Part 4: Interview with Julie Ryan McGue, Author of Belonging Matters

Introducing “Belonging Matters: Conversations on Adoption, Family, and Kinship” by Julie Ryan McGue

“Belonging Matters” is a book that addresses adoption and its impact on identity, family, and kinship. It encourages readers to contemplate the significance of belonging in shaping personal experiences and relationships. The book supports the adoption community while engaging those outside it in meaningful conversations about acceptance and inclusion. Ultimately, it highlights the importance of belonging in enriching our lives and driving us toward fulfillment.

Buy the book here!

  • How does the book support and engage the adoption community?

Whether I wanted it to be or not, my closed adoption story and my twindom define me, molded me into the person I have become. In reflecting upon those facts, certain truths became apparent. The more I shared my adoption search and reunion story with friends and family and those within the adoption community, the more I believed my unique experience needed to be shared. None of us want to feel alone in our lived experiences, we are voyeuristic by nature. By offering personal experiences for public consumption, authors like me afford others a perspective to consider or a roadmap to follow or discard. Many of my experiences and inner thoughts are mirrored by other adoptees; these shared constructs bond us and make us feel a belonging to one another within the adoption community.

  • How does the book advocate for understanding and empathy towards adoptees?

Like any experience or unique role, if we take the time and make the effort to put ourselves in the shoes of others, we glimpse something–– a feeling, an idea, an insight–– that broadens us humans, which might later translate into goodwill that improves another’s life.

In the final essay of Belonging Matters, I discuss how my participation in an adoption support group enabled me to find empathy and forgiveness for things my birth mother, birth father, and adoptive mother did and said during my search and reunion. Empathy allowed me to heal as a daughter and rounded me out as a mother, wife, and friend. Empathy is a courtesy we offer others and by doing so it is a gift that has a ripple effect within society.

  • What role do personal stories serve in conveying the book’s message?

Personal stories, scene, and geographical setting, provide context for a reader to identify with; it provides grounding. Once a reader has been invited into an author’s world, it is easier for them to grasp takeaways to apply to their own life, or to understand lives and worlds different from their own.

  • How does “Belonging Matters” explore the intersectionality of identity and adoption experiences?

Each of the essays in Belonging Matters was intentionally selected to further drive home the point: adoption is complicated. Whether an adoptee is from a closed or open adoption, he/she struggles to understand why adoption was the plan made for them, to find belonging within their birth and adoptive families, and to strengthen their sense of self. The idea of having been unwanted is something each adoptee must grapple with and I provide ideas and suggestions for research within the book.

Click here for part 5!