Chapter Reading & Miscellaneous Activity

Instead of writing a treatise on adoption, racism and mental health or sharing an excerpt from my manuscript, today I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been up to on a more mundane level. I offered a “reading” today in my role as a “book” in the Human Library (https://humanlibrary.org/) in two sessions to a total of about eight people from a crowd of some forty readers representing about a dozen countries earlier today. If you don’t know about the Human Library, you should really check them out. Their mission is to reduce prejudice through close contact with members of marginalized populations. My “title” was/is “Transracial Adoptee.” Clever, right? (The folks at the Library like to keep it vague so readers are able to discover the nuances in the books along the way.) I shared the park bench version of my adoption story and life lessons learned in this intimate online setting. In the years before covid-19, these events were held in person in many countries around the world and hopefully, these will take place in person again someday soon! As cool as that could be, it might be difficult for me to manage CPTSD symptoms in such a public forum. Still, I am always trying to stretch myself outside of my comfort zone and welcome the chance to share my story and perspective in person when I’m able. In anticipating these difficulties, I’m forced to reflect on how I used to rely on alcohol to temporarily prop me up to do public speaking within the classroom, at professional conferences, or at the legislature. But then again, I relied on alcohol to prop me up to do just about anything! I’m now far more content to be authentically nervous than artificially brave. After presenting my story at the Library today, I had the idea that I might offer a similar thing to you, the followers of my website and social media. My online presence is still quite new and I don’t have many followers, but this gives me the opportunity to be able to better connect with you! I’m considering scheduling a Zoom meeting in which I would give a bit more detail about my story and offer a reading from my manuscript - a chapter in its entirety - leaving time for discussion. If you’d be interested in attending, please let me know in the comments (preferred) or shoot me a direct message either through email or my social media. If there are at least a few takers, I’ll make it happen. I have a chapter in mind that I think will grab your attention. This chapter recalls my young life and already, I was coping with the issues that consume me today. Speaking of this chapter, I’ve recently submitted it for publication consideration in a literary anthology. It also represents part of a larger writing sample that I’ve submitted for a university fellowship. This fellowship, should I be selected, would partially support my efforts and validate my work. Fingers crossed on both of these! I’ve previously published for academic audiences and policymakers, but this is my first foray into the world of publishing creative writing. Prior to submission, I received some sorely needed critical feedback on some of this writing from a group of experienced writers that I’ve been fortunate enough to join. They are each trained in their craft and have impressive publication records. I guess I fooled them, because they let me in! Hopefully I won’t remain the ugly duckling in the weeds for long and I’ll come to feel at home swimming in their pond (as much as I can feel at home anywhere, I suppose). I hope you’ve had a chance to check out my new podcast “Our Best Interests” that I’m producing with Jack Rocco, MD - a fellow transracial adoptee. We have our first episode available on the website, which centers on Jack’s story, and we’ve recorded some great stuff with two other fantastic guests, which still needs to be sound edited. We already have a few more outstanding guests in the recording cue and we're eager to spend some time with each of them. I’m putting my sound recording skills gained during my youth in the comedy band “Monkey Butt” to good use after all. (I was the lead vocalist, bassist, and lyricist in the trio and our songs were intentionally ridiculous as well as amateurish. I'm the monkey in the middle in the pic at the head of this post, which was our album cover art. Ah, those were the days.) Of course, there are many good podcasts for/by adoptees out there already, and we hope to add to that selection by focusing less on the details of personal histories and more on the details of our common humanity. On a final note, I’ve been volunteering some time to a court diversion program for young criminal offenders in my local area. Instead of appearing before a judge, the offenders appear before our panel, which offers them a chance to make things right by making their victims whole again. As you come to know me, you’ll also come to know that I have a criminal past and it was a combination of dumb luck and white privilege by proxy that I never spent any time in jail. When I was a young teen, the odds seemed pretty high that I’d be either dead or in prison by now. Ha!, I played the house and won! Working with the juvenile justice review board has gotten me thinking a lot about the general idea of restorative justice as an alternative to merely punitive action which seems more to me like retribution. I’ve come to believe that there are no “good” or “bad” people, but rather better and worse circumstances through which people fare better or worse. Of course, there are some individuals, particularly in politics, that pose serious challenges to my position. But I remain firm in my belief that, most times, we can and should give each other the space to be human, to be flawed. I hope people will allow me to be human, with all of my flaws and shortcomings. I’m working on them and I think we should all assume that others are working on theirs too. I think we can apply the restorative justice perspective to adoption and adoption practices and learn to be less rigid in our expectations of ourselves and others. While structural and systemic changes in our societal beliefs and practices surrounding adoption are needed, we equally need to triage and heal those who’ve already been harmed. We need to make adoptees in particular whole again. These are ideas I continue to develop. Well, that’s it for now. If you haven’t subscribed already, please do so now and please share your thoughts with me and our fellow travelers on this page. To comment, I believe you need to become a "member" of the site, which you can find on the top right corner of each page. As always, I wish you peace and happiness. Michael.

39 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All