Book tour: Mistress’s Daughter

April 14, 2008

in Adoptee, Adoption, Book Club

I’ve been heavy into Adoptee Literature* lately, trying to preview feelings my children may (or may not) have. On one hand, I want to prepare for issues that may arise, but on the other, I don’t want to plant any where they may be none.

The Mistress’s Daughter is the latest focus of The Barren Bi+ches Book Brigade. I always love it when a book draws me in, when it pulls me to return to it every night.

A.M. Homes’ writing is so stark. No frills. It’s easy for me to put moving pictures to her narrative. Her words and emotion mirror what some adult adoptees have expressed on various bulletin boards I frequent.

On the book tour, participants are given a set of questions, from which we each pick three. Here are mine. Directions for following along, or for joining the next tour, are at the end of the post. Make sure you click on the link below and visit the other reader reviews.

A feeling of the “subtlety of biology,” a lovely aphorism, is not something that Homes necessarily welcomes. I sometimes feel that biology raps me over the head when I look at biologically-related family members. How has infertility affected our feelings about the “subtlety of biology”?

I can’t remember what it was like when I still thought we were fertile. Did I study people’s faces? Look for signs of biological connection? Or perhaps I did not give it much thought.

Now I am a face-looker. When I see kids at school from the same family, I notice the facial shape, the arrangement of the features, the portion of teeth showing in a smile. I look for these connections when the parents come around, too.

I wonder which families share biology, and which families, like mine, share biography.

Most adoptions from the 1950s’ and 60s’ are closed, with birth records sealed except upon a courts’ finding “good cause” to open them. In light of Homes’s experiences, does this seem to be the appropriate method for handling adoption records?

I see open records as a civil rights issue. It is morally wrong to allow access to original birth certificates to everyone EXCEPT for one class of citizens who are in this group simply by circumstances of their birth.

Some argue that a birthparent’s right to privacy trumps an adoptee’s right to know. I disagree. But my bias is toward open adoption, which greatly eases this issue.

For our children, we were issued two birth certificates each: their original ones and their amended ones.

This summer, adoptee rights groups are going to address the National Conference of State Legislators in New Orleans in order to influence open records legislation in all 50 states. Click on over to offer your support.

The author talks about searching for information on her ancestors and realized that many of the people searching were not adopted. She realized from that the question of “who am I” is not unique to adoptees. At what point in your life, have you felt the same way?

Shortly after we got married, my husband and I began videotaping (back in the day; it was a HUGE, shoulder-crushing camera) stories told by our grandparents. My grandpa grew up in a sod house in Nebraska. Roger’s great-grandmother arrived in this country after literally being tossed (as a baby) onto a ship leaving Ireland.

Eventually, we will transfer these videos to DVD and pass them to our children for when they begin to question, “who am I.”

These stories, after all, are the roots of their family tree.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens. You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (with author participation!)

* another good selection in the Young Adult genre is A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life.

If you liked this post, why not subscribe or follow me on Google+ or Twitter?

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

loribeth April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

Oops, sorry, that was me (red-faced icon here). Didn’t come out quite the way I wanted it to! Just wanted to say I loved the book too, & I appreciate your personal insights from the perspective of someone who has adopted children.

Reply

Helen April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

I’m a face-checker now, too. I can’t help it.

Reply

loribeth April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

Oops, sorry, that was me (red-faced icon here). Didn’t come out quite the way I wanted it to! Just wanted to say I loved the book too, & I appreciate your personal insights from the perspective of someone who has adopted children.

Reply

Helen April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

I’m a face-checker now, too. I can’t help it.

Reply

Deb April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

I agree with M… I hadn’t thought about the closed records as a civil rights issue but it is. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Reply

excavator April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

“Water For Elephants” was one of the nominees for our book reading group books. It ended up not being chosen, but it sounds like it might be fun to join this discussion.Trouble is, I’m on a hold list that’s very long at both libraries, and I see the round starts the day after tomorrow. I usually read pretty fast though, so maybe I can get it read by time the discussion begins if I get it before the middle of May.Lori! Only a couple weeks before I see you! I’m so excited, though I’m not sure if even staying up all night will give us enough time to do all the talking I’d like. Bring your swim suit for the hot tub if you’d like (it’s optional). I don’t have a mortar/pestle for muddling mint (I’ve been making do with the bottom of an ice cream scoop), so you might want to bring one if you think airport security won’t confiscate. Let me know if I should buy extra eggs for Mr. Ex’s (and Mrs. Ex’s) house. Maybe a roll or two of TP for good measure.I googled AM Homes. Her name sounds familiar, but none of her titles do. I haven’t read any of her; have you read her other stuff?

