Introducing “Belonging Matters: Conversations on Adoption, Family, and Kinship” by Julie Ryan McGue

“Belonging Matters” is a book that addresses adoption and its impact on identity, family, and kinship. It encourages readers to contemplate the significance of belonging in shaping personal experiences and relationships. The book supports the adoption community while engaging those outside it in meaningful conversations about acceptance and inclusion. Ultimately, it highlights the importance of belonging in enriching our lives and driving us toward fulfillment.

Buy the book here!


  • What themes regarding identity are explored in the book?

Identity, family, belonging are the threads uniting the essays in Belonging Matters. Within adoption is the concept of duality. A child is given a new life with either limited or no access to their previous life or background. As adoptees, we realize that the lives we are leading may or may not be the ones we were intended to lead. Coupled with this duality, adoptees wonder what their lives would have been like if adoption had not been the plan made for them. Because of this, adoptees often struggle with who it is they identify with and to whom and where they truly belong.


  • In what ways does the book examine the concept of family dynamics?

These days families are constructed in all sorts of ways due to divorce, remarriage, and of course adoption. Every parent brings their own history to the parenting job and that affects family dynamics. In the case of adoption, sometimes an adoptive parent doesn’t understand the sensibilities of their adopted child because the genetics aren’t there. When a parent “doesn’t get” their child, family dynamics are challenged. In my case, I grew up with my twin sister, an adopted brother, and three of my parents’ biological children. It was an interesting equation, but one my parents solved with fairness and love.


  • What insights does the book offer into the importance of belonging?

The search for identity and belonging is fundamental to the human experience. How we come to a sense of our self and where we find belonging are different for each person. For adoptees from the closed adoption era, these are challenging constructs to get our heads around; our quest for wholeness is a lifelong struggle. Many of us find belonging with the folks with whom we are related to biologically, but often the people we connect to on a deep level are not birth relatives. They might be friends, colleagues, the seatmate on an airplane. In Belonging Matters, I explore the concepts of kinship and family and share personal anecdotes to add color to those themes.

Click here for part 4!