Kelsey Stewart is a first-time author/illustrator who has a unique perspective into adoption. She has been through two adoptions as a birthmother and hopes that this book will help children and adults everywhere understand why a mother might choose to place her child for adoption. Kelsey has lived a full, productive and happy life since her journey as a mother began and considers herself incredibly blessed. She currently resides in Southern California with her husband and their two sons. You can find out more on her blog.
Read Judy Miller's review of The Best for You for StoryCircleBookReviews.org.
Interviewed by Judy Miller
Posted on 05/20/2010
The Best for You is a beautiful book. The compassionate voice of the birth mother delivers a positive message to the child who was adopted and the adoptive parent. Why were you compelled to write The Best for You?
I tried for years to figure out a way to help my children understand why I chose adoption for them. I never wanted them to think that I did not want them. How could I explain the real reasons why without over-complicating things...to leave room for questions? So after years of pondering the thought, I sat one night and it flowed out of me. I revised very little from the first draft and, over the following two weeks, completed what is printed today. I cannot tell you how wonderful it felt to finally see that manuscript.
You wrote and illustrated the book. The illustrations are colorful and fun. Why did you decide to illustrate the book yourself?
Thank you very much, I never really considered myself an artist in anyway...I mean, I was good at coloring books and shading, but never a painter or illustrator. I wanted to make sure that what I was writing would correlate with what was on the page. If these are my words then I want to make sure the reader is seeing what I see. For example: I drew tears on my face on a couple of pages. I did not want anyone to try and take away the real feelings of the words, I guess I was afraid someone would try and edit what I was trying to share.
Why did you go the self-publishing route? Can you share your experience with our network of women?
Well, I tried my best to submit the manuscript to publishing houses, but I think the subject matter was too controversial for them. I tried to submit the manuscript to agents, but again...I think the subject scared them. So after my all my attempts to get someone to pay attention to this unique book failed, I took the plunge and decided to self- publish.
I researched many sites, asked many questions and read as much as I could before choosing AuthorHouse. I published with them because every time I called, I was treated with respect and all my inquiries were answered in depth. One of the biggest reasons I chose them was because of the amount of exposure that they could give my book. The book is printed on demand (POD), but would be available at two of the largest book retailers in the world: Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. That exposure has really helped legitimize my book, meaning when people ask where they can purchase the book and I say Amazon or Barnes & Noble, they think "Oh, well, I shop there all the time. I'll look for it."
Was The Best for You always planned to be a book for young children?
Yes. Originally I wrote the book only for my adopted children so that they would always know that they were thought of and loved. I never wanted them to think that I did not hold them in my heart regardless of the time and miles between us. In talking with adult adoptees in the years since my adoptions, the one thing I heard them say was, "I wonder if she ever thought about me on my birthday or Christmas? I wonder what it was that made her choose to let me go." Those thoughts from others always stuck with me and I thought that there had to be a way to let all adoptees know that yes, they are thought of...probably more than they can ever imagine. So I wrote the book for my children, but once my daughter got it in her hands she told me that I should share it with the world because she was sure so many others would find comfort in it, just as much as she did. That was all I needed to hear. It was with her encouragement, and the encouragement of my family, that I took that next step to publish and try to help others out there know that even though life moves on for birth mothers after adoption, their hearts will always be missing their children.
Do you have any plans to write a book targeted towards the young adult adoptees (eight and up) or their parents?
I have thought about it, but this triad of adoption is so very controversial and extremely critical. I am not sure if there is a reason for me to write because most adolescents view life so differently and are more controlled by emotions, which can run from very confused and feeling abandoned to grateful and peaceful. I do not want people to accuse me of trying to convince kids that they all have to have one story. It has happened frequently since I started my blog, and I have had to explain many times that although I have a positive story to tell...not all adoption stories are like mine.
I think what would be more beneficial to write about is the wonderful support that I got from my family during my pregnancies. It is a crucial time for a woman, or a man who may be the father, and there just is not enough medical support for that side of adoption. It is assumed that you will just move on and live life without any consequences or problems. This is far from the truth. I was fortunate enough to have amazing people that surrounded me and did help me through the tough times. Perhaps reading a book about the people who helped me and had my back no matter what the circumstances or feelings could help another's family with trying to cope. Understanding adoption better just might mean there would be more attention paid to the birth parents to help them heal. Maybe that will be the next book. Although, I will not dismiss the thought of another book for tweens, I would just have to refocus my thoughts.
How have all of your children reacted to your book?
As I explained, my daughter thought it was wonderful. My twins have yet to read it, but their books are on the way to them as I write this. They have told me that they are excited to read it and told me how proud they are that I was brave enough to embark on such an endeavor. My two sons that I am raising with my husband think the book is great and, in reading it, they have a better understanding why Mom chose to let her children walk without her. My oldest son Bodde, who is ten, is the proudest of them all. He cried while reading it and when the school year started he had an assignment to draw the cover of his favorite book. I was surprised and proud to see his recreation of the cover of The Best for You hanging on the wall in his classroom. He always has a way of making me feel like a million bucks!
Is there anything else you would like to share about The Best for You?
This book has opened up my world. I could have never imagined when I was writing it that so many would embrace the message of the book. I have been contacted by many people...adoptive parents thanking me for helping them talk honestly to their children about their origins, adult adoptees who have told me they wish they would have had a book like this when they were younger and what a difference it would have made for them to know that their mother was thinking of them, but most of all I am touched every single day by the scores of birth mothers who write me and tell me thank you for telling their story right along with mine. That is what I did not expect, the birth mother reaction. I am humbled and surprised everyday by those that feel that I have in some way helped them feel better about themselves and their decision. I only hope that it will continue to help many out there know that birth mothers are very brave and courageous women.