To help launch of our collaborative effort “The Adoptee Survival Guide”, I am interviewing Paige Adams Strickland, who wrote both the first and last passage of the book.
1. Tell us about yourself. Where were you born/raised? Where do you live now? Career? Family?
(Paige) I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. I moved to Florida for a while during college, (Florida State, Go ’Noles!) and came back after graduation. I’ve been in the ‘burbs of Cincy ever since. By day, I am a pre-school teaching aide for a mixed, special needs and typical student classroom. I love my work, but it’s tiring. A lot of the time, it’s like being in a room full of active puppy dogs! LOL I’m married (30 years to my high school honey) have two daughters, a son-in-law and an almost son-in-law. (My daughter is engaged!) Oh, can’t forget the kitties! I currently have four cats. (Elle: I noticed your familiar posed with you in the photo you provided.)
2. Was yours a private or agency adoption? Were you adopted at birth or later?
(Paige) My parents went through Hamilton County Welfare, so I guess that’s an agency. I think the name is different now, but it’s still the county health and human services place. I was adopted/placed at age 13 months. Weird story: I was born in March, 1961. My paperwork has me signed off (relinquished) on April 8th of ’62. My birth father married his wife that same day, which also happens to be my birth mother’s 21st birthday. I think she waited to sign the final docs till she was positive that my birth father wasn’t going to marry her. She held out as long as she could. Her 21st birthday must have sucked.
3. Have you always been aware of your adoption, and do you “feel” aware of it?
(Paige) As far back as I can remember, I have always known. And I am totally aware of it every day, 24/7. I used to be real good at faking and forgetting about it (as a student, for example), but once I found I could access my “pedigree papers” (LOL), I have accepted it and celebrate the awareness.
4. An interesting quote from the book is where you say, “Being adopted makes me read between the lines and question everything, especially change, grief, and loss.” Can you expand on that?
(Paige) For me, being adopted and learning what I have about people means that I assume nothing. I don’t like change, (unless I’m getting new clothes or a phone upgrade!), and I question why it has to be. If somebody presents a lot of rules and dogma, my usual response is, “Why?” and sometimes, “So tell me more.” I don’t like being left out of the loop. Just my opinion, but adoptees are very sensitive to loss, and if loss can be prevented or staved off for a very long time, we’ll do it. (Elle: I agree.)
5. Do you feel differently about yourself post-reunion than you did before? Do you see yourself and others differently?
(Paige) I don’t feel as “different” as before. I know what having sisters is like. I know what my authentic heritage is. It’s like in finding (reunion), I became unadopted and just me.
6. How would you like to see adoption practices changed? (if at all)
(Paige) I would like to see more honest information shared. I would also like to see more availability of information for all parties: adoptees, natural and adoptive parents. Adoptive parents need to be better informed about the unique issues all adopted kids face and would benefit by taking courses, and should be better screened prior to placement. Birth parents need to know their rights and if changes in those rights happen, they need to be made aware of that. For example, many do not know (especially birth parents from the 1980s and earlier), they can sign paperwork to allow health info to be provided to the adoptee. In some states, they can leave a notice in the adoptee’s file stating that they want contact in the future. Lots don’t know this or know how to do it. Birth parents need to be empowered. Adoptees too could benefit from affordable courses and attending (support) meetings prior to reunion, so that they are better prepared for emotions they might not expect.
7. How long have you been writing about adoption?
(Paige) I began writing “Akin to the Truth” in August of 2002, while both my kids were at a 3-hour-a-day theater camp and I had free time. (Some mommies dash to the gym or the mall…I went to coffee shops close to the theater camp to write!) I managed to write about the first third in a month, but then back-to-school happened, and it took until June of 2008 to complete the first draft. I set up the blog(s): www.akintothetruth.com and stricklandp.wordpress.com and published the book in 2013. “Akin To The Truth” began as a log of sorts, of who’s who in all my family. My kids were getting pretty confused with all the info, especially after my 2002 reunion with my birth father and his large family. I decided to put it all down in writing, and the project took on a life of its own My sequel memoir, which doesn’t have a title yet, is about life from the perspective of an adopted adult in the role of parent, spouse, employee, and friend. It covers what happens after the reunion and what happens if there’s a comeback-reunion. It shows how adoption might impact an adoptee’s kids too.
8. If there was just one thing you would like people to know about “The Adoptee Survival Guide” what would it be?
(Paige) This is real, honest stuff. What adoptees feel is genuine and needs to be acknowledged and taken as seriously as we do the feelings of other minority groups, victims, and anyone else with a special interest. We all have our pet causes: Some of us are into saving pandas; some of us want to find a cure for diabetes, etc. Adoption reform (such as opening original birth records) is another worthy cause, and this anthology and other books about adopted life intend to provide information and celebrate our interests and passion – not for adoption awareness but ADOPTEE awareness. This book was written collectively by a group of diversely experienced and well-informed adult adoptees, and it’s thrilling and wonderful to share this with everyone!
Akin To The Truth: http://tinyurl.com/ny8vcbx
The Adoptee Survival Guide: http://tinyurl.com/k7sremx