Today, I am featuring something quite different than my usual #handbag Monday. Last year, I submitted my essay, "Sister Act," to the Sisters Born, Sisters Found anthology. I wanted to share more about the anthology by introducing you to Paige Strickland, contributor of "We Have Today."
Sisters Born, Sisters Found embraces the notion that some women you meet are connected to you even though they don’t share your DNA. A group of 75 writers representing every continent except Antarctica contributed to the anthology.
What gave you the itch to look for your birth mother? (Do you have 5 hours to hear the whole story? Ha!) Here is the very quick version: I went through YEARS of denial. I hated being “the adopted girl”. I tried like mad to forget it. Of course, I was always honest with my husband, and usually he honored my wishes and just forgot about adoption most of the time like me. Then one day, we saw a preview/ad for a local TV talk show. The hosts were doing a story about adoption and people who were searching for missing family members in Cincinnati. We decided to record it while we were at work. I came home and watched it. For years, I was told that my adoption records were sealed and that it was impossible to find out who my birth family members were. My adoptive parents believed this to be true. I never knew differently, but according to this show, I learned that I could legally access my original birth certificate in the state of Ohio since I was born and adopted before 1964. I figured, “This is my right!” I decided that summer when school let out--I’m a teacher-- that I would research as much as I could. Lucky for me, since we were all from the same town and lived within 20 minutes from one another, without even knowing it, it was easy for me to locate my birth family.
How did your adopted family feel when you decided to pursue this journey? My adoptive dad felt very insecure. He blamed my parents’ divorce on my “need” to do this search. I tried to convince him, “No, It’s because of a TV show and learning of my legal rights.” He had a hard time accepting this. My adoptive mom, on the other hand, was very accepting. Her response was, “I was wondering what took you so long.” The only thing that took me so long was being unaware of the law / my legal rights in the state of Ohio.
I always wanted a brother, and you always wanted a sister--are we crazy? Haha! I wanted the Brady Bunch for a family! I wanted kids all over the place! My childhood was too quiet and controlled! My own children now currently have about 30 cousins. Guess I solved that problem!
Why did you submit your story to the Sisters Born, Sisters Found anthology? I found out about this anthology project because of a post on Linkedin last winter. I composed my piece in one day. I have five sisters, which I found after doing my adoption search. They are all very different but equally wonderful people. I am so thankful for their presence in my life. Four of them attended my daughter’s wedding in 2012, and I had the photographer take a picture of the five of us together. I felt very motivated to write about this because I think the world of them. Of course, I am also always looking for ways to promote my adoption memoir book, and this writing event helped with that, but honestly, even if I hadn’t ever written a book about growing up adopted, I would have wanted to find a way to celebrate the fact that I now have sisters. Two live locally and two live on the west coast.
Have you always been a writer? In many ways, yes. I was that “weird” kid in school who loved essays and other writing assignments. (I HATE taking A-B-C-D tests!) I just want to write and explain my thinking. In 4th grade, my Language Arts teacher was very encouraging and motivating for me. She seemed to love the stories I turned in. That kept me wanting to write more. The more books I read, the more I wanted to write myself.
What lies in your future? I am working on a follow up memoir/sequel to my adoption memoir, Akin to the Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity. (no title yet) The second book focuses more on adult life as an adoptee instead of all the growth and development and coming of age adoption issues I faced. It also will feature more about how my search and reunion has played out in the past 25+ years. I am also working on a memoir about my life as a teacher and aide to special needs students over 30+ years in the profession.
Here's a bit from We Have Today: "Paige, this is Tammy." I'd waited twenty-six years to hear those words. After searching for ten months, I finallty found my birth mother's oldest daughter, and now I had something I'd wished for all my life: Sisters! I found an older sister and a younger sister. My older sister was Tammy, and we connected first.
I grew up as an adoptee in a small family. I had one brother who was six years younger, and no cousins my age. It seemed every girlfriend I had had a sister or two, and I always admired how my friends and their sisters looked so much alike, traded clothes, and shared girl-talk. My brother was a great guy, but our relationship could never be like that.
Find Sisters Born, Sisters Found at: Amazon
Thank you, Paige, for sharing your sister story with me today!