During the slow, hot days before No Matter What was published I felt physically ill. I had nightmares and daymares, cold sweats, hot sweats, strange dreads came out of nowhere and I developed an aversion to the telephone. It was not how I had expected to feel.
I had been reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn for our book group. The main character is a sociopath perhaps because her parents had selfishly mined her life for their writing. ’It’s a sign!’ I panicked. I have mined not only my own life, but those of my children, my husband, our wider families, our friends, our social workers. What was I thinking? What kind of monster am I? I’ve ruined my children’s lives, my relationships, my friendships. No one is going to speak to me again.
The day that Bella magazine published a piece about the book I dreamed I was on a TV reality programme. I was trapped inside a plastic bottle with a Chinese man and we had to starve ourselves thin enough to escape from the neck of the bottle. It was another sure sign that I’d sold my soul.
But then the book came out. I started receiving emails, tweets, phone calls, all overwhelmingly supportive. Many confirmed why I’d taken a chance and written it. ‘I no longer feel alone’ said one. ’A must read for anyone involved in adoption’ said another. Five star Amazon reviews appeared. Readers kept saying that they couldn’t put it down, had read it in one or two sittings. Close family members and friends read it and didn’t take offence (as far as I know) but felt sadness that they had not understood what we had all been going through at the time. (It’s almost impossible to describe it at the time.)
Rob is very proud of the book and I am immensely grateful to him for giving me the permission (and the time) to write about some of the most personal aspects of his life. Jamie and Rose’s reactions have been to want to tell their teachers about the book (yikes!). I have read bits out loud to them and will read more as they get older. Their responses have been interesting. ‘Why would you be so nervous about meeting US for the first time?’ was one of the questions, their perspective being that we would judge them, not the other way around.
Writing the book was never about notoriety or money (fortunately) but about doing something small to change perspectives on adoption, to challenge some of the myths and to get more empathy and support going for children who carry around the trauma of neglect and abuse. I’ve been told that Michael Gove may add the book to his summer reading list. If he reads it and this in some way helps to unstick the current stand-off with respect to the provision of post-adoption support then I will have achieved more than I set out to do.
Now I am left with a sense of relief that the labour pains have been worth it (a strange analogy for a book about infertility and adoption but that’s what it’s felt like). My paperback child is out there and will make it’s own way in the world.
Mr Gove better bloody read it! Xxx
I imagine he likes to pack a few heavy military histories in his suitcase, but there’s always hope.
I’m on holiday at the mo and I can’t stop reading your book. It has brought comfort and I no longer feel so alone in the highs and lows of adoption. It is great to read about your experiences that are so similar to our own. I have been saying for awhile that there does not appear to be a book that addresses both fertility issues and adoption and your book does just that. I will be lending my copy to family members after I have finished it. Can’t wait to finish it – thanks for writing it!
Firstly, thank you for reading my book and I am really glad that it has helped with the isolation that many of us feel.
I hope you continue to enjoy it (and the rest of your holiday).
I have to admit I could not put it down when I started to read your book. Somewhat of a late night ensued. I am reading lots around adoption at moment as we wait for meeting next week. Now to see if I can persuade husband to read it …
Thanks for reading and good luck for your meetings.