Pushing up the Sky, A Memoir By Terra Trevor

“Terra Trevor’s ‘Pushing up the Sky’ is a revelation of the struggles and triumphs packed into the hyphens between Korean and Native American and American. From her, we learn that adoption can best be mutual, that the adoptive parent needs acculturation in the child’s ways. With unflinching honesty and unfailing love, Trevor details the risks and heartaches of taking in, the bittersweetness of letting go, and the everlasting bonds that grow between them all. With ‘Pushing up the Sky’, the ‘literature of adoption’ comes of age as literature, worthy of an honored place in the human story.”

 —Reviewed by Robert Bensen, Children of the Dragonfly: Native American Voices on Child Custody and Education, The University of Arizona Press


Pushing up the Sky, as its tagline says, is a mother’s story. It is also a woman’s story, a family story, and a story of challenge, joy and grief. In clear prose infused with spirituality born of her Native American heritage, Terra Trevor shares parenting experiences that cover territory most parents pray they never encounter. She shows us how to meet and survive them, and to grow stronger and wiser in the process.
Terra Trevor and her husband first became parents through the birth of a daughter, and expanded their family twice through the adoption of two Korean children, a year-old son, and a daughter they believed was seven at the time of the adoption. Trevor shares the chain of challenges that followed their second adoption with candor, presenting her family's joy and pain with grace and acceptance.

I read Pushing up the Sky in one swift go, seeing my own family’s adoption experience on many of the pages, and marveling at Trevor’s strength on others. Her story is one that every parent fears, but should nonetheless read, for none of us know what the future may hold when our children come to us. Adoptive and prospective adoptive parents especially will come away from Pushing up the Sky with a deeper understanding of adoption, and of the commitment they must make to the children who join their families. Terra Trevor has lived through the most painful losses a parent can experience, and has come through strong and whole. Pushing up the Sky is a testimony to her humanity and spirit, as well as a luminous love song to her family. We are lucky to share the light. 
—Reviewed by Margie Perscheid, Korean Focus Metro DC

The title ‘Pushing up the Sky,’comes from a Native American story about the power of people working together for a common good. This is the theme in Terra Trevor’s memoir. A ‘mixed blood’ Native American, Trevor and her white husband had one birth child before choosing to complete their family through adoption. They adopted from Korea twice: one infant with medical needs, and one older child. There are two stories in Trevor’s personal account. The first is how the Trevor household deals with being a mixed race adoptive family. The second is how this family or any family must endure crises and tragedy and still find a way to go on. 

The family must accommodate the diverse backgrounds and identities of each member. Terra is Native American. Her husband, is white. Their biological daughter is the all-American girl and their Korean son, is an assimilated American. Kyeong Sook, adopted from Korea at age ten, has the hardest adjustments integrating into the family. For this family, any early perceptions of transracial adoptees being immersed into the American melting pot weren’t going to work, certainly not for Kyeong Sook, and they realized it was important to honor the racial heritage of each family member. 

Life reaches a balance and then the second critical challenge occurs when their seven-year-old son is diagnosed with a brain tumor. This is a memoir about the loss of loved ones, and about pulling together. It’s about living and not waiting for the second shoe to drop, and finding comfort in the things that connect us to those who have gone before. In Korean, it is kyesok’ada—to continue, to carry on. Terra Trevor is a fine writer with clarity and purpose. She has a clean, unfettered style. ‘Pushing up the Sky’ is honest, unflinching, and moving.”
—Reviewed by Bill Drucker, Korean Quarterly

“As a 19-year-old unmarried college student Terra Trevor found herself pregnant. A social worker counseled her it would be easier to find adoptive parents for her baby were she not Native American. She miscarried before deciding whether or not to place her baby for adoption. Twelve year later and after giving birth to a daughter, Terra and her husband adopted a 1-year-old boy from Korea. When their son was 3 and their daughter 6, the family adopted a 7-year old girl from Korea. After she'd been with them a few hours their new daughter informed them she was actually 10."Make sure she understands that we want her, and that her age doesn't matter," Terra told her new daughter through a friend who served as an interpreter. Written with abundant love, this book is an honest account of the challenges of integrating an older child into an established family. It is also about building community with Korean American culture and with other adoptive families. And finally, the book becomes a journey to save a son from cancer. The author's sensibilities toward the natural world and all that really matters in the lives of her children put her on the level of a great teacher of the capacities of the human heart. Sad but triumphant, ‘Pushing up the Sky’ deserves a wide readership for its great story-telling and lyrical use of language.”
—Reviewed by Alice Evans, Holt International

 “Terra Trevor has woven a moving story of love and heartache across time and culture. She has integrated her own American Indian culture into the dynamics of transracial adoption and described in detail life in a transracial family that has not been done before to this extent. Her courage to describe these events with great honesty bears witness to a family that provided warmth, encouragement and humor in the face of adversity.”
Reviewed by Phil Capper, Adoption Australia

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Author's NoteThank you. I'm honored that so many cared enough to read Pushing up the Sky. I wrote this memoir in 2004, and it was my first book. In the years since it was published I’ve learned a great many writing and motherhood lessons, which have allowed me to become a better writer, and a better mother. Within these pages I offer my humble beginnings. 

If I could be granted one wish I would ask not for rave reviews, only that this book might change a million hearts, and that it will be read for more decades, beyond my lifetime. I will never know how many people have been touched, and perhaps changed, by Pushing up the Sky. I do know that it has been passed steadily from the hands of readers because I have received hundreds of emails.  My favorite reader story is from a nurse at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles who wrote saying that all of the nurses on her floor have read my book and everyone was touched and changed. May my recent give-away of this book be a step along that road. 

About the author





Terra Trevor, Cherokee, Delaware, Seneca, is a prolific writer of a diverse body of work hailed for her insight, candor, lyric prose and sincere voice. She is a contributing author of 10 books, including Children of the Dragonfly: Native American Voices On Child Custody and Education (The University of Arizona Press) and The People Who Stayed: Southeastern Indian Writing After Removal (The University of Oklahoma). Her memoir Pushing up the Sky, published in 2006, has been widely anthologized.