At the beginning of the month I spent a few days up in the mountains with adult adoptees after candidly speaking to a couple hundred adoptive parents. Our retreat included a meditation room, art, journaling and yoga supplies, food, wine, and a graffiti wall (of course). The emphasis on self-care and the sanctuary of having an adult adoptee only space helped me to not only regain my balance after speaking engagements, but it also helped to provide a blueprint through some of the muddy waters of adoptees in post reunion after a lifetime of secrecy and wonder.
Before, during and after my recent visit with my birthmother I received texts, emails and calls from these incredible folks, acknowledging the plethora of emotions that I was feeling. The feeling of connectedness, being understood and uniquely known by others who have experienced similar trials is a long awaited gift. We may differ in our religion (or lack thereof), gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, body shape, hair color, clothing styles or any other segregating way that Americans like to section off and isolate members of society, but our adoptee status binds us together. My post-reunion sadness is palpable, but my community is strong.
Below are some sweet lines about the importance of having an adoptee support system from some of my adult adoptee friends:
“Being a transracial adoptee growing up was a bitter sweet experience. I always felt unique and special, but at times I yearned to connect with others that shared my experience. As an adult, having other adult adoptees in my life has given me the validation and support that I was lacking. It is without a doubt essential to my identity development and overall happiness.” – Mariah Dixon
“What an amazing group of fellow adoptee activists at PACT camp with 98 families of adopted kids of color. I’m so grateful that these kids get to experience this great community but it’s so bittersweet and painful too. We can’t rest until women are given the support and resources they need to parent their children! Let’s redefine birth justice to include birth mothers at the forefront of our movement.” –Chinyere Oparah
“I always underestimate the power of coming together with other people who Get It. It’s healing, beautiful, moving to spend time with other adoptees. So needed.” – Susan Ito
“I appreciate the diversity in our community. So many different lived experiences with space for all of them.” – Steve Kalb
“There was something really powerful about sitting in that lounge and just being with everyone’s energy. There were times when we talked and times when we just sat and I needed all of that!” – Katie Wynen
“Being and sharing with other trans-racial adoptees is absolutely CRUCIAL to creating a counter-narrative to the negative and oppressive internalized messaging of not being perfect, good enough or less than on so many levels…race, family structure, birth order, gender identity and sexual orientation to name a few.” –Amy Cipolla-Stickles