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Open Adoption:
Double the Love

  • Linda R. Sexton

Engaged Voices, Disengaged Wallets: My Perfect Book Sale Day



After standing outside the San Marco Book store for four hours on a warm, sunny spring Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida and not selling one single book, I had to ask myself why I felt so invigorated and happy at the end of the day.


The book store owner set up a table and chair outside the store under the awning—the rest was up to me. I covered the table with my now familiar marketing paraphernalia: a cheerful green table cloth, book promotion posters, my newspaper and magazine articles, business cards and tons of my branded bookmarks for giveaways. The bookmark is a great way to get information into people’s hands. If there was any interest at all, a person could learn all about my writing and speaking on the topic of open adoption with that bookmark in hand!


As people passed by, I offered them a bookmark and could instantly sense who was willing to engage. One side features a picture of the book with a short catchy description and I explained it was for my new book that was just published. The other side features my author headshot along with a QR code pointing to my website and all my social media handles. To my delight, at the very least most people smiled and thanked me. Many genuinely congratulated me on writing and publishing a book, and then more often than I expected, people stopped to talk about it, usually sharing their own adoption story.


I met members from every part of the adoption triad—adopted persons, birth mothers, adoptive and foster parents and want-to-be adoptive parents. Statistically one in six Americans are touched by adoption meaning they themselves, a family member or a close friend has either adopted a child, is adopted, or has placed a child for adoption. What I witnessed reinforced this and they each had their own unique story to tell:


  • One woman shared with me that she was now in her late 50’s and that her mom was adopted. Then she said her daughter was adopted too. At first, I thought she meant that she adopted a daughter, but the more she spoke I saw some longing and grief in her eyes. I realized then that she was a birth mom who made an adoption plan for her daughter many years ago. I sensed she had not spoken about this in a long time, to anyone.

  • There was a mom and dad holding the hands of a young boy walking between them. They happily took the bookmark and when I explained that my book was about open adoption, it stopped them in their tracks. We chatted for a few moments and the boy showed me his new toy. Then the mom took the boy by the hand and left. The dad stayed back to tell me they were going to adopt him. He shared that this boy, who looked like he was maybe six or seven at most, was actually a nine-year-old and that he had a twelve-year-old sister. These children came from a group home and these hopeful parents were working to adopt both of them. The children were getting therapy and he said it was hard and complicated. He asked me about open adoption and I explained that keeping a child connected to their biological family when safe and possible, can be very good for the child. He told me he did not think that could be possible for these children. He said he wanted to visit my website and went on his way.

  • A man who looked like he was in his thirties stopped and said that he and his wife have one biological child and currently foster other children as needed. They are hopeful that one day one of those foster children will turn into an adoption story for them. He was happy to take my information.

  • A young woman stopped by twice. First, she took my bookmark and as I explained what my book was about, she shared that she always wanted to adopt a child. Then she thanked me, smiled and left. She returned quite a bit later just to tell me how much adoption was on her heart and she wanted to buy my book. She went into the bookstore but came out empty handed. The price point (set by the publisher) at $29.99 was too high for her, but she planned to go to the library down the street and would ask them to get my book for her.

  • Another woman shared that there was a kinship adoption in her family, meaning that when the baby was born another family member adopted and raised the child. This woman, almost whispering, went on to say that the child knows who the “real” mother is. As an adoptive mom I wanted to correct her and say that this child knows “both of her real moms,” but I just listened.

  • A birth mom stopped to tell me about an organization she knows of who helps birth moms. She wanted to give me the name in case I wanted to support them since my bookmark states: all author profits will go towards support and therapy for birth parents and adoptees. 

  • A grandmother told me she had two adopted grandchildren, and then proudly announced that she loved them from the very first time she saw them.

Some folks simply showed genuine interest in the subject of adoption:


  • A mom with two young girls, maybe six and ten, happily took the bookmarks, said thank you and promptly left. About thirty minutes later they came back and the mom said her daughter had a question. I bent down so that I could look her in the eyes and smiled. She asked me “What is an adoptee?” To tell you the truth, I never prepared myself to explain this to a child while standing outside of a book store, but I did my best and told her that an adopted child is a child who has parents just like her, but that child was actually born from another mother’s womb.

  • A young woman, maybe in her mid-twenties told me she worked for a local paper. She took my card and said she wanted to interview me.

  • One young man looked at the table and my book and said, “I have heard of your book. A friend of mine just read it and said it was terrific. I will tell him that I met you.” Then he promptly was on his way.

  • Another woman came by and said she worked with the library and that she would ask them to stock my book.

  • Many others shared that they had friends or relatives with adoption stories and they planned to share my book information.

  • A young teen girl who looked like she could be in her last month of pregnancy walked by with a woman who I imagined was her grandmother.  The girl was wearing a short floral dress and a small schoolgirl backpack. They walked by three times, not avoiding, but not engaging with me either. The young girl looked unhappy, troubled even, but well cared for. What was going through her head? Was she in a crisis pregnancy like so many others before her?

  • Finally, I thought I had a sale when a woman, who was in a hurry, told me that she wanted to buy my book. She said she needed to catch up with her group as they were going to lunch nearby, but promised to come back right after she was done eating and buy it. I waited, but she did not return. Perhaps she will buy it online from her favorite bookseller or from Amazon.

The day was a whirlwind. Reflecting on why I felt so good, it did not take me long to figure it out. While my spirits were buoyed by the glow of this perfect spring day, that was not the reason I was invigorated. It was because I listened to so many voices touched by adoption. I wrote The Branches We Cherish: An Open Adoption Memoir to help those who come after me. I especially wanted to help new and hopeful adoptive parents get comfortable with bringing their child’s biological family into their lives in meaningful ways, when it is safe and possible, and not to be afraid to develop those relationships.


While I was disappointed about not selling books, standing in front of that bookstore I heard so many voices—voices that just needed an ear to listen to their own unique story. The Branches We Cherish is putting my story into many hands to be heard too. Getting the conversation started made it a perfect book sale day.



557 views4 comments

4件のコメント


kat
4月04日

Linda - I am impressed with and proud of you for carrying your message with such care and enthusiasm for open adoption and giving individuals - whether or not they buy your book - a share of your experience, confidence, and grace. Keep up the great work. You are doing good things in a very admirable way

いいね!
Linda R. Sexton
4月04日
返信先

Kat- Thank you for your continued support. It is comments like this that keep me going!

いいね!

ゲスト
4月04日

Your message and story are so much bigger than one book. The book is one avenue to get your message out. It WILL find its way to the right readers! It’s so exciting!

いいね!
Linda R. Sexton
4月04日
返信先

Thank you for the encouragement. It keeps me going!

いいね!

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