Julie is adopted. She is also a twin. Because their adoption was closed, she and her sister lack both a health history and their adoption papers? Which becomes an issue for Julie when, at forty-eight years old, she finds herself facing several serious health issues. To launch the probe into her closed adoption, Julie first needs the support of her sister. The twins talk things over, and make a pact: Julie will approach their adoptive parents for the adoption paperwork and investigate search options, and the sisters will split the costs involved in locating their birth relatives. But their adoptive parents aren’t happy that their daughters want to locate their birth parents?and that is only the first of many obstacles Julie will come up against as she digs into her background. Julie’s search for her birth relatives spans years and involves a search agency, a PI, a confidential intermediary, a judge, an adoption agency, a social worker, and a genealogist. By journey’s end, what began as a simple desire for a family medical history has evolved into a complicated quest?one that unearths secrets, lies, and family members that are literally right next door. Drop In with us to take the wild ride to finding the truth.
Julie Ryan McGue is an identical twin and an adoptee. Her writing centers on finding out who you really are, where you belong, and making sense of it. Julie writes a weekly blog, and a monthly column for her local paper, called That Girl This Life. Her work has been featured in Brevity Nonfiction Blog, Lifetime Adoption Adoptive Families Blog, Severance Magazine, and Adoption.com. She and her husband split their time between NW Indiana and Sarasota. If she is not on her laptop, Julie is on the tennis court, or out exploring with her Nikon. Julie is currently working on a collection of personal essays and a second memoir. Julie’s unforgettable family story will make you weep, give you insights through her psychology background, and fill you with inspiration for the loves that she has found. Drop In with Julie!Leave a comment for radio show guests
What’s the story behind the story? We’ll find out on Dropping In. Our guests are today’s original thinkers. Conversations that spark new ways of seeing what’s going on. We bring it all to the table. Diverse perspectives, controversy, loving and singular voices. Magically stories reveal the common threads that link us. Experience the joys, the fist pumps, the detours and the hard-won truths of those who blaze the trail so that we might do the same and now here’s your host Diane Dewey.
Diane: Welcome to Dropping In everyone. Today we’ll examine a story for our times Twice a Daughter: A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging. Who doesn’t want that but more specifically this is the story of a woman adopted along with her twin sister at age three weeks who goes through an intense personal time. Doctors think that Julie McGue might have breast cancer and Julie then realizes together with her husband Steve that she doesn’t have the medical history she needs to actively and accurately treat this. The book is about two families whose threads weave together. One that gave her life and the other that gave her a life in Julie’s own words. Welcome Julie. Great to have you with us.
Julie: Good morning Diane. It’s so wonderful to be on your show and talk to you live in person.
Diane: Where are we speaking to you from?
Julie: I am in northwest Indiana and the shores of Lake Michigan. Fortunately it is a little cooler spot than some of the other places in the country right now.
Diane: Speaking from Florida I can attest to that. You’ve given us a wonderful book Julie. Twice A Daughter published by Books Fluent and you’ve got a website juliemcgueauthor.com so that’s spelled M-C-G-U-E.
Julie: Pronounced McGue.
Diane: Julie McGue, Julie Ryan McGue. It’s a trove of resources, articles, beautifully photographed images and a guidebook with thoughts for those who contemplate reuniting with biological family. You offer the first chapter of your book and some memorable quotes. It’s a wonderful generous site to roam around in. You’ve offered something up to a wider community not just as an author yourself but to the whole community of those touched by adoption which is estimated to be one in six Americans. Congratulations on your work and your outreach to a wider portal. You’ve dropped anchor into a deep port I think. I wondered if having had a full life you’ve raised now four children and have grandchildren and a lovely family. I wonder if this experience has given you even another inner center, another benefit to your life.
Julie: Without a doubt Diane. I mean the first part of my life I was so lucky to have been raised with my twin sister and certainly her support throughout my life has really been, it’s like growing up with your best friend. Certainly we argued it like all siblings do but to have started this journey of trying to figure out our family history benefited both of us and our families. We had a little joke in our family when our kids were little when any of them would do something terrific or bad. We would say oh that that’s due to the mystery gene. That was referenced to my closed adoption history which meant I knew absolutely nothing. I didn’t have any access to my birth parents names, any of their ethnicity, their background, the circumstances of why we were placed for adoption. That little mystery gene was a little family joke for a long time and then we solved that little mystery and are able to attribute so many things to our background that was closed off to us for so many years.
