Auf der Suche nach meiner Familie in China

The following blog series will be dedicated to our Suche im Bereich internationale Adoption series. These individual stories are being shared from our Perspektivenpapier that was also shared with our Webinar, Searching in Intercountry Adoption by Adoptee Experts.

von Shelley Rottenberg, born in China, raised in Canada,

I was adopted from Zhejiang, China to Ontario, Canada in 1996 when I was 8 months old. In one of my adoption documents, it says, “Our institution has looked for her parents and relatives by all means, but no trace can be found.” To this day, I still know nothing about my biological family. 

About 5 years ago I decided to act on my growing curiosity about my birth family. While I know the odds of finding them are very slim, especially because I don’t have any information to go on, I couldn’t help but at least try. The first step was a 23andMe DNA ancestry kit, gifted to me by my mom as a Christmas present. I carefully read the instructions in the box to make sure I did everything correctly, then sent off my saliva sample. My sister, who is also an adoptee from China, did one too. And then we waited. 

I remember being eager to get the results back because of the hope of having a DNA match with someone else in their database. At the time, the waiting period was about 6-8 weeks. Though after 2 months, instead of my results, I got an email with the subject line, “Your 23andMe Analysis was unsuccessful.” I was told that “the concentration of DNA was insufficient to produce genotyping results.” Luckily, I was sent a replacement kit and got a second chance to submit another saliva sample. Having followed the instructions correctly the first time, and without any further guidance on how to do things differently, I repeated the same steps and sent my sample once again. 

After another long 2-month wait, my heart sank as I read the same email subject line as the last one. Except for this time, they would not be sending me another replacement kit. The email explained that because of “the second low DNA failure” and there being “no additional steps that would increase the chance of success,” a full refund would be available to me. I was shocked and saddened by the news and confused too. I had done the exact same thing as my sister, yet she received her results back after the first attempt.

When I told a friend about the situation, she suggested I lightly chew my inner cheeks before spitting into the tube because buccal cells have a higher concentration of DNA. Determined to give it one last shot, I purchased another 23andMe ancestry kit with the refund they gave me and followed my friend’s advice. The saying, “third time’s a charm” held true in these circumstances because, after another 2 months, my third sample was a success!

All this waiting only heightened my anticipation, which probably contributed to my slight disappointment when I saw that I had no close relative DNA matches. It’s been 5 years now, and while I have over 900 distant relatives, all with less than 1% DNA shared, the number of close relatives is still zero. I have also since uploaded my raw data to GEDmatch and still no luck. 

Another search method I’ve tried is adding my information to a birth family search poster specific to the province I was adopted from. I did this 3 years ago through International Child Search Alliance (ICSA), a volunteer group of adoptees and adoptive parents. Their province search posters are shared widely on Chinese social media and in the past, they partnered with Zhejiang Family Seeking Conference and ZuyuanDNA for an in-person event. 

Getting my information added to the poster took about 3 months, partly because of the time it took me to make a WeChat account, gather the necessary information, and translate some of my adoption paperwork. The other reason for the timing was that ICSA’s update schedule for province search posters is three times a year.

Through the WeChat group for my province, I was able to connect with a woman from Zhejiang who wanted to help overseas adoptees. With great thanks to her, I was able to get my information on Baobei Huijia (Baby Come Home), a Chinese site run by volunteers to help find missing children. 

I learned of GEDmatch, ICSA and Baobei Huijia through the online adoptee/adoption community, which I discovered across various Facebook groups in 2018. Connecting with other adoptees and adoptive parents who are further along and more experienced in the birth family search journey has been extremely helpful. 

My mom has also been a huge help in her own efforts of searching for resources and information about birth family searching. Though most of all, her complete support for me throughout this process is what matters most. She hopes that I can find my biological family and relatives because she knows how important it is to me. 

We have discussed taking the next step of hiring a root finder or searcher. Though once I began to seriously consider this method, it didn’t seem like the right time. One searcher that my mom had reached out to in 2020 said that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, foot traffic was not as high as it used to be, and therefore paying for physical posters to be distributed in my city or province in China may have even lower chances of bringing about any success.

Also, the process of hiring a searcher or organisation seemed quite daunting to me because it is hard to know whom to go with and which services to pay for. Packages greatly differ in terms of how in-depth the search process is and prices can easily be hundreds of dollars. And at the end of the day, the odds of finding my birth family, even with professional help, are very low.

