Becoming a Writer with Sara Easterly

Sara Easterly is a writer, but it’s taken some time for her to own that as her work identity. As with many of us, there are traces of it all the way back to her younger years. But it took some time for that part of herself to identity to emerge.

One of the turning points in her process came when she realized, she was giving so much to everything else she was doing and “giving herself the left-overs”, as she said it.


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In this episode you’ll learn:

  • What Sara does
  • How she ended up in her career
  • How she deals with the fear of the unknown
  • What is the role of a publicist?
  • The challenges did she faced in her process
  • What it means to play the “numbers game” an author
  • How to build the confidence to continue in spite of rejections
  • What her work is about
  • How she thinks about words like calling, purpose, and vocation
  • Sara shares a bit about her book
  • Why publishers told told her adoption books don’t do well
  • What we should know about adoption

Resources Mentioned:

Sara’s website

Sara’s book: Searching for Mom

Books mentioned:

Let Your Life Speak – Parker Palmer

The Primal Wound – Nancy Verrier

Software Generated Transcription:

Dan

Sarah, thank you so much for joining me today. Welcome to the Meaning Movement podcast,

Sara

Wonderful. Thank you, Dan. I’m so happy to be here.

Dan

So the question I’d like to begin with is how do you begin to talk about what you do in the world?

Well, I usually start with saying that I’m a writer, that’s the easy answer, and that’s where I’m at right now. There’s been a lot leading up to getting to that point and feeling comfortable saying I’m a writer.

Sara

There’s a lot of kind of confidence, some muscles that need to be flex before you feel legitimately able to kind of claim that as a career. But that’s what I say. That’s where I’m at now.

Dan

I love it. And I love that you say it that way. That’s where you’re at right now, which I think acknowledges like that it’s a process that work is always a process. And I think how we answer that question and how we identify what we do is always in flux and always growing.

So what a beautiful place to start.

I’d love to hear more about how you become a writer? How did you name that part of yourself?

Sara

OK. Well, it’s a journey story, but let’s see. I’ll just start way back when I was young, I actually wanted to be a veterinarian originally.

I’ve always loved animals and it was the only job I was aware of when I was a kid that I would get to work with animals. But I do distinctly remember the day we were in the car and my dad kind of informed me all of a sudden, after years of listening to me dream about being a veterinarian, he informed me that I’d have to put animals to sleep or euthanize them. And that was a showstopper.

I remember just. Well, that’s it.

There goes that career.

So in the end, as I went along through school, math and science skills were not or not my forte anyway. So my natural abilities were just kind of shining all through school that I was a writer as early as third grade. I remember kind of every year teachers would use my stories for example and just I was writing plays for the neighborhood. I was doing just a lot of writing. So it was just this kind of natural thing that started to come out back in third grade.

All my stories were mostly about Princess Sarah and her measly little sister.

They weren’t really original.

Dan

Did you have a little sister?

Sara

I did, yes.

Yeah. Biography it was. Yeah, she was always named the evil one.

Dan

So I’m curious, you know, like just the other steps, like, how do you go from I think a lot of people want to be a writer. Right. But there’s so much about the fear of the unknown, how opaque the career path is to actually step into that and getting published. Like what were some of those next steps like for you?

Sara

OK, well, that’s a great question. And there was a lot in between that happened between those third-grade stories. And we’re doing that now for sure.

So, you know, I went to university and I majored in journalism. I went to Colorado State University. And just an aside, it’s actually known as one of the top veterinary schools in the country.

But they’re journalism school is pretty good, too. And so that was probably, you know, parents kind of guiding you back, especially, I think maybe hopefully I hope, you know, I think things have evolved a little bit, but it wasn’t really like “go to college to become a writer”, you know, an author. It was, what are you going to do with your career? So I chose broadcast journalism and I also minored in English.

