November is National Adoption Month — a time set aside to celebrate families that have grown through adoption. The goal is to raise awareness of the more than 125,000 children waiting in foster care in the United States. As an adoptee who writes both nonfiction and fiction centering on the “adoption theme,” I’ve often encountered fascinating stories and individuals through the online adoption network.The adoption triad comprises Adoptive parents, Birthparents, and Adoptees. I’ve enjoyed meeting people from every part of the triad.
Author Jessica O’Dwyer is one of those individuals. After reading her beautifully written books Mamalita and Mother Mother, I “met” (through her website) Jessica O’Dwyer. Jessica is an adoptive parent; I’m an adoptee; we’re both authors. It’s no surprise that we’ve become online friends. In fact, we were recently interviewed by Santa Fe’s public radio station, KSFR (101.1). Here’s the podcast.
My first adoption book was a nonfiction collection, diary entries about growing up as an adopted daughter and feeling that I had to pretend to be the “real” daughter. It documents my life from the 1950s through the 1980s and concludes with a acceptance and reconciliation with the past.
My second adoption-themed book, All the Wrong Places is a suspense novel. Adoptee Clara Jordan moves from the east coast to Red Mesa, New Mexico, and begins a teaching year at the American Indian Academy. Shortly after the start of a new semester, headmaster Joseph Speckled Rock is found dead on Clara’s classroom floor. Both teacher and students are shocked.
Clara deals with her students’ grief and her own frustration by daily running in the rough hills surrounding the academy. Carnell Dorame, a talented student and Clara’s favorite, uses the Internet to trace the identity of her birthmother. The school’s computer teacher Henry DiMarco invites Clara out for a date and they end up falling in love. Henry, however, is not what he seems. His real business is smuggling pottery, an enterprise that is tied in with the death of Speckled Rock.
When Clara begins to suspect Henry’s dual nature, he decides that she is in the way and breaks up with her. She runs to a remote arroyo and underground cave studying petroglyphs that might lead to her birthmother’s identity. Not to give away the ending, I’ll just say that the question—Will adoptee Clara Jordan be able learn about her family tree or will she die trying? — is answered by the book’s conclusion.
Third in adoption theme is The Hand of Ganesh, an adventure story. Clara Jordan and her friend Arundhati (“Dottie”) Benet travel to India in search of Dottie’s birth family. The novel is finished and being edited.
Throughout the month of November, I’ll be publishing guest posts that reflect different parts of the adoption triad. Stay tuned!
Join Elaine Pinkerton on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption and life.
Comments are welcome!