I do plan to go back to China one day for a heritage trip and would incorporate searching for birth family into that. While my active search efforts are paused for now, this is a lifelong journey, so I can pick back up whenever I want to. It’s nice to know that through my other initial search methods, the opportunity for a match is always possible, even without me doing anything. 

However, I do worry that by waiting to pursue additional active search methods, I might be making the process more difficult the longer time goes on. I don’t know if my orphanage has any adoption paperwork other than what I currently have and would hate for those documents to be destroyed. I also fear the possibility of birth family members dying, especially biological parents and grandparents. This thought crossed my mind when COVID-19 cases and deaths were high in China. 

On the other hand, I don’t know if I’m emotionally prepared for the can of worms that can come with more intensive searching and then a possible reunion. I know of adoptees who contacted their birth families, only to be rejected. Then there are others who have very complicated reunions and relationships. Though even considering the endless possibilities and the fact that I might never fully be ready, I still think searching and finding something unexpected is better than knowing nothing at all. 

My advice to other adoptees who are considering searching for their birth family is to make sure you have a solid support system to lean on during this process. I also recommend personally reflecting on your motivations for searching and what you want to get out of it. Lastly, do your research on search options and leverage the existing resources and lived experiences of others who are already familiar with this. I recommend joining the CCI Birth Parent Searching and Reunion Group on Facebook for any Chinese adoptees looking to start this journey.

Thanks for reading and best of luck to my fellow searching adoptees!

Coming Next: Searching for my family in Vietnam


Suche und Wiedervereinigung bei der internationalen Adoption

Auf der Suche nach meiner Familie in Kolumbien

The following blog series will be dedicated to our Suche im Bereich internationale Adoption series. These individual stories are being shared from our Perspektivenpapier that was also shared with our Webinar, Searching in Intercountry Adoption by Adoptee Experts.

von Jose Taborda, born in Colombia, raised in the USA

First journal entry by my adoptive mother

In the spring of 1978, I was born in Medellin, Colombia. Separated from my first family by adoption, I was brought by my adoptive parents to New Jersey and grew up with my younger adoptive sister in a Northern New Jersey suburb just outside of New York City.

I was lucky as an adoptee because my adoptive parents made a conscious decision to talk to me about my adoption from an early age. They attended a couple of workshops about adopting a child offered by an adoption agency prior to my adoption where they had been counselled to inform me as soon as possible about my adoption so as to normalise it for me. This advice informed their approach in terms of collecting information and artefacts of my adoption. This included stories of my adoption in Colombia in the form of journal entries written by my adoptive mother, a photograph of my first mother, and my adoption records containing identifying information about my first mother. 

Upon refection, it wasn’t just luck and good advice, my parents were compassionate people who made the decision to share what they knew about my origins with me throughout my life. They had the right instincts that led them not only to send me a dossier containing every artefact about my adoption while I was in college and I first expressed an interest in searching, but also to support my search when I began. 

 When I moved to New York City in my mid-twenties, I started searching. At the time, I had a Yahoo! Email account and noticed that it offered searchable interest groups. There was a group called Colombian Adoptee Search and Support (CASAS), which gathered many people like me: twenty-something Colombian adoptees who grew up around New York City and living in the area! I was shocked to find hundreds of people who were sharing resources about searching, so I started making connections and attending meetups and dinners in Brooklyn and Manhattan where we enjoyed sharing stories and Latino fare. 

Through these meetups, I had gotten the contact information of a private investigator in Medellin with whom I started to interact about my search. Because I had identifying information about my first mother, it took him two weeks to find her. A couple weeks after that, I had my first phone call with her. As one can imagine, finding my first mother within a month of beginning my search was all a whirlwind and very overwhelming. My excitement got the best of me, and I dove right into making plans for a reunion. Well, all of this came as a shock to my adoptive mother and sister, who weren’t as excited as me. They felt threatened by my news. I remember spending a lot of time convincing them that I wasn’t trying to replace them, but rather, it would be an opportunity to learn about my origins. They were not convinced that it was so simple. Searching for first family by adoptees may bring up many past trauma wounds for all members of the adoption constellation. I have heard stories of adoptees shying away from doing any searching while their adoptive parents are still alive due to the raw emotions around adoption that are very rarely acknowledged and dealt with during an adoptive family’s time living together. And when the possibility of a reunion arises, adoptees may find themselves having to reckon with these complicated emotions. This reckoning is not our responsibility as adoptees, but it may be an unanticipated and unwelcome reality that adoptees must face when searching and reuniting with first family.

