How to Truly Save and Help a Child

by Jessica Davis, USA adoptive mother to Uganda daughter returned to biological family, founder of Kugatta.

Around Christmas and the new year, I get to see my formerly adopted daughter and her family and each time, I am reminded of everything that was almost lost. I see them together, happy and thriving and I’m reminded just how powerful investing into the lives of others can be.

As someone who has participated in and witnessed the negative impacts of intercountry adoption as well as running a nonprofit that helps families that have been separated from their loved one via this practice, I can tell you that it has caused an incredible amount of harm. Most Ugandan families are misled or coerced into separating from their child. It’s usually when a family is going through a difficult time that they are approached about placing their child in an orphanage temporarily (while they get back on their feet) only to never see their child again. After the separation the family’s well-being and livelihood are never improved and the trauma from being separated is insurmountable. The harm inflicted on the adoptee from being placed in an orphanage, separated from their family, culture and country causes irreparable damage and the heartbreak inflicted on the family members that were misled is overbearing.

On paper we believed Namata needed to be adopted but those papers were filled with lies. The kind of lies that are in most intercountry adoption paperwork. Lies that incite heightened emotions causing prospective adoptive parents to unknowingly (and sometimes knowingly) destroy a family that should have never been separated in the first place. Each time I get to see Namata and her family I see what truly stepping alongside a family in need looks like. Taking Namata away from her family didn’t help anyone. Keeping them together has helped in every way imaginable.

So many people say they adopt internationally to help a child in need but we must be willing to go beyond this. When you learn that 4 out 5 children living in orphanages have families they could go home to, why isn’t our first action to try and reunite or support a family? Can you imagine if our churches were asking for family support donations and not donations for orphanages? Can you imagine the impact? I can because I have seen it. I have also seen the devastation of an unwillingness to listen and change in this regard.

If you truly care about vulnerable children in developing countries you will do the hard work to ensure vulnerable children get to grow up in the family they were born into. If you want to invest into the lives of families that are vulnerable to being unnecessarily separated please consider donating to organisations that are committed to preserving families. I started Kugatta with my colleague in Uganda for this very reason.

I am not saying all adoption is bad or wrong but I WILL say the intercountry adoption system is causing vastly more harm than it is helping. We need to constantly be asking ourselves if the “good” we are doing is actually causing harm and when we realize it is, stop and change what we are doing. When we know better, we do better.

Namata and her mother gave me permission to share these pictures. They are just as passionate as I am to spread the message of family preservation. Their story is a powerful representation of this. As with all things, I don’t want to sensationalise reunification anymore than I want to see adoption sensationalised. Once a family has been ripped apart the trauma inflicted cannot be removed. Yes there can be healing and yes much of what was lost can be restored but the scars from what happened in the past remain.

Reunification is an important and necessary step in the right direction but it is not always possible and it’s certainly not always easy or “beautiful” and it is always complex. I run a registered 501 c3 nonprofit that works to reconnect, preserve and empower families and adoptees in and from Uganda . If you are interested in donating towards the work we do please follow the link here to do so.

Being Adopted

by Marcella Moslow born in Colombia and adopted to the USA; trauma therapist

The heavy realities that adoptees must navigate are staggering and complex. The voids we carry with us are enormous and no matter the amount of love we receive, it often feels like it is not enough. The connection and attunement we seek, the culture that we have a right to, the attachment we were wired for is stripped from us, leaving deep wounds behind. This is devastating to an individual’s system and carries into future generations. We grapple with the reality that not only did we have something happen to us, but we also were deprived of so much of what we needed. Trauma can be both — what happens to us, as well as what doesn’t happen to us.

Follow Marcella at Insta @marcellamoslow

Her new podcast can be found @adopteesdishpodcast

Restoring my Korean Citizenship

by Stephanie Don-Hee Kim, adopted from Sth Korea to the Netherlands.

Application for restoring of Korean Citizenship

Next to legally restoring my birth family name, I have spent quite some energy in completing my application for restoring my Korean Citizenship.

The Korean Government allows dual citizenship since 2011, mainly for adoptees. It was mandatory to submit the application on site in Korea at the Immigration Office in Seoul. It is thought that this was quite an obstacle for many adoptees, since travelling to Korea is not cheap nor very easy to organise.

Since 2021, the procedure has changed and now it is allowed to submit the application at the Korean Embassy in the country where you are a citizen. A fellow Korean adoptee did this for the first time last year and several others have followed his example.

