“What’s Done is Done and can’t be Undone.” -Stephen King
Nowhere is this more true than with publishing a memoir. Let’s be honest. Maybe it isn’t always a good idea to reveal the past. Perhaps it is worse if the “revelation” is in written form, an intimate expose, a confessional, a putting of oneself under the microscope? In other words, why would I present excerpts from my daily journals?
And yet, that’s just what I did when publishing an adoption-focused memoir, The Goodbye Baby-A Diary about Adoption. I culled four decades of diaries and transcribed the passages that showed me growing up as someone who felt herself to be a burden, a girl who had to hide behind the facade of being successful and “normal.” Twenty-three years of grappling with the need to reveal what it felt like to grow up adopted. This act of daring or craziness (or both) accomplished my goal.
The reactions to the book have been surprisingly favorable. Other adult adoptees, birthparents, adoptive parents, and readers interested in adoption issues have welcomed the The Goodbye Baby. Coming out with my angst-filled past has opened doors. Now that I realize what happened to me isn’t that “special,” the book has led me to a wonderfully supportive online adoption community, many members of whom are shining lights, providing inspiration and serving as mentors.
As one of the bright stars in cyberspace, Deanna Shrodes, wrote in a blog post, “You wake up and you’re still adopted.” She is so right; the facts remain. However, having come face to face with those adoption demons empowered me to stare them down. Talking was not enough. Years of therapy, while enlightening, never enabled me to separate from what happened so long ago. Coming out with the story, which I never could have done without the therapy, cleared the path for divorcing the “poor adopted me” syndrome.
“Happy and grateful” is the image much of the world has of the adopted child, or rather of how the adopted child SHOULD feel. Most adult adoptees I’ve met are grateful for being removed from foster care, the orphanage, or whatever dysfunctional situation. But happy? Perhaps not totally. Something has been lost that can never be replaced.
In answer to the initial question, would I do it again, the answer is YES. It was much better to come out with a book containing my personal truth about adoption than to deny its effect. Now, as I burn the final pages of the diaries themselves, I realize that I no longer define myself as an “adult adoptee,” but as an adult. I’m free to live my life.