Monday, December 10, 2012

Open Adoption, Open Heart: An Interview and Giveaway with Author Russell Elkins

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Open Adoption, Open Heart

The world of adoption has changed dramatically over the past twenty years. No longer do biological parents have to say goodbye to their child forever. They now have more options when deciding the type of adoption to pursue, such as open adoption. Open adoption creates the opportunity for a special relationship between biological parents, the adoptive parents, and the child.

 Open Adoption, Open Heart is an inspiring and true story, which takes the reader deeper into the feelings and emotions experienced by adoptive parents. As you read this incredible story, you will experience the joys, difficulties, and amazing victories facing adoptive couples. Russell and his wife, Jammie, invite you to share in their inspiring and heartwarming journey.

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From the Author: While my book's primary audience was thought to be those hoping to adopt, close to half of the books I've sold are simply people who want to read about our story and how adoption is different now than it used to be- and they have not adopted nor do they plan to adopt.

An interview with the author


What inspired you to write this book? While my wife and I were going through the process of adopting our first child (we have now adopted twice), I realized just how much we didn't know about "modern" adoption. I mean, we just thought we would go to a few classes, fill out paperwork, hand over some money, and wait for a baby. WRONG! Adoption has changed a lot over the last few years- it's even drastically different now than it was just 10 years ago and most people don't know it. 95% of adoptions now are open adoptions, meaning that there is some form of contact between biological parents and the adoptive family even after the child is adopted. A lot of those adoptions (like ours, for example) have ongoing face to face contact, telephone, emails, Facebook, etc. So yes, our son's biological parents are still part of our life and they're an amazing blessing to have part of our interesting family tree. Those relationship were NOT automatic, though. Open Adoption, Open Heart is not a "how to" book on adoption. It is our story with all the intimate details and emotion to show what we went through. It takes the reader on our crazy ride along with us in a way that helps people think "How would I feel or what would I do if I were in their shoes." It's not just meant for people who plan to adopt someday.

When did you decide to take that step that made you a published author? I have always loved to write in one form or another. When I finally graduated from college, I was able to finally have time to dedicate to it. Just for fun I wrote a series of fictional stories and self-published them. They were pretty amateur, so I've since yanked them off the Amazon shelf. Once I felt like my skills were ready, I took a jump into the deep end and wrote a novel that I'm extremely proud of- shopped it around to some agents and agencies- got a bunch of rejections, yadda yadda yadda. A familiar story to any writer. Then, while I was at a writing convention I met the CEO of Aloha publishing and we started talking. Her publishing company wasn't interested in fiction, but she was interested in the manuscript I had written about our adoption story. At that time I still didn't know what I was planning to do with my Open Adoption, Open Heart manuscript. That night between days of the convention I worked all night getting the manuscript ready to submit. She loved it and although about 60 manuscripts were submitted to her at the convention, mine was one of 2 that was actually published through them. Aloha helped me turn my manuscript into everything I hoped it could become and I'm very proud of it. Oh, and my novel that I was shopping around will be released in just a few months under Inky's Nest Publishing.

If you had to sum up Open Adoption, Open Heart in 30 or less words, what would you say? An amazing and intense ride of emotions so crazy you would think it was fiction- watching the birth of an adoptive family unfold.

What has been your greatest challenge in writing Open Adoption, Open Heart? Before writing this book, I had only written fiction. Fiction comes with its own challenges of plot and a bunch of things I didn't need to worry about with our adoption story, but I think telling a non-fiction story was actually a bigger challenge for me. That was largely due to there being so many people in our story, all of whom mean the world to me, and also all of whom were going through something emotionally intense. It was a challenge to word everything in a way that didn't make people look petty or insensitive. An adoption story is a melting pot of so many individual stories coming together, and I did my best to be sensitive to all aspects and all points of view, while I'm sure everybody experienced the same things differently from one another.

What message do you hope readers take away from the book? Adoption is not about someone giving up on or abandoning a child- especially not in our modern day. Placing a child for adoption is the most selfless and giving thing someone can do when they are not in position to give the child all he/she deserves to be given in life. And adoption is the most beautiful thing that can happen to a home like ours where we can't have our own biological children. Adoption is about love.

