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Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be?

by Robert L. BallardEMK Press; $24.95

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In his new anthology, Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be? (EMK Press; $24.95), Robert L. Ballard gives voice to adoptees who have—until now—found few places to honestly tell their stories. Intended for a teenage audience, but valuable for readers of all ages, Pieces of Me is an important addition to adoption literature. Here, Ballard—a Vietnamese adoptee and prospective adoptive parent—collects the thoughts of adoptees across the spectrum of experience: from international and domestic adoptees, from teenagers and adults, from children in transracial families. There is also a sampling of narratives from adoptive and birthparents, and adoption professionals.

The essays, poems, and art works are created to be understandable by adopted young people. Adolescents—in the midst of universal concerns about identity, loss, race, culture, and so much more—should find this book a particular comfort. After all, these narratives offer assurance that adoptees are not alone, that there are many others, including grownups, who know how they feel.

Some of the essays deal with tough topics. But teenagers (and pre-teens) are familiar with difficult life narratives—as well they should be. Sometimes, grappling with hard questions surrounding adoption is important, for parents and for children. Pieces of Me provides an excellent lead-in for parents to explore aspects of adoption with their children, and is thus an important resource for adults, too.

Ballard’s dedication to helping shape our young adoptees is evident in the work collected here, as well as in the appealing layout, author biographies, and remarkable introduction. “There are voices just like your own...people who are adopted and are trying to figure out where their pieces fit,” he writes.

There is space set aside for young people to write their reflections on their own adoptions, making the book a conversation among readers, writers, and Ballard himself. Ultimately, it is Ballard’s compassion for other adoptees, and their stories, that makes Pieces of Me a must-read for anyone.

Reviewed by Melanie Springer Mock, an adoptive parent of two boys and an associate professor of writing and literature at George Fox University, in Newberg, Oregon. Melanie’s essays and reviews have appeared in Christian Feminism Today, Literary Mama, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Brain, Child.

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