I loved creative writing. Then I also took a lot of psychology courses. I probably took enough of those to qualify for a minor, but they only had a major program at my school. You couldn’t minor in psychology. But between those three, it’s interesting because that’s kind of where I have evolved and that’s where I’m writing now. But I didn’t know that at the time. I loved my major. I love doing broadcast journalism. We filmed documentaries on campus and reported on the news.

I got to write a copy for news pieces. It was like playing the whole time.

Dan

Yeah, I love it.

Sara

It was good, but I didn’t go into that.

I ended up not pursuing that as a career once I was out of school and it was kind of a, you know, young kind of not really well thought through decision other than I wasn’t willing to go move to a really small market where you need to for broadcast journalism.

I was a city girl. I was newly graduated from college, and I wanted to be in the city where all my friends and the fun were, which isn’t exactly the career advice I would give my kids or my younger self, but it actually worked out fine. You know, it was OK. And I ended up going into marketing, instead.

Dan

It seems like a kind of parallel track. I could see the overlap.

Sara

Yeah, well, and interestingly, when I was younger, among many of the things that I was writing, I actually used to write advertisements for my dad’s company.

He worked at a bank and then they’d get published in the corporate newsletter. So there was a little bit of kind of inkling towards that as well. So I ended up working for several Fortune 500 companies, just getting really great experience across marketing, communications, the whole spectrum of things in that area, graphic design, event planning, PR publicity, you name it. I gotta do it. Commercials, lots of video production. And so it all kind of built on that video and storytelling kind of bent ultimately, but it was kind of in the corporate setting and then it was really wonderful.

[00:06:05.770]

One of the companies they’re actually one of the companies I worked for, my two bosses and mentors, ended up moving to Seattle. So they moved me out for this great job where I was leading the marketing, the in-house creative team. And I had grown up and always lived in Colorado before.

But once I got to Seattle, there was quiet, but there was just a little bit more space because I didn’t have you know, I was kind of nearing the end of my 20s and just slowing down socially. And I thought, what am I going to do? I have this job. That’s great. And I also realized that I missed writing. And so I started taking courses. And the next thing I know, I mean, I was really deep into writing and so much so that I was leading the local chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

I started working on my own as a publicist and applying kind of all of my corporate background in marketing. To authors and to New York Times best selling authors running book tours and doing their marketing and publicity. And so I was really deep in writing and I had this whole community and then kind of simultaneously kind of just pursuing my own writing as well and realizing that it all fit together just in a kind of strange way of getting it.

Dan

I love it. I love it. This is maybe a little bit naive question, but what does a publicist do? What is the role of a publicist?

Sara

Well, the role of a publicist and a lot of publicist work for publishers. I was hired by publishers and sometimes hired by authors. But basically the publicist does pitching to try to get media coverage to try to get book reviews, lines up the book tours. And I had one of my authors every year we do like a two to three week book tour.

So the poor guy sending him all over the road and lining up every last detail and interviews in every city and events in every city.

Dan

So those are the folks that email me about giving their authors onto this podcast, which happens here.

Sara

Those are publicist

Dan

That makes sense. You’re connecting the dots here for me.

Thank you.

Sara

Yeah.

Dan

It sounds like you just kind of work your way into the writing world when you’re working as a publicist and leading the, you mentioned the children’s book writing group. Had you written any, but did you have anything published at that point or were you still you know, I don’t want to say like working in private, I guess is the best way to say it.

Sara

Yeah, working towards it. Toiling away. Yeah, it’s OK. A little bit of both. I did publish one children’s book. It was a work for hire book and I have a great connection to the editor.

It was a really fun book about fashion for children, kind of between the age of six to nine, ten age groups. So I published that.

But I had also written two middle-grade novels and a young adult novel, one of which one of the middle-grade novels was a graphic novel that I wrote with a real good friend of mine. She was the illustrator and I was the writer and we brainstormed together. But none of those got published. And, you know, for two reasons. I think, one, I was just putting in my time and practicing and learning. And the other thing was, though, and I still have this dream, I want to get back to those and get them published.

