What was the social worker’s take on this story? What is the relationship like between birth mom and birth dad today? How did you decide how much of your daughter’s story to share?
Book Tourist: I wonder if you considered not sharing the explicit details of Zoe’s backstory with the reader? As an adoptive mother, adoption educator, and parent coach, knowing the explicit details of your daughter’s story bothered me. I believe our kids’ stories are theirs, and it is our job as parents to hold their stories sacred. In other words their stories are theirs to share, when and how they wish, as they understand them. How do you feel Zoe might react to her full story being shared when she is older?
Brandi Rarus: On sharing explicit details of Zoe’s background: I appreciate that comment and do understand the concept that our children’s stories are theirs to share. Finding Zoe was written from the perspective that her journey of arriving into our home was nothing less than “perfection” — because the chances of a deaf child finding deaf parents the way Zoe found us were so slim. Her story was not traumatic, but rather a story of celebration and I wanted to write to that. There is no one size fits all, what felt right for me and Zoe may not be right for another adoptive child. How Zoe may react to her story being shared when she is older — that I do not know — but I wrote it for her so she would know how much she was loved and wanted by everyone who cared for her. I would hope that she would embrace it as she has embraced everything in her life today. If she does have concerns later on I trust that we will work through them together and that she will understand I had her best intentions at heart.
Was social worker Marlys interviewed for your book? I didn’t notice her in your acknowledgements.
No, Marlys was not interviewed. We tried on several occasions to reach out to her to ask — and had everyone sign confidentiality waivers so that she would not be breaching confidentiality if she spoke with us, as we thought she may have concerns with speaking publicly on an issue that requires confidentiality. She never did respond to us, so we wrote the book based on the feedback and perceptions of the characters who were interviewed. Marlys was Jess’s saving grace during her entire pregnancy. BJ did not feel she was supportive. We tried to capture these perspectives.
Have BJ and/or Jess learned to sign?
No, BJ and Jess have not learned to sign. I would love them to do that, as that is really important in having a relationship with Zoe. However, those who learn to sign need to be in environments where it is used frequently so they would have to find other deaf people in their areas to practice with and communicate with. Neither of them live in an area where there is access to a large deaf community.
How did BJ and Jess respond to learning each other” thoughts and fears during that time? Was reading your book conciliatory for them? (Not in a romantic way, but in a coexisting way.)
I believe Jess and BJ have made peace with each other and found forgiveness because of the very meaningful experiences they both had from interviews for the book. They met up and talked about what happened, as they are both now at an age where they are mature enough to listen to the other and understand the others’ point of view. Their two sets of parents got involved so quickly when Jess found out she was pregnant that they really never did have a chance to work through this themselves.
The one thing I know for sure is Finding Zoe was therapeutic for everyone involved because they felt like they were “heard.” We tried very hard to write their stories from their points of view and humanize them. They are all really, really good people!!
Lori: Thanks to all book tourists for their participation on each others’ blogs, and to Brandi for entertaining our questions. Find Brandi at www.brandirarus.com.
In case you missed it the first time, here are links in this book tour. Click around to see what we’re discussing in Finding Zoe.