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The Stories We Learn to Tell
Why is Writing a Great tool For Adopted People?
by Paige Strickland
Writing is an amazing tool which creates a sense of accomplishment for anyone, adopted people and others impacted by the effects of adoption. Historically, adoptees have been denied a “voice” by governments, religious institutions, adoptive parents, and sadly, even therapists, counselors, and medical professionals.
Writing has become one way that adopted people express their personal beliefs and actual experiences regarding life as adoptee. Writing can be therapeutic in processing an adoptee’s life events; a “safe space” to self-express without the risk of facing disagreement, gas-lighting, or indiscretion from individuals who have not had the lived experience but have the power to intimidate and invalidate. As a therapeutic device, the art of the written word — and other works of creativity — can be helpful to someone feeling passionately yet in need of a way to organize their thoughts.
Writing can serve as a public voice in lieu of actual speaking or creating videos because not all adoptees feel comfortable preforming in front of a live audience.
The act of writing prose, essays, plays, or poetry, whether or not the adoptee author chooses to share their written work, just having a way to jot down, sort, and arrange ideas helps to clear negativity from the mind.
Setting a writing goal of X minutes a day can create stability and a routine from which we all can benefit.
Writing down one’s life story helps to give an adopted person identity and purpose. In my personal experience, I have written memoir to serve as an account of who is/was who in my very complicated but glorious family tree. This act can assist with tracking themes and patterns in one’s life and in the lives of people who are closest. Being cognizant of these life motifs can educate both the author and the reader about decisions to make and also what to avoid. Even if a writer does not have a lot of family history information about their start in life, it is important to express this fact and associated feelings to remind readers that knowledge of one’s heritage is a privilege not everyone is allowed to enjoy.
Presenting life stories, outlooks, and opinions within the adoption community and to the greater public is crucial to the education and enlightenment of everyone, especially non-adoptees of all ages. Every story is unique and has value. As adoptees, we have a distinctive level of expertise which surpasses the scholarly, third-party way of learning about adoption. We live the effects of being adopted, both good and bad, every day! We are a primary source for informing others.
Changing/improving the current adoption system takes decades, but it is happening quicker and better with contributions from adoptees via many creative forms, including writing.
All in all, adopted individuals who write can reap many benefits including personal achievement, pleasure, self-discovery, and public recognition. Writing is a healthy way (aside from the sedentary aspect) to clear out and bring order to thoughts regarding anything that causes deep feelings. Using writing time to vent or explore “what if’s” or create a letter to a person one wishes to speak with is normal and productive.
Adoptees can write to air ideas to a wider audience in order to inform and deliver truths because adopted people have a unique and personal stake in the adoption constellation. Adoptees can use their talents and time to bring about improvements and halt ineffective, outdated practices and notions about adoption. In short, writing is an affordable, effective way to tell life stories and impart an understanding of life from the adoptee’s perspective.
Paige Adams Strickland is an adoptee in reunion, married with two daughters, three grandkids, and many kitties. She is an educator, caregiver, and fitness instructor who loves spending time outside, writing, arts and crafts, and reading.
Purchase Paige’s Books here:
A Unique Perspective is offered by Shane Bouel through his articles on Medium. His gorgeous September 24th article, Embracing Depression in Adoptees: A Unique Perspective on the Development of Human Consciousness, in “Thoughtless Delineation” fits nicely, I think, with the theme of adoptee voices. Here is his introduction:
“Adoption is a profound journey, a unique tapestry of experiences and emotions that often goes unnoticed by those who haven’t walked that path. Adoptees who have embarked on this distinctive voyage, frequently experience the world through a different lens, marked by complexities and unique perspectives. In this article, we delve into the notion that for adoptees, depression could be a doorway to a deeper level of consciousness…”
My Memoir, I Must Have Wandered: An Adopted Air Force Daughter Recalls
Travel across the years in this unique hybrid memoir collage. Rendered in personal letters, vignettes, lyrical prose, fragments, and photos, I Must Have Wandered opens with an imaginative framing of a newborn relinquishment in post-World War II South Carolina. Her closed adoption at one year by an Air Force couple, and the ongoing stressors of separation frustrate her 1950s early childhood.
Military transcience, duty, and strict discipline converge with religious piety deepening the girl's abandonment and separation trauma. And the culture of confidentiality and secrecy around her father's Intelligence career further strains their relationship amid the heightened anxiety of the turbulent 1960s.
Identity bewilderment threatens her choices until, at age forty, her need to know her origins peaks. With the help of adoptee advocates, she breaks the sealed record barrier and launches the search for her natural mother. Decades later, she embarks on a parallel journey of self-discovery with DNA, reconciling the loss and privilege of her adopted life, while she gains a wealth of biological family and her true heritage.
This second edition includes an expanded photo archive in the e-book (a link to the gallery in the paperback), bibliography, and resources.
October 30th is designated “Adoptee Remembrance Day” to raise public awareness of abuse and crimes against adoptees, often by adoptive parents. For more information contact Adoptees Connect.
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