It is not an easy road to go down, but at least the Korean Government grants us this opportunity. It will hopefully be a first step in securing and supporting the rights of adoptees: the right to balance out both our birthrights as well as the rights we acquired as an adopted person in the countries that nurtured us.

I am very grateful for the support of my good friends and fellow-adoptees and also for the patience and help of my translator. I feel lucky and grateful for my awesome Korean family who have accepted me as one of them, even with my strange European behaviour and unfamiliar habits. They have been supportive of me in my journey of letting my Korean blood flow stronger.

And mostly, I am so happy with my #ncym ‘blije ei’ (I’m sorry, I can’t think of a proper English translation) Willem, who never judges me nor doubts my feelings, longings and wishes. Who jumps with me in airplanes to meet my family and enjoys the food of my motherland.

It will definitely be a rocky road ahead, since there will undoubtedly be many more bureaucratic obstacles along the way.

I hope I can be put back on my mom’s family register, 4th in line after my 3 sisters and above our Benjamin-brother. Hopefully it will heal some sense of guilt and regret in my mom’s heart to see my name being included in her register.

It feels kind of strange that I will probably receive my Korean citizenship before the Dutch Government allows me to change my family name. There’s always some bureaucratic system topping another one, right?

Grief in Adoption

by Cosette Eisenhauer adopted from China to the USA, Co-Founder of Navigating Adoption

Grief is a weird concept. I expect myself to grieve people that I know, family and friends that have passed. Those times it makes sense to grieve the loss of a loved one. I know them and I’ve loved them. I am able to grieve a person that I’ve met, a person who impacted my life for one reason or another. People also grieve when there are tragic events, a lot of times this come with knowing their names and faces.

Grieving my biological parents and the life I might have had in China is a weird type of grief. Grieving people that I’ve never met and a life I never had is a confusing type of grief. There is no person to look at, there is no name that goes with the grief. Then there is the grief and numbness when it comes to grieving the information I don’t know. Grief overall as an intercountry adoptee is a weird concept, it’s a weird word.

There has always been a void in my heart for my biological family. A dream of mine was to have my biological family at my wedding and as the day gets closer, it’s become more real understanding I probably won’t have that dream come true. The grief has been so real, it’s been overtaking. Sometimes the grief I have comes and I don’t even realise it’s grief until I’m struggling at the time. It’s the same concept of grieving someone that I know personally yet, there is no name, no face for this person(s). I never knew their voice or their lifestyle. It is grieving someone I’ve never met.

I’ve learned it’s okay to grieve, I am a human. Every single person has lost someone they know and they’ve gone through the grief process. People grieve in different ways. I don’t compare the way I grieve with the way someone else grieves. There is no timeline on when I should stop grieving. I might think I’m done, and then it starts up again.

You can follow Cosette at:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_c.eisenhauer_/ Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cosette-e-76a352185/ Navigating Adoption Website: https://www.navigatingadoption.org/home

Confirmation that we are born as adoptees

by Hollee McGinnis born in South Korea, adopted to the USA, Founder of Also Known As (AKA), Assistant Professor of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University

Like many adoptees, the only pictures I had of my birth growing up were the ones of me when I entered the orphanage around the age of two that convinced my parents I was to be their daughter and photos of my arrival to the U.S. when I was three. And so, I felt as a child I had fallen out of the sky on a Boeing 747, walking, talking, and potty-trained.

Being born was foreign. I had no evidence of it happening to me, no one to be my mirror to remind me, except when I peered into a mirror and saw a face that looked foreign to me because it didn’t match the faces of those I called my family, peering back.

It has been a long journey to know ~ and accept and love ~ that face, this body, who held all the knowing of my birth. The terrain of my face I carry from my mother and father, and my ancestors in Korea. Yet, the laugh lines, the crows feet, are all imprinted from a life filled with love from my family and friends in America.

After I first met my Umma, my Korean mom, she gave the above picture of me (on the left) as an infant that she had carried with her to my foster Dad, who was the director of my orphanage, who sent it to me. I remember my Mom Eva Marie McGinnis and I both shocked to see me as an infant with my curly hair! She too had been denied any evidence of my infancy.

Later, when I saw my Umma again, she told me she had curled it and had taken this photo of me. She laughed heartily about taking the photo and it was clear that it brought back a happy memory for her. I tried to imagine the moment captured in this photo: my Umma taking the time to curl an infant’s hair (I must have been wriggling the whole time!), the clothes she picked, finding a place to pose me. All gestures felt so familiar, memories of my Mom helping me sweep my hair up, hunt for a beautiful dress, find a place for me to pose (see junior prom photo below).

