Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Messages from the Author

This page consists of random musings about the book writing process, adoption, or life in general. Anything in RED signifies "spoiler alert"--meaning if you read that part, you're going to know about a significant part of the book, and you may choose to skip that part.

March 2011: I'm the branch of a family tree that was nearly severed. On Fathers Day, 2011, I will meet the family of my biological father-a man who was all but written off due to his drinking, homelessness and prison time (bank robbery). My birth father died on Good Friday of 2001. On Father's Day -10 yrs later- I will bring my children with me to a large family reunion to represent the unexpected goodness this man brought into the world.

March, 2010 Five years ago I went to New York City and met with five well known literary agents. Four of them expressed interest in my book, asking for a few chapters. One said he was captivated by the letters written between me, and the man who referred me for adoption as an infant. Another was amazed that for eight years, we remained anonymous. My birth-father never knew my name. One agent wiped a tear as she read about how quickly alcohol took down this once promising law student into a life of crime. His letters were poetic. Bittersweet. Beautiful.

I went home and began polishing up my work to send to the agents. But God had another plan for me. That fall, Hurricane Katrina hit. The Biblical storm baptized me into a whole new way of living. Instead of fighting this new riptide that was taking me far from all that I had ever known, I went with the current, and found myself changing the world. One year after Katrina, I had started a nonprofit and helped rally thousands of kids to raise over $10 Million dollars for hurricane relief.

That same year, an Oprah producer was asking me for a copy of my book when it was finished. But by that time, I was too far gone. Children were reaching out to me daily, wanting my help to change the world. I couldn’t very well say no. So the book waited.

Today, I am so close, and yet so far away. I am ever grateful for the path God diverted me to. In just five years, I’ve helped kids change thousands of lives all around the globe. Our 15-year-old CEO has won The World of Children’s “Nobel Prize for Children”, I was honored as a L’Oreal Paris “Woman of Worth,” and we and the children we serve have received numerous prestigious awards for making a tangible impact in solving real world problems.

I know that one day I will finish this book. Thanks to so many of you, who have encouraged me along the way, wanting a positive adoption story on the bookshelves. It will happen. In God's time. Meantime, I'm enjoying the ride!

Below: A video produced by L'Oreal Paris and Women of Worth

(for more information, please visit the Women of Worth website.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Birth Parents, Biological Parents, Natural Parents????!"

(side note-- Blogger is having technical issues with formatting this evening... sorry that it's not publishing cleaner...)

A question I put out to the technical abyss: How should I refer to the people who gave birth to me? You're more than welcome to weigh in, but at the end of the day... it's something I need to figure out for myself.

I am reeling from the venom spewed out on another blog about adoption... you may look at it here, but it can be upsetting to those who are close to the adoption triad. There were inklings of a similar discussion on comments posted here on this blog.

It is terribly sad to me to see just how upset parents who have referred their child for adoption feel about being called "biological mother" or "birth-mother." There are many women who are hurting out there--missing their child desperately. And each time they hear those terms, it's like a dig into the wound.

So rather than get into an arguement with hate as several people did on the other blog, I will say this: If calling the person who gave me life "biologicial" or "birth" mother makes someone feel so horrible, then I want to consider a way of changing it. Trying to remove myself and look at this objectively (is that possible?) I think-- people who are not adopted often have different names for their parents. Sometimes nicknames, sometimes first names... everyone has different preferences. I know the man who gave me life had nothing but love for me, and never in a million years had issue with being referenced as a "biological father" or "birth father," nor did he seem to think that the woman who gave me life would feel that way (note to skeptics: They were very much in love, and engaged--this has been confirmed by several sources. He has proven to be a lovely man, and I don't think he would have hidden that from me.)

But it's so personal. I think a lot of adoptees were taught, with no dehumanizing intended, that an easy way to explain it to the questioning children at school--is that your "real" mom (that's the question I was asked, "Well who is your REAL mom?") is the woman I call mom. In my case, I don't know who the mother is who gave me life, but I will always love her for giving me life.

