Reveals the candid thoughts and feelings of those most directly involved in adoptions: adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents.
Adoption Unfiltered authors Sara Easterly (adoptee), Kelsey Vander Vliet Ranyard (birth parent), and Lori Holden (adoptive parent) interview dozens of adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, social workers, therapists, and other allies—all sharing candidly about the challenges in adoption. While finding common ground in the sometimes-contentious space of adoption may seem like a lofty goal, it reveals the authors’ optimistic aim: working together with truth and transparency to move toward healing.
Healing isn’t possible, though, without first uncovering the hurts—starting with adoption’s central players: adoptees, who are so often in pain, suffering from what the latest brain science validates as the long-term emotional effects of separation trauma. By encouraging others to vulnerably share their stories, the authors discover that adoptees aren’t the only ones in the adoption constellation who are hurting. Birth parents regularly shut down after being shut out by adoptive parents. Adoptive parents often struggle with unique parenting challenges and hidden insecurity, feeling the need to hide the fact that they are not the Super Parents they led the agency to believe they would be. Across the industry as a whole, misinformed and even unethical practices abound.
Adoption Unfiltered models the importance of adults in adoption working together in the spirit of curiosity and empathy—to learn and do better for future generations of adoptees and their first and adoptive families.
Sara Easterly is an award-winning author of books and essays. Her spiritual memoir, Searching for Mom, won a 2020 Illumination Book Award gold medal, among many others. Sara’s adoption-focused articles and essays have been published by Psychology Today, Dear Adoption, Feminine Collective, Godspace, Her View from Home, and Severance Magazine, to name a few. Sara is the founder of Adoptee Voices and resides outside of Seattle with her husband, two daughters, and a menagerie of rescued fur-babies.
Kelsey Vander Vliet Ranyard is the Director of Advocacy and Policy at AdoptMatch, where she works on public policy issues impacting all adoption-triad members. She’s a birth mother who is passionate about raising the standards in adoption to better serve the children, mothers, and families affected by family separation. Adoption has been a monumental part of her entire life: Kelsey is the daughter and granddaughter of adoptees. She has worked at various agencies and law firms in the adoption field and is also a co-host of the first-ever birth-mom podcast headed into its third season, Twisted Sisterhood. Kelsey resides in Northern California with her husband and daughter.
Lori Holden, a veteran parent of two young adults, writes at LavenderLuz.com and hosts the podcast Adoption: The Long View. She’s the author of the acclaimed book The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole (recommended by People magazine in 2021), written with her daughter’s birth mom and featured on adoption-agency required-reading lists across the country. She has keynoted and presented at adoption conferences around the US and Canada, and her work has appeared in magazines such as Parenting and Adoptive Families. In 2018, she was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). She lives in Denver, Colorado.
Easterly, Vander Vliet Ranyard, and Holden model beautifully in Adoption Unfiltered the complexities of the Both/And of adoption. As someone who has worked in the adoption industry since 1990 I know firsthand the dedication it takes to sit in community with other members of the adoption constellation (in this case an adoptee, a birth/first parent, and an adoptive parent) with the common goal of creating a body of work that is respectful and empathetic, while also critical and innovative. In Adoption Unfiltered, Easterly, Vander Vliet Ranyard, and Holden show us how it's done!
Groundbreaking! The rare opportunity to experience an adoptee, birth-mother and adoptive mother communicating honestly and compassionately offers a much-needed model for those navigating the inevitable tensions and joys that exist in adoption.
As both scholarly examination and deeply personal narrative, this is a carefully crafted, highly respectful, broadly readable examination of adoption. This is a meeting of minds, hearts, advocacy, and empathy. There’s just so much here!