Integration is a path to wholeness, and yet for so many adoptees this is not possible because there is no opportunity to find birth family, no photo, no memory to trigger the mind to imagine and make meaning. And so we are left with a vague sense of knowing, of course, right, I have a blood lineage, I was born. But we are only left with the aging features of our faces and bodies as witness that we were birthed into this world like the rest of humanity, yet are prevented from having any truthful information about it.

So my wish on my birthday, is for all adopted persons to have access to information about their origins so that they can have the affirmation of their birth and humanity. And I invite anyone who feels disconnected from their origins, to know you carry them in your body. Your ability to look in the mirror and see your mother and father with the love, compassion, and tenderness you would look at a baby picture is the photo you have been always looking for.

You can connect to Hollee at Insta @hollee.mcginnis

Resources

Read Hollee’s previous share at ICAV from 2014 on Identity

Other articles written by Hollee McGinnis

An Adoptee’s Thoughts on Haaland vs Brackeen

by Patrick Armstrong adopted from South Korea to the USA, Adoptee Speaker, Podcaster, and Community Facilitator, Co-Host of the Janchi Show, Co-Founder of Asian Adoptees of Indiana

Today the Supreme Court will hear the case of Haaland v. Brackeen.

What’s at stake?

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and potentially, other federal protections for Indigenous tribes.

Per the New York Times:

“The law was drafted to respond to more than a century of Native children’s being forcibly removed from tribal homes by social workers, sent to government and missionary boarding schools and then placed in white Christian homes.

The law’s goal of reunification — placing Native children with tribal families — has long been a gold standard, according to briefs signed by more than two dozen child welfare organizations.

Building a Native child’s connection to extended family, cultural heritage and community through tribal placement, they said, is inherent in the definition of “the best interests of the child” and a critical stabilizing factor when the child exits or ages out of foster care.”

👇🏼

The Brackeens are fighting this law because in 2015 they fostered, then adopted, a Navajo child and they, along with other families, believe it should be easier to adopt Indigenous children.

The defence posits that “the law discriminates against Native American children as well as non-Native families who want to adopt them because it determines placements based on race.” 🫠🫠🫠

☝🏼 It’s not lost on me that this case is being heard in November, which is both National Adoptee Awareness Month AND Native American Heritage Month.

✌🏼 This case is majorly indicative of the systemic issues oppressing Indigenous communities and invalidating adoptee experiences.

White folks who want to adopt need to understand this simple fact:

YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD.

Especially a child of the global majority.

⭐️ Fostering or adopting us does not automatically make you a good person.

⭐️ Fostering or adopting us does not “save us” from anything.

⭐️ Believing you are entitled to adopt or foster anyone’s child is the definition of privilege.

If the Brackeens and their co-plaintiffs poured this much time, energy, and effort into supporting Indigenous families and communities as they have trying to overturn constitutional law, who knows how many families could have been preserved?

On that note, why are we not actively working to preserve families?

🧐 That’s the question this month: Why not family preservation?

You can follow Patrick at Insta: @patrickintheworld or at LinkedIn @Patrick Armstrong

Resources

Supreme Court hears case challenging who can adopt Indigeous children

Listen Live: Supreme Court hears cases on adoption law intended to protect Native American families

Challenging the Indian Child Welfare Act

How an Evangelical Couple’s SCOTUS Case Could affect Native American Children

The Supreme Court will decide the future of the Indian Child Welfare Act

Jena Martin’s article that looks at the differences and similarities between the ICWA and the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption

A Question for Adoption Agencies

by Cameron Lee, adopted from South Korea to the USA, therapist and founder of Therapy Redeemed

What entitles an adoption agency to continue operating? The number of children placed per month? The lowest amount of adoption discontinuities annually? The director’s credentials? Their appearance in an exclusive media production?

If they struggle to incorporate a diverse range of adoptee testimonies into the way they effectively deliver child welfare services, including initiatives to keep families intact, what is it they’re doing in and to our communities?

One question adoptive parents can ask is, “How have adult adoptee testimonies changed your standard operating procedures in the past five years? Can you show at least three examples of how your program has shifted or evolved based on adoptee-led research and literature?”

Unless they’re willing to show you their contribution to the healing pools of service they claim to provide, it’s okay to wonder how many people and families have been held back from accessing their facilities of living water.

