Guest blogger, Elena Hall, author of Through Adopted Eyes shares her own journey and the stories behind the creation of her book. Please note this is her personal story, please respect her journey she has chosen to share with us.
“You’re an author” is not something I thought I would ever hear.
Growing up, I would rather be outside playing or watching a movie than reading and writing. At school, I always enjoyed the creative writing portions, but I never had any kind of aspirations to write or publish anything. After graduating with my undergraduate degree, I got an opportunity to intern for a nonprofit in a field I thought I was going to work in. In that internship and my following jobs thereafter, topics about adoption always seemed to come up. Whether it was a supervisor asking about why I was passionate about helping others or someone saying something about adoption, I was always excited and willing to tell people that I was adoptee. As my fellow adoptees know, after you mention you are adopted, there are a long string of predictable and exciting (or terrible) questions that come our way. I do not mind the questions, and I truly want others to learn from adoptees. Six months after I graduated with my undergraduate degree, I thought more about this longing to talk more about adoption. I sat down with long-time friends and we discussed what our goals were now that most of us were done with our schooling. I announced I was going to write a book about adoption. My friends’ faces showed kindness and excitement mixed with some confusion after hearing about a book idea coming from the person who was never an avid reader or writer.
So, I began writing my thoughts, pain, joy, and the ins and outs of adoption, from my adoptee perspective. My book unleashes topics of grief, loss, and common things that adoptees might find themselves thinking, when no one else may realize what is swirling in our heads. Writing is really cathartic and powerful . As I finished writing my thoughts about adoption, I realized I wanted my sister to have an opportunity to share too. I was adopted from Russia when I was around 18 months old. I also have a great sister, not biologically related to me, who was also adopted from Russia one year later.
Since I am not the only adoptee in the world, I wanted to include my sister and other adoptees in the book too. I took to social media and asked for people to contact me. The only requirement was that they were adopted. From there, I began sending out questions to book participants. By the grace of God, I ended up with 49 other adoptees who shared their hearts in this book. I am not like all the adoptees in this book, and we all have unique stories. It is important as an adoptee to learn from other adoptees of all different ages, backgrounds, and experiences. The goal of this book was to help adoptees feel unified, help others learn about what adoption is from our perspective, and open up their eyes to how much weight the word adoption has to a member of the adoption triad.
I realized that adoption may be an event, but adoptee is a title. Some wear this title as a nametag that is easily ripped away or presented to the world. Other adoptees wear this title as more of a tattoo, which is not as easily covered up. A nametag is not better or worse than a tattoo, it just means that adoptees have the right to assign as much or as little weight to their title of adoptee. Some titles come with more pain than others, but each adoption story does have an aspect of incredible depth and importance that has complex loss. Adoption connects people, but it is our choice how we want to express our assigned title of adoptee. Writing adoptee stories is so important because it places the power in the adoptees hands – to express their title of adoptee however they want.
A couple of months after starting the book (and over a year before the book was published) I got a full time job, sat down at my desk at a great non-profit, and was excited for my post-grad life to begin. After a short time, I sat down at work and felt uneasy – and I prayed and wrestled with why I was so unsettled. A co-worker came up to me and asked me what I was thinking about. I told him about my book project. The following day, I found a giant packet of paper on my desk about how to get a Masters of Social Work and what career options are available with adoption. My co-worker had researched and printed out over 40 pages of information for me. We prayed together about options. That night I applied to graduate school for my MSW.
The book, Through Adopted Eyes, was published 5 months ago in Nov 2018!!! (Now on Amazon and Kindle ☺ ) By the amount of exclamation marks I am using, you can probably tell I am so excited to graduate and work mentoring adoptees, helping people through their adoption journeys, and assisting and honoring the adoption triad in my future career.
It has been incredible sharing adoptee voices – and I am currently working on a second book to share the adoptive parent and birth parent perspectives. It has been great to connect with more people on my @throughadoptedeyes Instagram. I love hearing from adoptees who tell me that they too have experienced things that are in the book