Diane: There are so many plot twists in your book that I think even someone outside the adoption community would enjoy the read just because it’s a wild ride. It’s not all smooth going. Start to finish, how long was the process that you’re speaking of solving the mystery gene?
Julie: Well, I was 48 when I had the breast biopsy. Back in 2008, you weren’t able to go on the computer and look at your portal with your doctor’s office and see what test results were immediately. I had to wait longer than I would have liked. That process really got us, my sister and I talking and going. The first step was to ask our adoptive parents for our adoption papers. As astounding as that is I never asked for them when I was growing up. I really didn’t even know that they existed or what would be in there but that was the place that we started. It turned out that really there wasn’t that much in there that was going to be able to help us which was a big disappointment.
Then I had not known any adoptees growing up and certainly didn’t know any adoptees that had tried to connect with their birth relatives. DNA testing was in its infancy. Certainly it would not have benefited me because I did try it. I didn’t have any names to go on. When I did access ancestry DNA in 2010 I get matched with people that were third and fourth and fifth cousins. They would ask for family names and I had nothing to link us. Certainly I didn’t know if the people I was matching with were from my birth mother’s side of the family or my birth father so it really didn’t benefit me at all which is in contrast to adoptees now that we read about extensively in the newspaper connecting with a sister that they didn’t know they had or a brother or other family members.
That not available to me and not having any anybody’s footsteps to follow in I did what a lot of people did back then and we went to the internet and found a search agency that we thought would be able to help us that had good recommendations. We quickly learned that the information that we had while we thought it was enough to get started it was revealed that our birth mother probably used an alias which was very common back in the 1950s and 60s for women that were facing an unwed pregnancy or circumstances that they wanted to maintain their privacy. That was the biggest roadblock in the beginning. It became very clear to us that we had to work with our adoption agency and to see what steps they could help us with.
At the same time we became aware of a change in Illinois law which allowed us to access a program administered by the court system. It was the Confidential Intermediary Program and it turned out that if we would have searched through our adoption agency we’re going to have to wait for about six months before they could get to us. There were so many people in front of us. Given the health situation for myself it seemed advisable that we work with the confidential intermediary program. I went through the court system and got assigned an intermediary who was under the auspices of the judge.
I knew that we had only a year’s time to get cooking on this. That is really what the book is about, the intermediary and the things that happened her trying to find our birth relatives and some of the roadblocks that came up along the way having to get the judge back involved and trying to get our health history from a very, very reluctant birth mother who really basically didn’t want to be found. That is the roller coaster is that story of trying to find her and get her to make contact with us.
Diane: Because the emotional dynamics are really the crux of it. It’s also dealing with your parents who were alive and well. You felt justified and also a sense of urgency about this search. They weren’t quite on board so you had that dynamic to contend with. I mean there was a lot. This was like fraught with a lot of emotional stuff. You and your sister, it’s unusual Julie in the sense that many adoptees when they find a birth parent are it’s the first time they’ve seen anybody who’s genetically related to them. Here you are with your sister Jenny kind of mirroring one another along but really in a kind of microcosm of your family. I wondered about people outside the adoptive community kind of look at us and say well, you grew up in affluence. You had a beautiful family growing up.
Yes, there were the losses and the occasional tragedies that beset all families. You lost a younger sister at one point but generally a beautiful family. A lake house, a beautiful suburban existence, wonderful parents, brother, it’s all kind of storybook. People would say why is this important? Kids growing up are asked constantly where were you born. What were the family members? What’s your parents’ story? Where were they when you were conceived? I mean all of these answers were not at your fingertips and required hesitancy on your part. I wondered when you were going through life and answering questions about the mystery gene which started out as a joke. Doesn’t it feel like a lack to have this basic fundamental information? You just don’t have it.
