When Emma Stevens learns her birth mother wrote and signed a letter about her to the adoption agency, she knew she had to have that letter. Her birth mother had used a fictitious name at the maternity home and an assumed name on Emma’s original birth certificate. Emma takes bold measures to get ahold of that letter and start solving the puzzle that is her life.
Emma was adopted into a family that expected her to conform to their expectations of who she should be — but she did not arrive as a blank slate. Unable to see that her relinquishment and adoption were not her fault, her soul split into pieces. In order to put the pieces back together, Emma embarks on multiple journeys and adventures towards both solving the mystery of who she is, and healing from the pain of separation from her origins.
Stories from birth mom have never been as visible and oft-told as stories from adoptive moms. So it was refreshing to see an article by Candace Cahill in Newsweek magazine.
Candace is the author of the upcoming memoir Goodbye Again, which I can wholeheartedly vouch for, having been invited as an early reader. Visit Candace on her site to be notified when her memoir is available in November, just in time for National Adoption Awareness Month.
I’d never heard of an “entrance narrative” in adoption before talking with Joanna Ivey, this month’s guest on Adoption: The Long View. I now see how important it is that we be mindful of the adoption stories we tell our child — and ourselves.
Entrance narratives are the stories we tell about how our child joined our family. We create them to answer questions others have about the decision to create a family through adoption.
What plays well for one audience doesn’t play well for another.
How we see ourselves as adoptive parents is intricately tied with how we see our children — and ultimately how they see themselves. Heroic narratives like “saving a child,” and innocuous ones like “we were meant to be together” may have unintended effects that parents don’t see on the front end — until after damage has been done.
Here to talk about taking the longer view right from the start – or wherever you are now – is a woman who is both an adoptee and an adoptive parent. Joanna Ivey helps us understand why such feel-good sentiments for parents, ones we often use as our “entrance narratives,” don’t always land in the intended way for the adoptee.