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You Don't Look Adopted by Anne Heffron

Monday, January 8, 2018

Happy Monday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm sharing with you a very important memoir written by Anne Heffron: You Don't Look Adopted.  When this book became available to review via TLC Book Tours, I volunteered to read and review it because someone very special to me is adopted.  I'm so happy I took the time to read this book even though it was a hard, emotional read.  But I knew I was going to appreciate the book early on when Heffron quotes Joseph Campbell.

According to Goodreads:

Adoption can be tricky. It's a wonderful thing to be chosen, to be brought up by loving parents, but in order for this to happen, there has to be an initial abandonment, and this loss can settle like a seed of unease in the adopted person, quite possibly affecting the entirety of his or her life. 

Anne Heffron, who'd been adopted at ten weeks old, embarked on a three-month journey she called "Write or Die", leaving California for her birth place, New York City, in order to do the one thing she'd been unable to do her entire adult life: tell her own story, and not the one she'd heard all her life that began, "The day we got you." 

You Don't Look Adopted is an intimate look at what it means for an adopted person to live in the world as someone who was both chosen and given away.

My Review:

When it comes to adoption and Anne's feelings about it, I cannot relate because I have not walked in her shoes.  She feels many of her failures in life (dropping out of college three times, failed marriages, inability to write her story) can be attributed to her initial abandonment trauma that has haunted her for her entire life.  And what I find very disheartening is this: Therapists kept dismissing Heffron's suggestion that adoption was affecting her negatively.  One aspect of her adoption that seems to cause her the most grief is she left her birth mother the first day of her life, yet her adoptive parents did't get custody of her until she was ten weeks old.  WTH?  That would traumatize me, too:  I can't imagine having a black hole in my history that lasted for ten weeks when I was at my most vulnerable.

Anne describes her behavior as reckless:

"A recklessness comes with adoption.  If I wasn't good enough to keep, then anything is possible.  I can do anything, find once unthinkable new lows in the search for the true nature of my being."
You Don't Look Adopted, page 68

She also thinks that her overreactions to others' behavior (specifically when someone in her life is late or doesn't show up) is due to a brain pattern that associates a person not showing up with abandonment.  Heffron believes that a pattern was set as an infant to feel:

"You are worthless.  You are unwanted.  You are going to be alone and you are going to die because no one is going to take care of you."
You Don't Look Adopted, page 44

I want to make clear that Anne doesn't solely focus on the negative.  She loves her parents.  She seems to be a fantastic mother to her daughter Keats, and she does mention (briefly) her successes.  Anne is a screenwriter who has enjoyed success, and I wish that she had focused a bit more on what she has gotten right in her life.  

As I read this book, I kept expecting research.  I wanted to know more: where are the longitudinal studies about adoptees and their fear of abandonment?  I had to remind myself that this is a memoir, and this is Anne's story, not a dissertation.  She doesn't hold anything back: she is honest and brave to share so many aspects of her life that aren't pretty.  I also love her voice.  She is a very good writer, however I wish she'd stayed off Tinder a bit more while she was in New York City writing and used that time to edit because her book could use a good line editor or perhaps more beta readers.  (Gosh darnit, Anne!  Edit your freakin' book!)  But then again it took her so long to write her story I bet she was loath to have anyone else read it, which is a shame.  That also bothers me: She waited so long to write this important book.  

I was thrilled to read this on the last page of the book (page 163).  It's a quote from a man Anne met in a coffee shop; it's his response to her being adopted :

"We are born physically alive but spiritually dead.  It's not until we accept God as Father that we find our spirit.  We are all adopted children of God."

YES!  Anne's reaction:

"His eyes were gentle and even if I didn't believe in God, I liked the idea that we are all adopted in love and that it is the acceptance of this love that brings us our spirit."

Coffee shop man speaks the truth.  We all are adopted in love! (Galations 4:4-5)

If you have anyone in your life who's adopted, I highly recommend this book.  It has changed the way I think about not just adoptees, but anyone else who's endured a trauma.  If I learned anything from this book it's this: The way a person feels about an issue or hardship should be acknowledged, especially if they're brave enough to share.  He or she has a right to those feelings, and one shouldn't judge nor dismiss them.  I hope I'll be a better person now that I've read this book.  I'm certainly going to try.

Take the time to follow Anne on her blog.  It is one of the prettiest blogs I've seen!


I received a copy of You Don't Look Adopted via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.  

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Anne Heffron

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Anne Heffron’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, January 8thThe Sketchy Reader
Wednesday, January 10thI Brought a Book
Thursday, January 11thPatricia’s Wisdom
Friday, January 12thStranded in Chaos
Tuesday, January 16thRun Wright
Wednesday, January 17thDiary of a Stay at Home Mom
Thursday, January 18thBookchickdi
Monday, January 22ndBook Mama Blog
Wednesday, January 24thReadaholic Zone
Friday, January 26thBloggin’ ‘Bout Books


  1. That sounds like a good read-even if it is a bit emotional. My best friend my whole life was adopted at 10 days old. Her mom and dad went up and down a ROW OF BABIES and picked her out because she had sandy red hair. Her name? Sandy! lol She has never had any desire to find her birth parents and loved her adopted parents til the day they died. She said she could not have imagined having better parents-and I honestly feel like she never felt that pull to connect to a biological parent. It is really interesting how different people react to adoption.

    Hope you have a wonderful week-xo Diana

  2. Well, I may have to order this as our first Granddaughter is adopted. We were all there for her birth and she was placed in our son and his wife's arms at birth. It was more than emotional for sure. She is now 8 years old and has never asked too many questions and knows that she was adopted. I pray daily that it will never cause her any distress but rather she'll always feel blessed and thankful. Happy week!

  3. I am going to check this one out. My uncle is adopted. He does not talk about. Not At All. I asked a few questions, that was too much. I think reading this book will help me.

  4. Great review, Love what you took from this book.
    I'll have to find it:)

  5. This looks very good -- and your review is terrific. Thanks!

  6. Very thought provoking, I have never thought about adoption from this point of view...

  7. I'm promoting this book on my blog today and I just stopped by to read your write-up. Fantastic review and I share some of your sentiments.
    Also, I am a new fan of your blog. So much to enjoy here. I'll be back!


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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