Wendy Barkett’s autobiographical book of adoption-themed poetry, Shadows of a Dark-Alley Adoptee, is both eloquent and brutally honest. Her artful words give the reader a glimpse into the inner world of what adopted people might be sensing about their lives.
For example, the poem, “Did You?” explores what we would ask or say if we had the chance to talk to a missing birth mother. “You Don’t Know Me” addresses the fact that since, as adoptees, we don’t know all the facts about ourselves, how do we find self-acceptance? It doesn’t matter if those facts are good or bad; we still have a craving to know the truth. “I Cried” demonstrates that adopted people have unique feelings and frustrations. We acknowledge that other people can try their darnedest to console or “help” us, but it still may do no good. Sometimes being adopted and living with our thoughts is isolating and a very inward journey.
Personally, I liked the “Medium” and “Game on” poems because I could relate these to my experiences as a fellow adoptee who searched. Hooray for supportive husbands and honeys who cheer for our efforts!
For a curious reader who is limited on time but wants to either learn about adoptee issues or relate to similar experiences and feelings, this is a great read. Ms. Barkett writes directly and honestly in both rhyme and free-verse styles from her perspective as an adopted adult from a sealed-records era when adoption was extra-secretive and taboo.