But the other thing was that I was pouring so much time and energy into both the Sea BWI and my own author publicity business that I was giving myself the scraps. I had all the leftovers. It was kind of like this.

I was almost teasing myself a little bit. I knew I wanted to be a writer. I knew that was my space and my community. Those are my people. But yet I was almost in a way not valuing myself. And probably it was a confidence thing, not believing in myself enough. But I knew I could rely on it. I knew I could do publicity and running this chapter really, really well.

So it was kind of like, you know, you get a lot of rejection in writing and whereas in marketing and publicity, you kind of get more instant feedback and some instant lens, and it came a little bit easier for me and it took me a long time to actually make kind of put a stake in the ground and start peeling away clients, which was hard because I loved my clients and I loved what I was doing, volunteering and writing the chapter.

But I had to start just slowly over time valuing myself in my own words and kind of realized I was propping up everybody else’s writers, but then not propping up myself as a writer.

Dan

Yeah, well, it kind of resonates with me. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Parker Palmer. I think it was in this little book called Let Your Life Speak. It’s all about vocation. But he talks about I think he calls it like a shadow vacation or maybe shadow selves. I’m not totally sure.

But it’s where that happens sometimes where you give a part of yourself, of your work to something that’s close to what you really are called to do. But it’s not actually the whole thing. And in some ways, I think shadow sounds so negative, I don’t think it’s necessarily that way. But in some ways, it’s a distraction or an excuse or just maybe a way to let yourself off the hook.

And it sounds a little bit similar to what you just kind of like you’re in the writing world, which is a great way to say, you know, to tell yourself the story, that you’re doing it right. But at the same time, there’s a deeper thing going on for you that took you some time to really step fully, more fully into, I guess, realizing that part of yourself.

Sara

Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly it. I’ve got to read this book.

Dan

It’s great. It’s a great one. Yeah. Yeah.

I love also how you said you’re giving yourself the leftovers and just feels like that’s a really important realization and probably a moment to take your work seriously enough to say no to these other great things in order to say yes or say yes more to your own work. Sounds hard.

Sara

Yeah. Yeah, it was very hard. And yeah, I mean, I still struggle with it a little bit. You know, I think that’s one of the hard things about writing when you’re not writing for something that’s specked out or that you’ve already pitched like it’s all up to you. You have to manage that prioritization constantly.

Dan

Well, and also because it’s all up to you. It’s so much more personal. And you mentioned just how all the rejection that can be a part of the process. And it’s not like you’re, you know, putting together a marketing campaign and someone said that’s not a good marketing campaign, but you’re coming up with a concept and flashing it out and writing and like pouring your heart and soul into it. Then when

when someone says no, it feels so much more personal.

Sara

Yeah, totally.

And I haven’t mentioned this, but I am an adoptee and so I am super sensitive to any sense that I’m being rejected. And so that does make it a little complicated as a writer, because, you know, I mean, it’s kind of a numbers game, too, you know? I mean, you have to be really very good at your craft to begin with. But once you get to that level, then it’s also kind of a numbers game.

And sometimes it’s a love game. And you have to keep at it, though, and persevere. And, you know, I spent years not sending anything out because I didn’t want to get that rejection. It just felt better just bringing it to my writing group and hearing that it was great and OK, I’ll think about it and not be brave enough to submit or I get one rejection and it would, you know, I’d want to give up. And yeah, it’s a mental thing.

Dan

When you say it’s a numbers game that the numbers of you just need to keep getting rejected, you know, stack up those rejections just knowing that they’re going to lead to a yes. Down the road. Or what do you mean by the numbers game?

Sara

Yeah, exactly what you just said. Yeah. You know, there’s always you always hear once in a while you hear the story of the rare person who submitted one thing and they the big book deal and land, the wonderful dream agent and stuff. But most writers will show you a giant drawer or a stack. It’s so fun going to writing conferences and just hearing the different stories from very well known authors and just seeing their stack of rejections. And sometimes they’ll put them in presentations.

