Posts Tagged ‘ books ’

Reader review: “I could not put your book down!”

Kirsty Simmonds writes: “I absolutely loved your book; I could not put it down. It is an amazing and courageous walk you have lead, Aurette. You dealt with it so frankly and honestly and have faced your absolute worst fears! You have come through victorious – I was inspired, moved to tears and in joy for you – so proud of how you pushed through and refused to accept nothing less than the absolute truth, even if it meant shattering any “feel-good illusions”.

I was truly affected, moved and impressed. You truly are an inspiration – you have lived as you speak and abide in the Word. Your life bears such great testimony to how necessary and how wonderful faith in God is an can keep us through our darkest trials. Without Him we will be truly lost to the darkness and despair. Thank you for being so brave to write this all down and share your unique life story. So many will be saved beacuse of your faith and ability to put into words what so few would have been able to.

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Cover Story

So many people have asked me about the photo on the cover of Someone’s Daughter that I decided to share the story behind it.

While writing the book I had in mind the idea of a girl’s face, veiled for the cover – something that would depict the essence of my story – my secret, closed adoption. I toyed with the thought of using a photo of me, but soon discarded it, as it seemed too narcissistic.

Eventually I decided to forget about the cover for a while and concentrate on getting the book written. After all, no book, no cover.

Some time later I came across several photos on my digital camera, taken of my daughter Caitlin. They were black-and-white portraits showing a range of expressions and moods. One in particular caught my attention – her face partially covered by a scarf with only her eyes showing.

But what eyes! Huge, haunting, questioning. Eyes that had a story to tell.

Immediately I knew that this was my cover photograph. Not only was the composition exactly what I had envisaged, but the fact that the subject was my daughter tied in perfectly with the book’s title, making the photo exactly right for the cover.

I asked Caitlin who had taken the photo and was surprised to learn that the photographer was none other than her best friend, a lovely young lady named Danielle Smit.

Danielle was only 15 at the time, but there was no doubt that she had talent. Indeed, she now has her own blog, entitled ‘me you music and polaroids‘, which showcases her photographs and edited art work. It’s worth taking a look at.

And that’s my cover story. Sometimes we need to stop searching for perfect solutions, and wait for them to present themselves to us. Because when they do, they’re extra special.

Interview with a transracial adoptee

I met Kevin Hoffman through the social community network Adoption Voices. He is currently writing a book entitled Growing Up White in Black, an account of what it’s like as a black child to grow up in a white family. Given that transracial adoption is becoming increasingly popular in South Africa, owing to the considerable number of babies orphaned, abandoned and given up each day due to Aids and poverty, I thought it fitting to interview Kevin on his experiences…

 

Kevin Hofmann

When and how did you first become aware that you were “different” to the rest of your family?
I often joke that the luxury of being a transracial adoptee means you never have to wonder if you were adopted or not.  I remember a segment from the popular TV show Sesame Street, called “which one of these is not like the other?”  In our family it was obvious I was not like anyone else.  I can never remember a time when I didn’t feel different.  But I always felt a part of the family even though my “tan” was a little darker.

How did this make you feel? 
I actually liked being the different one with an unusual story.  In the family I just felt like one of the kids.  I was never aware of anyone in the family seeing me as different.  Outside of our house I felt different more because I was black than adopted.  The first neighborhood we lived in was a black neighborhood and my brothers and sister and I were sent to a school that was 98 per cent black so initially I didn’t feel different outside the home. When I was eight we moved to a white neighbourhood and there I really noticed on a daily basis I was different for the first year or so.

Did you and/or your parents ever have racial slurs thrown at you while you were growing up?
My brothers called me a nigger all the time when we would fight.  I am not sure they knew the gravity of the word and did it really just to disarm me during the fight.  During adolescence there is no such thing as a fair fight.

I can remember clearly the first time someone outside the family called me a nigger and I was devastated.  In my book, there is a whole chapter dedicated to that called, “My First”.

I am sure my parents heard more insults than I did but they protected me from most of that.

If so, how did you (personally, and as a family) deal with this?
I was very disarming and there was no way to combat against that word.  That word is such a powerful word that it just hurt me so deep.  I would usually just go off by myself.  The first time this white kid called me a nigger, I kept it to myself.  I knew it would hurt my mom and dad to know that so I kept it to myself.

As a family, we never talked about it.  My brothers would get in trouble for it but they would still use it when my parents weren’t around.

A portion of society believes that children adopted by parents who are not of the same race are racially and culturally deprived. Do you agree with this statement?
Yes and no. Because you are not raised in that culture and don’t come home to that culture you will never be like those that have been.  This was the one things that I mourned and grieved about the most.  I wasn’t as  in touch with the culture like my black friends were.

But I was so blessed to have been exposed to my culture through my close friends at school that I was able to develop my racial identity and pride in my race. My parents did some extreme things, like moving us to a black neighbourhood, to assure that I would be in touch with my race and culture.  That has made a HUGE difference in my upbringing. It allowed me to feel normal around people like me and feel a sense of belonging. So in that aspect I don’t feel deprived at all. 

Adoptees generally have a lot of emotional issues to deal with. Did the fact that you are a transracial adoptee add to your “baggage”?
A lot of my emotional issues originate in me being adopted.  I have the typical rejection issues a lot of adoptees have.  So the need to be accepted is huge for me.  You talked about this in your book and you made it very clear for me. There are two ways that adoptees respond to this rejection issue.  One is to rebel and the other is to do what you have to do to be accepted.  I was the one doing what I could do to feel accepted. Again, being black in a country that has some very big issues with race added to my rejection issues. The fact that I didn’t feel accepted in many situations because I was black added to my baggage more than being a transracial adoptee. When I was away from the family, no one knew I was a transracial adoptee, I was treated differently because of the colour of my skin.

