Our guest post today comes from author Laura Dennis – her second feature with us this weekend following yesterday’s Indie Author Spotlight ! Let’s find out more about her and her book Adopted Reality.
Why did I write a memoir? The simple answer is this: My story had to be told. It had to get out of my head.
ADOPTED REALITY is a September 11 memoir unlike any you’ve read. It’s a thrilling, psychological adventure that follows the ups and downs of bipolar, and examines relationships biological and adopted. The book follows my journey to understand myself, to learn to exist between the highs and lows, and ultimately to discover my own ADOPTED REALITY.
Before I could write, there were two issues in the way: Secrets and Time
A few years after my 2001 bipolar breakdown, I worked as a sales person for a successful medical device company. It was a fast-paced, stressful job that required high performance. I didn’t tell anyone about my bout with mental illness because I didn’t want people questioning my ability to handle responsibility.
But bipolar tendencies weren’t the only issue in play. As an infant, I had been given up for adoption. In the State of New Jersey in the late 1970s, adoptions were closed, records were sealed. Birth moms were told to hide their pregnancies and after relinquishment, to get on with their lives, and to forget about the baby.
When I did reunite with my birth mother and her family in 2001, I still didn’t feel 100% accepted in my biological family. In fact, my biological father wanted nothing to do with me. It took ten years for me to feel comfortable revealing these very personal details. Still now, I worry what people think when they read the book, specifically family members biological and adopted.
It wasn’t just the ten years I needed; I literally needed time to write. My daughter was born in 2008 when I was still working in sales, travelling 50% of the time (and even taking my daughter with me!). As the economy headed into a recession the following year, I stopped working and soon found out I was pregnant with my son.
In 2010, with a toddler and a baby in tow, my husband and I escaped to his hometown, Belgrade, where I actually found some time to write. While my children learned Serbian in their cozy preschool for a few hours each day, my memoir came pouring out.
Why not just fictionalize the story?
If I wrote a novel based on this particular story, it would lose its impact. A good part of the memoir deals with a bipolar episode I had in which I manically believed I was a spy for the Illuminati who was responsible for the attacks on September 11. In this psychotic state, as my mind rapidly deteriorated, I believed I had flown a plane into the North Tower and somehow survived.
I have a very vivid memory of these delusions, and writing a novel about it would have turned the delusion into just another spy story. On the other hand, ADOPTED REALITY sheds light into a psychological effect of trauma. Specifically, I was so grieved over the loss of my uncle on 9/11, my mind tricked itself into believing I was at fault.
The other element was my adoption. Writing about how I felt growing up, knowing I was adopted, trying to be perfect, these were life experiences whose impact is all the more relevant when coming from a place of truth. For example, the day I met the brother of my birth mom, this burly, quiet man pulled me aside and said, “I want you to know. You were always part of our family; we were always thinking about you. You were always my niece. We just didn’t know you, that’s all.”
This small, seemingly insignificant detail takes on a deeper meaning when the reader knows the conversation really happened. This is the power of memoir. In sharing the stories of our own lives, readers can connect to us and find shared experiences, feelings, and hopefully, new insights.
People have contacted me to say they struggled with mental illness, or that they experienced the happiness and sorrow in adoption—personally or indirectly, through a family member or friend. Even if readers don’t agree with everything I say, or everything I did, it’s amazing to see how a memoir can touch others’ lives.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, too!
Want to know more? Check out the links!
Like Adopted Reality on Facebook
Visit my website at AdoptedRealityMemoir.com
Tweet on Twitter! @adoptedreality
Or just send me a plain-old email!