by Zara H. Phillips
"Society needs to recognise children who have been adopted, or who have been in and out of foster care, and acknowledge that they may experience grief and problems and sadness." —Zara Phillips, in the introduction of her memoir, Mother Me
In Mother Me author Zara Phillips shares that she always knew she had been adopted. However, adoption was not discussed within her family. While Phillips was close to her mom and grandmother, her father kept her at a distance and she felt "out of place."
Emotions (loss, grief, shame, guilt, lack of control, issues with identity, intimacy, and rejection) stemming from having been adopted were not examined as she was a child, and therefore not understood. Overcompensating for feelings of guilt (she must have done something awful to have been relinquished by her birth mother) Phillips was the "good adoptee," until she was in her teens. Then her identity crisis surfaced and destruction quickly became her way of life.
Drugs were her godsend. Phillips smoked her first joint at the age of fifteen, encouraged by and in the company of her stoned older brother, also adopted. Her drug use quickly turned into a numbing addiction, as well as alcohol and unhealthy relationships. In time she clawed her way back to surface to begin healing, finding love, and becoming a mother.
I wanted to read Mother Me because I am an adoptive mom and adoption educator. I believe that reading memoirs and essays written by those who have been adopted and collections of adoptees' stories are "must reads" for adoptive parents, providing great insight and understanding as to how we can support our children. Mother Me underscores the importance of communication, understanding, and empathy that parents must create with their children so that they can support their children on their journeys of self-discovery, no matter how painful.
Mother Me is raw, honest, and tough. It's not a "pretty" story, but it is full of determination and hope.
Zara H. Phillips is a singer-songwriter, filmmaker, public speaker and advocate for adoptee rights. Zara speaks regularly at the American Adoption Congress, the main adoption organization in the United States, and gives presentations and workshops throughout the U.S. and the U.K. Raised in England, Zara lives in Montclair, New Jersey. Visit her website.
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