16 October 2007

Audience

I'm just back from an adoption conference, where I presented some material on my imaginings of Curious Girl's birth family, by far the most personal conference presentation I've ever done. First rule of thumb about having a good conference panel: join a group of people who are smarter than you are, and all will be well.

This conference brought together all kinds of people who study adoption--some in the academy, some in professions--and people who are living adoption. There were birth mothers at the conference, adult adoptees (from KAAN and Bastard Nation). I saw people I know from my professional work in English who, like me, are writing about adoption because of their experiences as adoptive parents. On the whole, it was a great conference, albeit it a troubling one. Dorothy Roberts is a genius (see this press release for one example of why); she's so eloquent, in the face of crushing social problems. I left feeling torn about the ethics of virtually any adoption, and feeling challenged, too, about the ways we often seem to put the burdens of dealing with (especially transracial/transnational) adoption on the backs of children. All kinds of major global factors conspire to create the conditions supporting international adoption, and we say to adoptees, "hey, integrate your culture and identity so you can have a healthy self-image." What's our collective responsibility?

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You readers are so lovely, commenting even on my most lame of posts of late. Thank you!

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Curious Girl is reading. Not really reading, but pretend reading. This morning she read me Leo Loves Round, a lovely and out of print book about a little boy named, you guessed it, Leo, who loves his circles. She doesn't have it memorized, but she reads through it and tells the story. Then she picked up Guess How Much I Love You, and said, "but you'll have to read this one because I can't really read it. I don't know these words." I told her she could tell me a story about the pictures, and she did, putting Leo into this book, too, having conversations with his mother, with occasional references to the actual text, like "I love you to the sky and back." It's funny what she remembers, and how she will "read" aloud certain books, but not others.

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Curious Girl still doesn't like story time much. She likes to act out what we read. When she reads Leo Loves Round she plucks the round fruit from the page, takes the bagels and has a bite. She wants to be the story, and she immerses herself in stories. At the same time, she doesn't always get the motivation: we've been reading Library Lion a lot lately, and she thinks it's funny when the lion leaves the library. It's not funny, it's sad, and ordinarily that kind of abandonment is quite important to her (she still talks about the animal whose mother died when it was born, an animal we saw in the Normal IL zoo sometime last spring. "It's a good thing you didn't die when I came, Mama," she said to me just yesterday. "Well, yes, honey, but remember I wasn't there when you came." I'm at an adoption conference, and she's shifting into fantasies that she was born from me. Imagination is a powerful thing.). In Library Lion she's so interested in roaring that I guess she forgets to get into the protagonist-lion's emotional space. I can't quite figure out what kind of audience she is. Definitely one in motion.

9 comments:

liz said...

I'm glad it was a good conference!

Dawn said...

I was so moved by your paper and by Curious Girl's story. It was lovely to meet you and I hope I get to again!! Your support before the conference meant a lot to me, too, because I was horribly neurotic and your emails really helped. I wished I'd gotten to spend more time getting to know but maybe next time. :)

lisa said...

Oh, I love the idea of CG wanting to BE the story-thanks for sharing.
I've been reading on and off for a while now, Susan, and I thought I should let you know I am here, and enjoying! (Now that I've started blogging, I'm more conscious of such things; )
Also, how do I get the equal marriage bar for my website?
Thanks! ~Lisa

susan said...

Welcome, Lisa--I'm glad you delurked.

You can get the marriage sidebar at
http://shared-boxers.livejournal.com/578528.html

Songbird said...

This was a really good post! Glad to hear what you've been doing. The conference sounds wonderful.

Rev Dr Mom said...

Glad you had a good conference!

I love the way CG engages with her books.

Eugene said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mia said...

Like you, I left the conference feeling torn and challenged. I think that means the conference was a huge success.

I really do think you did a wonderful job presenting. I hope we have the opportunity to meet again.

Scrivener said...

Anytime you leave a conference feeling torn about ethics and challenged about larger issues, it's got to be a great conference.

I love the bit about CG's reading. Ella loves story time and she used to do the same story telling about her books that blended what she remembered and her own fantasy. I don't remember he much wanting to interact with the books in the way you describe. Chloe's a little less clearly excited by story time, though sometimes she loves it. What she has really gotten into recently is "writing" her own stories and songs--she makes marks across the page that look like text and then reads her writing aloud.