But, yeah. That’s just part of it is building up a whole bunch of rejections and then you hope eventually you start getting the personalized ones and not a fit but submit something more and that invitation and then you get closer. And sometimes it’s a timing issue too. It’s just, you know, the market’s saturated with something or it’s not ready for something and you’ve got to keep trying. So.. 

Dan

Wow, wow. I’m curious about just the confidence in building up the confidence to be able to face those rejections. It feels like an impossible question to answer, but I’m going to try to ask it anyways. Would you do that or how do you do that? How do you build the confidence that it takes to put yourself out there and to continue to press into this kind of scary and hard activity that’s required in order for you to be a writer of pitching and getting rejected and and putting yourself in front of people?

Sara

Well, that’s a hard question to answer succinctly. I think part of it is just time. One of the things that kind of shifted for me, I mentioned the middle grade in the young adult novel writing and the children’s writing, and I started to shift a little bit. As I became a parent, I started writing more motherhood pieces, parenting pieces. It was concurrent. I started studying a lot of child development.

I have this kind of crazy quest to become the perfect mother, which I never actually articulated out loud, but that’s what I was doing. Yeah, just overstudying and then but I was learning so much. And so for me, writing is always the way to make sense of things too. So I started just writing about parenting and I found channels where I would I actually realized that I really like and I, I don’t see this is a bragging way, but I’m I’m really good at writing essays and so writing those short pieces and then finding my way to getting those published just over time started to really build my muscle.

And I just started to build that confidence. I guess that I can do this like it’s working. People are resonating and reaching people. And so a little bit easier to get build start building those up, then going after the big book deal and the agent. So it was just building those up that started to help. In the meantime, a lot of those essays and then a lot of the things that kind of happened to me in life kind of pointed me in the direction of writing a memoir.

And so a lot of that was kind of unpacking my adoption and packing, being a mother and looking at this perfectionist tendency and where it came from. And then my mother-daughter relationship and my faith kind of everything just kind of converged on me. And this huge life, I guess transition maybe it was all as I was approaching 40. So it was my midlife crisis, I guess everything kind of coming together and begging for attention. And so and then in the meantime, my mom went into rejection from her double lung transplant and began to die.

So all of that was happening kind of all at once. And so I was just writing my way through it. And that’s what ultimately ended up becoming my memoir, just my background in the book publishing industry. It was important to me that I published that traditionally. And so, I had all these forged relationships with editors, agents, authors and booksellers, librarians, reviewers for my publicity work. And I was pitching, pitching, pitching. And I spent 18 months pitching the memoir.

And I just kept hearing like agents were nice. It’s really literary. It’s high quality, but adoption books don’t sell and that it was hard. It took a big hit on my self-esteem again. And so then I kept thinking, oh, I’ll just do essays and I can do the essay. Maybe that’s my call. And that’s what I want to do. And every once in awhile I shot my memoir again. I gather up the courage and disburse. Send my proposal out to another couple of agents and then I get a rejection and I’m devastated again.

But I wasn’t getting anywhere. And so I was thinking I wanted to shove my memoir. But yet it also felt like it’s just so important. I couldn’t, it was just a part of me that was so personal. And it wasn’t a fiction story. It was me. It was my life story in a really significant way. And I went to this writing workshop and the facilitator led us in this exercise to write our life story. She gave us one minute and we had to do it with our left hand.

And I mean, on what I wrote, it looked like a child. I basically wrote. It all came down to this, I was born. I was left. I loved I lost. I was left. I forgave. I loved more. I healed. I learned to love never goes away, that sort of thing. And I finished and it kind of scared me actually. It looked like a child’s, you know, it looked like a little girl.

And I kind of realized the little girl inside of me was getting channeled. That exercise was really powerful in wow. I kind of tucked her away. And so I did what I thought I would never do. I independently published my mama. You know, I was such a huge believer in traditional publishing and I was a little bit snobbish about independent publishing, so. For all the years, and it’s changed so much from where I’ve started in my career to it’s different now and there’s really good quality and you can still hire editors..

