Part 9: Interview with Julie Ryan McGue, Author of Belonging Matters

Introducing “Belonging Matters: Conversations on Adoption, Family, and Kinship” by Julie Ryan McGue

“Belonging Matters” is a book that addresses adoption and its impact on identity, family, and kinship. It encourages readers to contemplate the significance of belonging in shaping personal experiences and relationships. The book supports the adoption community while engaging those outside it in meaningful conversations about acceptance and inclusion. Ultimately, it highlights the importance of belonging in enriching our lives and driving us toward fulfillment.

Buy the book here!

  • What insights or common threads did you discover during your conversations with adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, and others involved in the adoption process?

Each member of the triad struggles with loss. Some adoptive parents are forced to choose adoption because of infertility issues; this is a failing or shortcoming not under their control. Adoptees lose the opportunity to be raised with their biological kin, and those of us from the closed adoption era lost all information about our personal background. Birth parents lose the ability to raise their birth son/daughter. Of course, there are benefits to adoption, but loss is the common thread. As a result of adoption loss, one’s sense of belonging and identity can suffer.

  • “Belonging Matters” seems to explore the concept of identity within the context of adoption. Can you discuss how the book delves into this theme and its importance?

Adoption is essentially a system that deprives an individual of knowing all the truths about themselves, as well as being raised with birth relatives. As a result, an adoptee struggles to understand themselves fully. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle where integral pieces are lost. One cannot accurately discern the whole picture. There is an essay in Belonging Matters called “The Happiest Moment.” In it, I describe how it felt to speak to my birth mother for the first time and how that single conversation stacked up against other moments in my life.

  • How do you hope “Belonging Matters” will resonate with readers, whether they have personal connections to adoption or not?

I hope that the collection of essays provides enough information, “food for thought,” that difficult conversations become possible between the members of the triad and those that love them. Secrecy damages relationships and prevents personal growth. By sharing our unique perspectives, we have the tools to change ideas and mindsets, thereby improving the important relationships in our lives.

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