Writing and Playlists

What do you do to get your writing inspiration going?  Here are some things I do when I want to bring about the Muse, get in the Zone or whatever you call it:

 

1- Read other blogs or posts re similar topics to my own to get ideas of what to say.

2- Read  or reread a book by an author I adore…even just a part of a book can trigger the spirit.

3- Watch a movie that inspires me to write.  (similar to the read-a-book idea).

4- Discuss w other writers / Attend my monthly writers group.  I can’t say enough good things about how those guys “life me up”, if you will.  I always come home “all fired up” to write stuff or at least start with a little editing and work forward. I will add in here, attending my adoption group meetings too! It’s almost like going to Writers’ Group!

5- Reread my previous written work and then proceed forward to continue a thought.

6- I always pooper-scoop my cat’s litter boxes before I head to the keyboard because, well, I don’t want to smell that while writing and I do have standards…LOL. I also top off their little food dishes, so that I know the fur-kids are not seriously neglected in any way while I toil away in the other room.

7- I have a coffee, Diet Dew or whatever drink of choice ready to go.

8- I sometimes use a play list, (iTunes).  Not every time, but sometimes.  This especially applies to my book writing. When I wrote Akin To The Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity, I’d formed a list of songs that “called out to me” at various times between the 1960s-1987. (The time period in which my book is set)  It’s over two hours long! Sometimes I would play it while writing and sometimes BEFORE writing to get warmed up. I’ve also listened to my writing play lists while driving to spark thoughts for future writing. In that way, even when I am not physically writing, I am writing!

I have another playlist set for my sequel book, working title:  After the Truth: Adopted Life in Reunion.  It’s about 90 minutes long, but this book will be a bit shorter. The music comes from about 1990-2010. I like pop music and pop culture. If you’ve read the first book, you know that in my life stories I reference a lot of trends and topics from that era.

In the next book,  I work in more references to pop-life from the past couple of decades, but not as much. I think that’s because, as an adult, I’ve spent less time in front of the television and more time on the job and parenting!  LOL

In future posts, I would like to share with you about the songs which have both entertained and motivated me to write my books. Fellow author, friend and adoptee, Lynn Grubb recently shared a song which she and her husband find well-themed for adopted people, especially if they are searching for missing family or just wondering what happened long ago. (I would imagine that wondering, curious bio-family members would also agree in this case.) The song is Train’s Calling All Angels. I shared with Lynn that I also have had this one on my writing play list for a long time.

Calling All Angels is all about wanting signs and knowledge to guide us as adoptees toward successful searches and reunions. It’s about concerns for future generations and all the confusing messages people face regarding life values and truths. It’s about longing for understanding and completeness, and can be applied to many instances but certainly is applicable to the lives of many adoptees and others who lack closure and adequate communication in their lives.

Here’s a Wikipedia link with some fun facts about this song:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calling_All_Angels

Here is a link for your listening pleasure:  Sorry ’bout the commercial up front.

So what do you think?  What songs get you going?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Happy Anniversary, Ohio Adoptees!

About a year ago, an assorted group of adoptees plus birth family members and many professionals in the adoption field and Ohio’s state government, gathered together in Columbus for an historic event of a lifetime. It was affectionately named, Opening Day.

 

Thanks to the dedicated work of advocate, Betsie Norris from Adoption Network Cleveland, and Ohio senators Bill Beagle and Dave Burke, their “masterpiece”, Senate Bill 23, upgraded an antiquated state law, which banned adoptees from access to their OBCs. (Original or unammended Birth Certificates). The new and improved law allows adopted adults to gain their adoption records and OBCs in most cases. Specifics regarding this new law are here:

https://www.odh.ohio.gov/en/vitalstatistics/legalinfo/adoptfnl.aspx

 

I attended this two-day event with some adoptee colleague-author/ friends of mine: Lynn Grubb and Becky Conrad Drinnen. The three of us all have our OBCs because we were all born and adopted prior to January 1964, but we came in support of others in the adoptee community and to celebrate greater unification of the adoption constellation. We walked in the drizzly morning weather with our fellow adoptees to the Vital Records building and celebrated at the Columbus State Building downtown. The sun broke free and temperatures warmed as Senate Bill 23 came to life.

 

Personally, my journey to Columbus was joyful and allowed me to revisit the excitement and wonder from the time when I also began my adoption search and first held my original paperwork. There is something very liberating, enlightening and magical about knowing yourself, and I am delighted for the close to 400,000 adopted people and their families touched by this new law.

 

This spring, we adoptees have an anniversary coming up! Thanks again to Adoption Network Cleveland, whose efforts to educate and unite the community never stop, there will be an ANC weekend conference – the Annual Adoption Gathering on March 18 to 20, 2016. It will take place at the Doubletree in Westlake, OH, 44145.