In other words, show us the heart of your agency. If it’s an abundance of non-adoptees speaking and teaching, there needs to be something else that shows us you’re working in the best interest of the adoptee, not just at the age they’re “adoptable” but across our lifespan.

We want to partner with you! But please, minimize the idea that our activism is bad for business. The adoptee voice shouldn’t be a threat to those eager to learn how to serve adoptees better. So many of us want to help you bring your promises to life. Thanks for hearing us in that way – and making it a “best practice” in solidarity.

Read Cameron’s other blog at ICAV, The Pope Shaming People into Adopting Children

Suicide Amongst Adoptees

by Hilbrand Westra, born in South Korea and adopted to the Netherlands, founder of Adoptee & Foster Care (AFC) Netherlands

ATTENTION TO SUICIDE AMONGST ADOPTEES

Five times higher than average

Hardly anyone really wants to know, and people don’t talk about it easily, let alone the adoptees’ attention when it happens. Usually the attention goes to the #adoptiveparents and the adoptees are often alone in the rain.

Last week was the book launch of adoptive mother Rini van Dam’s book #donderdagen in Sneek. Speakers’ introductions rightly focused on the author, of course, but one of the topics why the book was created was Sannison’s death. A fellow Korean adoptee who ended her life before she was 17 and her funeral service was on November five, my birthday. She had just broken up with a fellow adoptee shortly before. It was 1991, the year when association for adopted Koreans, Arierang, held its first major national meeting. The year where loves both blossomed and burst apart. The year I became aware of what and pain and sorrow lurked beneath us all.

Two years later, Julia, a Korean adoptee from Belgium who left life just before she turned 21, died and her funeral service was on 5 November, my birthday. Her adoptive parents, however, did not want adoptees at the funeral service.

A few years later, I would lose my own sister, Joo Min, while stationed as a UN soldier in Bosnia. We don’t really know why she chose to save two boys in their fall in the French Italian Alps when she must have known it would be fatal for her herself.

Yesterday, I was reminded of the above. A painful but perhaps the most necessary confrontation with my personal history to learn through this hard road that I could no longer look away from my inner development. Since then, I have been working hard for the suffering of adoptees around the world. But instead of praise and support, I received threats and angry adoptive parents in my path. Some even threatened to want to kill me. But angry adoptees and #scientists, especially from the Netherlands, also tried to take my message off the air. Until the Swedish research by Anders Hjern, Frank Lindblad, Bo Vinnerljung came out in 2002 and substantiated my experiences and suspicions.

Existential trauma to suicide shows a relationship with the tearing process created by relinquishment and #adoption. Since then, such outcomes have surfaced all over the world except in the Netherlands. The Netherlands still likes to indulge in the Walt Disney story and any contrary noise about this phenomenon is conveniently dismissed by statistical research, which, although Evidence Based accredited, manages to conveniently dismiss this issue.

Science prefers to leave the suffering of many adoptees to themselves because what doesn’t show up in the statistics doesn’t exist according to the government and adoption agencies.

Original in Dutch

AANDACHT VOOR #ZELFDODING ONDER #GEADOPTEERDEN

Vijf keer hoger dan gemiddeld

Bijna niemand wil het echt weten, en men spreekt er niet makkelijk over, laat staan dat de geadopteerden de aandacht krijgen als het gebeurt. Meestal gaat de aandacht naar de #adoptieouders en staan de geadopteerden vaak alleen in de regen.

Gisteren was de boekuitreiking van het boek #donderdagen van adoptiemoeder Rini van Dam in Sneek. De inleidingen van sprekers waren natuurlijk terecht gericht op de schrijfster, maar een van de onderwerpen waarom het boek is ontstaan is de dood van Sannison. Een mede Koreaanse geadopteerde die voor haar 17e een eind maakte aan haar leven en haar rouwdienst was op vijf november, mijn verjaardag. Ze had kort daarvoor net de prille verkering met een medegeadopteerde uitgemaakt. Het was 1991, het jaar dat vereniging voor geadopteerde Koreanen, Arierang, haar eerste grote landelijke bijeenkomst achter de rug had. Het jaar waar zowel liefdes opbloeiden, maar ook uit elkaar spatten. Het jaar dat ik mij gewaar werd welk en pijn en verdriet onder ons allen schuil ging.

Twee jaar later, overleed Julia, een Koreaanse geadopteerde uit België die net voor haar 21e het leven verliet en haar rouwdienst was op vijf november, mijn verjaardag. Haar adoptieouders echter wilden geen geadopteerden bij de rouwdienst.

