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.

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  • How do you believe the stories in “Belonging Matters” contribute to a broader understanding of adoption and its significance in the lives of those involved?

For a long time, I had shoved my closed adoption into a forbidden place in my mind. Because of health issues, I had to open that drawer, pull out my closed adoption and hold it. Much like a found penny, I examine adoption from every angle because this was helpful to me in determining how I felt about being adopted, being a twin, searching and being in reunion, and being rejected, shunned, and abandoned by blood relatives. I didn’t choose to be adopted, it happened to me. Many people find themselves in situations that others created for them, so adapting, finding forgiveness, and healing are relevant to other life experiences outside of adoption. My book creates a conversation with those who are touched by adoption and with those outside who seek to understand its complex nature.

  • What role does empathy play in your approach to storytelling and understanding the experiences of those connected to adoption?

Like any experience or unique role, if we take the time and make the effort to put ourselves in the shoes of others, we glimpse something–– a feeling, an idea, an insight–– that broadens us humans, which might later translate into goodwill which improves another’s life.

In the final essay of Belonging Matters, I discuss how my participation in an adoption support group enabled me to find empathy and forgiveness for things my birth mother, birth father, and adoptive mother did and said during my search and reunion. Empathy allowed me to heal as a daughter and rounded me out as a mother, wife, and friend. Empathy is a courtesy we offer others and by doing so it is a gift that has a ripple effect.

  • Adoption can be a deeply emotional and complex journey. How did you navigate the sensitive aspects of these stories while preserving the authenticity of the narratives?

I am by nature a deeply reflective person. I studied Psychology in college. I practice daily meditation and yoga and believe in the power of journaling. All these tools enable ideas to flow freely and a way forward for me to present to others to enjoy and draw meaning from.

Click here for part 9!

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