 

The purpose is to (re)connect members in the adoption constellation, celebrate our successes, process our concerns and to understand that being adopted is a lifelong experience. It doesn’t just go away because we now have paperwork. It doesn’t leave us once we find or reunite with birth family. For many adopted people and their significant others, the “What do we do now?” stage is also significant and needs to be addressed.

 

ANC succinctly promotes the activities – “We will be offering nine breakout session options and two award-winning theatrical presentations from New York City. Other highlights include – filmmaker Jean Strauss and footage from last year’s Ohio opening day events, Six-Word Stories from adoptees and found birth family members, and a time for sharing with an open mic.”

 

Here are more details: http://bit.ly/ancAnnualGatheringDetails

gatheringFB-overall3The event hashtags –

#OHadopteesSOAR (SOAR = Success Opening Adoptees’ Records)

#Journey2Unite16 –

 

Is an Adoptee a “Gift”?

Recently I read a blog post from a birth/first mother/ author I’ve been following for a few years, Denise Rossele. While I was writing my first memoir, Akin to the Truth, I read her book, Second-Chance Mother because I needed the perspective of a birth mom. (Mine is no longer living, and I wanted to find a way to connect and learn.) Denise is realistic yet upbeat and shows compassion and respect for all sides of the adoption community, therefore I value her opinion on adoption-related topics. She recently happened into a conversation about adopting children and what a “gift” adopted children are.

Hmmm…

I am not a gift. I’m a person. What’s so troubling and triggering about the word, “gift” in relation to adoption is that often we think of gifts as items. We give gifts for birthdays, weddings and holidays. We buy gifts at Macy’s, Target and Amazon.com, and we bring them home in the car or have them arrive on our doorstep via UPS. Occasionally we down-load our gifts.

Using the term “gift”, as in the “gift of adoption” reduces adopted human beings to parcels of property, given and gained through transaction and trade.

I think of my children, instead as a blessing. I also have the blessings of other family, my marriage, a home, good friends and even our family cats and dogs. My work is a blessing. No one else had to endure a loss or defeat financially or emotionally in order for me to have my blessings.

“Gift” isn’t a bad word. I’m sure the person who used that bit of language with Denise did not intend to be condescending or insulting. The lady who said it was not thinking that while adoption is a wonderful gain for some people, for others it’s a heart-breaking and bittersweet loss/ sacrifice for someone else, (Birth family).

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t use the word “gift”. (The LAST thing I want to be is the Word-Police, and goodness knows that certain sectors of the adoption community have enough of those types.) What I am saying is that we should be mindful about what we say and around whom. Open-door comments such as: “What was that like for you?”, “Tell me about your experience” and “What is it like for you now?” go a long way and invite sharing and understanding.

As a community, our perspectives are diverse and often intense. Not only do we need to educate the general public about what we believe to be true and why, but we also need to educate  and support one another. It’s an on-going thing as we all begin to speak out more.

If you are interested in Denise’s side of the story, here is a link to her blog:

http://www.secondchancemother.com/disappointing-moment/

The Thankful Adoptee

There’s a clash of opinions among the adoption constellation, specifically the ADOPTEE community. Should we be thankful, and if so, to whom/ what entity should we direct our thank-yous?

In my research and interaction with fellow adopted adults in recent years, I find the topic of thankfulness, (AKA gratefulness) to be a highly charged topic, and it makes me think about HOW to feel…how I SHOULD feel, and how I ACTUALLY feel. Note that ‘how’, ‘should’ and ‘actually’ might not be the same thing.

Growing up I was taught, like many kids, adopted or not, to give thanks for my home, family, food, health and school.  OK, fine.  No arguments there.  I am deeply grateful for all those things. I could thank G-d plus any physical human beings who made these things possible. I am thankful all the time, not just on one Thursday in November, and I try to make a note of it. I’m not “churchy” in a traditional sense, but I do thank “Spirit” every day.

As an adopted person, I’ve often received the comment from well-meaning strangers upon learning this factoid about me, “Oh how special! You must be so thankful!” No one else but fellow adoptees understands that a remark like this makes adopted adults feel a little awkward and not “special”. It’s condescending and instead makes us feel like perpetual children.

Adoptees need more open-ended reactions and less of telling us how we must be feeling.  It doesn’t make us less grateful for our lives or what have you, but such comments can make many adopted people feel pushed down and as though a door has been shut in our face.

A more appropriate response might be, “Wow! That’s so interesting. Tell me about it.”

Keep that communication door open, and we might be the most thankful people you’ll ever meet!

