Tamieka Small

ICAV Blogger

Tamieka is a young Ethiopian-Australian who was adopted from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1997 by a 2nd generation English/Irish/Australian couple. She has no information about her birth family nor the circumstances that led to her relinquishment, only that she was brought to a missionary orphanage as a baby. One day she hopes to search for and find her birth family.

Tamieka was raised in South Australia in a predominantly white/Anglo-Saxon British neighbourhood. She experienced difficulty making friends and was often the only person of colour or black person in the school and neighbourhood. She experienced different forms of racism from micro-aggressions, to bullying and covert racism growing up.

Tamieka is a traditional and digital artist specialising in acrylic paint, sketching and 2D concept art, which she is now studying at Flinders university in the Bachelor of Creative Arts. She is also a creative writer, poet and blogger for her own personal blog and at 9 years of age, was invited and nominated twice to a young author’s night where she shared her stories with renown Australian authors and other child writers. Tamieka’s other hobbies include photography where she won 1st place in a Year 12 photography exhibition. She likes to take photographs of landscapes, still life and creative photography.

It wasn’t until she graduated from high school and studied at Flinders university that Tamieka was exposed to the diversity of South Australia and met other people of colour. She then had the opportunity to reconnect with her roots and make new friendships and bonds within the African community. She then also found her love and passion for politics and sociology. She learnt about how society is structured, how cultures and ideologies are manifested, impact and influence systematic oppression upon marginalised groups around the world. This is where her activism began but it also sparked further strains in her relationship with her family – now her new found knowledge and education empowered her to challenge the family ideologies and perspectives on race, gender and cultural identity.

From this painful experience Tamieka wants to help and support other intercountry and transracial adoptees. She understands the challenges of belonging, race, and cultural identity and how this impacts relationships within the adoptive family and life in general.

Through the struggles that Tamieka has endured, she also has interests in personal development, self help and psychology as well as esoteric spirituality. Via personal counselling and research, she has unpacked her own PTSD from separation trauma and has learnt a lot about the ‘primal wound’, how relinquishment and separation trauma is experienced as children and babies, the impacts on their psychological wellbeing and how this impacts the ability to deal with stress, interpersonal relationships, and self-esteem. Through this self-learning and therapy Tamieka has developed the tools, knowledge and understanding that enables her to mentor, guide and support other intercountry adoptees.

Over the past few years, Tamieka has been a member of ICAV, she contributed to the book The Colour of Time’, she volunteers for public speaking panels, shares her knowledge at prospective parent seminars, and speaks up in meetings with government officials to advocate for adoptee needs. Tamieka wishes to end misconceptions about adoption and provide education through her activism to the wider society. She wants to shatter the rose-coloured narrative which inaccurately portrays adoptees as “living happily ever, after being adopted”. She also wants to help encourage young adoptees to empower themselves, manage the issues across the various stages of life, and help reduce feelings of isolation which is so common amongst adoptees — she wishes to be the person she would have wanted while growing up.