When We Become Ours: A YA Adoptee Anthology by Various Authors, edited by Shannon Gibney and Nicole Chung
Published by Harper Collins

THE focus of When We Become Ours is on the value of representation. As explained in the deeply honest and vulnerable editor’s note and foreword, this new collection’s intentions are to allow people to see their own experiences.

Often, the way people who have been adopted are presented in media without true care for their perspectives.

The joys and struggles of adoptees, with particular attention to the nuances of those in transracial families (children placed with adopted families of a different race to them) are explored with empathy and authenticity here. This book is by and for those who can see themselves in these experiences, but to the rest of us, it is a unique opportunity to learn and listen.

The National:

While the individual, true stories of the editors are briefly touched upon, and all feature, it is made up of fictional short stories. These are provided by a selection of transracial adoptee writers and span genres and styles, from the fantastical dethroning of a queen by her long-lost sister, to a modern road trip across California.

Whether it is the central issue, or a motivation and understanding in the back of the protagonist’s mind on their adventure, the themes of discord and connection with culture and family ring through each story.

The opening tale is an example of one of those wherein these themes drive the plot. In Cora And Benji’s Great Escape, Mariama J Lockington tells the story of Cora, a young black girl who expresses herself through poetry.

Her white mother’s loving attempts to understand fall short of being quite what Cora needs when they never communicate directly. All this comes to a head at their yearly retreat for fellow white parents with black adoptees, Camp Unity, which seems to be more for the development of the parents than listening to the children.

In this frustration, Cora and her best friend Benji form a plan to find a place to perform their poetry. The complexities of family and the comforts of art and friendship are presented here with kindness to all, and a great sense of hope.

This story is the perfect opening for the anthology because it showcases, with brilliant joy, the connection and peace one can find in writing, representing yourself when it feels no one else is, and finding others who feel similarly.

With this, Lockington pulls the reader into what they will find just beneath the surface of each story.

Even in those which do not so directly summarise the book’s mission, the threads which tie these stories together are strong.

In creating a collection of voices, When We Become Ours showcases the range of experiences within the transracial adoptee experience which is often neglected.

While focused on YA writing, for those 13+, in the words of afterword writer and scholar JaeRan Kim: “This book is for everyone – those personally connected to adoption and anyone interested in expanding their understanding of adoptees.”