I know you can't please everyone. And many of you would tell me not to change a thing (about how I reference the people who gave me life). But after reading such negativity... I feel compelled to try to at least not add to someone's pain. Why argue it? I'd much rather spend time seeking out the positive aspects of everyone and every thing. If this were your last day on earth, what would you do? I choose love.

Friday, April 13, 2007 Six Years Ago Today… It was Friday, April 13, 2001. It was a glorious sunny day. I had a meeting with an executive at one of my top client companies. I debated what to wear. They were business casual. But he was a big-time exec and this meeting could land a lot of business for my little executive search firm. I decided to go with my black silk suit. I figured I’d go to Good Friday services after the meeting. I remember a special feeling all day long. Like a comforting presence. It was a good day. I got the business. Just a few days later I received a phone call from the adoption agency. After 8-years, my birth father and I were still corresponding anonymously. The social worker called to tell me that Ben had died on Good Friday. His sister called the agency and asked them to give me the news. Today is Friday, April 13, 2007. That happened six years ago. My life has evolved wonderfully since then. As I sat in church on Good Friday this year, the priest reflected on Jesus telling Peter to throw down his net, “and come and follow Me.” I chuckled to myself. I recently “threw down my net,” to go serve smoothies to my fellow humankind. After 15 years of recruiting, and 10 years of running my own executive search firm, I quit my job to work at a smoothie shop. O.k., that’s not exactly why I quit my job. I did it because I SO believe in the work that I’m doing with my nonprofit RandomKid, that I found it hard to do anything else. It was next to impossible to run a business and a nonprofit at the same time. So, in order to make a contribution to my family, I took a job at a quiet smoothie shop. I work while my daughters are in school. This past week in between a small strawberry smoothie and a medium banana blend, I designed an interactive website featuring a post-hurricane awareness campaign (click here to see it) involving all 50 governors. Next week I’ll be writing up national news releases--and pausing every hour or so to make a “Fruity Frappe.” Delicious. December 29, 2006 This is a random musing, really... I'm not sure where or how this will come in to play, but the question comes to me often... how to deal with certain information. I found myself writing an overview of this book, let me share one take with you, and then ask your opinion: ANONYMOUS DAUGHTER (working title) is a memoir about adoption. As it unfolds through letters between a father and a daughter who never met, ANONYMOUS DAUGHTER shines a light on the beauty in a person that is often hidden behind the mask of alcoholism. It is a tribute to family members who do what's best for their loved ones, while also trying to better themselves. Adopted people can either choose to feel rejected or embraced. I was a deformed infant referred for adoption before I was born. The day my parents came to adopt me, the caseworker told them that nothing could prepare them for what this baby looked like. She told them they could walk away without seeing me and just take the next baby that came along… she said it wouldn’t be a mark against them. “After all,” she said, “she’s grotesque.” My parents took me home as fast as they could. I was this tiny seed with no obvious promise. They took me in, nurtured me, loved me, and corrected me. They embraced me. It is that unconditional love from the beginning that gave birth to my undying loyalty to them. For years I felt it would be a betrayal to them as parents to seek out my birth-parents, despite their openness to the idea. A social worker contacted me just after my 25th birthday. My birth-father wanted to meet me. I instantly recoiled at the idea, but the social worker coaxed me out to consider at least listening to her read one of his letters. As a “go-between,” she was like a warm security-blanket that I came to depend on and from which I never wanted to be weaned. I kept my identity a secret, using the adoption agency as my messenger. For eight years, I exchanged intimate letters with a faceless alcoholic serving time in a federal prison, until the weight of his addiction crushed him in a suicidal plunge off of a bridge in Minneapolis. His letters are treasured reminders that each of us can add value to the world, despite our flaws. (It goes on to describe the twists and turns in our relationship, as well as some very happy surprises in the ending...) Question: Would you as a reader rather NOT know my birth-father's ultimate fate right out of the gate, or do you think the "knowing" might put things in a perspective that would create a more interesting read? Please feel free to post comments here, or send me emails. I appreciate your input and support. September 12, 2005 (there are more recent posts below--I moved this closer to the top, because several people requested I do so...) I made a pretty wild discovery today. My husband is in the TV News business. One night in the late 1990's there was a bank robbery out our way. All the news stations were at least a 20 minute drive from our neighborhood--so my husband (a behind the scenes guy) went to "cover" it until they could get a crew there. The suspect was on the run. Cops were everywhere. A former tv-news gal myself, I was all revved up about this live spot-news right in our home town. I offered to my hubby that we could split up and I could see what I could get on my end--to which we both laughed. I hadn't been in the news biz for several years. I best stay home. So I flipped through the channels to watch who would get the story first. My hubby's station did. It was quite exciting. I have come to learn today that there is a decent possibility that the suspect in this breaking news was none other than my birth-father! We're checking the dates and locations to confirm yet another interesting twist in our story. November, 2006 It is the eve of my birth father's birthday. I didn't always know that--but it was revealed to me in his first letter to me. And so I send this message out into the great void: Thank you for giving me life; and thank you for the part that you play in making sure I never waste a day of it! Sometimes I feel bad that I haven't finished this book yet, but I know you understand. I know you can feel it, as I can. God is sending me opportunities to help others right now... it would be wrong to ignore them.... to ignore Him. So that's where my focus needs to be at this moment. I can't wait to share with you... all the Divine Providence I have witnessed on my journey this past year-and-a-half! There is no other explanation than God brought wonderful people and circumstances into my life to make incredible things happen. Some of these stories will amaze you... and yet, I know you already know... in a way. I will tell our story. And I will share with others what a wonderful, glorious thing adoption can be. I was never given up. I was given. A better life! Thank you! Happy Birthday. Love, Me July 22, 2006 I was invited back for another interview with Vince Daniels on KCAA radio in the Los Angeles area. You may listen to it by clicking here and scrolling to the July 22nd show. My segment is about 1 hour (or 1:15) into the show (if you save it to your computer, you may fast forward quickly to that spot). Saturday, May 13, 2006 Click here to listen to Anne's interview with Vince Daniels on KCAA radio -- San Bernadino, CA. The original air date was Saturday, May 13, 2006 for a special Mothers' Day show. You may fast-forward to the interview one hour into the show. Saint Patrick's Day, 2006 I recently had my synopsis critiqued by a number of writers and editors around the world. Feedback was published in an online forum. One person raised an interesting question: How do we know that this guy--my birth father--wasn't just a con-artist feeding me a bunch of lines? We don't know. But what we DO know is that he DID write them to me. They are physical fact. Now whether what he wrote in those letters is fact is another question. But my hope is that you'll find his letters to me thought-provoking. Our story has a lot of twists and turns, and it's ultimately up to the reader to decide. Could make for an interesting book club discussion:

