I am a compulsive reader – I read to learn about the world and to understand my own world. The urge to create a meaningful narrative from the events of a life, to understand and to learn, is one of the reasons people come to psychotherapy. Psychotherapists and authors might therefore agree that we read to make sense of our lives and our experience. I have very eclectic tastes – both in fiction and non-fiction. Reading takes me out of my world (I have colleagues who do not read novels except on vacation for that very reason – but isn’t that the point?) and also gives me new perspectives on the known.
Sometimes our professional and personal lives align in a novel in ways that can illuminate both. I love the serendipity of the New Books shelf in the public library. Recently I picked up a couple of novels which both contained adoption themes. I work a lot with clients with adoption stories (from different parts of the adoption triad). I run a group for adoptees. I am an adoptee. Perhaps this makes me particularly sensitive to these themes; I know I am profoundly grateful when I find them. These stories occur in adult fiction from Wuthering Heights to The Orphan Train. Children’s literature has always been full of adoption stories - think of Anne of Green Gables,The Secret Garden, The Once and Future King. Novels are extra resources I can suggest to clients and show me new perspectives on their stories and my own.
Two of the best books on adoption stories which just happen not to be novels:
“ Adopted people may feel silenced.” “We need new ways to tell our stories.” “Adoption drops you into the story after the story has started.” “We need better stories for the stories around adoption.”
The work we do in therapy or in the group is all about telling the story, finding meaning in the story and integrating the adoption story into the larger narrative of the client’s life. The Novel Cure – An A-Z of Literary Remedies (Berthoud and Elderkin 2013) has a very short section on adoption – if you have come across any books (fiction, non-fiction – as I said, I’m eclectic) with these themes please do let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a note on my blog.