The Journey of Adoption
However loving and wholesome a family may be, an adopted child and the family face unique challenges. In fact, these challenges drive A Thing of Beauty. Among other things, I hope that adopted young people and their families can feel that wonderful shock of recognition that a book can bring: “I am not alone.”
On the sidelines, I observed a close family member meeting his birth family. He came to know where his love of the outdoors and of working with wood arose. He had to meet them to see the facial structure and hair that resembled his. While none of this altered his love and gratitude for his adopted father, this contact explained who my family member is by nature.
Adoption in my novel
On the other hand, I have always known who I am by nature. I and my sister and our kids share my mom’s dimpled chin. Like my maternal grandparents and my mother, I love music. I knew who I was through my family. The natural source of my inclinations is no mystery. Therefore, as I developed Jessica’s character, I pondered what it would be like to be raised by people who looked nothing like me and who shared few natural inclinations. What would be my challenges as an adopted person?
Jessica’s open adoption
Jessica comes to the Ramey family through an open adoption, and is distantly related to the mother, Liz. By agreement, Jessica will meet her birth mother when she is eighteen; however, in A Thing of Beauty, Jessica is thirteen, moody, and insecure. Restless and dissatisfied, she wonders if her natural adolescent growing pains are a sign she is somehow defective. Ultimately, Jessica becomes increasingly curious about her birth family.
Jessica finds little in common with her adoptive family. For example, father and sister Becky are athletic, but Jessica sings and plays the piano beautifully. While the Rameys are not musical, Clifford and Elizabeth Ramey work hard to support her talents. Despite their efforts, these well-meaning parents often feel at a loss. On the other hand, Jessica feels alone in her interests and her struggles. She fantasizes that her natural mother shares her gift. As a further complication, her jealous sister feels Jessica is disloyal for even wondering.
Hopes and outcomes?
Furthermore, Jessica’s insecurities and a prematurely developed body lead her into difficult, even dangerous situations. She longs to meet her natural family and supposes this meeting will solve all problems. However, will anything be as she imagines? Can she pass through this phase unharmed? Finding her legacy and choosing her path is Jessica’s challenge and her journey.
Come travel with her. Perhaps you will find something of yourself.
What an interesting perspective on adoption! As someone who would someday like to adopt, I knew that anyone I would adopt wouldn’t share physical features, but figured that interests and inclinations wouldn’t necessarily be passed on through family as I don’t expect my children to naturally follow in my or my husband’s footsteps….but maybe they will?
Jessica, it seems likely that your children will share some natural inclinations or the other with you and Adam. I shared musical inclinations with my mother. My sister did not, but she is a good cook like our mom. I have always been fascinated to hear how much twins separated at birth and adopted by different families still demonstrate the same tastes, hobbies, and even professions. So interesting! So fun to see how kids’ personalities grow and develop!