Julie: You don’t have it and you know you can’t have it. I think therein lies the issue with a lot of closed adoptees is we suppress our need to know, our desire to know where we came from, the people that would influence how we lift our hands and cross our legs, all of those things. We know that we cannot have access to that and we suppress that. I think what happened to me at with this breast biopsy and searching for information. I started to get angry and allowed myself for the first time in my life to be angry and resent the fact that all this information was not only closed off to me but that other people grew up with knowing their ancestors, being able to go to the family bible and see those names and be able to trace their lineage.
That I think anger fueled my desire to keep going. There were tremendous low spots as we’ve talked about rejection, missteps, bad information and persevering through that was this burning desire and burning anger. Certainly I had my sister’s support. Together, it was almost like we can do this. There’s two of us. We can figure out how to do this. Her disappointments were balanced by my excitement and my energy and vice versa. There’s a scene in the book where the two of us go back to our orphanage. Really another aspect that I had suppressed for most of my life.
I knew that I my parents picked us up at St. Vincent’s Orphanage but I didn’t know where that was. As I started coming alive with this lifting the veil of secrecy as adoptees often call it. I realized I want to see this place. I am owed this. It’s where my life began with my sister. The interim stopped between my birth mother and the family that raised me. We did make contact with catholic charities. I got a social worker to give us a tour. It’s actually one of my favorite chapters in the book because it is this moving experience of the two of us going back to where we started. There’s little secrets that come up. We have been told that we were baptized at Holy Name which is literally a block away from Saint Vincent and had at one point in my life that was my home parish. I was married there. I always believed that I’d been baptized there because that’s what my parents are told but when I started researching every little detail. We came to find out we were not baptized at Holy Name. We were baptized in the chapel at the orphanage.
This very moving scene in the book is about the two of us going back to the orphanage together and seeing the space where the baptismal bowl is located and standing over it. I think I had not anticipated the wealth of emotion that that brought out and the reality of really what adoption is all about. It’s this transference of family. While I loved my family that I grew up with. This adoption search put a rift between my mother and I. I think it was the thing that she never expected would happen. She had always expressed that she would support us if we ever needed to do it. Certainly as a middle-aged woman I didn’t think that there would be any problem with our relationship but it did put a wedge in our relationship. It took quite some time for that to resolve itself.
As you know Diane from the end of the book there’s some family that we make contact with and the connection with them is uncanny. That connection is really what healed my relationship with my mother. I think she realized this doesn’t have to be an either or situation. That there is family that we know and love and we can make this work. A lot of healing moments that come after a lot of pain. One of the things that also came out of my connection with catholic charities and visiting Saint Vincent was the knowledge that I could join a post-adoption support group. While my sister never joined me at any of these meetings, my brother that is two years younger and also adopted through catholic charities joined me many times.
That community I believe enlightened me about the perspective of a birth mother, all the things that they have to navigate, the trauma, the triggering of certain events like mother’s day of course and birthdays. That knowledge and experience of being in the room with a birth mother and adoptive parents that were supporting their adult adopted children through the process really helped me write the book in a different way. It started out being my story. In the end one of my goals was to enlighten the greater community about what this is all about, how complicated this adoption experience is for everybody involved. I hope that came across. That certainly was one of my goals.
Diane: It did and I thought the arc of the story is very much one of coming from a subjective place that we all live in, our subjective reality of our stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves and how we’re wounded in this way or that up to a much larger view of seeing around the perspective of others. You’re going from a kind of subjective to an objective if there is such a thing. You walked all the way around. You saw your birth mother’s perspective. You felt some of her pain. You felt actually the pain of your adoptive mother as well.
For readers honestly there are six degrees of separation in this book almost a synchronicity that you won’t believe that occurs in Julie’s families and really formed bridges that honestly we couldn’t have even contrived. We need to stop for a commercial break here but I love this idea Julie that you explore of binary that everything’s either or that your parents are your parents and not another set of parents. All of those lines that get blurred in an adoption search I think lead you to a much more peaceful place. We’ll delve into this with you when we come back from our commercial break back to Twice a Daughter: A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging with Julie Ryan McGue. Don’t go away. We’ll be right back on Dropping In.
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Diane: Welcome back everyone. We’re here with Julie Ryan McGue, the author of Twice a Daughter, an apt title and also with a wonderful photograph of you and your twin Jenny on the cover. We left before the commercial break at you staring into the baptismal font with your sister. Did you have goosebumps? Did you have sensations going back to the orphanage and the little chapel there?