You still hire. You still do good quality work, but it’s and there’s a lot of good quality out there now. And so while my book about my adoption and my faith and my mother-daughter journey isn’t going to be a bestseller, it’s not a mass-market book, but it has a place. And I have realized that. And it was all because I realized I had to honor that little girl inside of me. So I keep her picture up on my desk because I’m writing for her.

I silenced her for so long, telling her she wasn’t good enough, and trying to prove my worth and prove kind of against her was kind of an anti statement to this young girl. But yeah. So like I said, that’s not a sustained answer.

Dan

It’s beautiful. And man, I’m just so moved by so much of that. So thank you.

It’s really, really beautiful to hear just how you are honoring that little girl inside of you in your work.

And it sounds like you’re doing the right work for you and for her.

And so I’m just really moved by that.

Sara

Thank you.

Dan

Yeah. There’s so much in what you just heard. I think your dedication to getting that story out there, to find the way for that book to come to life. It’s incredible. It’s really, really incredible.

I’m curious, this is kind of a good next movement for us here, but especially inline with that is how do you think about what your work is about?

Maybe I’ll just leave the question of that.

Sara

Well, I think ultimately I would say I have kind of because of this publishing journey, I have come on and also my career journey. I think I ultimately write about relationships. I particularly write about mother and daughter relationships because I’m my daughter and I’m also a mother of two daughters. So, mother-daughter. I write and I write adoption and some social justice as well. I like to write about women’s issues and I’m very interested in social justice. So a lot of my writing right now tends to be focused on social justice, as it looks like in adoption and parenting.

Dan

Wow. Very cool.

And related to that. I’m curious how you think about words like calling and purpose and vocation, kind of these big, big, sometimes scary, ominous words related to work. But what are those words, if any of them? What resonates with you? Which of those words are in your vernacular and how do you think about them for yourself?

Sara

Yeah, and you know, the other word that I like all those words and I also like the word gifts because I think it ties into. Yeah. You know, it’s interesting, I love those words. I believe in them. I believe, you know, when I look back at that third grader who was writing, I think I was always called to be a writer. That’s just how I communicate. That’s my best.

I’m at my best when I can be thoughtful and really take my time and articulate and work through something. So I think just because that’s always been that way, that that to me feels like, OK, there’s the calling. You know, I think about it a lot in terms as I kind of touched on social justice. And, you know, it’s a turbulent time right now in a lot of a lot of areas of our culture. And I can easily, like all of us, you can sink into helplessness or feeling like the weight of it, like you’re not doing enough.

You’re not doing you know, we’ve got to solve these problems. And what I keep kind of going back to is I am a writer. I’m called to write, and so I will write. That’s going to be my contribution where I can make it. And so, again, it goes to me. It goes back to that column.

Dan

Yeah, I love it. I love it. I know a lot of people tune in to this podcast. I mean, to hear journeys like yours where about becoming, I guess, actualizing these dreams that we have, whether they’re stated or unstated, to do different things in the world. A lot of them are in places where something’s not working and they’re trying to figure it out. They might feel stuck. They’re trying to get unstuck and oftentimes aren’t sure what needs to change.

I’m curious if, you know, whether it be from your own story and how you’ve dealt with those kinds of places in your own story in the past or otherwise, just wisdom that you would have to offer people who might be in one of those really stuck kinds of places. Asking questions of what? What am I going to do with my life?

Sara

Yeah, that’s a really good question. You know, I have felt that in so many points in my life and so I know exactly that feeling.

It’s funny because when you get to the other side of that feeling, you actually like the places I felt stuck, you know, some of my corporate jobs. I loved them, but I also felt stuck because there was a part of me that probably I think I always deep down, even though I didn’t particularly articulate it, but I always knew I needed to be a writer and I needed to write. And so it was that, like you just described, that shadow feel where I was doing creative things.

