In a 2017 issue of PLU’s ResoLute magazine, alumnus Jacob Taylor-Mosquera ’09 shared about his experience as an adoptee, finding and reconnecting with his biological family in Colombia, and the tension he still navigates today as a citizen of two countries and a member of two families. Taylor-Mosquera recently published a memoir—“I Met Myself in October: A Memoir of Belonging”—that recounts his story in vivid detail and delves thoughtfully and vulnerably into this tension.
In his memoir , Taylor-Mosquera weaves together the nuanced challenges he has faced struggling to belong to the Black and Latinx communities in the United States while coming to understand the privileges he experiences in Colombia. Heart-pounding and emotionally stirring scenes find Taylor-Mosquera returning to the orphanage where he was adopted as an infant, appearing live on Colombian television in his search for his biological family, reuniting with his biological mother, and being embraced by his biological family after 20 years apart.
We recently connected with Taylor-Mosquera to learn more about his book, his experience writing and publishing it, and his future plans.
Congrats on your new book. Tell us about it and the captivating title.
The title of my memoir comes from meeting my biological family (in a way, an extension of myself) during the month of October back in 2004. It was the 26th, which was a Tuesday that year. I remember it like it was yesterday.
This is such a personal story. Why was it important for you to write this book and share your memoir with readers?
First, I wanted to offer my story to the growing body of literature celebrating adoptee voices. We hear from adoptive parents a lot about their experiences, but I feel like we need to hear from adoptees about adoption. Second, since moving back to the U.S. a few years ago, I’ve noticed a more widespread willingness to step into conversations regarding race and ethnicity. It seemed like my book could be a useful tool for unpacking conversations regarding identities, especially in sociology departments. A third reason for writing this book now was for personal reasons. I’ve loved writing since I was in middle school, but also, I hope to help with higher education costs for some cousins in Colombia through any money generated with the book sales.
Was this book difficult for you to write?
Yes, this book was difficult to write primarily due to it being a nonfiction project. The truth is always in control of such works. The challenge was not only to remember details of deeply personal experiences, but also to confirm those details with people who were present for those moments. Essentially, I had to turn into a journalist of my own memories while simultaneously reliving some painful and magical moments.
Your family members are a big part of your life story. How did they feel about you publishing this book?
My biological family members are all very excited about the project. They ask questions about it almost on a weekly basis and some great conversations have evolved as a result of their persistent curiosity. They’re anxiously awaiting the Spanish translation next year. My parents have been very supportive as have my grandparents and I look forward to more profound dialogue regarding the book when time allows.
What did you learn about yourself through this process?
I learned a lot about the process involved in writing a book and the business side of things.
What you are doing now?
At the moment, I’m teaching Spanish fulltime at University Prep in Seattle, working as an adjunct instructor at Seattle Central College, and serving as a Spanish tutor at North Seattle College. I’m also enrolled in a graduate certificate program in public administration at Seattle University.
What goal is next on your list?
The next goal is to use my public administration certificate to transition to the public sector next year. Teaching, while it has been a fantastic run, was never my intended career choice. While at PLU my main concentration was global studies, and the master’s degree I finished in the Netherlands was focused on public policy. I am ecstatic for the opportunity to switch careers and become a more useful and engaged citizen.
ResoLute: ‘Two families, two countries’
What advice do you have to someone else who might be considering writing a memoir and self-publishing a book?
My advice for anyone contemplating writing their own memoir and self-publishing is simple — know why you’re writing. You should also have an idea of who your target audience is, but it’s absolutely fundamental to know your why. You’ll need to know your why when it’s 2 a.m. and you’re editing, or when you start reaching out to editors because, you guessed it, these projects take money.
What experiences at PLU helped prepare you to write this book?
While I was at PLU, I was navigating getting to know my biological family in Colombia and setting healthy boundaries with them. The global studies major helped to solidify my understanding of social justice issues around the world while I pieced together the injustices occurring in Colombia, specifically in the Black community down there.
Find “I Met Myself in October: A Memoir of Belonging” at Amazon.com and on Kindle.
Recent PLU community conversations featuring Jacob Taylor-Mosquera ’09
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