On the same night that twenty four-year-old Jordyn Sims has a miscarriage, her sister-in-law Tori Sims conceives a child. Nine months later, Tori, a long term heroin addict, abandons her two-hour-old drug addicted newborn Jeremiah, in a hospital stairwell. Jordyn receives the news and pursues foster adoption. However, Oscar, Tori’s possessive drug-addicted boyfriend, is not about to give Jeremiah up so easily. While in confrontation with Tori and Oscar, Jordyn seeks help from the Administration of Children Services (ACS), only to discover she is faced with a maze of departments, regulations, legalities and overworked social workers. Jordyn, however, remains strong and continues to push through the uphill battle, even after she discovers she’s pregnant.
With all odds against her adoption of Jeremiah, and her pregnancy at high risk from increasing stress, will Jordyn win this tough battle, or will her world crumble before her?
Missy B. Salick is a new author who has written her first novel, Claiming Jeremiah. Her fictional memoir on foster adoption is drawing a hefty buzz, and the online release date isn’t until April 7, 2013 (May 4 in paperback). The novel is small in size, but contains a powerful message. “Children in foster care need a place to call home.” Salick, a foster care advocate, wrote this book based on her personal journey of foster adopting her four-year-old son.
Before self-publishing, Claiming Jeremiah, Salick spent several years as a freelance business writer for Fortune 500 companies such as: Shearman & Sterling, KPMG, Deloitte and many more. She also had a stint with song ghost writing. Salick’s experience in the entertainment industry stems from working with entertainment companies and media including Violator, MBK, Village Voice and more. As the founder of J.J. Autumn Publishing, her publishing company is geared towards highlighting urban fiction dedicated to special causes and community awareness projects.
Get to know Missy:
What inspired you to write Claiming Jeremiah?
A: I was inspired to write Claiming Jeremiah after I experienced the foster adoption process with my son. My son was a family member who entered foster care and I wanted to prevent that from happening as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, due to legal and state laws it was harder than I thought. I did research, reading several books and articles on what I could do to stay positive and to learn more about the process. While I found several books about the technical information I needed, I couldn’t find any that illustrated a positive story and outcome.
I wanted more than just information. I wanted to experience the roller coaster ride of someone else’s journey to give me hope. And the stories that were hopeful seemed too good to be true. I wanted the bad along with the good. I wanted the truth. While foster care isn’t always a beautiful and positive subject to speak about, I believe it is a subject that needs more public attention drawn to it in the media and from those who have experienced it from both sides, both the children and the parents. I kept a journal of my own personal trials and tribulations and that lead to the birth of Claiming Jeremiah.
How long did it take to complete from start to finish?
A: I started the novel a year after my son arrived. Once I started writing I couldn’t stop. I would say it took me a couple of months. However, once I finished and reread it, something was missing, it wasn’t complete. I put it down for a year and returned to it after that time, once I had had time to grow, not only in my writing but also as a human being. This story is so personal that I knew the timing and my mindset had to be perfect. After I picked up the pen for the second time it took me about three to four months to complete.
What was the toughest part about writing Claiming Jeremiah?
A: The toughest part about writing Claiming Jeremiah was the character development. It was very important to me to capture each character the right way. The reader needs to be able to experience not only what it is like being each character, but also to get the information they needed to foster a child in care. For instance, from the first chapter you easily understand Jordyn and what she is about. However, with Tori, she is a much more complex character. From the first pages, you see her confused, scattered, and being a heavy drug user who has left her two-hour-old newborn in a hospital stairwell. The normal reaction would be to dislike her character. Tori is misunderstood, however, and I wanted to reveal what it would be like to walk in Tori’s shoes. What causes her to do this to her body, to herself, and to her children? What’s the driving force behind her actions? These are all questions I wanted to explore and give some shape and impression of to my readers. More importantly, I wanted to show her other side and not make her out just to be the villain.
Do you intend to write a second book? Is this the first in a sequel?
A: Yes, I definitely intend to write another book. Claiming Jeremiah tells the beginning stages of what it’s like to go through the process of fostering a child. The next book will give you more information on what happens when the child is in your home and the stages of adoption.
You are still very young—at what age did you begin this process, and what has it been like being a young foster (adoptive) mother?
A: I began this process when I was twenty-four years old. I must say it has been a rewarding experience. Never in a million years would I have thought I would be doing this, yet alone at this age. It’s funny, because when my husband and I go to trainings or into the agencies we are always the youngest ones there. We usually get bombarded with questions and then praised for our actions.
As a foster parent, since you have witnessed some of the challenges involved in all the red tape, what are some solutions that you can offer?
A: Each situation is different. You have to find what solutions work best for you. For me, I was dealing with two states and therefore had to deal with four different agencies: the ICPC of each state and each state’s local agency. It was a nightmare. My solution was to make sure nothing fell through the cracks. Each day I was constantly e-mailing or calling someone for a status update. My advice would be to find out what the hold up is or what you can do to make the process move faster and more smoothly. The caseworkers have so many cases and things going on, it’s easy for them to get sidetracked. I’ve learned they care as much as you care. If you show extra incentive, they will too.
Why did you start writing?
A: Writing has always and will always be a part of my life. Writing is my comfort zone. Nothing brings me more peace and assurance in my life than writing. There is no judgment when my pen hits the paper. To me it’s my time to be free. I can say what I want, wear what I want, be whom I want. Writing keeps me sane. When I write I have the opportunity to let go and express myself.
What’s your next project?
A: My next project is the sequel to Claiming Jeremiah, but I am also working on a short novella that is currently Untitled at the moment. My readers will get to see a different side of me after reading Claiming Jeremiah. This novella is going to be a romantic comedy.
You are new to the writing industry; what can your readers expect to see from you?
A: My readers can expect to never expect the same thing. I am a prolific writer and my mind tends to come up with stories in various genres. One day I can feel romantic, the next day like a thriller, then inspirational, and so forth. Every day and every story won’t be the same.