Coincidentally, the film “Las Hijas” was going to be screened. It was timely that Maria Quiroga, a local filmmaker, was releasing the film profiling three female Colombian adoptees and their reunions with first family.  So I invited my mother and sister to join me. It was an interesting experience because the filmmaker handled the subject matter responsibly in presenting the reality of how complicated reunions between adoptees and first family can be. It helped to see this objective perspective on the emotionally charged situation that was playing out for us. It provided a context for our sensitive conversations, and it helped us to understand that we were not the only ones experiencing the feelings we were. Despite all of that, we continued to have conversations that required my soothing their frayed feelings around my upcoming reunion. 

One thing that stands out for me now sixteen years later as I reflect on my reunion as a young man, is that I did not pursue any mental health support to guide me on that complicated endeavour. In my local adoptee community, the discussion was more centred on the topic of search and reunion in my memory and not as much on adoption mental health issues. However, I acknowledge there is a high likelihood my antenna wasn’t tuned to that particular signal, so to speak. More recently, I have read a lot of highly-respected literature about adoption and mental health including Die Urwunde by Nancy Verrier and Journey of the Adopted Self by Betty Jean Lifton to name a couple of outstanding examples. I am a regular listener to adoptee podcasts including Adoptierte auf with host Haley Radke and Adapted with host Kaomi Lee among others. I have met many adoptees and I am lucky to live close to an adoptee organization called Also Known As, Inc. that hosts meet ups for transracial, intercountry adoptees. Wise adoptees and adoption professionals these days counsel adoptees who are engaged in reunion to set some boundaries that include having a third-party present during reunion meetings, not staying with first family right away, and pursuing therapy before, during, and after reunion. I did none of those things. 

All of this gathering of resources and self-education on the intersection of adoption and mental health has demonstrated to me that I took a very impetuous, uninformed, and quite risky path on my reunion journey. I stayed with my first mother and her family for three weeks at their home in an outlying municipality of Medellin. I do have very positive memories from my first visit in 2006 that led me to return in the two subsequent years. However, somewhere down the line some members of my first family started to develop expectations that involved money. It was not much at first, but, with time, their boldness grew. This expectation made me uncomfortable because I didn’t want to have to explain to any of them that I am a professional in a field that is not very highly-compensated. To them, I was just the more fortunate one who was able to escape their humble circumstances. No matter how difficult my personal situation was, they are right that I had many more opportunities in the U.S. than they did in Colombia, but I did not feel that it was my responsibility to have to provide for them. I wanted to just get to know them knowing that it would take time to develop a family bond. Truly, I faced hard feelings when they asked for money and that made things very confusing for me. While I know that my experience is not unique, I wished that it wasn’t part of my reunion story. At some point, I stopped contacting them because it all became too much for me. This is where an intervention such as adoption-focused therapy would have been helpful. 

Some years passed and I turned the page on my adoption by quite literally ceasing to think about my adoption and pausing all the actions I had taken to learn about my origins during my twenties. I turned thirty, I got married and became a new father, and I wanted to focus on my new family in Brooklyn. I was also in graduate school, so juggling responsibilities was the theme starting in 2010. Since that time, a lot has changed.

Nowadays, I am divorced, I am co-parenting a budding teenager, and I have settled into a career as a college educator. As I moved into middle-age, I became more introspective, and I found myself interrogating some difficult feelings that felt like depression and anxiety. When I realised that I did not have easy answers to that line of inquiry, I began searching for ways to remove barriers to happiness that had started showing up. It started to dawn on me that my adoption may be the cause of some of my bad decisions in life and the source of a feeling of malaise that crept in every now and again. I remember once sitting on a beach in the Rockaways with my best friend and confidant of many years and reflecting out loud that I should look into therapy for adoption to try to answer some nagging questions. 

About six months after that conversation in 2021, I got around to doing some basic internet searching and was amazed by what I found. There was so much work that had been done in the intervening years since I started my search. As I previously mentioned, I went down a path of self-education, I engaged in some adoption-focused group therapy, and I have been attending online and in-person support groups made up of adoptees since that discovery. I have learned so much about myself and adoption since I started to reconnect to my adopted-self. Some of it has been difficult, but I am very happy to have opened myself up to feel, meditate, inquire, grieve, and build community. It is cliche, but I wish I knew during my reunion and prior what I know now. 

