Adoption book to both tell story and help write next chapter

Pam Ogden is turning anxiety into a book deal.

Ogden and her husband Jason have five children. They want one more. In their quest to adopt a sixth child, Pam has landed a contract for a book about their experiences with adoption.

Jason Ogden, a sergeant in the Sweet Home Police Department, is a pastor at Valley Life Church, at Vine and Park streets, in Lebanon.

Pam has been a homemaker, and she homeschools the children through the junior high level. Their oldest daughter Kelly attends East Linn Christian Academy.

After initiating their current adoption process, Pam started blogging about it. Explaining why they were adopting a Japanese child, she began telling the story of their experience adopting their youngest son, Hudson, now 7, in Korea five years ago.

She used excerpts from a journal she began keeping while in Korea, she said.

“They were just pieces of my very honest, very unedited travel journal. People said they liked them, and I should make it into a book.”

She took her readers up on the idea, and she began looking at publishing through Amazon. On a whim, she sent half of her journal to a publisher, Lucid Books, around Thanksgiving.

“They’re a Christian publisher,” Jason said. “I’ve seen them at church conferences.”

That’s what brought the publisher to their minds, he said. Adoption is one of the top five subjects people ask for of that particular publisher.

“Two weeks later, they called and said they wanted the book,” Pam said. “I signed the contract. I sent them the complete manuscript as it was.”

She is busy finalizing the manuscript now, Pam said. The publisher will work on formatting and endorsements, and Jason has been busy touching up some 60 photos that will appear in the book.

“Part of the deal was that they’ll promote it all over the United States,” Pam said.

She said last week she’s thrilled at the opportunity.

“I don’t believe it yet. I’m really overwhelmed, and it’s only been three weeks since we said yes to the publishing company and it’s moving really fast.”

Pam said she wrote the book to help her cope with anxiety about traveling.

The book was typed using one finger on an iPad, she said. “Not even full sentences. In a lot of it, just things I was thinking throughout the trip.

“I had put it away and didn’t look at it again for five years. We were talking to the kids about adopting a second time. They wanted me to read it because they had never heard it.”

Reading the book to their children helped highlight themes in it, they said.

“I think the main theme of it is the balance of grief and joy in adoption,” Pam said. “Adoption is obviously a joyful thing, but it comes with grief as well.”

As she read it out loud, it had many happy, fun parts, but it also had its emotional moments where she had to stop reading.

“Pretty soon, my daughter Luka was crying,” Pam said. Hudson himself got up and left the room. When his parents asked him about it, they learned “he misses Korea, and that’s a sad story.”

Hudson was nearly 3 when he came to the U.S, Pam said. “He knows that he had that life before he came here.”

Hudson hadn’t heard the story from her perspective before, Pam said.

“The day that we met him was the pinnacle of all the waiting and hoping and saving and work we’d done.”

At the same time, “this little boy was ripped away” from people he believed were his parents, Pam said. The process wasn’t gradual. They met Hudson, and 30 minutes later, they were on their way.

The story hit Jason too.

“You have a tendency to forget all the little details,” Jason said. “When I read this, it brings me right back there. I’m reliving it.”

It evokes all the sights, sounds and smells, he said.

The book also showcases Pam overcoming her anxiety, she said. “I was terrified to travel.”

But she and Jason love kids. That prompted them to adopt the first time and prompted her to travel.

“One of the main reasons is we wanted to have a large family,” Jason said. “Pam’s pregnancies were getting increasingly more difficult. It’s dangerous.”

They had prayed about it, and felt led to adopt internationally, Jason said.

They started looking at Haiti, where its people had recently suffered from a devastating earthquake.

During the adoption process with Holt International Children’s Services,  a faith-based humanitarian organization and adoption agency in Eugene, a social worker visits the home and assesses the family, Jason said. That’s when the Ogdens shifted their focus to South Korea.

“She just kind of made a case for Korea,” Jason said. “She said it would be a good fit.”

“There’s a stigma about orphans because bloodlines are important (there),” Pam said. “South Koreans don’t generally like to adopt children.”

Now the Ogden family, which includes Pam and Jason, both 42, and their children, Kelly, 14; Luka, 12; Ivan, 10; Ember, 8; and Hudson, 7, is looking at Japan.

“We decided if we adopt once, we would adopt twice, so the first one wouldn’t feel like the odd one out – plus we wanted two.”

They are heading for Japan for two reasons.

First, they wanted to find an agency that would match them with an infant. Faith International, a small program based in Washington, can match the Ogdens with an infant from Japan.

Quick online research suggested that a lot of Japanese orphans end up in an orphanage rather than a foster system, as they do in South Korea, Jason said. It’s more institutionalized.

Second, “we felt like that would help Hudson because there aren’t a lot of Asian people in this community,” Pam said.

Another reason to publish a book, Jason said, is that adoption is costly. They hope that royalties will help the family cover expenses.

“I have a long list of stuff to get done,” Pam said, and when she finishes one list, the publisher sends another. The Ogdens and publisher are working on a title, photos, a web site, permission to use photos and lyrics and more.

“By the time I publish the book, I’m going to be tired of it,” Pam said, but she anticipates a spring release.

Their story will be available as a book, e-book and audio-book through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

The Ogdens are also planning fund-raising events to help during the adoption process. Direct tax-deductible donations may be given via a link on Pam’s blog: hataah.wixsite.com/inmycastleonacloud. They are collecting donations for a March garage sale. They also appreciate donations of cans for recycling.

To contact the Ogdens, email [email protected] or message Pam Clem Ogden on Facebook.