Julie: That was at a very low point in our search. We were waiting for our birth mother to change her mind and we’re not sure if she ever would. Being in the space felt very connected to her but also bittersweet. Certainly I had emotions that came to me that I hadn’t even realized that I felt about what had happened while we were living there. There’s no record of that of course so there was a lot of imagining based on there was a little book written by some of the nurses about Saint Vincent. I had read the book back to cover many, many times.
Those stories about the nurses and the nurse aides as being the stand-in Godparents and these very speedy little baptisms that the Catholic Church believes certainly that your original sin needs to be washed away right away so that you have a pure soul to go forward in life. Knowing all of that catholic background that I had and also having read this little book all of that came together as I was standing over this baptismal bowl. I realized what might have happened that day that we were baptized, the two of us. The imagining I think is what made that scene come to life for me. I still go back to that space whenever we have meetings in the building. I still have this source of wonderment about what had happened that day that we visited together.
Diane: It’s interesting as a metaphor too, the source, a baptismal font as a kind of a source point. I mean you really have undergone something that is a fundamental search for roots and identity even and I think about the African-American community which was disenfranchised, brought here from another country, had very little hope of ever figuring out their histories. Then Henry Louis Gates started the Roots Project. I mean you can’t separate any one people or person from the drive to understand where we come from, where we came from. Surprised Julie, you and your sister, were sorry the Rara Irish Catholic family. Then you learned your actual ethnicity. That was something quite different was it not?
Julie: Yes. That’s very fundamental to the identity issue that we’re speaking about today. Having grown up in this big Irish catholic family. We spent a lot of time at the St. Patrick’s Day festivals in downtown Chicago which is a big thing. They dye the river green. It’s certainly become more of a raucous brawl of late but for me in my younger years it was a family event. I embraced all of the catholic, Irish Catholic things that we did as a family. When I started down this path of researching our history there was a little fear in me that was like uh oh, what if I really am not Irish. How am I going to deal with that? A bit of imposter syndrome certainly thinking have I just ben walking down this path and pretending to be something that I’m really not.
The hard part was when we when we did make contact with our birth mother and learned her background. She’s French and German. I thought uh oh. It’s going to happen. My fear is going to be realized. I mean I’m going to have to figure out what I identify with as a result of this. I kept a little hope in the back of my mind that maybe my birth father’s side would certainly make me feel at peace with what I had grown up believing about myself. If you look at the cover of the book, the two of us couldn’t look more Irish with our freckled faces and big smiles. I secretly kept that little wish and I did find out that we are Scotch Irish which made me very happy but another thing came out of the search that I’m still grappling with to be honest with you.
Diane: What’s that?
Julie: On both sides of my history is Native American heritage. Something that I never would have expected and a good chunk of it.
Diane: How does that impact you?
Julie: I’m still trying to figure out how to work with that. Of course my kids were like wow, this is great. There’s enough percentage of American Indian that we can use that if we needed to get into college but they were already in college or grad school. I think that they’re more excited about it because it’s a discovery. I’m grappling with the pictures that I’m now seeing of my heritage and thinking I really think I need to work on researching this more and go back to some of these birthplaces and cemeteries and really understand who these people were because it caught me by surprise. I think that happens to a lot of adoptees. They grow up thinking they’re Italian or they’re Irish and then all of a sudden they find out they’re Hawaiian. It’s just another piece of identity in which to work on taking in our soul and figuring out how we feel about it. Certainly I’m not embarrassed about it. It’s just another piece to try and figure out.
Diane: Something to integrate, something to process but I think we can all see that Julie, you are careful, you’re methodical and you are taking things step by step so that you can process them. That’s why I think your guidebook is probably very helpful for people who might be wanting to take a tentative step in this direction. I think the other thing that you allude to yes, it’s great knowing Native American heritage. It’s another piece of the puzzle however it’s basically a kind of seismic shift that you have to endure that the powers that be told you who you were.
Then it turns out that the truth belongs to not the powers that be and the powers that be lose their credibility, their hold on you and that’s a very different kind of thing to grapple with because it’s not just information. It’s much more fundamental. It goes much deeper when you have to realize that the people that you looked up to, your parents and that you thought this is my truth. That your truth completely radically shifts. I wondered what are some of the ramifications of that for you. You studied psychology. You’re a careful observer. What are some of the ramifications of having your truth really change so radically so suddenly?
