Adoption in Fiction prompt…

08 Nov


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.

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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Adoption


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7 responses to “Adoption in Fiction prompt…

  1. Snarkurchin

    November 8, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    I was the same way about Black Beauty. I could probably quote long passages from it even now.

  2. Fran Whelan

    November 9, 2012 at 7:12 am

    What about Harry Potter?
    Black Beauty is still my favourite book of all time, but then I love horses. Nobody could work out why. When I met my birth family, I found my maternal aunt shared my passion, in fact she had left school to work with the same breed of horses I had (Part bred Arabs – Palominos in particular) Family legend also says a relative was a farrier in the Royal horse Artillery, and other’s were horsemen on farms.

  3. andy

    November 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Great comments on My sister’s Keeper, I read it but didn’t really make the connection of replacement child to the idea of adoption as the replacement solution. I was lucky that my parents never, ever made me feel that way, even though they did go through years of infertility and miscarriages. When I first joined the adoption on-line world, I was surprised at how many adoptees grew up feeling that way.

  4. shadowtheadoptee

    November 9, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Black Beauty, The Black Stallion, if it was about horses, as a child, I read it. One of my favorite books of all time, is “Ride The wind”. It is a fictional account of the life of Cynthia Ann Parker. If you grew up in Texas, you know who she is. I, also, love the Clan of the Cave Bear Series. I think what I relate to most in the characters of the books I love, is their ability to adapt, and their wil to survive. I just don’t think about adoption when I read a book, even if the character is an adoptee. TAO told me about “My Sister’s Keeper”, oh, man, what a great, great book!!! Never saw that ending coming. Another book by the same author, TAO told me about as well, I think it was titled, “The Plain Truth”? Whew, that was a surprise too. Getting off topic, butlike I said, when I read, I don’t think adoption. Movies with adoption themes, however, I tend to avoid, because, it is impossible to portray any reality in adoption in a two, or three hour fictional movie…IMO.

  5. Don't We Look Alike?

    November 9, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    I’m going to share this via tweet. Thank you for writing it.

  6. Tiffany A. Robbins

    November 15, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    I think Black Beauty gave me the first emotional breakdown I’ve ever had. I was riding in the car with my mom and just started crying uncontrollably. She actually had to pull over the car and console me for a half hour before I could even tell her why I was crying.

  7. jane

    August 23, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    Hello Tao,
    I agree with you some novels evoke adoption but do not give authentic accounts of the adopted child. The focus is on the thrilling plot.

    May I advise you a book which elaborates on the feelings of the adopted child? This is a memoir about a teenage girl who was adopted. It deals with her feelings towards her adoptive parents, her being insecure and overanxious.


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