I thought Writing Would Be the intense Part 🤣
In early 2021, during a pandemic-era conference for adoption creators and influencers, I could not have foreseen what would come from Sara Easterly’s cheekily-offered invitation to Kelsey Vander Vliet Ranyard and me when she said “let’s write a book together!”
I don’t think any of us could.
We could not have foreseen the thousands of hours we’d spend interviewing people for our book, synthesizing their stories to find key themes, writing in solo, writing in collaboration, editing solo, editing in collaboration, rewriting, listening, understanding — and arguing in spite of said understanding.
Just deciding on our title and subtitle— Adoption Unfiltered: Revelations from Adoptees, Birth Parents, Adoptive Parents, and Allies—took weeks of questioning and discerning, dissecting just exactly what it was we’d set out to do….
…which ended up being this deceptively simple goal: to introduce ourselves to ourselves, and also to each other.
We submitted our manuscript to our publisher in February, ten days before our deadline. Kelsey and I thought we were mostly done.
Sara knew better.
Then Came Phase II
You can see where this is going: Sara gradually broke it to Kelsey and me that what we thought was a period was actually a comma.
Once we wrote Adoption Unfiltered, we needed to let people know about Adoption Unfiltered. People often think a book publisher will head up these efforts and pay for it all, but that’s not a given for today’s authors.
Again, somewhat cheekily, Sara said we’d be going on a book tour. And then another. And another. Some virtual and some involving planes, trains, and automobiles.
We have recently completed our first in-person book tour. Maybe you were following along on our social media channels, but if not, here are some fun moments of us being together in Seattle, Vashon Island, Portland, and Denver — all in four days — with a couple of media interviews thrown into the mix.
First Book Tour Stop: Seattle
From our respective cities, Kelsey and I flew into Seattle one morning and Sara picked us up. It was only our second time being together in person.
That evening, our Seattle event was held at the well-loved Third Place Books, hosted by manager Kalani Kapahua, himself an adoptee.
We unveiled our book banner for the first time. To see our actual book in an actual bookstore was quite a thrill!
We shared about the origins of the book and read excerpts from our individual sections of it (if you’d like to hear us reading excerpts, check out the latter part of this podcast episode).
Our panelists for the evening included Mar Meislin (adoptee), Diego Vitelli (adoptee), and Ashley Mitchell (birth parent). Each of them was interviewed in our book, and you will find their diverse perspectives, and 47 others’, within it.
Musicians during the signing of books were Julie Mae Pigott and Rebecca Cohen, both adoptees.
The clock struck closing time, so we packed up and headed to a cute boutique hotel for the night. The next morning, we headed to Sara’s wonderfully warm and inviting home to set up for an interview and prepare for the next event.
Next Stop: Vashon Island
We spent the next 24 hours on Vashon Island. We regrouped in the morning to bask in the glow of our Seattle event and anticipate the next one.
During some rare downtime that afternoon, we attended to a couple of publicity interviews (more on that below).
Our event that evening was held at the public library on Vashon Island. This time we didn’t have a bookseller or a supporting organization, so we didn’t know quite what to expect in terms of numbers. We were bracing ourselves to have only one or two people show up.
We ended up with a full room of people who had heard about Adoption Unfiltered through the efforts of the library — a majority of them adoptees. Because the group was smaller than Seattle’s, we were able to make it a bit more interactive, discovering why people had decided to come that night, many of them without having a personal connection to any of us.
One remarkable thing about this event was that one attendee, from her initial body language and by her own admission, came in looking for a fight.
But she did what we encourage people to do: listen for understanding. When she realized that ours is not a rah-rah adoption book, and that Kelsey has been heavily involved in federal efforts to introduce bills that better serve expectant parents and adoptees (click through to see Kelsey speaking recently on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives), the woman left saying she is on board with our book and our efforts. What a rush, to convert a potential hater into a supporter!
Shout out to Sara’s daughters who sold books for us.
Early (early!) the next morning, we set out for our third event.