Adoption Unfiltered is a dream come true. As an adoptee and the leader of an organization that values inclusiveness, collaboration, courage, and trust, this book resonated with me deeply. I found myself cheering the authors on as I read. We grow in our understanding through listening to others, hearing them, feeling with them, and honoring their lived experiences. Adoption Unfiltered provides a unique opportunity to do just this. The triad of authors—Sara, Kelsey, and Lori—structured their work and successfully collaborated to elevate authentic voices, with the adoptee at the center. They expose many of the raw issues, the ones that are hardest for many to acknowledge. The hard truths. They also provide sound suggestions for individual, and institutional, healing. Nuanced and thought-provoking, this book should be required reading for everyone, from adoptees and their families to adoption professionals and policymakers. This book is a true gem that offers a unique perspective on adoption and illuminates the way forward for understanding, healing, and growth.
As a person adopted in the 1960s, this is the kind of ground-breaking book I wish my adoptive parents had read. It does not shy away from the harsh realities of what adoption truly means to everyone. The pages are full of honest accounts of the emotional impact to all parties. I identified with it all and read each word with relief that this factual book is now informing our culture. This is the truth of our experience, which so many choose to not want to understand. But understand we must for the sake of all families affected by adoption. I highly recommend this book to anyone considering adoption, or who is associated with adoption in any way. Adoption will continue to take place, but honest books like this will help make sure that this next generation of adoptees do not have to suffer in the way so many of us have and still do.
Adoption Unfiltered is the most important book of our modern adoption generation. With grief and loss existing in a space with hope and healing, we finally get to see a glimpse of those lived experiences through adoption in a way that is relatable, educational, and tangible. We finally know better, and this book is doing better.
Adoption Unfiltered is a powerful book that is based entirely on lived-experience expertise from each triad member, yet centres the adoptee. So much wisdom learned over decades by those who have made mistakes and now know better, covering all the complexities I wish everyone knew—the real truths about adoption. I highly recommend Adoption Unfiltered for anyone but especially for the adoptee and their parents, biological and adoptive—and it should be mandatory reading in adoption education and for anyone considering adoption, as it will help prevent the ongoing trauma we adoptees typically experience in most adoptions to date.
Adoption Unfiltered is required reading for anyone who is part of the adoption constellation, including the central core triad. Using voices and perspectives from adoptees, birth parents, and adopting parents, this book reveals the inner thoughts, challenges, and possibilities each have experienced within themselves and the American culture, providing a map to navigate these complicated and complex roles. Kudos for creating a space for this much-needed conversation.
Adoption Unfiltered is a brilliant blend of diverse perspectives, clinical findings, and lived experience. The authors offer thoughtful, beautifully written insight synthesized through not only three positions in the adoption constellation, but from three distinct generations as well: Gen X adoptee, millennial birth mother, and boomer adoptive parent. Our three united authors deliver both breadth and depth as they weave a diversity of voices and experience in the adoption community through their thoughtful, powerful narratives. At times painful, at times healing, and consistently candid and triumphant, this trio of exceptional and caring authors guide us to a passionate mandate for not only change in the way of adoption reform, but a practical road map to get there. Adoption Unfiltered is what happens when people really speak up and listen to each other in community and invites us to embrace its lessons of enlightenment and the possibility of personal and systemic change. This authentic, dynamic, and unique work is an important contribution to the adoption canon.
Adoption Unfiltered is a blazing, insightful, expansive, and informative triumph centering the lives of those touched by the complexities of adoption. The trio of authors present a masterwork that blends the perspectives and challenges faced by adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents in a way that holds their shared humanity while challenging existing systems in adoption. A must-read.
Adoption Unfiltered is a well-researched tapestry of adoptee, birth/first family, and adoptive parent voices, experiences, and resources expertly woven into a pathway of hope for future generations. The trio of authors have created a space for compassionate truism while dispelling myths with the hard facts about the complexities of adoption. A compelling read for anyone seeking to understand the multi-faceted world of adoption.
At last, an honest, plain-speaking guidebook for those who navigate adoption's choppy waters. As a mother who relinquished my daughter in the dark ages of closed adoption, I was stunned by the brutal honesty of Adoption Unfiltered and cannot recommend this book more highly. Adoption Unfiltered belongs in the hands of all adoptive parents and those considering becoming one, natural parents who have endured adoption's loss, adult adoptees who are on the journey of putting themselves together--and everyone working in the field of adoption. Expect to be surprised.
