Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Gesture Writing": Some Good Advice for Writing about Adoption

Did you see the interesting essay called "Gesture Writing" in Sunday's New York Times Review section? Author Rachel Howard explains how her job as a nude model for art classes led to some information about how to write better, something she calls Gesture Writing. She says, "realizing that writing is a lot like drawing gives us a deeper approach. Because really, before we put a word or a mark on the page, both writers and artists must first step back and see. And seeing is not simple."

This article appeared at a perfect time for me, as I am wading through my manuscript (it's about the decade I spent as a wilderness guide while I searched for my birth parents) and trying to connect the chapters. Howard made me realize that I, too, am looking for the gesture in my writing, trying to "step back" from the page  and see the overall movements, gestures of the work.

Good advice.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Novel: Jennifer Gilmore's The Mothers

Yesterday on National Public Radio's Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed Jennifer Gilmore, author of a new novel about a couple going through the process of open adoption. (Click here to link to the interview.) One of many things that intrigued me about Gilmore and her book was that she said that although her novel draws heavily upon her personal experiences with adopting a child, she chose to write fiction rather than memoir because she wanted to be tougher on her main character than she thought she could be on herself. I liked hearing that because it indicated that this novel would not be all roses and snuggles and babies in blankets, that we might perhaps meet an adoptive mother character who has flaws, and by extension, an adoption system that has flaws.

I haven't yet read the book. Have you? Want to weigh in?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Birth Day

Yesterday was my birthday. Many lovely friends and family members reached out to me to wish me happiness via Facebook, text, phone, and in person.

An adopted friend wrote, "Happy Birthday, Andrea. If birthdays are as difficult for you as they are for me, I wish you the best in getting through yours. If not, then just have a great day!" It was a sweet, empathetic message, and it really made me feel for my friend.

There were many years in my early adulthood when an impending birthday would bring with it feelings of dread and sadness. On many May 20ths I woke up in the morning wondering who I really was, what it meant that I was born, and if the woman who had borne me was thinking about me on that day.

I compensated for these negative feelings by planning elaborate birthday adventures so that I would be too busy to think those sad thoughts. But the sad thoughts always crept back to me anyway.

I'm happy to say that since I reunited with my birth families, even though learning how to be in relationship with them has at times been challenging, I no longer dread my birthday. I don't languish in bed wondering if I deserve to exist on this planet.

Birthdays are no longer a big deal to me anymore. I don't need anyone to make a big fuss just to prove they love me, I don't make elaborate plans so I can celebrate myself. I deeply enjoy hearing from friends, but I don't sit around waiting for the phone to ring.

There is tremendous power in knowing where we came from, and those of us who are or were denied that knowledge tend to struggle. Our struggles manifest in various ways, but they are struggles nonetheless.

For any of you reading who do not have access to information about some part of your family, some part of where you are from, that integral part of the self, please know that my heart is with you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Poetry Wednesday

This is a fake legend. I wrote it to try to portray the feeling that many adoptees have that they are not fully human because they aren't allowed to know their true origins.

Sometimes, we invent our origins.

The stanzas written in regular lettering are meant to represent someone telling a story, the italics indicate where the storyteller is spinning a tall tale.


by Andrea Ross

Crouched on a shale slope, she peered

from between yucca spears

to watch them toboggan down snow patches

on their black-feathered asses; she muffled

her laugh when they snacked on snow-clods.

She learned raven-talk—

the sounds of water pouring into a canteen,

a hasp settling into place.

But what she loved most

was the way ravens loved: in mid-air.

Opposites attracted;

her sweetheart was a rock-climber.

He spent each free moment pressed

to canyon walls, while she loved the air’s caress.

Some swore she jumped.

She tumbled over the rim

like the pack-mules in the snowstorm that year.

Black feathers crowed across her face in love—free-fall, a mile.

They twirled, iridescent, and then swept upward.

Now, in a pile of raven’s down,

a human-raven baby softly grows

while mother blackness swoops

around the world, calling.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blog Spotlight: The Declassified Adoptee

Hi, Everyone:
I recently found this excellent blog, The Declassified Adoptee, written by a woman who has had similar experiences as an adult adoptee as I have had. What I find especially exciting and compelling about her blog is that she writes eloquently about many of the same feelings that I try to write about, and she writes about them with real aplomb. Like me, she has found her birth family and has a good relationship with them and with her adoptive family, but she still feels a sense of loss about being adopted and a sense of injustice about the way that adoptees are regarded in this country. Check. Her. Out.

Friday, December 3, 2010

I'm Missing You, Betty Jean Lifton.

From the New York Times Obits.
She was an amazing person who helped so many of us to understand and accept ourselves.
Blessings, Betty Jean!