The latest welcome addition to the ever-growing bookshelf of open adoption resources is the freshly-published The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, written by blogger Lori Holden of Lavender Luz.
At one point as I read through, I found myself thinking, “This is the adoption book the Internet wrote.” Not because the book is not Lori’s through and through–her sensitive, balanced writing permeates. Rather because on nearly every page I recognized quotes, ideas, advice, admonishments, stories, and names from many of the adoption blogs that have graced our broader community these past several years. I imagine many of you will have the same experience when you read The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption (and I hope you do read it–it’s worth it!).
I asked Lori a few questions about her process of writing and publishing her book. Read through her interview, then be sure to enter to win your very own copy of The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption at the end of the post. The giveaway closes on May 17.
Tell us about your book!
My new book, which includes passages from my daughter’s birth mom, Crystal, is called The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole. It flows from the premise that adoption creates a split between a person’s biology and biography, and openness is an effective way to heal that split. Hence the focus on the child becoming whole through the openness of the adults who love him or her.
Openness means not just contact, but also the way in which the grownups in the adoption constellation comport themselves. We are open to co-creating a relationship together–power is not used by one party against another. We are open to being clear and honest with ourselves so that we can be clear an honest with the others in our adoption relationships. We are open to having tough conversations as our child grows and develops cognitively. We are open and vulnerable and authentic, for it is from this openness that we can best give our child the space to wonder, to develop, and to integrate his identity that come from all of his parts.
By now, almost everyone knows why open adoption serves well the people living in it, but this book also tells how to create and sustain one over the years as a child grows. It covers common open-adoption situations and how real families have navigated typical issues successfully. Like all useful parenting books, it provides the tools for parents (both adoptive- and birth- ) to come to answers on their own, and it addresses challenges that might arise one day.
Our book was written for people involved in infant adoption, in international adoption, in foster adoption and even in donor sperm/egg/embryo situations — in any circumstance in which the result is a person whose biology and biography come from different sets of parents. Adoption professionals may also be interested in having this book available as a resource for clients, as it covers not just the initial stages of an adoption, but also the parenting stages we face over the long haul.
What made you decide to write a book about adoption?
I realized, after being in the open adoption blogosphere and frequenting adoption boards for many years, that I had learned a lot by listening to people involved in adoption. Not just from adoptive parents like me, but also from others in the adoption constellation–first parents and adoptees–who could really teach me something from a different perspective than my own. I was surprised to learn, at first, that adoption was not necessarily wonderful for all involved. I was dismayed to learn, at second, that people sometimes break their promises in adoption. I was relieved, at third, to find a contingent of people living in open adoption–birth parents, adoptees and adoptive parents–who sought to “do” open adoption honorably and with their child at the center.
I wished I’d had some short cuts in my approach to openness in parenting, and I wanted to bring such short cuts to others, to share the insights that these smart and compassionate people had revealed to me. I brought Crystal in to tell our story from our dual viewpoints and offer her thoughts and feelings as our story unfolds.
Any surprises during the writing process?
I had a moment of panic upon landing a book contract. All of a sudden it was real. I had to write a freakin’ book! What if I had nothing to say? I was used to writing in 800 word chunks. How was I ever going to come up with 70,000 words–all of them helpful and cohesive and meaningful? It seemed like I’d just signed on to climb Mt Everest or dive the Marianas trench by training in my backyard.
So my biggest surprise was that when I sat down to write, each and every time, the words and the ideas were there. As you can see from the book’s acknowledgements, many people stepped up to help me with that (many of them Open Adoption Bloggers!). I am supremely grateful for that steady flow.
How did you make the decision about self-publishing vs. working with a traditional publisher?
My first choice was to find a traditional publisher. I wanted someone who knew their way around all the publisher-y things–get the ISBN number, get the book edited, vetted, typeset, printed distributed and stored, come up with a cover, make the book available through online book sellers, get it into libraries.The thought of doing all that on top of writing the book seemed daunting to me. Kudos to authors who are willing to take all that on.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about writing an adoption book?
Be very clear what your main objective is. Is it to document and tell your own story? To share what you know with others? To make money? Having this clarity up front will guide your efforts not only in writing your book but also in the path you choose to get it published.
If, by chance, your main objective is to make money, you might want to find another way. I’m told that very few authors are able to make a living by writing niche books. Your endeavor really needs to be a labor of love in order to slog through the writing, editing and marketing processes. And never EVER calculate the cents per hour you earn.
Lastly, I found Melissa Ford’s DIY MFA (Do It Yourself Masters of Fine Arts) series incredibly helpful at each stage of my book’s emergence, especially the parts about developing a book proposal and querying agents.
ETA: The giveaway has ended–thanks to all who entered.
[FTC Disclosure: The publishers provided Open Adoption Bloggers with a review copy of "The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption" and will provide fulfillment for the giveaway. No other compensation was received.]