Posted on Monday, August 2, 2010
by Paige Strickland
When you write about your family, it isn’t that simple to put ‘em into one nook and be done with it...Not my family anyway.
I’m new to this site...Can you cross post to other categories? Or is it just one big post, and you hope people will figure it out? Anyway, Here I am, and this is my book: REUNIONS.
The posted photo is my proposed book cover design. My mom took this pic in 1962, when the social worker brought me to my parents’ home for the initial placement. I wanted my mom to have a part in this book in some way, and she was “Super-Picture-Taker-Woman” in our family, so this was perfect. The photo even shows how it was all done back in the day. Adoptions were closed in Ohio. The families never met. The social worker was the liaison, and according to what my parents said, did not want her face in the photo because even that was too identifying.
This is my query letter for hopeful agents / publishers:
“I’m adopted“. That is a notion that haunted the back of my mind and affected every relationship, activity and thought I experienced when I was young. I kept my adoption a shameful secret from everyone I met, from friends to colleagues. I was embarrassed and intensely afraid of being treated differently or harassed by peers.
In my completed, 138,776 word memoir, Reunions, I openly describe my adoptive family life and tell anecdotes from my youth with humor and honesty. I discuss events, which ultimately lead to my decision to research and find my birth family after twenty-six years of angst, curiosity and need for completion in my life.
I want adoptees to know that they are not alone in their feelings. I want birth relatives to find peace in that their decision to relinquish their child was OK. I want adoptive parents to be prepared for the day when their adopted child might want and need to know more about their past, no matter how much they love and respect their adoptive families.
Readers who would appreciate this memoir most will be teens, young adults, and professionals in education, social work, law and psychology, including members of the adoption triangle. Readers who enjoy imagery and pop culture from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s will find this book entertaining. Locals to the Cincinnati, Ohio and Sarasota, Florida areas will be most able to relate to the settings. This book also contains themes concerning alcoholism, genealogy and homosexuality.
I am an adoptee, who searched and successfully found a landslide of birth parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. I have been a teacher and tutor for twenty-five years. I am also the moderator for Cincinnati Tri State Writers. In 2006, I was e-published in Kings Island’s season pass holders’ newsletter. In 2009, our local Eastern Hills Journal published my article about house pets. In 2010, Xavier University’s literary magazine, The Athenaeum, accepted and published three submissions of my creative writing.I am looking forward to your response.
Paige Adams Strickland
This is my synopsis. It’s weird writing a synopsis about yourself. Kinda like talking Bob Dole-style, ya know? Guess there are conflicting schools of thought as to whether non-fic / memoir writers even need a synopsis as part of their proposal, but I have one, just in case...
Synopsis for the Memoir, Reunions:
Paige was a very typical child in the Midwestern United States, who became part of her family in a not so typical way in 1962. She was born and put up for adoption, which used to be much more taboo and secretive to discuss than it is in contemporary times. In fact, Paige’s entire adoptive family, for the most part, although never dishonest, chose to not dwell on the adoption aspect and simply functioned as a regular family with a natural born child. Deep down, Paige knew that wasn’t the case and felt like she was always living a lie, but it was a lie she chose to keep in order to avoid peer harassment and rejection as a school kid.
The memoir, Reunions, tells stories from Paige’s point of view as a child and adolescent growing up with what she felt was a “secret defect“. Through vignettes and other anecdotes, Paige relates her adoption situation to her feelings about forming and maintaining friendships, caring for pets, moving to a new house and losing loved ones.As she grows up and discovers true love, she realizes that adoption cannot be kept a complete secret forever. She musters up the courage to discuss her mysterious start in life with the boy who wins her heart and eventually pursues finding more information about, “The Lady Who Had Her“. Meanwhile, her adoptive family is undergoing some out of the ordinary changes as well, and all family members are forced to find new ways to cope with ensuing altercations and alterations in their lifestyles.
Paige eventually does find her birth relatives plus a few surprises along the way. She reunites with many family members and finds fulfillment, accomplishment and the key to managing her future.
And this, Folks, is the proposal / summary:
In 1961, adoption was still considered one of those “private” and “personal” topics. Not much information was provided for adoptive families or for birth parents. In Ohio, records were sealed forever. Adoptees were just supposed to be thankful for their adoptive family and never look back.
Then, through random chance watching a talk TV show in 1987, I learned that certain records were open, especially if you were born before 1964 in the state of Ohio, and my life would never be the same after that program. As a child and teenager, growing up adopted was like another Scarlet Letter “A” if anyone ever found out the truth. At least, that’s the way I felt as I muddled my way through social situations and other interpersonal relations. I always loved my adoptive family, but realized I wanted not just more, but what other “regular born” people had: real roots, accurate health history and authentic family lore, not just a story on permanent loan.
So I searched, (pre-computer), and I found literally a mother lode of welcoming biological family members! Many of them only lived about twenty minutes away from me, and we never knew!
This is the story of how being adopted affected me growing up in the 1960’s, 70’s and early 80’s. It is the saga of a family trying to cope with typical and not so typical life alterations during the decades of social revolution, free love and knowing that the only thing certain in life was change.
About the Author:
Paige Adams Strickland is an adoptee, who searched for and found her biological family in the 1980’s. She is a licensed Spanish teacher with 25 years’ experience in education. Her interests aside from writing include: family history, travel, pets and movies. She is the moderator for the Cincinnati Tri State Writers group and has had some local articles published as well as acceptance from Xavier University’s literary magazine, The Athenaeum.
Competing and Related Titles:
I was inspired to write my story after reading Frank McCourt’s ANGELA‘S ASHES and TEACHER MAN, and Jeanette Walls’ THE GLASS CASTLE. I was very impressed with the authors’ abilities to represent their family members as such wonderful and colorful characters. However, their books are not about adoption, which makes mine different.
Special Marketing / and Promotional Opportunities:
I am currently working as a substitute teacher. This allows me plenty of flex time to help promote my book if the opportunity happens. As a teacher, it would be very easy for me to speak to students, (older students) about my story for school assemblies. I am affiliated with multiple school districts, which would be thrilled to know me as not only a substitute teacher in good standing but also as an author. My “sphere of influence” includes a large family, friends, peers / colleagues, neighbors, students and parents.
Status of my Project:
My book is a completely finished manuscript. I am happy to send you any pages / parts you wish. I have not submitted my project in full to anyone else, but I am making queries and hoping for feedback.
A fabulous nook for refining and showcasing your creative writing!