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Chandra's Blog


Entries in adoption (1)


The Right of the Storyteller

This morning my sister sent me the link to this blog from Jillian Lauren, regarding my upcoming novel. I have been a longtime fan of Jillian's writing since we were in Antioch University's MFA program together, a cheerleader of her adoption of Tariku and a Facebook promoter of her recently released memoir, "Some Girls: My Life in a Harem."
For whatever reason, my comment to this blog won't post on her site, but here was my reply:

"I'm the author in question--and a former director of a domestic adoption program. On a personal level and from my professional experience, I applaud the courage it takes to choose adoption. I see the happy endings in families of friends, every day.

 You can read more about my experiences, what shaped this novel, in the essay on my website, Behind the Book, here. As Jillian said, everyone has a right to their truth, their story.

I imagine themes of my novel, motherhood, loss, infertility, baby blues, adoption and fidelity will strike chords in women. I hope there will be discussion--that women will debate where their sympathies lie, defend their experiences, and say what resonates or in Jillian's case, offends. Let the conversation begin August 24, 2010."

And I thought all the hullabaloo about CHOSEN would be because of a certain unsavory gas station bathroom sex scene.

However, her blog does raise some interesting points for the fiction writer following the edict "write what you know." It is no secret that I have a professional history in adoption, and my experiences in Romania and Portland have shaped the story here. But I do step outside my nonfiction point of view, tackling not just that of caseworker, but birth parents, adoptive mother and biological parents. I believe it is the right of the storyteller to try on different angles, to put themselves into the lives of their characters and imagine what would happen, let the story unfold.
In my current novel-in-progress, I am tackling the topic of infidelity. While J has very generously given me a marital pass should I ever encounter a certain hot and quirky NHL goalie, I will again be putting myself in shoes I haven't worn, which have been painful for many to wear. It is an interesting process, but this is the life of the storyteller.

I am grateful to Jillian for the reminder, as CHOSEN waits in the wings for its debut, that not everybody will love this book, that what I dreamed would spark discussion will be taken personally by some who have a different story to tell. Because of this, I reached out to my friends who are mothers through adoption, and made sure we are clear that I get that I have put myself in shoes I've never walked in, ones that are likely dear to them. And just in case they didn't know it, I am not anti-adoption, nor do I imagine CHOSEN to be--you can read more about that topic in my Q&A  here.

I attempted an analogy based on a period in my own life, when I first became a mother. Imagine a nurse who had worked for several years in a NICU had written a novel based on her experience there, the cases she saw, dramatizing the potential for happy endings and heartache, and imagine she also wrote from the point of view of a mother, never having sat in the rocker beside the isolette as one herself. It might be a hard read for me. I invited these mothers to come over for jasmine tea and gluten-free treats so that we could talk about our different perspectives and experiences. 

With CHOSEN poised to be released in August, readers should know that I look forward to discussions on themes in the novel on my forum, here, a virtual tea and chat, where I hope to be an active participant. Until then, my novel-in-progress is in the capable hands of editor and agent, and I'm in full-on summer Mom mode. Speaking of shoes, today this means a desperately needed shoe shopping expedition to Target

 --when did these little dogs get so big?-- followed by a piano lesson where Hayden moves from the recently-mastered Minuet in G to Fur Elise, then judo for the boys, and my co-ed hockey night. After a late dinner of summer tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, I'm hoping for mojitos and a quiet moment with J, whom I feel like I haven't seen in a month.

Happy Summer!