Enkele jaren later zou ik mijn eigen zus, Joo Min, verliezen terwijl ik gestationeerd was als VN soldaat in Bosnië. We weten niet echt waarom ze verkoos om twee jongens in hun val in de Frans Italiaanse Alpen te redden terwijl ze geweten moet hebben dat het haar zelf noodlottig zou worden.

Gisteren werd ik aan het bovenstaande herinnerd. Een pijnlijke, maar wellicht de meest noodzakelijke confrontatie met mijn persoonlijke historie om via deze harde weg te leren dat ik niet langer weg kon kijken van mijn innerlijke ontwikkeling. Sindsdien heb ik mij hard gemaakt voor het leed van geadopteerden over de hele wereld. Maar inplaats van lof en ondersteuning ontving ik bedreigingen en boze adoptieouders op mijn pad. Sommigen dreigden mij zelfs om te willen brengen. Maar ook boze geadopteerden en #wetenschappers, vooral uit Nederland, probeerden mijn boodschap uit de lucht te halen. Totdat het Zweedse onderzoek van Anders Hjern, Frank Lindblad, Bo Vinnerljung in 2002 uitkwam en mijn ervaringen en vermoedens staafde.

Het existentiële trauma tot zelfdoding laat een relatie zien met het verscheurende proces dat ontstaat door afstand en #adoptie. Sindsdien zijn over de hele wereld dergelijke uitkomsten opgedoken behalve in Nederland. Nederland laaft zich nog graag aan het Walt Disney verhaal en elk tegengesteld geluid over dit fenomeen wordt handig weggewerkt door statistisch onderzoek, dat weliswaar Evidence Based geaccrediteerd is, maar dit onderwerp handig weet weg te werken.

De wetenschap laat het lijden van veel geadopteerden liever aan henzelf over want wat niet in de statistieken opduikt bestaat niet volgens de overheid en de hulpverlening.

Resources

ICAVs Memorial Page with Suicide Awareness links and other resources on this topic

Adoptee Review of Ra Chapman’s K-Box Play

by Kayla Curtis, Korean adoptee raised in Australia, social worker and counsellor specialising in adoption.

I want to share some reflections from going along to the K-Box Adoptee Takeover Night at the Malthouse and seeing Ra Chapman’s K-Box play in Melbourne, Australia on 9 September.

Personally, I am feeling an excitement from seeing K-Box because it captured so much of my personal adoption experience with confronting and emotional clarity. My comments to Ra afterwards were: “They could have been my parents on that stage, the set was my family home and the script was very close to the conversations I have navigated with my family over the years. Thank you for shining a light on some of what we have to navigate and including some of the uncomfortable and confronting issues that are so covert and invisible to others, especially our families”.  

K-Box is written and directed by Ra Chapman, a South Australian Korean adoptee, currently Melbourne based. This play is one of a kind and is the first to shine a bright light on the complexities and nuances of the intercountry adoptee experience in Australia and to have an intercountry adoptee as the leading protagonist. Ra wrote the play based on hers and other adoptees lived experiences of adoption. Feedback from adoptees who saw the play on Friday night was that the portrayal of the adoptee’s experience was not only relatable but a provoking and truthful representation of their own adoption experiences.

The play was about a 30+ year old Korean adoptee navigating relationships with her adoptive mother and father and was also about her journey of coming to understand the impact adoption has had in her life: how it has influenced her identity, her internal working model and sense of self and connection with her adoptive parents. It touched on many of the core themes of adoption including identity, belonging, loss and grief, race, the life-long impacts of adoption, racism, stereotypes, attachment, belonging, white privilege/white washing, ‘dangers of single stories’, family as well as how we talk about adoption issues and navigate these difficult discussions with our families. What the play did well is to explore the impacts on the adoptee and family relationships when these core issues are not understood, validated, explored, or supported. As is normal for many adoptees who begin to explore and pay attention to these issues, there can be a destabilising effect on the family relationships as the adoption ‘fairy-tale’ or ‘happy adoption’ narrative begins to come apart. 

L to R: Jeffrey Liu, Ra Chapman, Susanna Qian

For any professionals working in the area of adoption, this play is a great resource, providing a deep and valuable insight to the dynamics, relationships, interracial experiences, and challenges intercountry adoptees have to navigate within their adoption experience and adoptive families. Of course, this was delivered extremely cleverly with the play using comedy/satire as well as emotionally intense and beautiful monologues and symbolism complimented by outstanding acting from an intimate cast of four performers. 

