Pieces of Me, Who do I Want to Be?
edited by Robert L. Ballard, Ph.D
This is a collection of stories, poems, art, music, quotes, activities, provocative questions, and more – all for the young adopted person who wants to figure out his or her story but doesn’t know where to begin.
It is a book of voices, from ages 11 to 63, speaking honestly and authentically about what it means to be adopted. Most are adoptees from around the world – some are transracial, some are international, some are from foster care, some are young, some are old. There are a few adoptive parents, birth parents, and professionals who share themselves in here as well.
It is a series of experiences, expressions, feelings, hurts, hopes, dreams, and struggles from a wide range of individuals. Some will make you laugh, some will make you cry, some will make you happy, some will make you feel less alone, some will offer advice, and some will just share.
All of them are like us, figuring out where the Pieces of Me fit in with Who I Want to Be.
Organized around the idea of putting a puzzle together, there are five major sections:
Gathering the Pieces
Fitting the Pieces
Sharing the Pieces
Where do These Pieces Go?
- all offering hope, encouragement, empowerment, and a sense of not being alone.
Although it was conceived for the young adopted person, there are universal themes of healing, hope, and struggle all of us can resonate with. And if you are a parent, birth parent, or professional who works with adopted and foster kids, you will find a glimpse into their world. So, open the book. It doesn't matter where. Just open it up, and start to find the Pieces of Me: Who do I Want to Be?
Pieces of Me is edited by Robert L."Bert" Ballard, PhD, an Operation Babylift adoptee from Vietnam, who wishes he had this book as a teen to know he wasn’t alone and what he was feeling was normal.
Take a sneak peak at one of our favorite chapters, although it was hard to choose!!
Chapter 4...Sharing the Pieces
Two additional resources:
Walk A Mile in My Shoes
is an EMK Press Parent Guide to help put you in the frame of mind to listen and learn to the adopted teen you know and love.
I Don't Know By Bert Ballard, PhD
About the editor:
Bert Ballard (PhD) is a Vietnamese adoptee evacuated from Vietnam in April 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War. His passion is the adoptee voice. He has helped co-found two adoptee organizations and has served on a variety of boards for adoption. He is a sought-after speaker for both adoptive parents and adoptees having given hundreds of presentations across the nation. He is also widely published on adoption, in magazines, popular books, and academic journals. He is very excited to be working on a book for adopted teens as he believes there is a void of support and resources for this very important and valuable group of people. Currently at Pepperdine, he researches international and transracial adoptee and adoptive family identity, communication ethics, and race. He is married with two daughters and a son.
Praise for Pieces of Me
Adopted people have a connection through a culture all their own, a unique space they share only with others who have been moved from one family and perhaps country to another without choice. In the process they have lost their first culture, family, language, religion and the identity they would have had. Equally connecting is the unique need to combine the inheritances of both birth and adoptive cultures and fit in to wherever they find themselves, building a healthy identity based on wholeness. Pieces of Me is a much needed contribution to the world of adoption books for teens and has plenty to say to adults. Perhaps the best advise for parents is to read it yourself and leave it on the coffee table just waiting to be discovered by you know who.
Gail Steinberg, author Inside Transracial Adoption, adoption professional, adoptive parent
I really enjoyed reading Pieces of Me. It makes me feel good to know there is someone else that feels the same way I sometimes feel. It’s like there is a missing piece of me and I have now realized that a lot of adoptees feel that way. Every story is different, but they are the same too. I am happy to have this book!
Jazz Pyne, 12, adoptee from China, budding musician
One of my pet peeves is that many discussions about adoption and adoptees box the adoption experience by “alls” and “shoulds”. All adoptees are ________ (take your pick: angry, happy, sad, confused). All adoptees should ________ (feel grateful, want to search for birth families, need therapy). Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be avoids that trap by including essays by adoptees that reflect the diversity of reality. Some adoptees are angry, some are content, some are confused, some need to search, and on and on.
Pieces of Me encompasses the whole of the adoption experience—the deep love, the confusion, the living with empty places and unanswered question, and yes, even the gratitude. It is not always an easy book for an adoptive parent to read, but for just that reason, it is an important book for us to read.
Dawn Davenport, host of the radio show Creating a Family and Director of Creating a Family, a nonprofit providing education and resources for adoption and infertility
Cover to cover, staying true to its teen audience, Pieces of Me shares real stories of adoption from many points of view and helps the reader to fit together the puzzle of who they are as an adopted teen. Poignant, funny, heartwarming and almost shockingly honest, the poetry, prose, artwork and photos work together as pieces of a puzzle to form a picture of the lives of teens that happen to be adopted. Stories range from joyful to tragic, and where adoption is central to the puzzle or a piece only on the edges; each helping the reader to figure out how to place their own pieces of who they are. Entries are written by all members of the adoption triad (adoptees, adoptive parents and birth families) and range from young children to older adults, but all written to speak directly to the teen reader with deep respect. The accompanying photos, artwork and activities pages add another sensory level to the experience, which overall, leaves the reader feeling as though they just spent an afternoon sharing deeply held thoughts and emotions with a dear friend. Because the book shares so much insight on being an adopted teen, the questions they struggle with, the prejudices they encounter, and the hopes and fears they hold in their hearts, the book is also an excellent resource for adoptive parents and counselors who work with teens.
Patricia Dischler, author of
Because I Loved You:
a Birthmother’s View
of Open Adoption
Pieces of Me is a powerful compilation I want to share with all the youth I work with in “Get Real” – a group of youth in foster care. Each teen has expressed at least a part of everything in this book about identity and fitting in. As an adoptive mom of a 23 year-old, Columbian born daughter, I am sharing the book with her. We have lived the pieces and will continue to do so.
Valli Baba Spahn, MPA, LSW
Adoption Network Cleveland
Pieces of Me is good for teen adoptees because it portrays common adoptee feelings. Reading about people experiencing the same situations is comforting to teenagers, who live in a judgmental world. The style of the book is more interesting than a textbook or “self-help” book and will capture your attention. Nothing is more valuable then being able to know that there are people just like you in the world who are feeling the exact same way about their lives.
Yoselin Corrales, 19, adopted from Tegucigalpa at 9 months, sophmore at Nebraska Wesleyan pursuing a double major in Vocal Performance
from School Library Journal:
Gr 9 Up—This title refers to the "pieces" that adoptees must identify, gather, and put together properly in order to make themselves whole. It is a compendium of poems, essays, drawings, quotations, and photos created by adoptees, from 12 to 60+, intended to "offer practical insight and hope" to other adoptees. Each contributor is introduced in a brief biographical sketch that provides readers with background information that helps place each work in context. A few contributors describe their delight at finding someone who "looks like me," while others explore the agony of being rejected, or ignored, by a birthparent. Several adoptees express regret for the suffering they inflicted on their adoptive families, who were often caring and loving. Although many contributors are adults, they focus on their experiences as teens. The raw emotions exposed here make this a rather painful, but extremely powerful read. Pieces of Me should be considered for older patrons who are adoptees, as well as adoptive parents.—Deborah Vose, Highlands Elementary School, Braintree, MA
If you are a social worker, agency professional, therapist, or other who works with adoptive, fostering, kinship families please sign up for our e-list with links and article resources delivered direcly to your inbox.
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