he wants to talk about it. T looks confused.
He didn’t expect all that, either. It never occurred to him that most of his friends had no
idea what adoption is. I manage to shift the
conversation back to Ethiopia.
All of this is upstaged by the fact that they
are allowed to eat Ethiopian food with their
fingers, which quickly makes it everyone’s favorite food.
Actually seeing him in the classroom, I
am floored by the progress T has made over
the past few months. He is still energetic and
enthusiastic and dancing every five minutes,
of course. He’s still T. But he can sit still and
keep his hands to himself. He’s polite and
raises his hand.
On our way out the door, I run into the
head of the school, walking toward us down
“It’s our little success story!” she says.
Us. A success story.
We have a few more meetings with the team
and if the mood in the room were any more
jubilant, we’d all be slamming shots—
including the teacher (especially the teacher).
I go from talking to the head of the preschool every day to not getting an e-mail
back from her for a few days at a time sometimes.
“She forgot about us.” I say to Scott. “There
are more important things on her plate.
We’re falling off the map!”
At the meeting before spring break, they
offer us a reenrollment contract to the
JILLIAN LAUREN is the author of the
memoir, Everything You Ever Wanted, the
New York Times bestselling memoir, Some
Girls: My Life in a Harem, and the novel
Pretty. Her writing has appeared in The
Paris Review, The New York Times, Vanity
Fair, and Elle, among others. She is a regular storyteller on The Moth and blogs at
jillianlauren.com. She lives in Los Angeles
with her husband and two sons. From
Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren.
Published by arrangement with Plume, an
imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Copyright © 2015 by Jillian Lauren.
AUTHOR Q&A: Jillian Lauren
I discovered writer Jillian Lauren thanks to
her memoir, Some Girls. The book’s subtitle,
My Life in a Harem, promised to answer an
unusual question: How does a nice girl from
New Jersey end up a courtesan in the harem
of the Sultan of Brunei? But her narrative
delivered far more: a moving, coming-of-age tale about family, identity, femininity...
and adoption. I became an instant fan.
These days Lauren, who was adopted domestically as an infant, writes mostly about
the challenges that come with the “happy
ending” of marriage and motherhood. She
and her husband adopted their son, Tariku,
from Ethiopia. Lauren’s latest memoir,
Everything You Ever Wanted, follows her journey “from member of a harem to member of
the PTA,” and reveals how she and her husband helped their son heal from trauma and
learned to support his special needs. I loved
Everything You Ever Wanted so much that I
reached out to Lauren for an interview, and,
luckily, she said yes! –SHARON VAN EPPS
SHARON: In Some Girls, you write about finding your birth mother, and both of your memoirs reveal some of the challenges you’ve
faced in your relationship with your adoptive
parents. Has your own journey as an adoptee
shaped how you parent your son?
JILLIAN: Absolutely. The entirety of my experience as a human has shaped how I parent
my son! Specifically, being an adoptee has
given me a reprieve from some of the anxiety
many of my adoptive parent friends seem to
face. It doesn’t stress me out when Tariku
starts in with the, “You’re not my real mom,”
and, “I want a different, nicer mom,” kind of
stuff. I remember saying it to my own mother.
I remember that I knew how patently untrue
it was, even as it came out of my mouth as a
four-year-old. So it rolls off my back.
It’s true that I’ve had an up-and-down
relationship with my parents (happy to report
we’re on an upswing now), but I wouldn’t