In short, I hope that adoptees who are on the bold path of searching and reuniting with first family will take careful, well-informed steps. I know from my experience that there are no easy answers, and reunion may be when many hard questions rise to the surface. However, that search for the discovery and recovery of self and identity is worth it all because even if one does not find first family, there is so much to learn about oneself along the way. 

I hope that adoptees take the time to explore all of the particular intersections of adoption and mental health including, but not limited to, the Primal Wound theory, the post-traumatic stress implications of adoption, ambiguous loss, and the Adoptee Consciousness Model. Most definitely read the two books by Verrier and Lifton previously mentioned. Check out Damon Davis’ podcast Who Am I Really?, and the two others previously mentioned. Read JaeRan Kim’s brilliant blog Harlow’s Monkey. If looking for a therapist in the U.S., check out Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker’s adoptee therapist directory curated on her website Grow Beyond Words. If one does not have the money to pursue therapy, there are plenty of books, podcasts, and support groups that could provide information and resources helpful in informing decisions around searching, finding, and reunion with first family. Just start checking out all of the amazing resources on Lynelle Long’s comprehensive treasure of a website InterCountry Adoptee Voices. Search on Facebook for a group you can join that holds online support groups, or, even better, search for a local group in your area to meet up in person with adoptees. A great place to search for a local group in the USA is on Pamela A. Karanova’s website Adoptees Connect

The above is just a cursory glance at some of the most salient resources I have found that have nourished my soul as I step into more consciousness about my adoption on my journey of self-discovery. My greatest hope is that someone reading these words may find something in them to hold onto. 

Coming Next: Auf der Suche nach meiner Familie in China


Suche und Wiedervereinigung bei der internationalen Adoption

Suche in der internationalen Adoption durch Adoptee Experts Webinar

Am 23. April 2023 veranstaltete ICAV ein Panel-Webinar, um Ihnen das Fachwissen unserer Suchexperten auf der ganzen Welt vorzustellen und ihre besten Weisheiten darüber zu teilen, was bei der Suche im Rahmen internationaler Adoptionen zu beachten ist. Sie vertraten direkt Adoptionsorganisationen aus Sri Lanka, Äthiopien, Südkorea, Haiti, Kolumbien und Griechenland.

Sehen Sie sich das Webinar hier an:
Hinweis: Wenn Sie es in Chrome ansehen, klicken Sie auf die Schaltfläche „Mehr erfahren“, um das Video anzusehen


Für diejenigen, die wenig Zeit haben und zu den relevanten Abschnitten springen möchten, ist hier ein Timecode als Hilfe:

00:20 Einführung, Willkommen, Zweck
04:30 Vorstellung der Diskussionsteilnehmer
04:39 Marcia Engel
06:48 Rebecca Payot
09:29 Jonas Desír
10:25 Linda Carol Trotter
12:55 Kayla Curtis
15:22 Hilbrand Westra
17:44 Benoît Vermeerbergen
21:00 Celin Fässler

Fragen & Antworten

23:28 Was beinhaltet der allgemeine Suchvorgang? – Kayla
27:30 Was sollten Adoptierte vorbereiten? – Linda, Marcia
35:51 Was sind einige der Ergebnisse? – Jonas, Kayla, Linda
46:50 Welche möglichen Hindernisse sind zu erwarten? – Rebecca, Linda
56:51 Welche Ethik ist zu berücksichtigen? – Marcia, Kayla
1:06:40 Was sollte eine Suche kosten? – Rebecca, Linda, Celin
1:11:46 Wem kann man vertrauen? Hilbrand, Jonas
1:16:16 Welche Aspekte sind bei DNA-Tests zu beachten? – Benoît
1:19:18 Zu welchen Ergebnissen können DNA-Tests führen? – Benoît
1:20:40 Welche DNA-Tests empfehlen Sie? Benoït, Marcia
1:23:51 Welche Vorteile bietet die Verwendung einer von Adoptierten geführten Suchorganisation? – Celin, Marcia
1:28:28 Was war nötig, um eine vertrauenswürdige, von der Regierung finanzierte Suchorganisation zu werden? – Celin
1:30:36 Was wird von den Regierungen am meisten benötigt, um Adoptierte bei unserer Suche zu unterstützen? – Hilbrand, Marcia

Zusammenfassung der Kernbotschaften

Klicken Hier für ein PDF unserer Schlüsselnachrichten von jedem Diskussionsteilnehmer


Ein großes Dankeschön an die 26 Adoptierten, die ihre Sucherfahrungen teilen wollten, damit andere ein tieferes Verständnis erlangen können. Sie repräsentieren Erfahrungen aus 13 Geburtsländern (China, Kolumbien, Indien, Malaysia, Marokko, Peru, Philippinen, Rumänien, Russland, Südkorea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam) und wurden in 9 Adoptivländer (Australien, Belgien, Kanada, Frankreich) geschickt , Deutschland, Schottland, Schweden, Großbritannien, USA).