It was creative, it was fulfilling something. But there was still a sickness because I wasn’t doing that thing that I knew was over here that I wasn’t attending to. But interestingly, when I look back now, that all may really well, you know, it was part of it. So the stickiness sometimes is a part of that journey. And so not to let it get too discouraging, I guess not let it keep you there either. But for me, it was helpful to start doing those side things, the side classes, the side volunteering, the side community building to get me closer and closer and closer so that I eventually felt like I can go deep and dive where I wanted to go.

Dan

I love it. I love it. And I think that’s a great, great response. And in that both the invitation that that’s OK, OK to be stuck and but at the same time, like, don’t stay stuck to stay there forever. Right. Like it’s a part of the process. And it’s some ways we need to trust the process and also do what we can to move it, move it forward. I think that’s a great way to look at it.

Yeah. Well, I know that your book is a memoir and it’s not like it’s I don’t know how to talk about a memoir without just saying you should read the book.

But I’d love to just hear more, about your book and I don’t know, I guess maybe just keep it an open-ended question at that. If there’s more that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear more about the content, about what you learn from it, and about your hopes for it.

Sara

Oh, that’s great.

OK, well, it’s about a lot of things. It’s about my mother longing as an adoptee. I was always, always fantasizing and searching and hoping to be searched for as an adoptee. It’s just kind of this quiet hum going on almost everywhere I went. Not always conscious, but it was there. It’s about experiencing the premature death of my mom while trying to make sense of our complicated mother-daughter relationship. And I say complicated because once you’ve been relinquished by one mother, the mother relationship becomes a little bit dangerous from then on forever.

I shouldn’t say forever.

It’s very hopeless, but it’s very scary.

As mothers go away, you kind of learn that lesson. Nobody ever says that. And that’s the last thing most adoptive parents want their kids to think. But that is kind of the psyche. That’s the trauma they do. So that made it complicated and then it made it complicated when I decided to search for my birth mother. It’s about my struggles with faith as they were impacted by my adoption and some of the evangelical messaging around it. There’s there can be some overly done spiritual speak.

God brought you to us. This was God’s will. That discounts a lot of the real valid feelings of grief. It’s kind of a real overly simplistic view of adoption. And as a culture, it’s rampant. I mean, it’s everywhere. Even if it’s not spiritual speak, it’s, oh, you’re doing such good things. It’s kind of this praising of the adoptive parents that sends a lot of unintentional messages to adoptees that their grief doesn’t matter, that God takes science.

God chooses one family over the other. And it can be confusing from premarital sex. You know, the messages, OK, like, you know, in that space, there’s a lot of talk of premarital sex is wrong, but yet the premarital sex that happened to bring you to us was God’s will. It’s just some messaging. That it conflict. There’s some dissonance there. So I had struggles with this faith that my parents were trying to raise me.

And because of the adoption and things that were spoken, I was told that I was brought to my family to make them Christians. So I was meant in a good way. And maybe that is one thing, that one great outcome for them. But it also discounted really back to the purpose is that maybe that my only purpose. And then just as a result of my background with the trauma that I struggled with anxiety, perfectionism, fear, I had some suicidal ideations, I had a suicide attempt.

So it is my life story and then just my path to stepping into motherhood. I was really reticent about it. And part of it was that I had a hard time ever being around babies or children because I think it made me I had told myself babies were nothing and I believed that that was a core belief about myself. And so having to look at becoming a mother and when I finally did step into motherhood, I saw no babies are precious and it really started the shift for me.

So it kind of all began there. When I started to unpack all of this was becoming a mother made me look at my own kind of wombs for the first time that I’ve been ignoring. So there’s so grittiness in it. There’s a lot of love and light in it. And I’ve written it because I hope that by just sharing my raw and honest perspective, I can help others because there are so many people touched by adoption in lots of different ways.

And adoptees are usually not the voice. There have been some wonderful pioneers that are changing and I stand on their shoulders and we are continuing to speak up. But adoptee’s voices are rarely they tend to be marginalized. It’s the adoptive parents who dominate. And while there’s nothing wrong with adoptive parents sharing their story, they don’t know what happens in the hearts of adoptees because those relationships are so dangerous and we keep a lot of stuff secret. And so I try to share the secrets in order to help.

