We interviewed author and adoptee Sara Crutcher about her children’s book, Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale. Within its pages are vivid and colorful illustrations that enhance a worthwhile narrative! Sara’s book is sure to be a wonderful learning tool for adoptees and for families considering adoption or who have already adopted. The book addresses some of the complex realities adoptees can face with an easygoing, upbeat tone, which is helpful when exploring possible solutions with children. Everyone’s adoption story is unique and what’s even more interesting about Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale is that it is centered on Sara’s true-life experiences as an adoptee. It was a great pleasure to speak with Sara about her adoption story and learn more about her children’s book on adoption. Here’s the interview:
Please tell us about yourself and your connection to adoption.
I am a new children’s book author, living in Detroit, MI. I was adopted when I was 6 weeks old and consider adoption one of my greatest blessings. I was fortunate to be adopted by wonderful parents who have provided me a great life. My father has worked in higher education for his entire professional career, which allowed us to move around a lot as I was growing up. I went to 7 different schools before graduating from high school! I guess moving has become a part of me, because after graduating from Hampton University in 2006, I’ve lived in 4 different cities. I love to travel and experience the joys of life. I have had the privilege of traveling abroad numerous times, most recently to Berlin, Germany where my parents lived for a year on sabbatical!
What are your main inspirations for creating this book?
Various things in my life were the inspiration for the book. My favorite color is yellow, so Elizabeth had to wear a yellow dress. My dad always wears a suit and bow tie to work, so I had to make sure the father in the book had a similar style! My mom always wears pearls and also worked while I was growing up. I wanted to make sure to portray working and married parents (my parents celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary this November).
I love fruit and eat it every day. I wanted to show a family who embraces a healthy lifestyle (similar to how I was brought up). We did family activities together like riding bikes and playing various games. My dad is also a professional cellist and has played since he was 13 (he is now 68). I started playing the violin when I was 5 and we played many duets together. I wanted to show that in the book! Lastly, we are a huge ice cream/sorbet family after dinner so that had to end the story!
What do you feel families can benefit from the most with your book?
I hope my book will help children and families to have a positive and confident outlook on being adopted. I think it is very important for adoptive parents to be open and honest with their children about their adoption. The impact on children who are kept in the dark or find out about their adoption outside the family can have a lasting and negative impact through adulthood. My parents told me I was adopted when I was around 5 years old. They were very honest with me and showed me all of the paperwork on my adoption. After we had conversations about adoption, I internalized it and kept a lot of things to myself. I was in therapy for a short time, but I really just listened to the other kids talk. Adoption can be a lifelong struggle for some people, but with positive guidance and love, it can be a much easier journey.
Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale features an African-American family who has adopted transracially. The main character, Elizabeth, faces a different matter in that she doesn’t “look” like her parents and wonders how she can address this. Can you tell us how you hope this could help some African-American families considering adoption or families considering transracial adoption?
The ethnicity of Elizabeth is actually left up to the reader. Depending upon who is reading the story and their background, she could be transracial or an African-American girl who has a light completion. I wanted Elizabeth to look different from her parents as many adoptive children do. I don’t want to put her in a certain group but rather wanted the reader to decide. There are a lot of children who look different from their parents whether they were adopted, foster care, stepchildren or simply have different physical characteristics from the rest of their family. While the book focuses on adoption, I want readers from all walks of life to benefit from the message. Adoption is love and love has no color. Differences are what help us to be a better society. We should not be afraid of our differences but embrace them in order to make us better human beings.
How long was the book writing process and what was your favorite part about creating the book?
The entire process took about a year. The story came fairly quickly although I made several revisions during the process. I self-published the book through Mascot Books. The initial process was truly a blessing. When I told my mom I was going to write children’s books (which was no surprise as this has always been one of my many life goals and I wrote many short stories in my youth) she sent me a few books to read. While reading one, I saw the publisher information and did a Google search. I submitted my manuscript and within a few days, they contacted me eager to publish my book. I would say my favorite part was the illustrations although this was the part that had the most revisions. I had a vision of very bold illustrations with vibrant colors. I was introduced to Romney Vasquez through my publisher and I am so pleased with his work. We went back and forth A LOT but we finally got everything perfect!
What are your biggest hopes for Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale and how it can aid other adoptees?
I hope Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale will encourage more families to adopt. Adoption is a beautiful blessing for thousands of children yearning for a loving home. Adoption for many children is a hard topic to process and understand. Similar to other young girls, Elizabeth is experiencing a lot of emotions about being adopted. Through her parents’ positive communication with her, she is able to develop a confident outlook on adoption to help her talk to other peers when her family differences are discussed. Adoption should never be looked at as a negative but always with positivity and high self-esteem.
What has adoption made you thankful for or what does adoption mean to you?
I am thankful for life. My birth family could have chosen another route so I am thankful to them for choosing adoption. I had a closed adoption and have no information on my birth family aside from their medical history at the time and a few physical characteristics. When I was writing this book, my mom said it would be a great healing tool for me. At the time I did not understand what she meant, but now I do. My birth family made the difficult decision to place me up for adoption, which allowed my parents to be blessed with a child. From that, I was blessed with an amazing life. Adoption is an act of selfless love and I am blessed to be part of the adoption community.
Top Left and Bottom: Family photos of Sara with her parents. Right: Sara as a child with her father’s cello.
Thanks Sara for taking the time to answer our questions and for giving us more insight into your adoption story as well as your book. Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale is now available for purchase on heartpickedwithlove.com. It’s also available for pre-order and will be fully released on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million on January 5th 2016.
All images included were provided by heartpickedwithlove.com and the author, Sara Crutcher.