her first family; she proves that honesty and valuing knowledge about heredity need not be a threat to adoptive parents.  “The forces nature and nurture in my life are not opposed to each other; they are both irreplaceable parts of who I am. . . . My genes–my nature–are not bad. My genes are not a foe to be conquered but rather resources to be nurtured.” Her emphasis on the diversity of adoptees’ experiences is an important observation, well expressed; telling us about her own experiences, she deflates some frequently evoked stereotypes. As a social worker, she argues against the dishonesty of some agencies’ policies as well as that of the closed birth record policy of her state; however, her essay “Am I Adopted At Work?” shows how she appropriately puts her clients’ welfare above discussing her own experience in a professional setting.

This is a wise and readable book, helpful for adoptees or for anyone who has or will have an adoptee as a friend, client, co-worker, or family member.”

–Marianne Novy, Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh,  author of Reading Adoption: Family and Difference in Fiction and Drama, adoptee, and coordinator of Pittsburgh Consortium for Adoption Studies.

Pre-Release Review by Martha Crawford, LCSW

Pre-Release Review of “The Declassified Adoptee: Essays of an Adoption Activist”

A clear, patient, intelligent voice speaking to all those interested in adoption on negotiating the joys and vicissitudes of life as an adoptee. Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston is not only a cogent and effective advocate speaking on behalf of adult adoptees and their right to be heard in adoption policy, she movingly articulates the complex emotional and psychological realities of forging a self-regarding identity as an adoptee. The Declassified Adoptee also offers a compassionate education for non-adoptees and adoptive parents about how to be a true ally and source of support to the adoptees in their lives. There is something here for every member in the diverse and sometimes fragmented adoption community. I would encourage first family members, adoptive parents, adult adoptees, extended family members and friends as well as all adoption professionals, mental health providers working with adoptees, and prospective adoptive parents to read it, let it touch them and teach them something.
Martha Crawford, LCSW – adoptive parent, psychotherapist, and author of the blog: What A Shrink Thinks

Call for Submissions: The Perpetual Child: An Adoptee Anthology


An Adoptee Anthology

ABOUT: “Adoptees are viewed as perpetual children, with views easily dismissed as ‘angry,’ ‘ungrateful,’ or ‘bitter,’ especially if our views are politicized, raced, or consider the woman who gave birth to us.”Jane Joeng Trenka (2005)

In the novel An-Ya and Her Diary, by Diane René Christian, the main character, An-Ya, is frozen in literary time. An-Ya will forever remain a pre-teen adoptee. But what happens to real adoptees when they grow up? How are adoptees affected and impacted by the stereotype of the “perpetual child”?

CALL FOR ENTRIES: The AN-YA Project is accepting submissions of all literary genres related to the theme of the adoptee as “The Perpetual Child”. Contributors must be adult adoptees.

SUMBISSION PROCESS: Submissions must be received by August 30, 2013. Please include a brief bio and contact information with submission. Submit via email to co-editor Diane René Christian @ Writers of accepted submissions will be notified by September 30, 2013. $100 provided for each accepted piece to be published world-wide in The Perpetual Child: An Adoptee Anthology. Book will be available via print & ebook.

MORE INFO: This anthology will be co-edited by Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston, BSW &  Diane René Christian and published via the AN-YA Project. Visit the AN-YA Project website

PREVIOUS CONTRIBUTORS TO THE AN-YA PROJECT: Stephanie Kripa Cooper-Lewter, Ph.D., L.M.S.W., Lee Herrick, Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston, BSW, Jennifer Bao Yu “Precious Jade” Jue-Steuck, Susan Branco Alvarado, MA Ed, LPC, Matthew Salesses, Phoebe Peachment & Sabrina Orlins.

New Adoption Support Group: Matters of the Heart

“I don’t understand why you so badly want her in your life after going without knowing her all this time,” her husband’s frustration was apparent.  “It’s just not logical,” he finished.

“Matters of the heart are not logical,” came her wise reply.

This moment in time is forever imprinted in the mind and heart of adoption discussion group founder and adult adoptee, Linda Hettinger.  Spoken by her original mother, these words were the confirmation Linda had been waiting for that reunion could be a reality.  Soon after, Linda’s husband grew to understand the love and dedication of this mother-daughter pair.

“Matters of the Heart” is a discussion group for all adult members of the adoption triad and is co-facilitated by adult adoptees Linda Hettinger and Amanda Transue-Woolston, BSW.  All stories, experiences, and feelings about adoption are welcome.

This group will meet quarterly.  Please join us for our first meeting at Community of Love Lutheran Church in Oxford, Pennsylvania on September 22nd at 2:00PM.  For more information, please call Linda Hettinger at 484-880-9740.

An-Ya and Her Diary Parent & Reader Guide is now available

I am so pleased to announce that the An-Ya and Her Diary Parent & Reader Guide was released on April 6th and is available for purchase.  I had the privilege of authoring the forward of the guide.  By April 9th, the guide made the “Hot New Releases List” on as well as became a Top 20 “Best Seller” on Amazon in the “adoption” category.  You can purchase the novel, An-Ya and Her Diary here, purchase the Parent & Reader Guide on your eReader here, or buy a print copy of the guide here.

Up-Coming Presentation at the 2013 Civil Liberties and Public Policy Conference, Hampshire College

March 5, 2013
Contact: Lucy Trainor, Assistant Director
Civil Liberties and Public Policy, Hampshire College
CLPP Hosts 27thAnnual Reproductive Justice Conference
The Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program at Hampshire College ( will hold its 27th annual activist conference, From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom, on April 12-14, 2013. The conference focuses on broadening the fight for reproductive health and rights by making connections to a diverse range of social issues, including racial, economic, and disability justice; LGBTQ rights; and environmental justice. Approximately 1,000 community activists, students, and national and international leaders and organizers are expected to attend this event, described by past attendees as “motivating, informative, and nourishing” and “overwhelmingly inspiring!”
More than 150 speakers and over 70 conference workshops will highlight local and national activist work from direct service to policy-making. Topics of workshops include Abortion Coverage, Immigration, State Violence, and Transfeminism. Conference attendees walk away with practical knowledge around the issues and are empowered to continue their work. As conference co-coordinator and Hampshire student Lauren Casey puts it, “the CLPP conference has given me hands-on tools and resources to better my own work, and provided me with a community of individuals who are right there behind me fighting this good fight.”
The three-day conference begins Friday afternoon, April 12, in Franklin Patterson Hall at Hampshire College. Friday workshops will run from 4 to 6 p.m. Workshops and plenaries continue on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. and on Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon. For a list of conference speakers and workshops, or to register, visit Conference registration is offered on a sliding scale, and no one is turned away for lack of funds.
CLPP strives to make the conference an accessible space. There will be ASL interpretation available at both the Saturday and Sunday plenaries, and Spanish translation available by request as part of the pre-registration process. The buildings used for the conference are accessible, and space will be reserved in workshops and plenaries for people using wheelchairs. Space will be reserved in plenaries for people looking to reduce their exposure to fragrances. Childcare is available free of charge during the conference.
Student conference co-coordinators are available for interviews: contact Lauren Casey or Zaynah Shaikh at 413-559-6168 or  Conference speakers are also available for interviews upon request. Speakers include activists working in diverse communities and on a range of campaigns from across the U.S. as well as internationally, including issues that have traditionally been excluded from a reproductive rights framework.