November is National Adoption Month. EMK Press, an adoption publisher, is releasing their newest title, Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be? Voices for and by adopted teens, edited Robert L. “Bert” Ballard.
I recently read Pieces of Me and can’t wait to receive my copy. It’s a timely and much-needed book for adoptive parents and adopted teens going though the discovery process – of finding, understanding and embracing who they are.
Pieces of Me is divided into five sections,created around the idea of putting a puzzle together: gathering the pieces, stolen pieces, fitting the pieces, sharing the pieces, and where do these pieces go? Artwork and rich graphics draw teens in.
Contributors range from ages eleven to sixty-three. The voices of birth parents, adoptive parents and adoption professionals are loud and clear. Through poems, stories, songs, quotes, activities, art, and provocative questions Pieces of Me offers hope, healing and help for the adopted teen. I know it will be a terrific resource to help me with my children as they navigate their journeys to finding themselves.
“I tell you this story because
for too many years,
people have told my stories for me.
I am ready to speak for myself.
So where do I begin?”
Juli Jeong Martin,
transnational/transracial adoptee (Pieces of Me, page v)
Here is an excerpt from my interview with Bert Ballard, the editor of Pieces of Me:
Where did the idea for Pieces of Me come from? Why now?
Pieces of Me began about 3 years ago with Sheena Macrae and Carrie Kitze, both adoptive parents and editors/authors at EMK Press. (Carrie’s also the publisher.) The idea was to put together a book similar to Adoption Toolkit with lots of different contributors and perspectives built on the theme of “What my parents couldn’t tell me.” I was involved in the initial planning phases at that time.
As development for the project evolved, it was realized that there were a lot of topics that needed addressing. It was also realized that no matter how talented Sheena and Carrie are (and they are VERY talented), as adoptive parents, they could only take it so far. This was a very important lesson to come out of the development of this book, the realization that adoptive parents cannot be and cannot do everything, that there are some places they cannot go.
Adoptive parents are no doubt very important in the life and development of the adopted child, but there are some things and some places that the parents can’t go, like into the world and experiences of the adoptee. There are some things outside of the parents’ control – and that is a good thing! A parent’s role is to love, support, encourage, and care; it is not to fix, heal, or put the pieces together. Ultimately, that is left up to the adoptee.
Given this important realization, I, as an adopted person (and a willing person) was asked to take over the editorial duties, and the decision has proven to be fun, challenging, and a growing experience.
As for why now, well, it was just a project I really felt I wanted to be a part of, and I’m glad I did. I had finished graduate school when I started the project and the timing felt right.
Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be? focuses on the teen reader, but every adoptive parent needs to have a copy. The book will make you smile and laugh. It will make you ache and cry; it will also give you perspective, make you think. Pieces of Me can be ordered here.