Posts Tagged ‘Seal Press’

Jennifer Lauck in The Huffington Post

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

My publisher, Seal Press, posted a link to an article by Jennifer Lauck on The Huffington Post: Abducted Versus Adopted: For 1.5 Million of U.S. Adoptees, What’s the Difference? Lauck is the bestselling author of Blackbird, a memoir of a childhood that includes the early deaths of her adoptive parents and the upcoming Found: A Memoir, about her search for and relationship with her birth mother. Lauck writes:

Carlina White said she always had a sense she did not belong to the family that raised her. The twenty-three-year-old woman had been abducted in 1987 from a Harlem Hospital when she was nineteen-days-old. White was then raised by her abductor, Ann Pettway. Pettway is now in custody for kidnapping.

What White expresses about her sense of belonging is what I have felt for all the years of my own life — only I am called adopted versus abducted.

I have to wonder, what is the difference in these terms, especially when I consider the circumstances of my own birth and subsequent relinquishment.

Lauck goes on to tell how her 17-year-old unmarried birth mother was forced to relinquish Lauck as a baby, without ever holding the baby in her arms.

In my own case, the Catholic agency placed me in the home of a terminally ill woman. My adoptive mother died when I was seven. My adoptive father died when I was nine. I was homeless and wandering the streets of L.A. by ten. A long investigation into my case revealed that the Catholic agency knew of my parentless circumstances, noting the deaths of both my adoptive parents in their files, but they did not inform my original mother.

And it turned out that my original mother became a very good mother despite the fact she was told such a reality would be impossible. She married my father when she was eighteen and they had a second child. She went on to have another child as well. Both of my mother’s kept children grew to be successful, well-educated and productive adults.

*** (more…)


A library reading in Santee, San Diego

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Today, I read from Mamalita at the Santee Library in San Diego. In the audience were library patrons, museum friends, and adoptive moms (and one dad) whom I met through blogging and the Mamalita page on Facebook. A woman named Paty told me she found Mamalita browsing through the shelves at Upstart Crow, the indie bookstore where I read a week or two earlier.  Paty’s comment made me realize–again–the importance of one’s book being on an actual shelf in a bookstore. I’m learning that’s a hallowed position difficult to achieve, especially for an unknown, first-time author with no track record, such as yours truly.

I read the opening chapter of Mamalita, “The Hotel Lobby.” The story begins during our first visit to Guatemala. Our adoption facilitator brings us the wrong baby, and I describe the scene sitting on a sofa in the lobby awaiting the arrival of the right one. As I got to the part where I spot a bundle of pink blankets across the room that I recognize as Olivia and say “That’s her,” my voice broke and I started to cry.  Reading in public, that’s never happened to me before. But there was something about being in San Diego, among close friends who have known me for so long and shared some of our adoption journey. Everything came back.

It was an emotional beginning to an hour that included thoughtful questions from the audience about Guatemala, adoption, our story, and the process of writing memoir. Afterwards, I shared a delicious lunch with Library Manager Penny Taylor, who wrote a short book review that ran in the San Diego Union-Tribune on Sunday, November 28. My friend Tomoko took photos of the memorable day, with her snazzy red camera.  Someday soon, I’ll post a few. In the meantime, here’s Penny’s review.

Recommended Reads by San Diego Union-Tribune
Reviewed by: Penny Taylor
Job: Manager at the Santee branch, San Diego County Library.

She recommends: “Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir” by Jessica O’Dwyer (Seal Press: $16.95)

Why: Jessica O’Dwyer and husband Tim Berger knew that adopting their daughter from Guatemala would not be easy. They had done their research, though, and meticulously prepared the required paperwork. When the adoption was delayed, O’Dwyer moved to Antigua to complete the process and to protect her daughter from returning to foster care. Working through the numbing bureaucracy while dealing with greedy adoption agents, the stay stretched to half a year. Despite the strain, the story is told with an obvious respect for indigenous Guatemalan people, arts, and culture and includes descriptions of her travels in Guatemala. I really like the intimacy of this narrative: O’Dwyer shares her personal fears, not only questioning who to trust in this foreign country, but expressing the terror and the joy of being a new mother caring for her baby alone. This is not a maudlin family drama, but a crisply told adventure with a cliff-hanging conclusion.


November is National Adoption Awareness Month

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Happy National Adoption Awareness Month! When Seal Press decided to publish my book, Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir, in November, I was thrilled. While writing the book, my hope was that our experience could contribute in some small way to the dialogue surrounding adoption. What better time to publish than in the month dedicated to the subject? As it turns out, the book was released in mid-October… Close enough!  