Third Stop: Portland
Getting to Portland was an adventure! We needed to take a car to a ferry to a train to an Uber to an Airbnb to the event space, all while hauling our own books.
Like Vashon, Portland also did not involve a bookseller, so we brought our own very heavy inventory and put my Portland-based cousin Debora to work as our cashier.
However, this event DID have a supporting/cheerleading organization. We were hosted by the fabulous Adoption Mosaic, thanks to the months-long dedication of Astrid Castro and Shelise Gieseke. We authors share a common idea with Adoption Mosaic—that we are Better Together, which is the name of one of Adoption Mosaic’s support groups, in which people talk across the aisle with others in the adoption constellation.
The incredible musician Wolf, an adoptee, entertained the crowd as we signed books.
Luckily, Portland attendees bought a lot of our inventory, which made our load lighter for the final leg of the tour.
We returned to our Airbnb, again on a natural high from being among friends new and old who are enthusiastic about our mission. We had to be back in an Uber by 3:20am, so there was very little debriefing and rejoicing (and sleeping, to be honest).
Interlude: Media Interviews
A series of serendipitous events brought us Sam, my friend who graciously offered help with our public relations efforts. Here are just a few of the amazing things Sam has done for us.
He arranged for an interview in Denver’s Westword newspaper, which has been one of my favorite independent voices for a very long time. The interviewer, Teague Bohlen, has a connection to adoption, and though we were interviewed by Zoom in separate windows while together at Sara’s house, Teague really saw us as a writing unit and grasped what Adoption Unfiltered is all about, as you can read for yourself.
More Sam gratitude. When we arrived at Denver’s airport, Sam picked up us and our 6 suitcases, gave us a few hours of morning rest at his lovely home, which was near the 9News studio, a Denver affiliate for NBC. He got us there refreshed and nourished.
There we were interviewed by Steve Staeger in a segment on the noon newscast.
Sam has been instrumental in many other pieces of our outreach efforts. We are grateful for both his expertise and his kindness.
Official Launch Night: denver
December 1 is the official launch day for Adoption Unfiltered, and for our final event of Book Tour #1, we had both a bookseller (thank you, The Bookies!) and a personally meaningful location — a Jeffco library I have spent much of my life in (and, sadly, near where this happened). Being among stacks of books during your own book launch is a truly special feeling.
Even after 4 days of intense togetherness, Kelsey, Sara, and I were still having fun with each other.
Denver-based panelists included Kathy Mackechney (adoptee), Susan Devan Harness (adoptee), Professor Beth Suter (adoptive parent), Rich Uhrlaub (adoptive parent), and Trina K (adoptive parent), each of whom was interviewed in Adoption Unfiltered.
Because this even was in my hometown, I was surrounded by family and friends, many of whom are mentioned in my Acknowledgments section. I wasn’t great about getting pix, but below you’ll see us with the wonderful Linda Pevac, therapist/podcast-host Lauren Fishbein, Jenn from my Adoption Book Club, and Julia from my Vino Support Group.
Whew!...and what's next?
Thank you for reading this whole thing! I hope you enjoyed an inside peek at our first in-person book tour of Adoption Unfiltered.
We’ll be heading to Kelsey’s familiar spaces soon. We’re now planning for Chicago, Indianapolis, New York City, and Washington, DC early in 2024. Keep up with our plans here.
If you’d like us to come to your area and have a relationship with a bookseller and ways to reach the adoption community around you, let us know!
Something new and special is coming soon, so sign up for our newsletter to keep up with our developments!
Lori Holden, mom of a young adult daughter and a young adult son, writes from Denver. She was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.
- Her new book, Adoption Unfiltered, was co-authored with adoptee Sara Easterly and birth parent Kelsey Vander Vliet Ranyard. It’s already being hailed as a “must-read” for people involved in adoption and those who love them.
- Her first book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption, makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life.
- Lori also co-authored, Standing Room Only: How to Be THAT Yoga Teacher with her sister, Sheri Fisher.