So it’s about that. But it’s also just about living in a world, in the world because adoption is one trauma. But there are lots of ways we get wounded as we go through life and through childhood. And I don’t think we can come out, not one wounded. So it’s just I think it’s not solely to the adoptive community. It’s just how our relationships with others and those closest to us are affected by the hurts and how we move past those and how we come to healing.

So it’s definitely a mother-daughter story and a spiritual journey.

I had one reviewer say “it’s for any human with a mom.”

I like that.

Dan

It’s so perfect.

Wow. It sounds phenomenal. I love it. I love it. I’m curious, you mentioned earlier that as you were trying to find a publisher for this book that you were told the adoption books don’t do well, I’m curious about what your thoughts are as to why that is the case.

Sara

OK, well, you might hear a little rant here, but..

Dan

Yeah.

Sara

You are going to hear a little rant because..

Dan

I’m ready.

Sara

Yeah, it’s adoption. Books do sell. They sell when they’re written by the adoptive parents. And so that’s what’s incredibly frustrating. We are marginalized groups as adoptees. And I think it’s because it’s some of the things we say are very hard to digest. And there are a lot of big feelings when it comes to adoption. And any time you have big feelings on any issue thing, there can be some heat. And there you get the tone policing.

These adoptees are too angry that I can’t hear them, though, as we hear in lots of different from lots of marginalized voices. So and sometimes it’s things that adoptive parents don’t want to hear. Some of the things that go viral. I mean, culture, our society eats up a sweet adoption story. The Gerber baby. I just did an essay about this year. Gerber Baby is the first adoptees and they’ve been kind of marketing that is the first adoptees and kind of touting that.

But it’s yeah, it’s just this overly saccharine, sweet story for one night. She shouldn’t be labeled that way. So it’s just heartbreaking for this child. And there are some racial issues in that as well. So that’s sad. And in the fall, there was a video that went really viral, a little girl kind of telling her adoption story. And she’s a four-year-old and she’s basically just parroting back to her mom, who you hear kind of coaching her and then what happened.

And she’s telling this adorable young girl, telling the sweet story how she came to the family. And it’s this sweet, happy thing. But discounting I mean, gosh, it’s a loss. You’re seeing that first relationship. And that bond that is scientifically proven, that happens between a mother and an infant through the birth process, so it’s and when those stories go viral and it doesn’t serve anybody because it’s just kind of this poor child she’s going to come out of, it’s called the fog when you’re kind of in that place of trying to believe these things, which is for you can’t make sense of these things at the age of four.

And it’s kind of pimping her out. So and that happens. A lot happens. That’s those are a couple of YouTube and kind of cultural examples. But it happens a lot in the publishing and other industries as well in the church for sure. And I think that was what I was rubbing up against a little bit, too. It’s like I’m writing to the faith community about adoption and in a pretty honest way, at least honest where I’m at now.

I mean, the one thing with adoption, things are always evolving. So that it’s not wanted. It’s kind of preferred to hear that adoptive parent’s perspective of what a blessing this child is and what a savior the parents are. It’s this great, wonderful thing. And that’s not to say that they aren’t doing a wonderful thing, but it’s you know, it’s just that kind of one-sided view. It’s not taking the nuances.

Dan

Yeah.

Wow. So it’s a great rant. Really, really important. I’m curious if I feel like if it’s not a great question, but I still want to ask it because I think it’s probably an impossible question to answer. But I know that personally, I, I have adoptees in my family and I’m sure other people listening have or have impacted one way or the other with my adoption. And I’m curious if there’s anything. As someone who’s as an adoptee and someone who’s thought deeply about the impact of adoption, positive and negative and everything in between, because anything you like, words of wisdom or anything, if there’s something that we should all be aware of about adoption, what would that be?

I just feel like I want to tap into your wisdom and experience there.

