To say I was nervous on Friday July 10th is an understatement. I arrived at the Marriott Riverfront in Savannah a couple of hours early for set up and to sign dozens of pre-sale books. My niece who was visiting from North Carolina sat in the passenger seat assuring me that it would be a grand success. She was one of many angels who helped me shine that night.
After speaking to spectacular Marriott staffer, Cindy Johnson, about the arrangement of food tables, I was finally able to greet my publisher Terri Gerrell of SYP Publishing. She found me a signing spot at a large table, suggesting that I sit and breath. She reminded me that I was the author.
I watched as the lobby was transformed into a sparkling party place. Musician Greg Williams arrived on time, wearing a guitar and easy smile. The palm rose maker, Peanut (the oldest artisan on River Street) sashayed in with a shoulder loaded with palm fronds. Plans fell into place. Imaginings became reality.
Like the moment when a storm passes, and a first ray of sunlight appears, the literary launch I had dreamed of was born. Three years prior, as I sat in the same lobby writing Waving Backwards, I had no way of knowing that we would launch the book there. I did not even know if the book would be published.
Perched happily at my very first book signing table on Friday night, I had hardly taken a breath before a stream of well-wishers arrived. Family, friends, new friends, book lovers, tourists, all stopped to say hello; purchase a book; take a photo. When the first reader asked to have her photo taken with me, I glanced over my shoulder wondering if she meant someone else.
An hour or so into the signing, a voice rose above the murmur of party goers. It was instantly recognizable, and transported me back to the age of seven. I said, “That cannot be the voice I think it is.” When I finished signing the book in front of me, I looked up and there stood a woman I had not seen in a dozen years. It was my adoptive mother’s youngest sister. The aunt who taught me about Barbies and The Beatles had traveled from New York to Savannah to attend my book launch.
In rare moments, when I was able to pause from signing and look around that night, I witnessed my biological and adoptive families in a wash of commonality that sent shivers down my spine. My birth mother posed with my adoptive mother. My adoptive and blood brothers discussed movies and shared a toast. My nieces from both sides of the adoption triad chatted, smiled, shared.
I searched thirteen years to find my biological family, and while they have met my adoptive family before, this was the first celebration we shared as one brood, one clan, one bright reminder of the importance of nature and nurture.
My friends too, joined the fray of family that night as they learned who I look like, who I grew with, who I love, and who loves me back. From our local book club; to a group I spend Sundays with exploring the world via documentaries; the night was a perfect celebration of the ‘Waving Backwards’ message.
Family is all. No matter how they come to join you, family is made of the connections that define us.
Open records for all adoptees at age eighteen, and access to Original Birth Certificates (OBCs) is essential! All adoptees deserve to experience the completeness and co-mingling that permeated my book launch.
The time for adoptee rights is now.
Blessings and thanks to everyone who attended the Waving Backwards book launch. Thank you city of Savannah, friends and family! I love you!