November 8th prompt…Adoption in Fiction
Comment on how adoption is portrayed in fiction, either as a fiction reader or writer. Adoption in classic fiction often centers on the orphan experience, from Oliver Twist and Little Men, to orphan Jane Eyre living with her aunt and cousins. Today there’s the Twilight series and others that use adoption to explain “families” comprised of various vampires. Talk about other examples of adoption used as a plot device in fiction. What types of adoption stories or adopted characters have resonated with you? Or haven’t? Are the feelings and experiences described authentically, accurately? Discuss. As a writer, do you have a fictional adopted character? What issues is this character dealing with? What is their deepest secret or desire? If you have a desire to educate your readers about adoption, what do you want them to learn?
I know I have read some fiction with an adoption theme, but honestly – I can’t remember who wrote it, or what the plot was – it would have been in the crime-fiction / forensic science genre. I think if it had been widely inaccurate I would have remembered. I haven’t seen or read the Twillight series. I do remember feeling a distinct connection to the two girls in the original Parent Trap - way back when. Not knowing the other sister existed struck such a deep chord, and perhaps that is what triggered me to wonder if I had siblings and my need to know. I think I was 9 or 10 when I saw it.
The books I did connect to as a child were animal stories – Black Beauty by Anna Sewell – I cried my eyes out, and read it multiple times – not adoption but yet the same. Another was The Black Stallion by Walter Farley and later novels – not really the same, but the same none the less.
As a teenager, I read the book The Outsiders by S E HInton - the feelings evoked as I read it, seemed to mirror some (many) of my feelings – can’t explain the feelings but filled with lots of angst. I have no idea how many times I read that book, and if I looked in one of the boxes from my youth, that book is probably one I kept.
The book I did get triggered by as an adult – while not in any way an adoption theme – the feelings it evoked in me were adoption themed. Jodi Picoult – My Sister’s Keeper. The child created to save her sister’s life, the focus on the sister she was supposed to save regardless of the cost to her. The way the parents (mother) was so focused on one child, and the others were just expected to be okay, if they were noticed at all. I know it wasn’t about adoption, but let’s be honest – the one adopted is the replacement child for many, the only means to become parents – there are parallels between the two. I know that it isn’t politically correct to say, and will raise hackles - but I would guess that many adoptees have thought of that over the years and had to deal with any feelings related to it. For many parents – we were Plan B, and now today, perhaps Plan C. I don’t say that meanly, or that the parent doesn’t love their child - it just is what it is – and really – adoption wouldn’t have been any babies Plan A either when you stop and think about it. Adoption is messy - it happens because of loss – why it is so important that the parents are in a good place if they dealt with infertility - is so the child isn’t treated as the replacement child, expected to be the perfect child, the one they would have had. No, that isn’t my story but I have seen that played out, and it makes me sad for the child, I’ve also seen families where the focus is only on one child, and the rest are just expected to adapt. Neither is the ideal choice for a child.