ICAVs neuestes Perspektivenpapier am Suche im Bereich internationale Adoption

Weitere Ressourcen finden Sie in unserem Suche & Wiedervereinigung Buchseite

Meine Gefühle bezüglich meiner ersten Mutter

von Maria Diemar, in Chile geboren und nach Schweden adoptiert; Gründer von

Haben Sie jemals versucht, (in Ihren Gedanken) zurückzugehen und auf sich selbst zu hören, was Sie wirklich gefühlt haben, als Sie als Adoptierter aufgewachsen sind?

Wenn ich versuche, so in der Zeit zurückzureisen, merke ich, dass ich so viele Gefühle und Gedanken habe, die ich nie auszudrücken gewagt habe. Ich trage diese Gefühle immer noch in mir.

Als zwischen 1970 und 1980 in Schweden aufgewachsener transrassischer Adoptierter aus dem Ausland habe ich das Gefühl, Teil eines Experiments zu sein. Kinder aus aller Welt wurden in schwedischen Familien untergebracht und wir sollten wie ein „weißes Blatt“ sein, als hätten unsere Lebensgeschichten am Flughafen in Schweden begonnen.

Mein Hintergrund war nie ein Geheimnis und ich durfte meine Dokumente aus Chile lesen. Aber ich hatte nie das Gefühl, dass ich über meine Gefühle und Gedanken über meine erste Mutter sprechen könnte. Ich hatte so viel in mir und wurde nie gebeten, etwas über meine Gefühle oder Gedanken auszudrücken. Ich konnte nicht verstehen, warum ich in Schweden war, warum ich nicht bei meiner Mutter und meinen Leuten in Chile war. Ich fühlte mich so ungewollt und nicht geliebt.

Ich habe meiner Mutter einen Brief geschrieben, als wäre ich 7 Jahre alt. Ich weiß nicht, warum ich das getan habe, aber ich habe den Brief auf Spanisch geschrieben.

Mir wurde empfohlen, den Brief mit der linken Hand zu schreiben, obwohl ich Rechtshänder bin.

Lassen Sie uns über illegale und unerlaubte internationale Adoptionen sprechen

There’s a resounding silence around the world from the majority of adoptive parents when adult intercountry adoptees start to talk about whether our adoptions are illegal or illicit. Why is that? Let’s begin the conversation and unpack it a little.

As an intercountry adoptee, I was purchased through illicit and illegal means and it has taken me years to come to terms with what this means and how I view my adoption. I’m not alone in this journey and because of what I hear and see amongst my community of adoptees, I believe it’s really important for adoptive parents to grapple with what they’ve participated in. This system of child trafficking in intercountry adoption is widespread! It’s not just a Guatemalan, Vietnamese, Sri Lankan or Russian issue – it impacts every country we are adopted to and from, beginning back in the 1950s enmasse, through to current day adoptions. The 1993 Hague Convention came about because of the vast number of illegal and illicit adoptions. The Hague could possibly blind adoptive parents into believing their adoptions cannot be illegal or illicit because they went through the “approved” process and authority. But while a Hague adoption is less likely than a pre-Hague private or expatriate adoption to have illegal and illicit practices within, it is no guarantee because the Hague lacks mechanisms to enforce and safeguard against child trafficking.

To date, most adoptive countries have also not curbed or stopped private and expatriate adoptions that bypass the Hague processes. This means illegal and illicit adoptions are very much still possible and facilitated through a country’s immigration pathways and usually the only role an adoptive country will play in these adoptions, is to assess visa eligibility. This remains a huge failing of adoptive countries who assume a birth country has all the checks and balances in place to prevent illegal and illicit practices within private and expatriate adoptions.

If you aren’t grappling with what you’ve participated in as an adoptive parent, you can be sure your adoptees are, at some point in their lives. More so these days, as the world around us changes and country after country (Niederlande, Belgien, Norwegen, Schweiz, Schweden, Frankreich) eventually investigates and recognises the wrongs done historically in intercountry adoption. Deutschland, Dänemark Und Australien are countries where adoptees are currently pushing for their governments to investigate. Support comes from the UN who last year, issued their joint statement on illegal intercountry adoptions.

