S.E.B. Detling :: On Choosing the Messages Adults Send to Children :: 


Southern Legitimacy Statement: Given up for adoption in a one-light Tennessee town, I grew up in Memphis along the Mississippi River dancing ballet at the historic Orpheum Theatre and later dancing improv in the bars along Beale Street. I now live in “L.A.”, as some locals call Lower Alabama, where we have stunning sunsets along the Gulf of Mexico.

On Choosing the Messages Adults Send to Children

A photo in The New Yorker of a child walking with head turned up to see the Counternarratives
of Alexandra Bell blown up and pasted on brick and concrete walls around New York City

like murals. Days later, I suck in air and lean back, remembering the down-eyed pity
on that man’s face at church when my mother introduced me by saying, This is my daughter.

She’s adopted. How can I go back and edit this moment for my younger self?
Redline the shit out of it. Stop my mother from moving away, smiling, like a banner plane

announcing a beachside buffet. Why did no one stop her from introducing me without a name,
or stop me from believing, That’s it. That’s all you are and all you’ll ever be?