Becoming Patrick

Posted by on Jun 12, 2011 in Blog | 2 comments

It’s a challenging endeavor to write about one’s mother. There’s a lifetime of emotional history, joys, frustrations, baggage, gratitude, resentment, push and pull. Or not. In my case, I chose to write about my other mother as well, the one with whom I did not have a lifetime of emotional history, the mother who placed me for adoption when I was three days old.

All during my quest to find that other mother, I wrote. I wrote for survival. I was a journaler, not a writer. I had never written anything for publication, never thought about trying. But while searching for my original mother and for many years afterward, I was almost compulsive about writing out what happened each day, so it was outside of me, so I could continue on to the next day. During that time, my journal was my constant companion, my confidante, my storage locker.

It was about six years after I found my birth mother that a writing teacher acquaintance began nudging me about the story. After months of prodding from Nancy Beckett, I finally attended one of her memoir writing classes at the Lakeside Writing Studio in Chicago. And then, like after making the decision to search for my original family, there was no turning back. That was in 1998. Now, thirteen years later, after a move to San Diego and invaluable participation in many writing groups under the wise tutelage of Judy Reeves, Roger Aplon, and Tom Larson, that story has matured into a book. Now, I’m a writer.

I’m also a publisher. This project took so long to complete that during its gestation, self-publishing evolved from being a last resort to being cool. I can’t say it wasn’t a difficult decision to give up looking for an agent at all those Southern California and San Diego State Writer’s Conferences, but again, once the decision was made, I was full speed out of the gate. I created Deep Root Press, and I’m enjoying the ride.

So back to my original point. All during the writing of Becoming Patrick, I harbored an underlying pool of anxiety about what my two mothers would think, and perhaps even say out loud. Would they disagree, distance, disown? It does happen. Well, I’m happy to report that both mothers have read the book, and both love it. They are even telling all their friends about it. So a decade-old undercurrent has disappeared. Life is good.

I hope you’ll join me at the The Ink Spot Release Party for Becoming Patrick, on Sunday, June 26, at 3 pm.

Patrick McMahon is a writer, photographer, and musician. Born in Chicago, raised in its suburbs and in Missouri, he currently resides in San Diego. Visit him at


  1. Eunice Anderson says:


    Anxious to read your book. I am an adoptive mother who successfully helped (did the most work actually) and found all three birth families for my kids. Not only does it read like a detective book (how we were forced to search was against Iowa laws) but it hopefully educates my readers as to why I helped search for the first mother(s) and why my kids could not be mature adults until they first knew who they were.

    Like you, I have to expose many feelings to tell-it-like-it-is but like you I am a writer so I need to write what I know so well— times three. Hopefully North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc will soon get it up and printed. Look forward to reading your book.

    Eunice Anderson

  2. Patrick McMahon says:

    Thanks Eunice,

    I hope you’ll enjoy the book. Kudos on being so aware of adopted people’s needs. It’s important to get our stories out there. Best of luck with your book.


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