It’s important we have these discussions and be truthful with adoptees about illegal and illicit practices that are our adoptions. In ICAV, we grapple with the reality, especially when it comes to searching for our origins and finding out the truth. Here’s a Webinar I co-facilitated two years ago on this topic. As you’ll see from the webinar, we are all impacted by these practices – adoptees, adoptive parents, and our original families.

When I first started ICAV in 1998, I didn’t want to discuss the darker sides of adoption. I blindly mimicked what I’d heard – being grateful for my life in Australia and thankful that my life was so much better than if I’d remained in Vietnam. It’s taken me years to educate myself, listening to fellow adoptees around the world who are impacted and advocating for our rights and for the dark side of adoption to be dealt with. I’ve finally come to understand deeply what the adoption industry is and how it operates.

My adoptive parents couldn’t deal with my questions or comments about being paid for in France, or the questions I had about the Vietnamese lawyer who facilitated my adoption. They jumped to his defence. But there is no evidence I am an orphan and my 40+ years of searching for the truth highlights how illegal my adoption is, to date: no relinquishment document, no birth certificate, no adoption papers from the Vietnam side, only a few personal letters written from lawyer to adoptive family and an exchange of money to a French bank account, then the Victorian adoption authority processed my adoption 16 years after I entered Australia with parents who were questionably “assessed and approved”.

I’m a parent of teenaged children and I know what it’s like to have those tough discussions on topics we aren’t comfortable with. I’m sure many adoptive parents must feel doubts and possibly a sense of guilt looking back in hindsight, for not looking into things more, pushing away doubts about the process, the costs, the facilitators, in their zeal to become a parent at all costs. If you feel guilt or remorse as an adoptive parent, at least you’re being honest about the reality of intercountry adoption. Honesty is a good place to start. What’s worse for adoptees is when our parents deny and defend their actions despite data that indicates there were plenty of signals of illicit practices from that country or facilitator. Being honest will help your adoptee start to trust you can take responsibility for your actions and not pass the buck to the “other” stakeholders who also contribute to trafficking practices. 

The difficult part for us all, is that there are rarely any supports or education on this topic from those facilitating adoption or supporting it – either as pre or post adoption organisations. Even less support exists for those who KNOW it was illegal or illicit adoption and no-one guides us as to what we can do about it except our own peer communities. This needs to change! It should not be the responsibility of the impacted community to provide the industry and authorities with education and resources on what it means to be a victim of the process and how to support us.

At ICAV, we have been attempting to fill this gap because the industry continues to fail us in this way. Here is our global paper we compiled of our responses we’d like from governments and authorities. I hope those who feel guilt or remorse will turn that feeling into an action to demand better supports and legislation for impacted people and speaking up to hold governments and agencies accountable. That is how you’ll help us in my humble opinion. The fact that so many parents who participated in trafficking practices are silent is only damning your adoptee to have to fight the system by themselves. 

Thankfully, the work I was involved in, to represent adoptees in the Hague Working Group on Preventing and Addressing Illicit Practices in Intercountry Adoption, has concluded with a published toolkit in which Central Authorities are now provided a template for how they könnte respond to queries from victims of illegal and illicit adoptions. Sadly, this toolkit, like the 1993 Hague Convention is not enforceable and so, it requires those of us who are impacted to spend much time and energy pushing governments and authorities to respond to us in an appropriate manner.

If you are an Australian and you’d like to support us in our push for an investigation by an independent body into Australia’s history of intercountry adoptions, you can participate in our survey as an adoptee or as an adoptive parent. We aim to gather high level data showing the human rights abuse patterns throughout the birth countries and the ongoing lack of adequate responses from the Australian government and authorities. Prior to this, we created a letter with signatures from the community which was sent to every Australian Central Authority, every Minister responsible for Adoption at both State and Federal level, and to our Prime Minister and State Premiers.

For the benefit of many, I felt it important to provide an easy to read document on what an illicit and illegal intercountry adoption is. My heartfelt thanks to Prof. David Smolin who did the lion share of creating this easy to read document. I’m honoured to know some incredible adoptive parents like David who spend their lives advocating and working with us to change this global system.