  • Do you think Ben, at the core of his being, is a good man, or a con artist?

  • Do you think there are times when it's okay to lie to loved ones, or at least, shade them from some of the harsh truths?

  • If this were your birth-father, would his alcoholic / bank-robbing past prevent you from ever trusting him? What could he do to earn your trust? … and so on.

A final note that I have obtained some very interesting (and not all flattering) proof of information in his letters. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but I'll be sure to include it in the book. I am close to completing the book and hope to start submiting it to agents and publishers later this year. If you like what you've read so far, please spread the word. Perhaps a friend of a friend's cousin's stepmom's niece knows someone in publishing who would LOVE this story. :) Thanks for your support.

December 24, 2005 Kids keep giving to hurricane relief... and they cannot stop! They have willed the creation of a new non-profit called "RandomKid." RandomKid's mission is to empower kids to realize the infinite value of who they are right now and their unique power to make the world a better place because of it. For an example of how we do that, be sure to check out our first RandomKid to be anointed a "RandomRockStar"! (on our website http://www.randomkid.org/) I'm telling you this, because I'm the founder... so while I fill out my "80-hours" (quoted by the federal government) worth of 501C3 paperwork and meet with potential board members, etc., my book will have to be put on pause. I can't thank you enough for all of your emails and well-wishes. I WILL finish this book one day. I can't wait for you to learn about how everything turns out! Quite a few twists and turns (including some very interesting revelations as noted below). Happy holidays to each of you! I wish you lots of Blessings in 2006! With Gratitude, Anne November 4, 2005 Wow! This kids-movement to help hurricane survivors (mentioned below) was quite a ride! We're still bringing in the numbers, and hope to be making a big announcement sometime later this month. The huge success of this movement is just another thing to add to the list of: "Would all this have happened had I not been born or adopted?" Pretty wild! P.S. You might be interested in reading others' correspondence. As part of the kids' hurricane relief movement, we had children who wanted to help shop for and write to children who survived the hurricanes. I was blessed to be able to hand-deliver these gifts and letters to children in a shelter in Baton Rouge. I helped them write back. Some of their letters are here. There are some cute pics of kids across the country who pitched in and helped here. And you may also find links to stories that ran on The Today Show, MSNBC, CNN, NPR, etc. here. October 1, 2005 I have revealed my identity to my biological family. I want to tell you more about it, but I can't right now. I am THRILLED to be working on a campaign designed by kids to empower kids to make a HUGE impact in helping hurricane survivors. Here's our website: http://www.halloweenhelpers.blogspot.com/. A ten year old in Des Moines, IA came up with a plan... and the grassroots effort has caught fire across the nation. Even the world! (We just had our first donation from Israel). We have raised over $100,000 in one week. Our goal is to raise one million dollars by November first (this all ties in to Halloween). The story is going national this week as we launch the "You've Got a Friend in Me" campaign to connect kid FUNdraisers with kids who survived Katrina and Rita and need the FUNds. I'll get back to this project in November. There are a gazillion ways you can help with this Kids' campaign: See "Help Spread the Word" , our kids' job board, and T.L.C.'s Wishlist for starters. Thank you for your continued support! September 26,2005 While my "real job" has kept me very busy, I've found some time to work a little on this book. I was thrilled by an outpouring of enthusiasm on my latest work from an International Writers group. I'm hoping to have the final touches done soon and start submitting to agents by the end of the year. We'll see. I don't want to rush it. I'm still working on confirming the wild possibility below. No news yet. Frankly just the IDEA of it is pretty unbelievable. Stay tuned! September 6, 2005 