On November 1, the U.S. State Department held a briefing on international adoption-related issues with Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Ambassador Susan Jacobs. Ambassador Jacobs answered questions regarding the implementation of the Hague Treaty; adoptions from Ethiopia, Haiti, Nepal, and other countries; as well as the currrent situation in Guatemala. 

The entire briefing is worth reading and watching.  Ambassador Jacobs’ comments regarding Guatemala, quoted below, reiterate the State Department’s commitment to resolving the unfinished cases (the “Guatemala900″) that date from the Hague Treaty shutdown, in December 2007. I join the many Americans who are still hoping for resolution for those families soon.

Regarding adoptions in Guatemala, Ambassador Susan Jacobs said:

“In terms of the [Guatemalan] pilot project, every time we asked for details about it, there weren’t any. So it turned out there really wasn’t a pilot project to which – in which we could participate. And in looking at the procedures and regulations that had been put in place, not very much had changed since adoptions had been shut down. So we are trying to work with the Guatemalan Government to help them set in place proper regulations and procedures, and at the same time, close the cases that are in the pipeline. There are hundreds of cases that need to be resolved, so we’ve asked them to focus on that.”


Publishers Weekly calls MAMALITA “harrowing,” “moving,” and “deftly handled”

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

This morning, my agent, Jenni Ferrari-Adler of Brick House Literary, and my publicist at Seal Press, Eva Zimmerman, sent me the fabulous news that Publishers Weekly reviewed Mamalita in its current issue, and called it “harrowing,” “moving,” and “deftly handled.” Thank you for sharing, Jenni and Eva. You made my day!

For information on how to order your own copy of Mamalita, click on the “BOOK” tab above. Publication date remains November 1, although some suppliers are delivering early.

You can read the full Publishers Weekly review here:

Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir
Jessica O’Dwyer, Seal, $16.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-58005-334-1
O’Dwyer’s harrowing and moving journey to adopt a Guatemalan baby offers a look into one person’s experience in the frustratingly convoluted process of adopting from unscrupulous “facilitators.” O’Dwyer had gone through an early divorce and menopause at age 32 before marrying Tim, a divorced dermatologist over 50. They put together an adoption dossier and found an L.A. agency that promised a quick adoption while cutting the bureaucratic red tape. Intent on adopting a certain “Stefany Mishell” (they fell in love with from her online photo), the desperate couple soon discovered that the agency’s methods were dilatory and sloppy, neglecting the important legal paperwork, such as filing the requisite DNA test, and using shady notarios (private attorneys), so that in the end the promised six-month adoption extended over a year. Moreover, O’Dwyer’s occasional visits to Guatemala, where she met Stefany’s foster family and spent a weekend with the baby at the Camino Real hotel in Guatemala City, turned into a permanent residency, as she moved to a city north of the capital, Antiqua, to live with Stefany (now Olivia) until family court finalized the adoption. Dealing with the greedy foster family, managing the baby’s early separation anxiety, navigating the middlemen and interminable waiting are all deftly handled in O’Dwyer’s somber tale. (Nov.)



Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Every time my husband travels and I’m home doing everything myself, I realize two things: First, how much my husband actually does around here. And second, how hard it is be a single parent. To anyone who is rearing a child or children alone, for whatever reason, I say: My hat is off. You have my respect. Single parenting is not easy. 

Tim is back now and I can finally take a breath. Yesterday, I took myself to see the new movie about adoption, Mother and Child. Talk about intense. The film showed adoption from multiple points of view: birth mothers, prospective adoptive parents, related family members, and the child who is adopted. The story and performances were so believable that in many parts the film was hard for me to watch. The movie drove home the complexity of adoption—the deeply felt loss and pain, and how that coexists with joy and new life. Many scenes will remain with me for a long time. I recommend Mother and Child to anyone with an interest in adoption. Go prepared to be affected.  (more…)


A Trip to Seal Press

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

If you ask my children what my “job” is, they will say “doing laundry” or “cleaning the house” or “microwaving dinner.” What they won’t say is “She works on her computer all day” or “She wrote a book,” because writing is something I do when they’re at school or asleep. When they’re around, I can’t so much as turn on the computer without their demanding to play on the keyboard or sit on my lap. This I totally understand. They’re my children. They want my attention all the time (except when they don’t) and they deserve to have it. 

Today, after school, Olivia and I will have our own “take your daughter to work day.” My editor at Seal Press has asked if I can come by their offices in Berkeley to drop off a piece of fabric that I bought in Guatemala. A detail from the fabric is being used on the cover of the book and the designer wishes to re-photograph it. Olivia gets off early from school today so I’ll take her along. (more…)