It was powerfully delivered and received, leaving many adoptees who attended feeling emotional and unsteady but also connected, seen, and supported. Likewise, it may also leave adoptive parents feeling unsure, confronted, and curious about their role in their child’s adoption. In the end, I think it brings everyone together: adoptees and parents, opening up possibilities of how we can partner up around the adoption experience and do better for the journey of the adoptee.

Following the play, I valued the emotive speeches and other performances by adoptee’s sharing their creative work and projects. In addition the evening mentioned some other exciting adoptee led projects and creative works in development that I will be following closely with anticipation.  

The main takeaway for me from the evening was the amazing way adoptees were able to come together through this event, which I think highlights the collective healing power for adoptees when surrounded by community, elevating the adoptee voice in a safe and supported way and feeling a sense of strong belonging by being seen and heard. It is great knowing that the Australian adoptee community is going strong!

I hope that we can continue having open and welcomed discussions together as a community so we all can benefit in learning from those with lived experiences especially from adoptees.

Dearest Ra, please know the powerful impact you have had and how your creative work is helping to shape all of our learning and better capacitate the adoption community in Australia.

I encourage all to see Ra Chapman’s play K-Box showing only until 18 September; adoptive parents, adoptees, adoption professionals and the broader community.

Check out our Photo Album from the evening.

The 9 September K-Box Adoptee Takeover Night at the Malthouse event was proudly presented to us by Malthouse Theatre, supported by Relationships Australia Intercountry Adoptee and Family Support Services (ICAFSS) small grants, InterCountry Adoptee Voices (ICAV), International Social Services (ISS) Australia, and hosted by our wonderful adoptee led organisations and community-based groups – ICAV led by Lynelle Long and Ra Chapman from Korean Adoptees In Australia Network (KAIAN).

Coming Next at ICAVs blog is some of the Adoptee Artist performances from our Take Over of the Malthouse Night and artwork from the ZINE magazine which was handed out at the event.

Ra Chapman and some of the Korean adoptees who attended the evening
Photos by Lynelle Long

Resources

Deep Regret or Great Love? Adoptee play showcases desire for connection

K-Box: Questioning middle class Australia with blitzing comedic flair

Embracing Therapy as an Adoptee

by Oleg Lougheed, adopted from Russia to the USA. Founder of Overcoming Odds.

I remember the first time I went to therapy.

I was ashamed of it.

I disliked every aspect of it.

I saw it as a sign of weakness.

Out of all of the things I looked forward to, this was at the very bottom of my list.

I remember the drive over.

“Why do I have to go here?”

“I don’t need this.”

“This is stupid.”

With each remark, I became more and more angry.

I remember exiting the car.

Not a single word, arms folded together, sprinting ahead of my parents in frustration.

“Welcome!” said the receptionist.

I didn’t respond.

“Through the double doors to the right, please.”

As I opened the double doors, my eyes immediately met them.

A room full of kids who were much younger than me.

I scanned the entire room.

Everybody was doing something.

Some were putting together puzzles.

Others were drawing.

“This is not for me,” I whispered.

I made my way toward the spot.

The spot I became far too familiar with throughout my life.

The corner of the room.

I sat there in silence, waiting for the clock to strike 8 PM.

“How are you doing?” asked the therapist on duty.

No response.

It took weeks before I said my first words.

I remember sitting in the corner of the room when the therapist approached me.

I couldn’t hold it anymore. I broke down.

Fighting back tears, I told her everything.

I told her how much I missed my birth family.

I told her that I was being bullied at school.

I told her about the struggles back home.

I felt a huge relief with each spoken word.

Unfortunately, this was one of the last sessions.

I turned back to what I knew best, silence.

It wasn’t until 10 years ago, I spoke the word, “therapy” out loud.

I was a freshman in college.

I needed someone to talk to.

The past was on the back of my mind.

I went straight to the counselling/mental health department.

I wasn’t ashamed of it anymore.

I remember the walk over.

The feeling of empowerment with every step I took.

I accepted therapy into my life, on my own terms.

Going to sessions helped me tremendously.

They helped me process and reframe many of my past traumatic experiences.

They helped me get curious about the subject and the stories I chose to believe in.

The stories of it being seen as a sign of weakness, not a strength.

The stories of therapy as something I should be ashamed of.

Curiosity helped me change many of these narratives.

Curiosity helped me embrace therapy as a part of my identity, part of my life.

For more from Oleg, read his last blog Adoptee Fear and Vulnerability
Follow him at Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn @overcomingodds

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