Any of my spare time this past week has been dedicated to helping Katrina victims. It is so overwhelming. So devastating. And yet, I believe each of us can make a difference. I've already found one family a place to stay. It's only one family out of thousands, but it felt good. A friend of mine and I have been organizing a variety of efforts, and it's amazing to see how quickly our little ideas have snowballed into something much bigger than ourselves. Right now I'm working with a Louisiana Colonel in charge of citizen volunteers to try to coordinate a number of my friends to come down and pitch in. When I first talked to him, I asked if he could use some man power for up to a week. He said, "Ma'am, we'll take anything we can get." Thankfully, among our group of willing helpers, is a registered nurse. On a happy note, I am thrilled that adoption e-week magazine has decided to publish another excerpt from this book-in-progress. This time, it's a poem written by Ben. Spoiler Alert: If you read the poem in the magazine, the tag at the bottem gives away something that happens in the story. Here's the link to "November Skies." August 25, 2005 I'm looking for ideas. I have been researching various charitable organizations for a while now. If this book ever takes off, I want to direct some of the proceeds to help with alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs in and out of prison. I have talked to a few groups, but haven't settled on anything yet. If you know of an organization that has a great program, please let me know. Thanks! August 1, 2005 The Internet can be a strange and wonderful thing. A published author, and mother to a whole clan of published authors (we're talking "Diagnosis Murder," "Monk," and one of her sons was recently up against Scott Turow for the L.A. Times Book of the Year!) wrote to me saying how much she loved my blog. We started emailing and developed a fast friendship. Next thing I know, I'm getting tidbits of advice from her whole family! I don't know what I did to deserve this, but as I told her, I'm glad to know her now and to call her a friend. The fact that she and her family are well-versed in the publishing business is just an added bonus! Anyway, these seasoned veterans of the writing biz have been offering me sage advice. I have some exciting changes in the works. I need to shorten some of the narrative, and get to the letters faster, among other things. They said, "We want to read your mail!" :) So while I'd like to spend time cleaning up previous posts on my blog, I need to dedicate what precious little time I have to cleaning up the actual manuscript. Therefore I probably won't have any huge new excerpts out for a little while. But you never know. :) In the meantime, you may be interested to read the comments sections on each page. There are some interesting messages and "conversations" that are developing. And here's a link to my new friend's blog: http://jancurranevents.typepad.com/jan_curran_events/. Thanks again for all of your support. Please keep those comments and questions coming! -Anne June 3, 2005 I just got back from the Book Expo America Writers' Conference. It was outstanding! I learned a lot from some of the best in the business! I was thrilled to not only hear Noah Lukeman speak, but he signed my copy of The First Five Pages (a great book, I highly recommend to writers)! As you may have noticed in the past, I had been advised to remove previous posts. But at the conference, several top people in the publishing industry suggested I put the information back up. It may take me some time to get it to where it was, because I'm thrilled to report that four agents I met with at the conference have asked me to submit Anonymous Daughter to them when it's ready. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy what is back up already. Please keep your questions and comments coming. Your feedback opens new doors of inspiration to me as I continue to write this memoir. Thanks so much for your support! A reminder: An excerpt from this book has been published in the May 10, 2005 edition of Adoption Week e-magazine. If you would like to read it, please visit Adoption Week e-magazine and see My Special Day by Anne Parker. Please feel free to email me anytime at parker@fni.com. I look forward to putting a positive adoption story on the bookshelves in the future.


