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Author's Corner

Author Carol Antoinette Peacock

In 1993, when my husband Tom and I went to Wuhan, China, to adopt our first daughter, Elizabeth, I kept thinking that this was the most powerful experience of my life and that one day I must write about it. Once home I experienced sleep deprivation, along with times of being either overjoyed, overwhelmed, or both. My mind turned to mush. I was preoccupied with the size and color of onesies, the pros and cons of trying to listen to classical music during lunchtime (gave up on this one!), and how to determine nap schedules. I resigned myself to never having the time or the energy to write about adoption. A year and a half we adopted our second daughter, Katherine. Our family now consisted of Tom's 13 year old son, Elizabeth who was just 2, Katherine, then 7 months, as well as our year old Golden Retriever Penny and two cats.

If I couldn't write about adoption, I could certainly read about it, and over the next few years I began to select adoption books for my daughters to read. (I particularly fell in love with A Mother for Choco, which we read again and again!) I began to notice that many of the books talked about the adoptive parents feelings (joy), or the birthparents' feelings (sadness at relinquishing their child.) I wished more of the books described the adopted child's feelings. Around this time, Elizabeth and I began to play some adoption games at bedtime. The night that Elizabeth adopted her favorite stuffed animal-- Happy Duck-- I knew I must write a book about adoption, from a child's perspective!

I began a three year process of taking notes on the girls' reactions to their adoption. I wrote on post-ups, deposit slips, old grocery receipts. Finally, my manuscript was complete. I had just finished co-authoring a children's book on diabetes (Sugar Was My Best Food: Diabetes and Me, Whitman 1998.) I send my book off to my publisher. In May of 1999, my editor, Abby Levine, and I began to work on the galleys of Mommy Far, Mommy Near: An Adoption Story. That June, Shawn Costello Brownell, an art teacher from Maryland, where I grew up, flew to Boston and lived in our attic for a weekend. She took photographs which would later serve as models for her beautiful illustrations. Shawn loved the girls, as well as our dog, Penny, and the connection was instant.

Mommy Far Mommy Near: An Adoption Story was published in April 2000. The Federal Express fellow threw a box down on our porch as I dashed out to the car to take the girls to ballet. I ripped open the cardboard and there is was, at last! It has been an incredibly satisfying experience to share our experience with so many other adoptive families. I especially love the book signings and readings, where parents and children come up to tell me their own adoption stories. The power of these stories often brings tears to my eyes. (Sometimes Elizabeth brings me up short, saying, "Oh Mama, don't cry!")

Every family has their own adoption story; my book is meant to help parents share these stories with their children. In this way, children can begin to talk, at their own pace, about being adopted-- and what that means to them. I believe that parents are the very best people to explore the issue of adoption with their children. Discussions begun when children are young set the stage for ongoing openness, as the child grows.

I very much welcome thoughts from my readers. I can be reached via email at cpeacock@mediaone.net

 

Dr. Carol Antoinette Peacock earned her BA from Cornell University, her Masters in Social Work from Columbia University and her Ph.D. from Boston College. She is a psychologist with a specialty in family and adoption issues. Besides Mommy Far, Mommy Near she has written Hand Me Down Dreams (Schocken, 1998), which described her intensive work with adolescent girls from welfare families. Her book describes how these young women were able to break the generational cycle of poverty Dr. Peacock also co-authored Sugar Was My Best Food: Diabetes and Me (Whitman, 1998) a psychological book helping children first diagnosed with diabetes.

Carol Peacock lives in Newton, Massachusetts, with her husband Tom Gagen and her grown stepson, Jonathan, along with Elizabeth, aged 7 and Katherine, aged 6.

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