Am I thankful for being adopted?  Some days, yes I am. I had a great house, a fine education, (Go ‘Noles!), loving relatives and even dogs! Other days I remember the flip-side. In order for me to have ended up where I did and with whom, my birth parents had to endure a traumatizing loss. My birth mother, specifically, had to sign her rights away regarding one of her children. It meant my birth siblings and I lost many years’ worth of time not knowing one another. It meant that many people had to live with the notion of “what if…”  and had to harbor locked-away secrets of shame and fear because a couple of people’s timing and luck was really lousy.

Why do so many instances of “Let’s give thanks” have to come at a price?

So am I a Thankful Adoptee? Only to a point. I’m thankful for the blessings I have had; some which are unique to only me and some which my birth siblings and cousins have also had because we all grew up in the same town during the same decades, so we have some things in common. I am thankful that I know all of my birth family now. I am thankful that many of us have been able to celebrate holidays, weddings, births and even mourn losses together. I am thankful that my adoptive and birth families have successfully blended for some of these events.

For nearly every ounce of gratitude I have, I also understand that someone else had to sacrifice dearly, and I wish they could have been spared heartache, guilt and regret. That’s why being adopted doesn’t make me special.

It just makes me me.

What Adoption Means to Me: I am honored to be a part of this project.

http://www.chicagonow.com/portrait-of-an-adoption/2015/11/what-adoption-means-to-me/

 

How Does It Feel To Be Adopted- Paige L. Adams Strickland:  Featured with an excerpt from my sequel-in progress!       #flipthescript 

Source: How Does It Feel To Be Adopted- Paige L. Adams Strickland

Adoptee Rap Inspired by Fellow Adoptee, JoAnne Bennett’s Question: “As your fellow adoptees, how can we help you to feel genuinely supported and cared about as valuable human beings in the Adoption Community?”

Adoptees through time have had a back seat.

Unknown relations we wish to meet.

Society’s said what we feel ain’t that bad.

They haven’t experienced the emptiness we’ve had.

Adoptees want our opinions heard,

and receipt of validation for our word.

It isn’t about revenge or ingratitude.

But people at large need a shift in attitude.

It’s time for laws to modernize and update.

We’re no longer children, wards of a state.

We can fight in wars and smoke a cigarette;

We get tried as adults, and lest we forget,

If we do our part with responsibility,

Then why can’t we connect with first family?

Adopted people don’t always agree,

but we need to establish greater unity

among our own awakening community.

We should celebrate our achievements without jealousy,

Unite for our causes and work as a team.

We should care and console, no judgmental disdain

And avoid competition and comparing our pain.

If we want acknowledgement, more cred and more gain

From inside

To feel cared for and valued by peers there should be no divide

The more we bond the less we will hide

yet be free to appreciate our differing views without shame

Understanding our counterparts; not placing blame

For something that happened a long time ago

Let’s honor and celebrate now, for now is what we all know!               #flipthescript

Top Ten Things What I Want People to Know About Me as an Adopted Person:

1- When I share my feelings and ideas about being an adopted person, I’m not whining or complaining. I am telling you the truth as I see it because I live it.

2- Please take me seriously when I discuss adoption.

3- I would rather know the truth, (about any topic), than be told a nice little “story” that will make me “happy”. Don’t think that I won’t know the difference.

4- Loss of any kind really, really sucks, plain and simple.

5- I’m not saying that my feelings are any deeper, better, worse or lighter than yours, but they are MY feelings. Please acknowledge.

6- Many times, especially socially, there’s a veil separating me from everyone else, and I will forever wonder if that veil-feeling is a result of my being adopted / different from most everyone else.

7- I no longer fear being rejected or replaced. I know it will happen eventually. It always does. What I do instead is enjoy the windows of time I do have with people, jobs, etc. and make the most of the “season”. It may be a long season, it may be short…but it’s a season. It’s like that Robert Frost poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay”: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/nothing-gold-can-stay When I learned about it in high school it struck a huge chord with me. Prob 3/4 of the kids in my class were zoned out, but that poem gave me a wake-up call.

8- I did not search, find and manitain good relationships w my birth family members because I was dissatisfied w the blessings I had, I did it to learn my medical and ancestral history, enrich my life and the lives of my children who now never have to grow up wondering, “what if…” like I had to do. I did all that to find a way to feel less “fragmented” and more “whole”. It worked.My birth family members are awesome!

9- I get it. We have to have laws to protect children. There are a lot of creeps out there. However, when that young person turns 18, they can serve in the military, buy cigarettes, vote and be tried as an adult. Why should that person be denied their original birth information if they are a responsible, law-abiding citizen? That’s my opinion. Please respect it.

