Tag Archives: this is us

Living in the Ghost Kingdom with Playwright Maggie Gallant

It’s the week of Halloween, the time of year when we love to scare ourselves. Who hasn’t had a run-in with a ghost this time of year? Or even been one?

People in adoption live with ghosts year ’round. Not the kind that cause physical harm, but those that affect our psyches. These ghosts can be so omnipresent — and therefore powerful — that we can’t afford to even acknowledge them.

Betty Jean Lifton, PhD, a renowned psychologist and adoptee, called this the Ghost Kingdom of adoption. Her idea has resurged since the hit NBC series This Is Us featured it on Episode 513 as the backdrop to exploring the inner life and identity of adoptee Randall Pearson.

I’m pleased to present a guest post that further explores the Ghost Kingdom, by playwright and adoptee Maggie Gallant. Maggie’s new play, which delves into the Ghost Kingdom, is called Betwixt & Between, and it premiers in early November at the Adoption Knowledge Affiliates (AKA) 2021 Conference. You can witness the premier! Tickets to Maggie’s event can be found here. I’ve got mine, and I hope to “see” you there.

More details on Maggie after this fascinating essay about her Ghost Kingdom — and the Ghost Kingdoms of her parents.

My Ghost Kingdom

“The ghosts who trail everyone in the adoption triad make up a shadow cast of characters. These ghosts are too dangerous to be allowed into consciousness. Instead they are dissociated, consigned to a spectral place I call the Ghost Kingdom. It is not located on a map, but in the geography of the mind.”

— Betty Jean Lifton, PhD, 1994

Continue reading Living in the Ghost Kingdom with Playwright Maggie Gallant

The Adoption Split in “This Is Us” & How to Help Heal It

Did you tune in to NBC’s This Is Us last week? Randall brings up the Adoption Split.

And with this meme I reiterate a remedy I often talk about: openness. It’s with openness (not necessarily contact) that the grownups in an adoption can help their child integrate and heal.

randall pearson on the adoption split in This Is Us
adoption creates a split between a person's biology and their biology. openness is a way to help heal that split.

Randall Pearson, a transracial adoptee on the show, says, My whole childhood I felt split. There were these people I lived with and then there were my birth parents who I never met. But I thought about them all the time…like a ringing in my ears. It quiets down sometimes…but then there are sometimes where it’s so loud.

How to Help Heal the Adoption Split

The premise of my book is this: Adoption creates a split between a person’s biology and their biography. Openness is a way to heal that split.

Now. Who’s going to send a copy to Rebecca? (Randall’s fictional adoptive mom.)

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.