Antirassismus-Online-Workshops für transrassische Adoptierte und Eltern

Letztes Jahr lief ich a Webinar über die Erfahrungen internationaler und transrassischer Adoptierter mit Rassismus, um das Bewusstsein zu schärfen und diesen gemeinsamen Erfahrungen als Gemeinschaft eine Stimme zu verleihen. Um den Mangel an Ressourcen für unsere Gemeinschaft in diesem Bereich weiter anzugehen, habe ich die Finanzierung über das verwendet Beziehungen Australien Programm für kleine Zuschüsse und Stipendien einstellen Farbton, ein Live-Experience-Unternehmen, das sich auf Antirassismus-Workshops spezialisiert hat. Gemeinsam bieten Hue und ICAV einen dringend benötigten Raum (separat für transrassische Adoptierte und einen weiteren für Adoptiveltern), um einige dieser Probleme im Zusammenhang mit Rasse, Rassismus und internationalen / transrassischen Adoptionen zu diskutieren, zu sensibilisieren und zu bearbeiten.

Unsere Workshops sind kostenlos und werden als dreiteilige Serie angeboten, als ein Anti-Rassismus-Programm, das speziell auf australische internationale und transrassische Adoptierte und ihre Eltern zugeschnitten ist. Adoptierte und Eltern aus anderen Ländern können gerne teilnehmen, da sie verstehen, dass das Programm aus australischer Perspektive (aber immer noch relevant für andere Länder) und in einer australischen Zeitzone durchgeführt wird. Jeder Workshop ist auf 35 begrenzt, um den maximalen Nutzen für die Teilnehmer zu gewährleisten.

Beide Programme werden in ihrem ersten Workshop eine Einführung in Rasse und Rassismus behandeln und unser Verständnis und kritisches Denken in Bezug auf systemischen Rassismus und Ungerechtigkeit entwickeln. Der zweite Workshop befasst sich mit dem Weißsein oder der von Weißen dominierten Kultur und der Art und Weise, wie unsere Einstellungen und Lebensweisen von diesen kulturellen Systemen beeinflusst werden, insbesondere im Zusammenhang mit internationalen Adoptionen. Die Adoptierten werden mit einem Programm abschließen, das Möglichkeiten erforscht, die schädlichen Überzeugungen, die wir in einer von Weißen dominierten Kultur verinnerlichen, zu verlernen und herauszufordern, Werkzeuge für die kollektive Befreiung und Solidarität sowie Werkzeuge für die Selbst- und Gemeinschaftsfürsorge. Adoptiveltern werden ihre Reihe mit einem Workshop über Verbündete abschließen, Fähigkeiten entwickeln, um Rassismus in Frage zu stellen, wenn sie ihn sehen, und ihre Adoptivkinder durch ihre Erfahrungen unterstützen.

Hier sind einige Informationen über Hue und seine Moderatorin Elsa, mit der ich zusammengearbeitet habe, um diese Workshops an unsere Community-Erfahrung anzupassen:

Farbton ist eine Organisation für Rassen- und soziale Gerechtigkeit, die von zwei farbigen Frauen gegründet wurde und eine Reihe von Trainingsprogrammen anbietet, die zugänglich, ansprechend und stärkenbasiert sind. Ihre Workshops werden von Menschen mit gelebter Erfahrung geleitet, um partizipative und nuancierte Lernerfahrungen für alle Wissensstufen zu bieten. Sie bieten auch kontinuierliche Unterstützung und Beratung für Organisationen, die sinnvolle Änderungen in ihren Richtlinien, Prozessen und ihrer Arbeitskultur vornehmen möchten.

Elsa (sie/sie) ist eine queere, jüdische und chinesische Farbige. Sie ist Pädagogin, Moderatorin, Organisatorin und Performerin. Sie ist Mitbegründerin von Hue, einer Organisation gegen Rassismus und soziale Gerechtigkeit, die Schulungen und Beratung für Organisationen anbietet. Zuvor war sie Ausbildungsleiterin bei Democracy in Color und war zwei Amtszeiten lang im Vorstand und QTIBIPOC-Vorstandsausschuss von Switchboard Victoria tätig. Sie hat einen Hintergrund in Sozialarbeit und Psychologie und schrieb ihre Abschlussarbeit darüber, wie gemischtrassige Menschen aus mehreren Minderheiten mit ihrer ethnischen Identität umgehen. 2020 wurde sie mit einem der Out for Australia’s 30 under 30, for LGBTQIA+ Role Models and Leaders ausgezeichnet und 2022 war sie Halbfinalistin für die 7NEWS Young Achievers Awards for Community Service and Social Impact. Sie setzt sich leidenschaftlich dafür ein, gelebte Erfahrungen zu Plattformen zu machen, die Macht der Gemeinschaft aufzubauen und dabei zu heilen.

