Although I wish I could re-read and review Harry Potter and how it has affected me (eh, maybe when I have the time), I am choosing to write about one of the most impactful books regarding adoption that I have read.
A little back story on how I even heard about this book: I met the author, who is a fellow adoptee, at an event at a Red Sox game. I was with Adam and a few other coworkers at a Wahlburgers before the game, when a tall, older woman with blonde hair came and sat with us. She was alone and was awkward at first, but what struck me about her was how open she was about what she was thinking and feeling. Some call it diarrhea of the mouth, I call it transparency and courage. Something unexplainable at the time drew me too her, and after talking for a short amount of time, I found out what that unexplainable tether connecting us together was.
She was an adoptee and wrote a book about it, to put it in shorter terms. She was talking about how she stayed in the author of The Help’s apartment in NYC when I began searching for the book on Amazon. After talking to her more and more about adoption, writing, and burgers, I bought the book (seriously, the one-click option on the Amazon app is dangerous).
Anne Heffron’s personality and openness on her adoption experience has been truly transformational for me. She opens up about how her adoption experience impacts all facets in her life – parental and romantic relationships, as well as other personality traits that she has. Even though we have different adoption experiences, the feelings that we have everyday are the same. That’s what made me start crying on page 2.
My copy of the book now is a little worn; there are highlights everywhere, bent pages, and the entire thing is wrinkled. It looks like it made it through 18+ years in Afghanistan. I did give it love, yes, but very un-ironically it is in such bad shape because I brought it to the beach and spilled a White Claw all over it. Oops. Didn’t even read it on the beach. You see all the time in movies and TV shows people bringing books to the beach, and do they read them? No. They get caught up in the sea breeze, the seagulls trying to steal their food; the little kids running around trying to play. Gossiping with the girlfriends while the boys are playing a match at Dunegrass… But, I digress.
Anne dives deep into my soul; describing what it is like getting attached to a man, and keeping others at arms length, so we don’t get attached. She goes into length about jumping from place to place, trying to find her path. Procrastinating and putting off what needs to be done, and praying that you get the voicemail box instead of the actual voice on the other end of the phone.
“How I can be so independent and so needy is beyond me. Half the time I feel I will die of loneliness and the other half I feel I will die if I am not alone. In other words, I’m always on the wrong side of the street.”Anne Heffron, You Don’t Look Adopted, p. 7
Anne not only opened my eyes to things I didn’t even think to relate to my being adopted, but she also taught me to embrace my adoption story. That’s how I am here now – she encouraged me to write and reflect on my own journey; how my adoption affects the relationships, emotions, actions, in my life.
It doesn’t matter how your story is similar or different; hell, you don’t even need to be adopted to read this book. If you even know someone who is adopted, whether it is a sibling, child, spouse, partner – what have you – this gives an excellent insight into the very rational brain of an adoptee.
I will give you an example. I have had deep abandonment insecurities in my relationships – mostly by romantic partners, but also subtly in my relationship with my parents. Adam calls me out on it – more infrequently as of late (which is a good thing), but I am so thankful that he does. He sees it and tells me hey – I see you and I am not going anywhere. I can be annoying sometimes – sorry Adam. But it comes from my adoption. While I wasn’t dropped off at a relatives doorstep like Harry Potter, or left at a church like Buddy the Elf, I was essentially abandoned by the woman who carried me for 9 months. I was with a foster mother for a month before I came home to my parents and brother. I was 8.6 pounds when I was born; a month later, I was 9.2 pounds. Now, there are probably a lot of people out there thinking, “Okay, so what does that matter?” But any nurse or parent would know that I was considered a “failure to thrive” baby at that moment of time. Kind of crazy to think that. Between that and losing the bond I had with my birth mother, I can see how it messed with my brain, and how it affects me to this day.
Hearing Anne’s stories as a child, a teen, a woman – was honestly such an eye-opening experience. Anyone touched by adoption should read these stories, understand where we are coming from when we are acting wacky or distant. The stories she tells are both long and short; some are very realistic while others have some sort of metaphor in there. But all are thought-provoking. She so beautifully shows the two sides of adoption – both traumatic and amazing at the same time.
Here is the link again for her book. Please, check it out. You won’t regret it.