Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Inspiration from Three Little Words

I am working on a memoir with one of my grandma's dear friends, Dorothy Perez. She and her husband Manuel were foster parents for 45 years, caring for 96 children in that time. They had four children of their own and adopted three.

I want to learn all I can about the genre of memoirs, in particular those that are written about foster care. I've found several written by people who were in the system.

The first I read, was "Three Little Words" by Ashley Rhodes-Courter, published in 2008. She was in 14 foster care for nine years, beginning as at age 3, until she was adopted.

Being a good student was her escape, something she could control. She wrote an New York Times prize-winning essay about her adoption and the three little words which finalized it - not "I love you" as you might think, but "I guess so."

Her website biography says "Her efforts and academic achievements landed her Eckerd College’s Trustee Scholarship—the school’s most prestigious full-tuition award.  She graduated with honors and ahead of schedule earning a double major in Communications and Theater and a double minor in Political Science and Psychology.  Ashley then went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California."

I found her memoir a well-written narrative, easy to follow and to sympathize with (I'm about the same age as Ashley). However, it was a hard book for me to read. I learned much about the inner workings of her emotions as towards her birth mother, foster mothers and adopted mother. It made me curious to ask Dorothy Perez questions about discipline, patience, space, etc. 

I'll post more about other books I've been reading and post updates on my project as well.

What have you been reading? What experiences have you had with foster care, personally or with family and friends?

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