What is your favorite scene in Open Adoption, Open Heart? The hospital scene. Even after writing this story as well as our second story (will be released early in 2013), in both stories the hospital stay is the most intense for me. My wife and I were allowed by the birth mother to be present in the delivery room and what an amazing gift that was to be allowed to be present. The intense emotions that accompanied the 48 hour stay there- would she sign the papers? how do we support her even if she changes her mind about adoption? It was an incredible mix of emotions pulling us in every direction.

What has been your greatest pleasure in writing this book? I LOVE hearing back from people who have read it. Even people who are actually in the book have said, "I had no idea." Many other people who have adopted have told me they loved how the book was able to put into words some of the things they felt but couldn't explain. I just love when people give me feedback. It makes it all so worth it, knowing that our story can reach so many people, both inside of the adoption world and out.

Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series? Telling the story of our second adoption, as well as continuing the story of our first adoption relationship-Open Adoption, Open Heart part 2 will be out in early 2013. Following that, there will be a series of other people telling their own stories. The running title for that is Open Adoption, Open Heart: Stories of Love and it will feature the telling of stories from other people, biological parents, adoptees, other adoptive parents, etc.

What has been your greatest pleasure or personal success as an author? I love feedback from people. My wife and I also started a Facebook page named after the book Open Adoption, Open Heart. On there all kinds of people from all over the globe ask questions, tell experiences, and we all feed off each other and support each other. It's a place where biological parents as well as adoptive parents and adoptees can all come together and share. There are a lot of people involved there who are just simply interested in the topics and never plan to adopt or place a child for adoption.

How do you unwind after a long writing session? Have you ever read a book where, after you put it down, you have to come back to reality? As if you were actually there fighting dragons or getting chased by cops? That's what it's like for me when I write- times ten! I usually just like to wrestle or play cars and trains with my kids, or just watch some American Idol with my wonderful wife. Pretty normal, everyday type of stuff.

Who or what has most influenced your writing? When my grandpa turned 90, everyone threw him a surprise party. There were tables set up with all the things he'd done throughout his life- everything from paintings, wood carvings, buildings he'd designed as an engineer/architect, and one table of a few books he'd written. I said to myself, "When my life is coming to a close, I hope to have such concrete examples of things I've accomplished."
That being said, I've always loved to write, although the format has changed a lot. I've written so much poetry I could fill volumes, but almost all of those are for my personal journals. I've written more than 50 songs with my brothers (we've been playing together since we were kids). When I finally graduated from college, I finally had time to spend on what I wanted to do, one of those things being writing.

Favorite place? Other than at home with my beautiful wife--Guatemala City and Oakland Coliseum where the A's play.

Favorite author? Stephen King

Favorite smell? Burning leaves

Favorite series? Harry Potter

Favorite movie? Lord of the Rings

Favorite dish? Lasagne

Favorite color? Red

Favorite quote? "Facts schmacts. You can use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true." -Homer Simpson

Your best trait? My bald head

Your worst trait? My bald head

About the Author
Russell Elkins was born on Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1977. Along with his five siblings, he and his military family moved around a lot, living in eight different houses by the time he left for college at age 17. Although his family movedaway from Fallon, Nevada, just a few months after he moved out, he still considers that little oasis in the desert to be his childhood hometown. He and his family now live in the Boise, Idaho area.

Russell has always been a family man at heart, looking forward to the day when he could be a husband and a father. It took him a little while, but eventually his eyes locked onto a beautiful blonde, and he has never looked away. Russell and Jammie were married in 2004. Years of struggling with infertility left Russell and Jammie with a decision to make and their lives changed dramatically when they decided to adopt.

Russell and Jammie have adopted two beautiful children, Ira and Hazel, and have embraced their role as parents through open adoption. Both are actively engaged in the adoption community by communicating through social media, taking part in discussion panels, and writing songs about adoption. Russell also writes a weekly post for Adoption.com and contributes regularly to Adoption Voices Magazine.

Connect with Russell


Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash from Author Russell Elkins
Ends 12/23/12

Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

2 comments:

  1. Adoption is not about someone giving up on or abandoning a child.... Adoption is about love.

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  2. Great interview here. Thanks for sharing your story
    Bmcbroom AT gmail.com

    ReplyDelete