My Family, A Symphony by Aaron Eske Recommended - Part One
Brooke Randolph, LMHC
I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the new book My Family, A Symphony: A Memoir of Global Adoption by Aaron Eske. While Aaron’s book is a memoir, sharing much about his family, not just his experience as the only biological child in a family with four transracially and transculturally adopted siblings, it is also so much more than a memoir. Aaron also shares the complexities of the history of adoption, the societal factors that both cause and impede adoption, and how early life events continue to reverberate into adulthood, all while sharing his journey around the world to visit the birth places of each of his siblings and other important locations for adoption today. While Aaron shares from his experience, he was also able to look beyond the time when his siblings were adopted to the current situation in which the sending countries and practices have changed dramatically.
I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.
BR: What inspired you to write your memoir at such a young age?
AE: The book actually didn't begin as a memoir. Originally it was supposed to be limited to a historical look at international adoption and the state of the world's orphans and vulnerable children
today. But once I traveled to the places where my siblings were born for my own understanding, it started to make sense that others would want to experience that understanding with me. And that's when my family's own stories began to appear in my writing and when my writing started to form into a book.
BR: You seem to have a better grasp on the myriad of complex issues surrounding adoption than many. Who and/or what was most instructive to you to come to the conclusions that you hold?
AE: I think a lifetime of experiencing international adoption on a more eye-to-eye level with my siblings has taught me a lot about international adoption. But thanks to my parents
, my family has always been open to discussing adoption and we've never been blind to its pitfalls. Well, that's not entirely true. Only
after falling into the pit a few times, we're no longer blind to international adoption's pitfalls.
While working at Global Action for Children -- an advocacy organization for children
founded by Angelina Jolie
- I also had the opportunity to explore the situation and solution for the children in the world who don't have families that can afford to care for them.
BR: You are quite forthcoming about the issues your siblings have faced, has anyone not been supportive of your honesty?
AE: Like anyone writing a memoir, I was nervous about sharing personal stories about my family. But they've all been supportive and believe like I do that the story needs to be told so others have a deeper understanding of international adoption
than they get from the cover of People magazine.
I wouldn't do anything to hurt or betray my brother and sisters. So, my siblings had buy-in from the beginning and had the opportunity to read the book before my publisher did. They have been very brave through the process but to be honest I'm not surprised. My family has never hidden from the stories that are in the book
. We've always owned our challenges and celebrated the fact that somehow we overcame them. Birth defects, post-traumatic stress, racism, and learning curves have been part of our lives, and it feels better to say been-there-done-that-what's-next than to brush the pain under the rug.
Check next week for part 2 of 3!
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