Essays and articles

The Secret Adoptee’s Cookbook

There have been a number of Australian memoirs written by adoptees over the last twenty years—Robert Dessaix’s A Mother’s Disgrace, Suzanne Chick’s Searching for Charmian, Tom Frame’s Binding Ties:An Experience of Adoption and Reunion in Australia, for example—as well as international adoptee narratives by Betty Jean Lifton, Florence Fisher, and A. M. Homes amongst others. These works form a component of the small but growing field of adoption life writing that includes works by “all members of the adoption triad” (Hipchen and Deans 163): adoptive parents, birthparents, and adoptees. As the broad genre of memoir becomes more theorised and mapped, many sub-genres are emerging (Brien). My own adoptee story (which I am currently composing) could be a further sub-categorisation of the adoptee memoir, that of “late discovery adoptees” (Perl and Markham), those who are either told, or find out, about their adoption in adulthood. When this is part of a life story, secrets and silences are prominent, and digging into these requires using whatever resources can be found. These include cookbooks, recipes written by hand, and the scraps of paper shoved between pages.

Excerpt from M/C Journal: A Journal of Media and Culture, volume 16, number 3 (2013)