Finding Family

Writing the Adoption Experience

Finding Family

"[Adoption is] like reading a book with the first few pages missing. It’s like arriving after curtain-up. ... But the missing part, the missing past, can be an entry as well as an exit, an opening as well as a void. You will just have to make it up as you go along." - Jeanette Winterson

Because adoption is often loaded with secrecy and, in some cases, guilt and shame, breaking silence can feel taboo for adoptees, birth families, and adoptive families.

This daylong workshop is for anyone whose life has been touched by adoption. Using a combination of lectures and writing exercises, Lori Jakiela— author of an award-winning adoption memoir—will help you explore your experiences and forge pathways to your own stories and complicated truths.

During this workshop you will:

  • ENGAGE with short pieces by other authors writing about the adoption experience;
  • LEARN narrative craft techniques and complete prompts designed to jump-start your personal writing;
  • SHARE your own work and stories in a supportive workshop environment; and
  • DISCOVER places to publish your work and ways to engage with a broader adoption community.

The workshop is open to writers of all levels. Read on for the schedule overview.

Saturday, August 18, 2018
10:00 am – 4:30 pm

Advance registration strongly recommended.
The workshop is limited to 16 students.

$79 if registered by 8/13/2018
$105 if registered after 8/13/2018



Opening craft lecture: “Breaking Silence, Stitching the Wound – The Challenges and Benefits of Writing an Adoption Memoir.”

At the top of the class, we will discuss several adoption memoirs and the challenges authors face when writing the adoption experience. We’ll review craft techniques and discuss key elements of narrative storytelling, including the concept of artifact, the use of the speculative/perhaps-ing, research, and more. We’ll will discuss the distinctions between factual and emotional truths when building an adoption narrative.

Morning Exercises/Objectives: Introductions, Reading and Writing We will briefly introduce ourselves and discuss experiences as part of the adoption triad. Then you will read and respond to short excerpts from adoption narratives. Using prompts designed to jumpstart your writing, you’ll write and practice writing/noticing without judgment.

Mid-Day Exercises/Objectives: Workshop/Discussion We will share and discuss the writing from the prompts and offer suggestions for ways to expand upon what you’ve begun. We’ll discuss the concepts of writing as discovery and writing what you don’t know.

Afternoon Exercises/Objectives: Reading,Writing, and Revising We’ll read and respond to more adoption texts, and discuss the important connection between reading well and writing well. Lori will provide additional prompts, as well as tips for journaling. You’ll choose one of the prompts you’ve begun and spend a little time expanding/revising it. Then, if you’d like, you’ll share what you’ve written during workshop.

Closing Exercises/Objectives: Literary communities/publishing For those of you who are interested in publishing your work or engaging with wider adoption-centered literary communities, Lori will provide a list of magazines, organizations and other resources–as well as an adoption-focused reading list–to inspire your ongoing work.


Location // 5119 Coral Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

The lower level of our workshop and gallery space is wheelchair accessible. Free on-street parking is available.

Doors open at 9 am, event begins at 10 am. Breakfast and coffee will be provided. The workshop schedule includes a mid-day break for lunch at local restaurants. A kitchenette, with refrigerator and microwave, is available onsite for packed lunches or snacks.

Lori Jakiela is the author of five books, most recently Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe (Atticus Books), an adoption memoir which received the Saroyan Prize for International Writing from Stanford University, and Portrait of the Artist as a Bingo Worker (Bottom Dog Press), a collection of essays on work and the writing life. She teaches creative writing for veterans through Veterans Write, an organization she founded in 2017, and directs the undergraduate writing program at The University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg. Her author website is

Questions? Please call us at 412-404-2975 or email our events manager, Hannah Waltz at