Part 7: 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!

  • Does the book explore the experiences of birth parents in the adoption process?

Such a packed question. Every aspect of my adoption search and reunion story was poignant, painful, and liberating. I came to understand the difficult journey of the closed adoption birth mother. Because of societal shame, these women buried their secret. They feared discovery while suffering the pain of losing a child/children to adoption. Many go to their grave with their secret, never knowing what happened to their child. I feel for them. This empathy, which I gained through my post adoption support group, allowed my relationship with my birth mom to transcend feelings of anger, rejection, and abandonment. She and I are still in contact. I value the knowledge she provided me, albeit later in life, and the “knowing” of her. Our contact has completed me in a way I never dreamed possible.

  • What inspired you to engage in these conversations about adoption and its impact on families and kinship structures?

Whether I wanted it to be or not, my closed adoption story and my twindom define me, molded me into the person I have become. In reflecting upon those facts, certain truths became apparent. The more I shared my adoption search and reunion story with friends and family and those within the adoption community, the more I believed my unique experience needed to be shared. None of us want to feel alone in our lived experiences, we are voyeuristic by nature. By offering our personal experiences for public consumption, we afford others a perspective to consider or a roadmap to follow or discard.

  • “Belonging Matters” appears to be a collection of personal stories and interviews. Could you share how you conducted these interviews and selected the individuals featured in the book?

Several of the interviews are with key members of the adoption triad: birth mother, adoptive parent, and fellow adoptee. Besides sharing my own story and personal anecdotes, I felt compelled to offer the perspectives of others in the adoption world. Interviews included in the book were done in person, but the questions were provided to interviewees ahead of time for consideration. The personal stories were those my editor and I chose from my columns, blog posts, and published essays.

  • Can you introduce us to some of the people whose stories are featured in the book and the diverse perspectives they bring to the topic of adoption?

The stories feature my adoptive family, birth relatives, and my immediate family which includes: my late husband, four children, grandchildren, both new and old friends and community members. As a writer I enjoy selecting a unique moment shared between a few people, isolating that experience, and drawing meaning from it. Of course, COVID-19 plays a role in a few essays, as do events in daily life, my wanderings on foot and exposure to nature.

Click here for part 8!