Gretchen said...

I read "My Special Day" that you mentioned on this post.

While reading it, I felt as if I was there. Like I could hear the birds in the back ground maybe some one cutting there lawn. I could even smell what that Day was like at that moment . I love books that can bring you in it and you are managing to do that. I hope I am making sense. Again I love it you as the author are keeping my attention!

Maz said...

I think this will be a wonderful book for MANY people. Those who are adopted, and those who are not. PLEASE keep the revisions and other writings coming. You are very talented. I could not stop reading once I started. I know this is your life, but I was eager for your and his responses to each other. What a special bond.

Julie said...

As someone who is in the process of adopting, thank you for writing this book. I can't wait to read it and give it as gifts to my many friends in the adoption community. I wish you all the success in the world.

Parker said...

Thank you Julie. I always smile when I hear about another adoption in the works. What a wonderful, exciting time for you! Best of luck!

a fellow adoptee said...

I just read "My Special Day" in the e-Magazine... What a wonderful story! You uplifted my heart and soul!!!! I do like to ask my adoptive mom about my special first visit. Thanks for sharing.

Random Fan said...

Cool Idea re: Oprah's Wildest Dreams! We may not even know each other, but it would be cool to play a part in helping you achieve your dream (especially since I like this book so far). When you're on Oprah I can brag to all my friends that I helped. Good luck!

A fan in NY said...

I just read that your trick-or-treat campaign has already raised over $500,000 in just a few weeks! Wow! So AMAZING!

It gives one pause to imagine how things would have turned out had you NOT been born, much less given up for adoption.

You should be the poster child for adoption! I wish you continued success!

Anonymous said...

In response to your December 2006 post, I strongly suggest witholding your father's fate until its proper placement instead of announcing it at the beginning. This is a sensitive, personal narrative, not a quick how-to piece. It's a fascinating twist in your journey that should leave readers connecting the dots as they reflect the circumstances in their own lives. The best stories challenge and leave one wondering...

Can't wait to see this published. Much success to you!

Anonymous said...

Here's a website you may find useful. http://www.addicted.com is a site for friends, families, and those who suffer from various addictions.

Sally Bacchetta said...


Thank you for your kind words on my blog; I'm enjoying exploring yours. Your words emanate warmth and goodness, and I feel blessed to have found them. Keep touching hearts!