Alice Stephens - On Adoption, and the stories we tell about it.

From as early as I can remember, I knew I was adopted and I knew that I loved making up stories. I don’t know if I wanted to become a writer because I was adopted, or I would have wanted to be a writer no matter what path my life had taken. My adoption journey has included the examination of the intersection of adoption and literature in my life. The following is a curated selection of my adoption-related book reviews and columns.

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Four Novels that Get Adoption Right: As an adoptee, I know there are many misconceptions about adoption that still linger in the popular imagination. As an author, I regret that the majority of adoption novels being published today often promote those misconceptions. The good news is that there are some mainstream novels that do get adoption right. The bad news is that I could only come up with four.


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Origin Story: Every adoptee must make their own origin story. This is mine.

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Who Is the Villain in My Story?: On writing and rewriting the narrative of my life.

The Letter A:  An exploration of identity via the letter 'A'.

Adoption Porn:  Cliche and contrivance in contemporary novels about transracial adoption.

The Fictional Family:  When one is adopted it's almost second nature to imagine all the lives one could have had that differ from the one you're actually having.

My White Pen Name:  Resisting the temptation to acquiesce to the lazy stereotyping of the publishing industry in order to get published.

That Kind of Mother:  A review for the Los Angeles Review of Books on Rumaan Alam's novel about the egotism and privilege that can underlie acts that another telling might describe as wholly charitable and selfless.

The Leavers:  A review of Lisa Ko's novel about immigrants and adoptees.

Everybody's Son:  A review of Thrity Umrigar's novel that explores the way the past can return to haunt the present of an adoptee's life.

Good Neighbors:  A review of Joanne Serling's novel about the disruption of a tight-knit group of neighborhood friends when one couple adopts a girl from Russia.