Julie: Well that in is the advice that I would give to other people that are contemplating an adoption search is to be methodical about it. Certainly before I really started down the path I did a lot of reading. There are some wonderful resources that I post on my website that you’re probably aware of too Diane. Ann Fessler’s book, The Girls Who Went Away was my very first read. Certainly it’s not light reading but it is a collection of true stories of women and birth parents, their stories from the 1950s and before and after and what happened to them when they discovered that they were pregnant and their family sent them away. Those kinds of books are great preparation for somebody contemplating a search such as this.
I tried to find as many people as I knew that were in the middle of the process. That helped me to understand some of the pitfalls that I might walk into. I think that those that support system that I found through catholic charities, the post adoption services, the social worker that I met through the confidential intermediary program, all those people were necessary to guide me through this. I was not, even with the help of my sister going to make this through on the other side in a careful, forgiving, accepting manner if I didn’t have those guides. I encourage people to make sure you are in a good space in your life. I was. I had a very strong marriage and a loving family. I was in a good place in that respect. Certainly very stable where we were living. There was no threat of moving and those are important things to consider to be very stable and have the support system to help you through it.
I knew that I needed to do it and I knew that I wanted to do it. The brother that I mentioned earlier that went with me to some of the support meetings he came with me to some of those meetings for two years before he decided to walk down that path. I think he needed to assimilate what is going to happen, what might happen, what might not happen and do I want to dip my toe in those waters. Ultimately he did. He did find some beautiful sisters and the answers to his questions too but I think it needs to be a methodical process and evaluate whether it is the right path for you to do. Are you at a good place in your life? Can you navigate some tricky situations? Are you ready for disappointment? How well do you deal with disappointment and loss? Can you get yourself to the other side?
Waiting until we’re middle-aged people to work through this process is probably a good thing. Our well of resiliency and resolve is pretty full generally. I think that was very advantageous for me to have waited till the right time to work on this project. I will also add that I didn’t write this memoir right away. The search ended in 2014. I truly needed that emotional distance for about three years to really evaluate what I thought about everything and what had happened and the right way to tell the story. Where did it need to begin? Where did it need to end? What was I really trying to tell the reader? That took a while to figure out. I didn’t want it to be an angry adoptee story. For the most part it’s not but there are still disappointments and hurts there that come across in the book. Not everything has a completely happy ending as we say.
Diane: Well your reflections are very important and your take on things is very important. It is measured and it does give people a sense of your backbone. I think also when you talk about things like your religion sometimes I think there’s something that you integrate and foster in yourself too. It doesn’t belong necessarily to your adoptive family or to your biological family. It’s a construct that you’ve grown in yourself. That can be your faith, your belief system, a sense of your strength as a person. Those accumulate over becoming a mother, fostering having a home, fostering the lives of others. I’m sitting here. I’ve got the book in my hand Ann Fesslers. I wish we were on Facebook live and I will do one day but the Twice a Daughter cover I’d love to be holding it up right now. It’s just the most darling photograph of you and Jenny.
Ann Fessler’s book, The Girls Who Went Away, the hidden history of women who surrendered children for adoption in the decades before Roe v. Wade. It’s an important book as well and it’s in your list of resources but I guess what I’m asking you now Julie is there are attributions to be made for certain traits, the way of being, the way you carry yourself but is there not also a part of you that you’ve constructed in conversation with information, in conversation with the world, in conversation with your biological and adoptive families in conversation with being a wife, a mother, a grandmother. Isn’t there part of an identity that that comes from integrating all of these experiences?
Julie: Oh without a doubt I think one of the deepest things that I realized about myself as I was writing this book and I got to the end of it and looking back at all the crazy things, good things and rough spots was where I ended up. That was a level of acceptance for the things that happened and understanding why they happened and forgiveness. I did not realize that I had the capacity to accept and forgive the level that was required of me to continue to have relationships with the people that hurt me along the way. My adoptive mom certainly, I see her once a week. We have fixed whatever issue there was there. I think both of us realized that our bond that we had for most of our life was more important than this little blip that we went through, this disagreement about the priority of me finding my identity and background.