10- I am not anti-adoption, but I am anti-lying/ falsification, anti-manipulation and anti-coercion. Adoption should not be a “business” for big profit. Yeah, yeah…social workers have to be paid. (I teach kids, and I want to be paid. Do you see me getting rich?) Lawyers and other adoption “entrepreneurs” need to lay low on this one. It should be all about family and child servicing first and foremost.

This post was inspired by a question that LeAnne Parsons, http://www.walkyourtalkwithleanne.com/ , proposed on a Facebook group. I told her that I would be sharing on my blog as well.   P.

The Benefits of Being an Adoptee (This post is a “re-run” from 2013, but not many people saw it then.)

THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN ADOPTEE

My adoption memoir, Akin to the Truth, contains some universal themes, which appeal and are relatable to all teenagers, adopted or not. (Pre)junior high through high school is the period of time when young people observe more and begin to analyze and form attitudes and concepts about their personal lives and the world in general.  Often these notions lack perspective and life experience, however the young person’s belief system still contains value and meaningfulness because their feelings and how they deal with them are parts of becoming mature. For me, being an adoptee added an extra dimension of self-doubt and lack of confidence.

The purpose of this memoir was not intended to be a complaint-fest, however, it does reflect my point of view at the time. My observation is that there are a lot of sad adoptees out there.  Not all, but a lot. I was fearful, lacked trust and was tremendously self-conscious, and those feelings held me back from developing many skills and relationships back in the day. I wasn’t sad, but I did feel unsatisfied and flawed.

Akin To The Truth is intended to show that a person, adopted or not, can overcome many obstacles with persistence and support from key people in life, whether they be family, friends, teachers, coaches, colleagues or even famous people you don’t know but admire. Embrace your heroes, the everyday or the celebrity-type. Let their positive qualities work on you.

Akin to the Truth reflects a time in the past.  Today I have the advantage of looking back and realizing what pluses adoption did provide that I could not have recognized back then:

  • Being adopted has made me very selective about whom I’ve chosen as my best friends.  As a result, mine are top-notch.
  • Being adopted causes me to study faces and mannerisms, noting similarities between biologically-related persons. I’m not staring and being weird. I’m impressed by the miracles of life and how DNA plays out.
  • Being adopted makes me view the concept of Family  globally.
  • Being adopted makes me inclined to question everything. I may or may not openly challenge everything I am told, but I assume very little. I look before I leap.
  • As a kid, being adopted helped my imagination soar because I wondered who else had a secret identity, and what was it. I was a creative kid, which made me better at art and writing.
  • Being adopted gave me a special bond with every pet I ever owned plus the pets of many friends and family members. So many pets are adopted from large group settings or by random chance. I feel lots of compassion for homeless animals and much respect for those who rescue them.
  • Being adopted is part of what makes me strive to be the best parent possible to my kids. I never take the time I spend with my girls for granted. I feel bad for the birth/ bio-parents who were forced by society, negative circumstances and controlling institutions to relinquish children. I know the ones who did and do it by choice believe(d) on some level that they were/are doing it to provide a better life for their baby.
  • Being adopted makes me appreciate being alive. I respect all life, (with the exception of some really nasty, creepy insects). I’m glad I was born!  Life is good.

Twinsters: Adoption Movie review

Twisters Movie Review

Twinsters, a delightful documentary, co-directed, written and produced by Samantha Futerman, tells the tale of a young, adopted Southern California woman who unexpectedly discovers via social media that she may have a twin sister. Both girls were born in Busan, South Korea on the same date. Samantha was raised in the USA, and her sister grew up in Belgium and France. 

Their story is touching and relatable for all adoptees, especially for those who find siblings and form relationships, no matter which country you’re from. The film shows in detail many of the feelings adoptees process prior to reunion and just after as reality of a whole new family life sinks in. Personally, the moment when they see one another live for the first time brought back exciting memories from my own adoption reunion(s). Also, the scene where they photographed their hands together, struck a chord for me because my sisters and I have done the same thing.

Even though Samantha and Anaîs are identical twins, (proven through DNA testing), their perspectives on being adopted are different, which proves again that as adopted individuals, there isn’t one “correct” way to think about our statuses. This makes explaining our feelings challenging. However, this film masterfully represents a wide range of attitudes regarding the adoptee spectrum.

(If “adoptism” isn’t a word, it ought to be!)

The cinematography in Twisters is spot-on as the viewer travels literally around the world from Los Angeles to London and South Korea, as the saga of the twin sisters’ reunion is captured. It was also interesting to witness the blending of both girls’ adoptive families and foster mothers during their respective visits. Their story is filled with humor, honesty and resilience, and I enjoyed getting to know Anaîs and Samantha better through this film.

#adoption #adoptees #koreanadoptees #twins #flipthescript