That was a friend’s (not unkind) response when I explained the plot of the novel I’d just finished: the physical, emotional, and spiritual journey of a young woman who learns, at age twenty-five, that she was adopted at birth and goes in search of her birth family. So, is it a “pretty wild” storyline?
Nope. Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.
Years back, while working as a pediatric medical assistant, I met a sweet new patient, thirteen-year-old Ashley (name changed). Her mom was friendly at first, but her demeanor changed when I started taking a medical history. She seemed hesitant to answer questions and responded with simple detail. I suspected something was up but said nothing, although I planned on informing the physician. I gave Ashley a gown and left the room.
Moments later, Ashley’s mom came out. “I need to tell you something,” she said. “The medical history I gave you isn’t Ashley’s. We don’t know much about hers because she’s adopted. She doesn’t know…and we don’t intend to tell her.”
That just about blew me away. There were so many questions I wanted to ask, but it wasn’t my place to probe.
I didn’t sleep much that night. One of my closest friends was adopted, and even though she was a Christian, had an awesome adoptive family, and had always known she was adopted, she struggled. Abandonment issues and depression plagued her, and during one particularly dark bout, she attempted suicide. What would happen to Ashley? God, be with her, I prayed. She’s going to need you.
As a fiction writer, I’ve always asked “What if…?” This time, that question resulted in a character who learned, as an adult, that she was adopted at birth. What followed was a lot of research about late-discovery adoptees, candid talks about adoption with two friends (an adoptee and an adoptive mom), and a story that delves into tough issues. I hope it will someday bless the adoption community by painting a picture of the struggles—and triumphs—many adoptees face.
Christy Distler writes cross-cultural contemporary and historical fiction about faith that overcomes and grace that restores. Her nonfiction, short fiction, and poetry have been published in denominational periodicals and literary magazines. She works as a freelance editor and lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, children, and an ever-changing number of animals. When not writing and editing, she can be found reading, spending time with family and friends, doing all things crafty, trolling yard sales and thrift stores, and scarfing chocolate. Check out her website and talk to her on Twitter.