I think the things that we pick up to your point Diane along the way make a big difference in how we react to things and certainly raising four children that give you every single left curve all the time and the level of patience that you need to have with running a household with that many people. I think all of those things contributed to the way I was able to deal with the disappointments in the book.
It’s funny. I was on an airplane with my son. He’s 31 years old. He was in the book but not really a major character because he was a student athlete and then he went off to college. While he was aware certainly of what was happening with my adoption search it went on for so long. As children do they look at their parents like they’re just my parents? They can’t really be that interesting of a person but he was reading the book. I had given him an early copy. He was across the aisle. I was studying him and he kept wiping his face. I tapped him on the shoulder. I said are you okay? He goes I’m so sorry mom. I am so emotional about reading this book. I had no idea that you were going through all of this. I knew what was happening but I certainly didn’t understand the magnitude of it.
I think that is part of the gift of writing a memoir is the gift of revealing yourself to your family and having them look at you in another way. All of my children have had an interesting reaction to the story. Certainly when there was some big disappointments with my birth mom they grew to not even want to talk about her. They would shake their head and say she’s a bad person and she’s not a bad person. I think the book helped them understand the difficulties that she faced in welcoming my sister and I into her life. She had kept such a deep secret for so long and letting that secret out to the people she had protected herself from knowing was a long process for her. I was patient enough with her but I think those around me were, they wanted to take sides. I wanted the book to heal that little rift with them.
Diane: Yes, well your family wanted to protect you. You wrote the memoir and it’s very it’s a lovingly written book published by She Writes Press. The audio book is Books Fluent. It’s called Twice a Daughter. We’ve got to pause for a commercial break now but it’s just amazing. You start out thinking why didn’t they give me all this information when I was 21 or when I got married, your adoptive family. Now I really hear you saying I’m glad I took the journey. We’ll come back in a few minutes and we’ll continue talking with Julie Ryan McGue about her journey. Don’t go away. We’ll be right back on Dropping In.
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Diane: Welcome back everyone. We’re here with Julie Ryan McGue who is the author of a memoir Twice a Daughter. There is a collection of personal essays that you’re working on Julie that is to come. You wanted to talk a little bit about the cover of your book A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging. What did you want to say about the cover?
Julie: Well when I had written the book and picked the title I was working with the publisher on possible cover layouts. She came up with a few things. She said I don’t like any of these. Do you have any pictures of your sister and yourself together and came up with this picture. It’s one of my favorites from us growing up. Once I gave it to her and she said we really like this. Of course I had to ask my sister. She was fine with it. I looked at the mock-up of the cover and I realized oh my gosh. This picture is taken from the family lake house and the book ends with a very important scene and connection with family at the same place. It was almost a natural that this was the right cover for the book but how we got there was not a direct path. When I look at the cover I’m so pleased that the picture was the right picture and it is very integral to how the book culminates.
Diane: It is full circle for you. I think it’s interesting. You discover the meaning of family in a different way. You thought you had your family. We all think we have our family. Then it turns out there’s a broader definition. There’s an inclusiveness of biological family that you did meet and curiously and with a great deal of synchronicity. We’re not going to have any spoilers but it’s really worth reading this book because you just continually turn the page and say wow, wow, wow. It’s almost kind of like a message from the universe the way you are, the actual circle was closed coming from the lake place which is kind of also significant. The lake is always like the collective unconsciousness in Jung. You know that from studying psychology.
Not a coincidence either that I think many adoptees do delve into psychology because we’ve had to observe a lot of things that were not in our control being separated from biological family, joining another family. All of these things cause us to be somewhat observational. Standing by and seeing what will happen next. I think that writing this book did it feel like you know you talked about it making you feel like coming alive. The search made you come alive. Did the writing of the book and kind of having agency over your story continue that sense of coming alive?
Julie: Well absolutely. I had no idea that a breast biopsy was going to lead to a later in life career. Essentially if you connect the dots that’s exactly what happened. The breast biopsy led to the search. The search led to writing the book and now the book has led to writing a weekly blog. I have a monthly column I write it for my little local paper. I have a collection of essays that I’m working on. I guess in no small way I have found my voice.