Are you in favour of transracial adoption? Please state why you say yes or no.
I am a big supporter of transracial adoption if done correctly. If a family adopts a child of colour thinking they can raise that child as if that child is white I have issues with that. I would never go so far to say they shouldn’t adopt, but they really need to change their way of thinking and make sure that child has some consistent connection to their culture. 

There are more children of colour in need of adoption than there are people of colour adopting so I don’t understand those who are against transracial adoption.  It is absolutely necessary.  If whites don’t adopt children of colour this means that manym many children will live a life in horrible conditions or in foster care.  But it has to be done right and by the right people.  I have always said it takes a special person to adopt transracially.

Do you see transracial adoption becoming more acceptable in future?
Yes. Out of necessity it has to be. The alternatives are horrible and not acceptable.  It is my understanding that in the States there was a large group of black professionals who strongly opposed transracial adoption and were very vocal about it.  Recently, they have relaxed their stance against it because the numbers say it is necessary.

Is growing up “white in black” just as common as your story – growing up “black in white”? If not, why do you think it isn’t?
Very rarely do you hear of a black family adopting a white child and that is because white children are in demand and blacks and people of colour don’t adopt was much as whites.  I think that has to do with culture too.

What happy memories do you have as a transracial adoptee, humorous experiences and encounters that you would like to share? 
The funniest story I can remember is when we moved to the white neighborhood, I was the only black kid on the block.  Soon after we moved in a father of one of the kids in the neighborhood came to our door and asked for my dad. The father accused me of vandalising his car. He had no proof but since I was the newest and darkest kid on the block it had to have been me.  My dad started yelling and I can remember being in my room on the second floor of the house and hearing my dad yell, “If you don’t get off my porch, I am going to put my fist through your face.” The other father turned around and walked away.  It was funny to hear my dad the minister threaten to punch someone and it was great to hear he was sticking up for me.

What advice would you give to adoptive parents who have adopted or are considering transracial adoption?
If you’re going to adopt transracially or if you already have make a commitment to surround your child with people who look like them. In doing so you will help your child build a strong sense of who they are and give them a connection to their culture. When you do this there will be times when you may be the only white person a certain events.  his is a valuable and necessary experience because if helps you to see what it is like to be the minority.  It will help you understand how your child feels most of the time.   

Any final comments you would like to add?
Transracial adoption is tough, but possible.  Stay encouraged. You can do this; you just have to stay plugged into the right people and groups.  If anyone has any questions for me you can contact me through my websites and I will definitely help in any way I can.  I am here to support anyone interested in adoption.

A world of new friends

Ever since I first learned of my adoption about eight years ago I have wanted to connect with other members of the triad, especially adoptees, to share experiences and emotions.

I never dreamed that the publication of Someone’s Daughter would provide the answer to my prayers. God’s ways are indeed perfect. Undoubtedly, the Internet has played an integral role, especially social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and this blog. I also recently discovered a social network specifically for those touched by adoption – Adoption Voices – which I have also joined.

Since publishing Someone’s Daughter I have connected with so many from various parts of the world who can relate to my experience. The first was a birth-mother, who is also a self-published author like me. Interestingly, she chose to tell her story in a children’s book, in which she explains why she chose to give up her children for adoption. A book such as this would make a beautiful gift from an adoptive mother to her young child, who is perhaps just starting to ask questions about his or her adoption.

I have also connected with many adoptees, which has been wonderful. Like any other traumatic event, adoption can only be truly understood by those with personal experience, and being able to correspond with others who have “also been there”  has been so healing for me. I feel truly blessed and am so very, very thankful.

Misunderstood and reviled

The publication of an extract of Someone’s Daughter on Parent24.com has caused quite a stir, judging by some of the comments posted by readers.

Even though the positive comments far outweigh the negative, when I first read the latter I was very hurt by their intensity.

“You are a terrible disgrace”, wrote someone who signed their name as ‘?’, accusing me of seeing a lucrative story to write and shame my parents about. “I think you are selfish and saw a story to write about that would make people feel pity on you,” he/she delcared.

“Pull yourself together”, stated ‘casino’, while ‘turbo_superboss’ wanted to know why I was “so ungrateful and angry” at my mother for not telling me.

Of course, I know their comments are based on ignorance. None of these people have read my book and are judging me without knowing all the facts. Yet I still felt hurt, misunderstood and unjustly criticised.

At the same time I was aware of a sense of familiarity to all of this. Then it struck me. Jesus experienced the same unfair judgement and misunderstanding while He was on earth (Luke 17:25) and especially when He hung on the cross. Although He had every opportunity to defend Himself, and with God’s power in Him was more than capable of doing so, He chose not to.

Like my critics, Jesus’ attackers could not (or would not?) see the full picture and consequently, completely misunderstood His message.  Yet, despite all of this, Jesus asked His Father to forgive them for their ignorance just before He died. What compassion, what mercy!

Jesus also warned Christians that they would encounter persecution for His name’s sake: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).

The lesson for me is clear. I should expect criticism, but I must show compassion and forgiveness, just as Jesus did. I may have finished writing Someone’s Daughter, but God’s teaching and healing continues. What a blessing.

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