The chapter titles alone should pull people into NEEDING to read this book. Adoption Unfiltered is a book we must gather around in the adoption community so we can share among the general public. Adoption is still largely misunderstood and the system of adoption in the U.S. is in need of an overhaul. It is clear from the first pages of Adoption Unfiltered that the voices within it are raising ALL the issues that should be considered as we move forward in evolving adoption in America and elsewhere.
Finally … a truth-telling book that validates the lived trauma of adoption and shows a way out of the suffering through truth, courage, grieving, and change. The stories are moving, the analysis is sound, the compassion is comforting, and the call for change is clear. We must not and cannot remain unmoved. Adoption Unfiltered is a must-read for all who care, whether personally involved in a story of adoption or not. It is not only adoption unfiltered; it calls us to be adoption wise.
Adoption Unfiltered fills an immense gap in adoption-related course curriculum and resources for individuals immediately impacted by adoption, their allies, and policy makers. Importantly, the authors understand adoptive families as a profound public and private social institution, born out of separation, subject to societal issues of classism, racism, and inequity. Writing across their own divergent standpoints as adoptee, birth parent, and adoptive parent, the authors create a unique space for honing skills in listening and communicating across difference—essential for today’s often polarizing family communicative environment. In Adoption Unfiltered, the authors illuminate paradoxes of adoption—voicing the constraints and losses of adoption as they interanimate with the generative potential of adoptive identities, family relatedness, and communication.
Adoption Unfiltered offers an unsparing deconstruction of the happy-ever-after conventional wisdom about adoption as it crushes the familiar tropes that portray adopters as saviors, birthparents as selfless, and adoptees as blank slates who need nothing more to flourish than a loving stable home. It casts a clear, unflinching eye on the complexities, inequities, and failures of the system, pointing to the need for a more ethical practice that centers the wellbeing of adoptees. The authors offer as a prerequisite to such reparation the ability for each member of the adoption constellation to see through the lens of the others and understand the depth and full dimension of their experiences.
What a welcome addition to our adoption libraries! Adoption Unfiltered provides a clear-eyed look at adoption from those most impacted—adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents. I appreciated that they neither overly praise nor condemn the institution of adoption. Rather, they allow space for both the beauty and pain, aiming to make life better for this current generation of adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents.
It's never been more important for all parties of the adoption constellation to come to the table to craft essential reform. Change can't happen, however, until we all have a better understanding of each other's perspectives. Adoption Unfiltered has the ability to do just that—break down the walls to start candid conversations. This book amplifies the seldom-heard adoptee voice, expresses the journey of loss for birth parents, and includes the often dominant voice of adoptive parents. All parties agree change has to happen, but not until we pull back the veil and share rarely heard, raw first-hand experiences from those who have lived it.
Adoption Unfiltered is not only an excellent resource, it is a needed, invaluable resource for every conversation and consideration of adoption—past, present, and future. Easterly, Ranyard, and Holden have written and compiled a book that everyone in the “adoption constellation” needs. As an adoptive parent who has felt the lack of substance and over-emphasis on adoptive parent voices and perspectives for far too long, this book deserves to lead and take up wide space. I learned so much from every page in Adoption Unfiltered and I know that I will go back to it again and again. It is honest and it is a book of hope for the future.
As a foster parent educator, I am so excited that the book I have longed for now exists. Brilliantly written, Adoption Unfiltered may not be an easy read (because of the way it challenges old ideas), but it skillfully and thoroughly probes the societal narrative about adoption, leaving the reader to deeply re-examine their own beliefs. Adoption Unfiltered should be mandatory reading for anyone contemplating entry into adoption, as well as for their friends, co-workers, and family members.
10/31/23, Once Upon a Time in Adopteeland podcast: Coauthor Lori Holden is interviewed about the book.