Sara

Yeah, well, for sure, there’s a lot to be aware of. But I think one thing that a lot of people it’s funny, just like we are having a lot of debates on other things right now. But one thing that gets debated a lot in the adoption space is whether adoption is trauma or not. A lot of people don’t. And I had I got a really nice review from Purkiss, but there was just this little, this little thing that the reviewer said was, I can’t remember the words I don’t want to use, but basically the suggestion that because I was adopted when I was two days old, that you might not think there was trauma, kind of a little bit of a discounting of it.

I mean, it’s been scientifically proven and it’s there is trauma when you separate the mother that you’ve bonded with in a year old. I just recently had the wonderful opportunity to hear Nancy Verrier. She’s a psychotherapist and an adoptive mother herself. She’s written one of the, kind of pivotal books on adoption called The Primal Wound. And hearing her speak, she actually said that earlier, you’re separated. The more trauma there is, actually. And if you think of it in terms of puppies, we kind of know this.

She mentioned puppies and kittens and we know this with puppies and kittens, that they’re not going to be good pets if you don’t keep them with their parents for the first six to eight to nine weeks. There’s a period of time where, you know, that’s what’s needed for the baby. So I don’t know how that exactly equates timelines in adoption, but I think it does build the case pretty clearly that, of course, that it’s not just about the babies out.

There’s a there’s all the bonding that happens to the breastfeeding or the just the time together and that bonding, the hormones that are released for both the mother and the baby. So losing that is a loss. And we have come a long way in the adoption space from when I was young, my adoption took place in the 70s and wisdom back then was nothing. Just treat this like nothing. You know, just that was what parents were told.

So they weren’t given a lot of good information. And so it is, you know. That’s why I want to speak. That’s why other adoptees speak, is because we need to help the next generation of adoptees. And it has helped. But I think there’s so much more information now, so much more recognition about trauma, even though some will still debate it and not everybody will embrace that. But it’s. It’s better it’s we’re getting there, so, yeah, for sure, those won’t affect us. And adoptees can present really, really well.

I mean, some of the side effects of that trauma are like culturally sanctioned and praise. That’s why it took me so many years to figure it out. I mean, being a perfectionist is something that’s always rewarded in our culture, sadly. You know, I mean, like the type A, the driven like that. People emulate that. They look up to that and they don’t know that. That often can be coming from a place of deep pain, relative neurotic neuroses, and neuroses that was serving culture, serving society.

I was doing good things, good work. And yet it wasn’t coming from the purest of places. It was coming from places like running from my grave and trying to feel good about myself when I didn’t believe I was worthy, trying to always prove I was worried because deep down I didn’t feel worthy because of my relinquishment.

Dan

Wow, that’s great.

Great answer. Great answer. And so much to unpack. But I think the invitation there, I think I’m at a minimum, is just to acknowledge the trauma that’s inherent in the process.

Sara

Yeah. Acknowledge and make room for. Yeah. Yeah. And understand it. And I guess that’s where I go back to my adopted voices. Just read from a variety of adoptee voices all over the place that can help you learn. That’s for adoptees and adoptive parents tools to help learn because all of our stories are different.

But yet there are also a lot of commonalities in our stories that can be useful.

Dan

I love it. I love it.

Well, thank you so much for taking the time to be on the show with me today. It’s just so great to just hear your story and your work and just really grateful for the time we’ve had together.

Sara

Thank you.

Dan

Absolutely.

If people are resonating with what you’re with, what you’re up to, and want to follow along. If there are any steps you’d like to invite people to?

Sara

I guess just visiting my website, it’s www.saraeasterly.com.

There’s no H in my name. It’s our aim is to be so www.saraeasterly.com. I do write, I continue to write a lot of essays, so I’m always keeping my essays going up there and there are links for information about my book as well and links to all my social media from there too.

Dan

So beautiful. I’ll make sure to link up to that in the show notes so everyone can jump on over and follow along. Thank you so much for being with me today.

Sara

Thank you, Dan. It’s a pleasure.

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