I think that a lot of adoptees are trying to find their voice. By writing a book like this and talking about other adoptees that have written memoirs we are allowing a greater community to find their voice and find the courage uh to figure out their story whatever it is even if it’s only half of their story just finding that courage and finding their voice is something that I encourage adoptees that I’m in contact with all the time. Just take the next step. It may not be what you want to hear but at least you’ll know and you won’t walk the rest of your path without knowing. I’m very grateful for the way my journey has ended up. I look forward to continuing to write meaningful pieces that hit people the right way.
Diane: That’s I think the connectivity that you’re talking about and that sort of generative feeling of making a contribution beyond yourself. It’s something, it’s really important in this stage of life. It’s really important I think for our times. You are talking about encouraging people to take the next step and that can be very daunting. You can be filled with fear. I know people. I know an assorted number of people who are afraid to take the next step. There is a sense that the trauma, trying to process a traumatic past like adoption is it causes the fight, flight or freeze response.
That’s how we deal with it but there is that fourth response which is to connect, to share the experience, to lighten the burden of it, to help process through conversation like this and like one that we’re going to have in two weeks from now on Dropping In, a forum that Julie you have created. I honestly commend you for this broad circle that you’ve created in the world of adoptees. I think that in itself is just a huge contribution. Couldn’t be more grateful that you have embraced others who are coming along on this journey and that you kind of got beyond your own story into even to a bigger broader story of truth coming out.
I loved the quote that you had. There’s two that resonate right now. One is talking about the times and the generation that you were dealing with. If we don’t talk about it isn’t happening like that was the generation that you were dealing with right. A sense that the truth could remain hidden if we didn’t talk about it. Yet you talk about a wholeness that you feel now that you do have a truth, your truth that you didn’t even know you lacked. What do you think are the powers of the truth coming out? Do you think there’s, I mean is there a force of truth? Does it have a way of coming to the surface even for people who are trying to deny it?
Julie: I think everybody’s truth is a little bit different. Certainly it was very painful for my birth mom to admit to her family what had happened but it’s gone full circle for her too. She had to make a choice of welcoming my sister and I into her life but by doing so she needed to reveal something that had happened a long time ago and basically admit to a lie. Her experience with telling her family so heartened her. I think it healed something within herself. The truth has the ability to hurt certainly but it also has the ability to heal. I think just taking the first step like for my birth mother telling a sister and having her response for anybody who’s experienced any kind of abuse or trauma in their life the first step of revealing what that is to a treasured person and having their response help. I think that is what we are called to do is to listen to other people’s stories and if it affects us in some way to be able to use something with that and to help others heal whatever it is that they’ve had to navigate and surmount.
Diane: It feels like it’s part of why we’re here. That shame is something, it only can exist in darkness. Once you expose it starts to disintegrate. It doesn’t have the power to command us. Surely your birth mom I think probably felt a thawing of her heart for having met you girls and for having enjoined your families. It’s just an incredible story Julie Ryan McGue. I urge everyone to take a look at Twice a Daughter and read it. It’s a fascinating story. It’s a book that’s available wherever books are sold.
We’ve come to the end of our time sadly but Julie we are going to have a forum on adoption in these identity issues in a couple weeks. We’re going to open it up to even more authors. It’s going to be really exciting and have a lot of input and ideas that maybe we haven’t even thought of but thank you very much for being with us and initiating the conversation.
Julie: Thank you Diane for having me and for allowing me to help this panel. I look forward to speaking with you and Jacob about our experiences and our books, our collective books. I’m sure it’ll be another riveting conversation.
Diane: We’ll open ourselves up and show the contents of our heart which is really all that we can do. Here on Dropping In I want everyone to know that Julie McGue Writes is Julie’s Facebook page. Instagram Julie Ryan McGue. Twitter Julie McGue and of course this website that is so rich in resources. Thanks very much also to our engineers Matt Weidner and Aaron Keller, to our executive producer Robert Giolino and most of all to you, our listeners. Remember to stay safe and if you’ve got some gaps to fill, fill them. Make yourself whole. Till next week thank you for dropping in.
Thank you so much for dropping in. Please join Diane Dewey again next Friday at 8 AM Pacific Time and 11 AM Eastern Time on the Voice America Variety Channel. We’ll see you then.