By: Julie Ryan McGue
Publisher: Muse Literary
Publication Date: December 1, 2023
Review Date: December 29, 2023
Belonging Matters: Conversations on Adoption, Family, and Kinship is a deeply stirring memoir of a domestic adoptee, Julie Ryan McGue, and her quest for historical details of her long-lost family.
McGue and her twin sister were adopted from St. Vincent’s Orphanage, Chicago, at three weeks of age. This was during the Baby Scoop Era in the early 1970s when birth mothers were not involved in the adoption process. In those days, McGue's biological mother had been forced to give them up for adoption because she was forbidden by her religion from marrying their father, who was a non-Catholic. After their birth, she never got the chance to hold her children and was quickly rushed into signing the relinquishment papers. From that moment on, it was official: she was prohibited from all future contact with the newborns.
For a long time, McGue considered herself to have been given up because her sense of origin and identity had been snapped off by the harshness of closed adoption. This, however, began to change in her forties when her twin sister joined her in a quest for their original family's health history. The search was triggered by McGue's diagnosis of breast cancer during one of her routine checkups. Months later, not only was she able to uncover crucial information about a genetic pattern, but she was also able to make contact with her biological mother. A detailed explanation of the events surrounding their birth and adoption was the first thing she yearned for, but little did she know that the search was going to get more complicated by the day.
In Belonging Matters, McGue exhaustively captured her life as an adoptee and the numerous challenges she went through, such as rejection by a close family member. She has offered practical advice to thousands of adoptees on how they can overcome the fear of researching who they are and where they come from. Her persistence and resilience are remarkable and undeniably prove that the puzzles known to lead adoptees to mental instability could be overcome.
It was an excellent idea for McGue to include a second section where she describes various birth parents' predicaments. Listening to her birth mother helped her understand issues such as grief and guilt and how they affected her lifestyle, attitude, and behavior. Illuminating knowledge of the disadvantages of closed adoption, such as identity confusion, fear, and limited medical history, forms the basis of this text. Readers will appreciate the author's brilliance in articulating these themes and then backing them up with solid first-hand encounters. Belonging Matters: Conversations on Adoption, Family, and Kinship is a realistic resource that will bring encouragement to anyone who has ever felt abandoned. The author has offered honest explanations that aim at making an adoptee feel less alone and more normal in how they feel.
Quill says: Written in a simple-to-understand manner, Belonging Matters: Conversations on Adoption, Family, and Kinship is a must-read for everyone who has found themselves caught up in the adoption triangle.
For more information on Belonging Matters: Conversations on Adoption, Family, and Kinship, please visit the book's website at: https://juliemcgueauthor.com/