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.
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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.
- Website: maggiegallant.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/frenchnotfrench
- Hot Dogs at the Eiffel Tower available to view on demand: https://bit.ly/frenchpapa
- Betwixt & Between virtual reading. Request link via [email protected]
- Living in the Ghost Kingdom: Maggie’s previous post here
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.
- Websites: TheGoodAdoptee.com and JMTCTheatre.com
- Facebook: @TheGoodAdoptee
- Instagram: @TheGoodAdoptee
- Twitter: @TheGoodAdoptee
- Mercer Island Reporter Article
More on the infamous Louise Wise Agency
- Two Identical Strangers The Atlantic Selects short documentary
- Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited (book)
- The Twinning Reaction trailer
- Three Identical Strangers (and my commentary about those who defend the agency)
- Deliberately Divided: Inside the Controversial Study of Twins and Triplets Adopted Apart. (Suzanne makes an appearance in this book.)
- Episode 201 with Gabrielle Glaser, author of American Baby, detailing another Louise Wise-originated adoption.
Other resources mentioned in Episode 302
- Which states have open birth records? via Adoptee Rights Coalition
- Episode 106 with Sara Easterly on being a “good adoptee”
How to Tune In Regularly
You can find us on any podcast platform and on Adopting.com.
- Apple Podcasts
- Amazon Podcasts
- Google Podcasts
- YouTube Channel
- Search for “Adoption Long View” on your preferred podcast platform.
A new episode comes out the first Friday of the month. Thank you for sharing, subscribing, and rating this episode!
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.