two adoptee playwrights

How Does It Feel to Be Adopted? Two Playwrights Set the Stage for Adoptive Parents

We talk often in this space about attunement in adoptive parenting, which is the multi-step process of intuiting in the moment what your child needs from you. Adoptive parents are better equipped to attune well when they are able to come at things from an adoptee’s perspective, through attempting to understand this key question: what does it feel like to be adopted?

Attuning in 3 Steps

That’s Step 1 for attuning — to understand as best you can the point of view of an adoptee. You won’t get this from listening to one adoptee’s story, or two, or ten, but to many.

As you DO listen to adoptees and their experiences of being adopted, you will begin to spot commonalities and patterns, and experience a-ha moments that can help you hone your ability to feel with your child, which is Step Two.

Doing so prepares you for Step Three: to respond in a connected way in those crucial moments where connection is called for but may not come easily.

It’s no wonder, then, that I am excited to share this episode of Adoption: The Long View. Episode 302 features the highly accomplished and acclaimed Maggie Gallant and Suzanne Bachner, two playwrights who help audiences better attune to the experience of being adopted.

↑ Listen right here! ↑

Episode 302: Playwrights Maggie Gallant & Suzanne Bachner

The plays of Maggie Gallant and Suzanne Bachner (some of which can be attended virtually) are gifts to adoptive parents. Why? Because absorbing experiences through theater is one way to feel alongside a character — in this case adoptees in starring roles.

When we cross the threshold into your home, our birth parent crosses with us, whether they are physically with us or not. And you have to honor that. You can’t shut the door. You have to leave that space and allow them to exist there.

If you can do that from the start and with openness and honesty and invite conversation, then you set yourself up for this potentially wonderful and healthy and fulfilling relationship.

Maggie Gallant,
adoptee and playwright of Betwixt & Between
in Ep 302 of Adoption: The Long View

Common Themes Across Time

Both Maggie and Suzanne were placed for adoption during what is called the Baby Scoop Era, a time in which things were secret and shameful and closed. You may think this seems far removed from today’s adoption landscape.

But I caution you not to discount their experiences as irrelevant to your child’s in the present day. Even though we have been moving away from shame and secrecy and towards truth and openness, there are many facets of the adoptee experience that are common, no matter the era.

To this day, if I get into a squabble with one of my parents — who are the sweetest, most understanding and loving incredible parents — there’s a little thing in the back of my head that’s just like, “I’m going to be returned. If this outcome of this fight doesn’t work, I could be returned to the Baby Store.”
…..

I discovered that my parents had that same vulnerability. They felt like they were going to be returned to the Parent Store. They felt like, “Oh, you’re going to replace me, and that’s what this is about.”

Suzanne Bachner, Ep 302 of Adoption: The Long View

How Does it Feel to Be Adopted?

Listen in and you’ll hear:

  • The challenges of integrating dual identities.
  • What could be going on behind the scenes when you have a compliant, “good” adoptee.
  • The egregious transgressions of Louise Wise Services, many of which have been captures in films and books. (This is the adoption agency that placed Suzanne with her beloved parents.)
  • Why the ability to access one’s original birth certificate is such a big deal, and why only a small fraction of the country’s adult adoptees can access their own records today. Will your adoptee be able to?
  • The most important thing you need to know early in your journey as an adoptive parent.

Prefer to read? Here’s a transcript (but listening is so much better!).

More on Maggie Gallant

British-born playwright and performer Maggie Gallant writes for the stage on issues of identity, belonging, and family dynamics. She created the critically acclaimed solo play Hot Dogs at the Eiffel Tower, which chronicles her life-long search for her French Papa. Gallant’s most recent play, Betwixt & Between, explores the complexities of the adoption Ghost Kingdom, an imaginary place where adopted people can live out the what-ifs of who and what they might have been.

More on Suzanne Bachner

Suzanne Bachner is an award-winning playwright and director, and an adoptee and adoptee rights advocate. Her acclaimed play, The Good Adoptee, has toured to the London International Fringe Festival and all over the US, including a 7-week 9-city Connecticut tour to support the vital and now successful legislative efforts of Access Connecticut and to the 400-seat SJCC in Seattle. Other adoption-themed plays include Alexandra Triptych, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Twin Studies, We Call Her Benny and Brilliant Mistake. Suzanne is the Artistic Director of JMTC Theatre which partners with nonprofits to combine Art & Advocacy to raise both funds and awareness.

More on the infamous Louise Wise Agency

Other resources mentioned in Episode 302

How to Tune In Regularly

adoption the long view

You can find us on any podcast platform and on Adopting.com.

A new episode comes out the first Friday of the month. Thank you for sharing, subscribing, and rating this episode!

guide to living in open adoption

Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a young adult daughter, writes from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

Lori was honored as an Angel in Adoption® in 2018 by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

2 thoughts on “How Does It Feel to Be Adopted? Two Playwrights Set the Stage for Adoptive Parents”

  1. Just a quick note to let you know that I think of you often on my walks in the mountains, dear Lori. It’s been a long time since I’ve visited your blog, but I am dropping by to let you know once again: you are a treasure and remarkably kind woman…xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.