Adoptee Survival Guide Interview with COntributing Author, Rayne Wolfe: #flipthescript

1-  You are both an adoptee and a journalist, Correct? What other jobs have you held in the past?

I’ve done a lot of things, cause I’M OLD. So, as a child I worked in stock brokerage trading rooms and worked in retained executive recruiting in San Francisco. Then I was a newspaper business columnist for the San Francisco Examiner/San Francisco Chronicle Sunday. Then I was a Staff Writer (a reporter) for the New York Times Corp. at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. I covered business, philanthropy and teen culture for about a decade. I left there to write my book Toxic Mom Toolkit, which I published in 2014. I have also volunteered as a law enforcement chaplain (5 years) helping the police make sudden death notifications in Sonoma County, where I live now.

A former writing instructor, I now consult as a Writing Coach, helping others give birth to their books.

I’ve always taken “little” side jobs and have worked as a bartender, as a “night nurse” for a big political campaign consultant (answering private lines after hours), walked dogs, and I’m a prop stylist for cookbook photo shoots. I’ve also been a Judge (three times!) for Petaluma’s World’s Ugliest Dog Contest, which Animal Planet loves so much.

 2- And according to your essay in the Adoptee Survival Guide anthology, you were born and raised in California?

Yes, although my original mother lived in Iowa, she travelled to SF where I was born. I grew up in the foggy Richmond District.

3-  What is the status of the adoption and birth record law in California? Have you been able to access your original birth records or make contact with your biological family?  Do you still keep in touch with any of them or get together?

I’m not up to speed on California laws, but officially my records are closed. I know when I searched in the 1980’s it was extremely difficult and there was no sympathy at all. I actually had a friend of a friend of a friend, who WAS sympathetic, risk her job to look up my original birth records and scribble down some information. That’s how I eventually found my birth mother and birth family. She and they didn’t really want to hear from me and there is little contact. I have one friend who lives in this little Iowa town and if something big happens, a death, a birth, I might get a note.

4-  I find it interesting in your entry when you say you had times when you identified with many different ancestries and types of strong women-figures because adoption and not knowing all the facts gave you the freedom to do this. Would you say that’s one of the (few) positives about being an adoptee?    

I’m not sure if I’m just wired this way, but I always felt that not knowing my history gave me tremendous freedom. I studied other girls, other families, other strong women and took on parts and pieces that I liked. One constant hero has been Amelia Earhart. Another is Out of Africa author Isak Dinesen.

5- “It only takes one caring adult to help a child conceived in the dark to thrive in the sunshine.”  I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this quote!  I just have to put that out there, even though it’s not a question!

6- …And when you talk in your article about your dad who was left in an orphanage during the Great Depression, you mean your adoptive dad?  Wow!  He sounds like he was an amazing person! That’s how he could relate so well with you!   

Yes, my adopted dad, who is my father, Al Rembold, was a twin, a beatnik printer, an artist, just a joyful man. He was very kind and understanding. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s that I circled back and created an adult relationship with my dad. But I’m so grateful that I made it a priority.

7-…So, on to other things…What are your other writing projects for now?

I’m gathering string for an anthology about running away. I was a runaway and I grew up when people often ran away and I sort of want to mark that as a cultural thing that is lost. Did you know that California’s Amber Alert System has a 100 percent success rate? It’s a great tool, but I still wonder if there is some value in hitting the road as a teenager and fending for yourself. I left home at 17 with a duffel bag, a hair dryer and $20 dollars and I never looked back. I’m not the only one and I want to capture those stories.

8- What do you do for fun? 

I have a little shop inside a shop at an antiques collective and that stops me from becoming a hoarder. So, yes, garage sales, antiquing, junking are big pastimes. I also collect and re-fashion vintage linens. I sew my own Mexican blouses and embroider them by hand.

 9– Are you currently working or have you embraced “retired life”?

 After a nice two-year run, I recently stopped writing a Food & Drink column for two newspapers and that made me realize that I didn’t really need to do so much anymore. I’m 59 and I’ve been working since I was 17. But I am an eternal Cub Reporter, so urgently curious about everything and I miss having assignments, so I give myself assignments. The other day I watched the parking lot of cigarette sales store for a couple of hours; research for a freelance piece I want to write. I keep tabs on the houses of prostitution in my town — more cat houses than sushi places! – because I’m just fascinated by it. My husband has banned me from stealing their garbage. So, I’m hardly the retiree, taking up quilting. Of course, respect to quilters! They rock.

 10- Please share with readers any links you have to your blog(s) and social media you have so that fellow writers and adoptees can know you better.

 If anyone wants to see what I’m up to the first stop is Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook. That’s where a global community of adult daughters and sons of super toxic mothers support each other and exchange positive information and inspirational images. I promise, we laugh a lot. There is also a blog at and of course, lots of related stuff on Pinterest. With over 6,000 bylines in the NYTimes system on a huge cross-section of topics, really, just Google my name and you’ll find all sorts of links to interesting stuff.


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