Twenty year old, Roxanna, an adoptee wrote this essay as a follow up to her "Reflections in the Mirror" story that was published in our May-June 2012 Guidance
I wanted to pull my non-fiction piece to the front of my portfolio because I feel it gave me the most trouble. But, now after having done my final revision, I think it might be my best piece of writing. As I said in my reflection, I chose to write about a very personal topic: my adoption. I struggled for a couple of weeks trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to say about that topic. I knew I didn’t want the piece to become a feel-good essay on family. I wanted the piece to accurately display my own mixed emotions on this subject. And, mixed emotions arising from the fact that I’ve just started my personal exploration into this topic as an adult—not as a child intellectually understanding the concept of adoption, and therefore not being able to verbalize the emotional depth but, as an older person who is understanding what that means to everyone involved.
I think the main reason the piece gave me trouble was that I felt very emotional towards my subject. I’m just beginning to understand my unique situation and it’s been a painful journey. And, I felt to do justice to the subject that I needed to have some emotional distance. I wanted to be able to tell the story and let the story speak for itself. I think its universal appeal lies in that it is about family and what binds us together. And, I wanted that universality to come through without me telling the reader.
Several weeks ago, I was working on my “Reflections in the Mirror” piece and I thought that I’d never find a way to revise it, or that I’d have to start from scratch. So, I started my revision project by taking out extra meaningless words and phrases just to tighten up the writing. Then, I slowly brainstormed about the tone I wanted overall for the writing. I wrote down what came to mind—not inhibiting myself and from there was able to find the voice I wanted. I also read some pieces by other adoptees telling their stories and it helped me to find what moved me and also showed me how they approached their stories.
After revising it, I read the story aloud to myself. I think this is the single most important step in writing that I’ve taken this semester. I usually don’t read my stuff out loud, but I recently had to write transfer applications essays as well as stories for class and this has proved to be invaluable as a way to self-evaluate.
Lastly, I had my mother read it. It was wonderful to see her reactions to the piece. I wanted the piece not to just speak to adopted persons, but to adoptive families, and even birth families. I think I succeeded in finding the common link. What I feel is most important in writing and thinking about my essay is that I was able to put down on paper how I feel. I was able to explore those feelings and not keep them bottled up inside. I’m hoping one day to write a novel having to do with the effects of adoption and in particular transracial adoption. It’s a complex subject that is not black and white (no pun intended..!), and I don’t think it even gets covered enough within the adoption community. So, it feels quite liberating to talk about my experience—as I hope it can help others in the same unusual yet very unique circumstance. Being the product of two very different kinds of love, crossing cultures, and nations is what has made me into who I am, and maybe that’s all that matters.