The good people of Books Forward recently sent me an audiobook of Julie McGue’s memoir chronicling her search for her biological parents.
Here’s the overview:
Michigan City, IN – Julie Ryan McGue is adopted. And she is also a twin. But because their adoption was closed, she and her sister lack both a health history and the names of their birth parents — which becomes pertinent for Julie when, at 48 years old, she finds herself facing several serious health issues. McGue’s poignant and hopeful debut memoir, “Twice a Daughter,” (May 11, 2021, She Writes Press) chronicles the complex search for her uncharted family history.
To launch the probe into her closed adoption, McGue first needs the support of her sister. The twins talk things over and make a pact: McGue will approach their adoptive parents for the adoption paperwork and investigate search options, and the sisters will split the costs involved in locating their birth relatives. But their adoptive parents aren’t happy that their daughters want to locate their birth parents — and that is only the first of many obstacles Julie will come up against as she digs into her background.
The quest for her birth relatives spans five years and involves a search agency, a private investigator, a confidential intermediary, a judge, an adoption agency, a social worker and a genealogist.
By journey’s end, what began as a simple desire for a family medical history has evolved into a complicated quest — one that unearths secrets, lies and family members that are literally right next door.
McGue earnestly writes about discovering who you are and where you come from, all while trying to make sense of it all. In sharing her unconventional journey through life, which involves new family, exploration and acceptance, this heavy-hearted history considers personal identity and all the complicated and captivating moments that encapsulate one’s life.
Me again!! This was an interesting one, with even a touch of “truth is stranger than fiction” to it. However, what I found so interesting in this book was the author’s drive to find her biological parents. She was an adult who was raised in a family where she was loved. She had a wonderful husband and family and an active life. But her sense of identity was tightly wound up in the fact that she was adopted at birth and even though she started the search for health reasons, she was not willing to stop even after she received medical histories, etc. It was important for her to find her actual birth parents and any possible half siblings; and she wasn’t going to stop before she did.
Also interesting to me was that, while her twin was invested in the process, this seemed to be truly Julie’s journey. It made me ponder the concept of identity and how we come to define who we are and those things that shape us. In one poignant moment she discovers through DNA testing that she is not Irish (at all) and yet for her whole life she has identified as Irish as her adoptive family was a large Irish family and she had physical features that appeared “Irish”. It does make one wonder how we come to develop who we are and what has the power to add or take away from that knowledge.
An interesting read! Thank you for sending me the audiobook, which was engaging during my drives!
Here’s some background on Julie:
JULIE RYAN McGUE is an author, a domestic adoptee and an identical twin. She writes extensively about finding out who you are, where you belong and making sense of it.
Julie’s debut memoir “Twice a Daughter: A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging” (She Writes Press) comes out in May 2021. It’s the story of her five-year search for birth relatives. Her weekly blogs That Girl, This Life and her monthly column at The Beacher focus on identity, family and life’s quirky moments.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Julie received a BA from Indiana University in psychology. She earned a MM in Marketing from the Kellogg Graduate School of Business, Northwestern University. She has served multiple terms on the Board of the Midwest Adoption Center and is an active member of the American Adoption Congress.
Married for over 35 years, Julie and her husband split their time between Northwest Indiana and Sarasota, Florida. She’s the mother of four adult children and has three grandsons. If she’s not at her computer, she’s on the tennis court or out exploring with her Nikon. Julie is currently working on a collection of personal essays. For more information, visit her website, juliemcgueauthor.com.