Memoir by Tina Traster Tells of Russian Adoption Journey

"It was an intense privilege," says Tina Traster, "to be able to sit and think and write about the most important thing." The writer says it was during the week she spent at the 2009 Summer Seminar for Writers that seeds were planted for her memoir about her family's story of adopting a Russian child. Traster, a long-time journalist and columnist for The New York Post, enrolled in the program because she wanted to write about her life. After the summer program, she took several memoir-writing classes at The Writing Institute to keep her momentum going.

Tina was taking one of those courses in April 2010 when news broke that Torry Ann Hanson placed her adopted son on a plane to Moscow with a note that read, among other things, "I no longer wish to parent this child. He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues." This was a catalyst for Tina. She had written essays about the complications of parenting an adoptive Russian child, often blaming herself in the early years when her child didn't attach. But over the years, she and her husband learned that attachment disorders were prevalent among Russian adoptees, and this moment really sparked the urge to tell her story. On her website, juliaandme.com, she writes, "My husband and I banded together to read everything we could on the syndrome. We made a dogged effort and a conscious commitment to help our daughter and make ourselves into a family. It was our daily work. That daily work paid off, Julia began connecting."

Traster's family is considered a success story for international adoptions, as shown here in Raising Julia, a documentary made for Radio Free Europe by filmmaker Olga Loginova.

Tina's memoir was released in Spring 2014. Her story, about her "most important thing," couldn't be more relevant given Russia's recent decision to close adoptions to Americans. In a recent blog on HuffingtonPost.com, Adoptive American Parents of Russian Children Don't Deserve the Heat, Traster takes aim at the Russian government for laying blame on American parents, rather than acknowledging that many moms and dads who are parenting 60,000 orphans face tremendous challenges. In her book, Tina tells the difficulties she has faced, but illustrates in great personal detail that sometimes you can bring a child back from the brink.

Written by Carolyn O'Laughlin, past Writing Institute Student