Recently a friend alerted me to a writing contest, called the Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize that is hosted by The Missouri Review (my home state), that will pay $5,000 to winners in the Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry categories along with a few other perks. At first, I really wasn’t going to add the distraction as I’m in the process of editing my two manuscripts. One is yet another revision of my adoption roots story. However, yesterday, I did a 180 on this. I need to condense down my almost 90,000 word manuscript to 8,500 words. The deadline is Oct 1st and so this is just a temporary distraction that may yet pay dividends for my effort to tell the story.
I realized that at this point in my process (I am almost done with my first read through to correct from a first person present narrative to a third person omniscient perspective and won’t say I’ve caught all of the outliers !!) that tightening up the story to the basic facts might be a good process. Certainly, $5,000 would be welcome and winning this year’s contest would open the door to getting the revised manuscript published. So, yesterday I began the effort in earnest.
I’ve told this story so many times, in so many ways. When sharing it vocally one-on-one with other people, there seems to be some interest. Unlike back in the early 1990s, when my mom was seeking to connect with the woman who gave birth to her (and was devastated to learn that she had died some years earlier) or at least receive her full adoption file from the state of Tennessee, I am seeing today, whereas in my mom’s push few adoptees made the effort, today attempts to create reunions are now common for adoptees and donor conceived persons.
Beyond that, many people are not well versed in their family genealogy and much of my own successful effort was not only connecting with living relatives from each branch of my family (both of my parents were adopted) but learning the stories of my ancestors – some of which stretched back prior to the American Revolution. I found connections to the Civil War that thankfully are balanced in my own personal history by northern Yankees and Danish immigrants in my other family line.
So, I am accepting this pause and this effort for the purpose of getting to the heart of the story of my own journey to know from whom and from where my own origins began.
It is that end where nothing actually changes but we move forward into the next one which this year also sees the change into a new decade.
I feel a sense of completion this year as I have continued to learn about the impacts of adoption and the wounds of separating children from their mothers. I have spent the last year reviewing the most significant events of my entire life. One was being the executor of my deceased parents’ estate. I have no doubt that it was a blessing that my parents, both adoptees and high school sweethearts who were married for over 60 years, died only 4 months apart. I had to make arrangements for my mentally ill sister’s support in ways my parents feared to initiate. Sadly, my lifelong close relationship with her was wrecked by my having to do so as there was no one else who could.
I also finally managed to come full circle in learning who my original grandparents were and because they are all dead, managing to find living descendants with whom I can begin to create new relationships. I recognize that relationships are not instantaneous and we have lost decades but I do my best to go forward and feel a wholeness and peace that I could not even know I was lacking until I found that.
A year ago, I self-published a limited edition of our family’s true history and genetic cultural roots. Sadly, it wrecked a relationship with one of my nephews. Honestly though, there was barely a relationship there. That he could not see the purpose of my revealing what I did related to his own relationships with his maternal line, I can’t help. Though I regret his decision to close the door on half his family, I still feel the information was necessary within the family and so I accept the outcome with sadness.
I’ve spent the last year rewriting a commercial version of my story that includes the aspects mentioned above. I had not gone into my parents’ deaths and the ramifications of those deaths in the previous publication but realized that to tell the story of my discovery of my grandparents, it was necessary to look at that difficult time in my own life to give context to the final miracle that unfolded.
In the coming year, I do hope to acquire a literary agent and find this book commercially published. May that prove to be so. Best wishes to all of you who have chosen to read my blog over the last year. I hope you continue to follow me and if my hopes and dreams come true, will want to buy and review my book. Happy New Year – soon. Like in a few hours now.