Reply

Lollipop Goldstein April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

I love your turns of phrase: “On one hand, I want to prepare for issues that may arise, but on the other, I don’t want to plant any where they may be none.”Shared biology vs. shared biography.Your answers always open my world.

Reply

m April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

Lori, you are not going to believe this, but I honestly never thought about it in these terms:“I see open records as a civil rights issue. It is morally wrong to allow access to original birth certificates to everyone EXCEPT for one class of citizens who are in this group simply by circumstances of their birth.”and I wholeheartedly agree with you. Thanks so much for the links. I am en route to check them out.

Reply

Deb April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

I agree with M… I hadn’t thought about the closed records as a civil rights issue but it is. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Reply

excavator April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

“Water For Elephants” was one of the nominees for our book reading group books. It ended up not being chosen, but it sounds like it might be fun to join this discussion.Trouble is, I’m on a hold list that’s very long at both libraries, and I see the round starts the day after tomorrow. I usually read pretty fast though, so maybe I can get it read by time the discussion begins if I get it before the middle of May.Lori! Only a couple weeks before I see you! I’m so excited, though I’m not sure if even staying up all night will give us enough time to do all the talking I’d like. Bring your swim suit for the hot tub if you’d like (it’s optional). I don’t have a mortar/pestle for muddling mint (I’ve been making do with the bottom of an ice cream scoop), so you might want to bring one if you think airport security won’t confiscate. Let me know if I should buy extra eggs for Mr. Ex’s (and Mrs. Ex’s) house. Maybe a roll or two of TP for good measure.I googled AM Homes. Her name sounds familiar, but none of her titles do. I haven’t read any of her; have you read her other stuff?

Reply

Lollipop Goldstein April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

I love your turns of phrase: “On one hand, I want to prepare for issues that may arise, but on the other, I don’t want to plant any where they may be none.”Shared biology vs. shared biography.Your answers always open my world.

Reply

m April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

Lori, you are not going to believe this, but I honestly never thought about it in these terms:“I see open records as a civil rights issue. It is morally wrong to allow access to original birth certificates to everyone EXCEPT for one class of citizens who are in this group simply by circumstances of their birth.”and I wholeheartedly agree with you. Thanks so much for the links. I am en route to check them out.

Reply

josh April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

I also love “shared biography.” I think it is my new favorite phrase.

Reply

seattlegal April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

I hadn’t thought of open records as a civil rights issue either. Thanks for writing that and for all of your answers!

Reply

josh April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

I also love “shared biography.” I think it is my new favorite phrase.

Reply

seattlegal April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

I hadn’t thought of open records as a civil rights issue either. Thanks for writing that and for all of your answers!

Reply

JuliaS April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

You make some excellent points. I have to admit I never considered closed adoption records a civil rights violation and I can see that particular nuance now.

Reply

JuliaS April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

You make some excellent points. I have to admit I never considered closed adoption records a civil rights violation and I can see that particular nuance now.

Reply

Lavender Luz April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

Debora — I’m so glad I don’t have to pack the eggs and TP in my suitcase!We can make do without a mortar and pestle.Thanks to all of you for considering open records as a civil rights issues. We should not deny information to one small group that we allow to the majority.

Reply

Lavender Luz April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

Debora — I’m so glad I don’t have to pack the eggs and TP in my suitcase!We can make do without a mortar and pestle.Thanks to all of you for considering open records as a civil rights issues. We should not deny information to one small group that we allow to the majority.

Reply

Gershom Kaligawa April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

Thank you for linking the Adoptee Rights Demonstration, and for speaking up about our civil rights violations.

Reply

Julia April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

Love the term “shared biography.” I am jealous you thought to videotape grandparents. We didn’t, and now it might be too late…

Reply

Gershom Kaligawa April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

Thank you for linking the Adoptee Rights Demonstration, and for speaking up about our civil rights violations.

Reply

Julia April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

Love the term “shared biography.” I am jealous you thought to videotape grandparents. We didn’t, and now it might be too late…

Reply

Lavender Luz April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

Gershom — you’re welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

Reply

Lavender Luz April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

Gershom — you’re welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

Reply

Leave a Comment


Previous post:

Next post:

google8157a5f320239b9e.html