Die wichtigsten Daten der Workshops für Adoptierte sind: 21. Mai, 4. Juni, 18. Juni, Beginn um 13:00 Uhr AEST. Jeder Workshop dauert 3,5 Stunden mit Pausen dazwischen. Input und Teilnahme werden durch Kleingruppen-Breakouts gefördert. Dies ist kein Workshop zum Sitzen und Zuhören, aber wenn Sie sich dabei wohl fühlen, ist das auch in Ordnung.

Wenn Sie sich als internationaler / transrassischer Adoptierter an unserem Workshop nur für Adoptierte beteiligen möchten, klicken Sie bitte auf das gelbe RSVP-Bild:

Die wichtigsten Termine der Workshops für Adoptiveltern sind: 23. Juli, 6. August, 20. August ab 13:00 Uhr AEST. Jeder Workshop dauert 3,5 Stunden mit Pausen dazwischen. Input und Teilnahme werden durch Kleingruppen-Breakouts gefördert. Dies ist kein Workshop zum Sitzen und Zuhören, aber wenn Sie sich dabei wohl fühlen, ist das auch in Ordnung.

Wenn Sie als Adoptiveltern an unserem Workshop nur für Adoptiveltern teilnehmen möchten, klicken Sie bitte auf das blaue RSVP-Bild:

Großen Dank an die Australische Bundesregierung, DSS für die Ermöglichung durch die Förderung durch Relationships Australia ICAFSS, Programm für kleine Zuschüsse und Stipendien.

liebe Mama und Papa

von Jen Etherington, als First Nations-Kanadier geboren und in eine australische Familie adoptiert

Liebe Mama und Papa,

Es ist 34 Jahre her, seit du diesen Planeten verlassen hast . Wie habe ich mir mein Leben lang gewünscht, dass ich dich hätte treffen können. Ich weiß nicht, wann du mich das letzte Mal gesehen hast. Ich bin mir sicher, dass du nicht gedacht hast, dass es das letzte Mal war, dass du mich jemals sehen würdest. Ich weiß, ihr wusstet, wo ich gelandet bin. Ich weiß, dass Dad meinen Dad kannte, der mich adoptiert hat.

Kerry und Steve (Mutter und Vater) sind zwei der erstaunlichsten Menschen, die Sie jemals treffen konnten. Sie werden, glaube ich, wie Sie selbst, von so ziemlich jedem geliebt, den sie treffen. Ich bekam einen kleinen Bruder von Kerry und Steve, als ich drei Jahre alt war. Sein Name ist Josh und wir haben uns als Kinder so gut verstanden. Wir hatten sehr wenige Kämpfe. Ich denke gerne, dass es eine großartige Kombination unserer Persönlichkeiten ist und dass es direkt von Kerry und Steve aufgezogen wurde.

Sie werden froh sein zu erfahren, dass ich eine erstaunliche Kindheit hatte. Als ich 7 war, bekamen wir einen weiteren kleinen Bruder namens Brody. BroBro und ich waren uns ähnlicher, weil wir beide sozialer und extrovertierter sind. Josh, Brody und ich kamen sehr gut miteinander aus. Kerry und Steve haben uns mit großartigen Werten großgezogen. Wir sind in der Nähe des Theravada-Meditationszentrums an der Ostküste Australiens aufgewachsen und umgezogen. Ich traf dort einige Wunderkinder, die ich als Cousins betrachte. Ich dachte, wenn ich adoptiert werde, darf ich auch meine eigene Familie adoptieren.

Ich hatte in meiner Kindheit einige Schwierigkeiten, darunter gnadenloses Mobbing wegen Rassismus sowie Objektivierung. Es war immer von einem Kind namens „Johnno“, egal wohin ich ging . Ich hatte das Glück, starke Freunde um mich herum zu haben, die mir halfen, meine Persönlichkeit nicht zerstören zu lassen.

Wir sind mit fast jedem Urlaub mit der ganzen Familie aufgewachsen, weil es ihnen wichtig war, viel Familienzeit zu haben. Wir machten wunderbare Campingferien, übernachteten in Wohnwagenparks am Strand, gingen mit der Familie zu Meilensteinausstellungen wie der Expo 88 und übernachteten in einem schönen Haus. Wir kamen für viele Ferien nach Kanada, weil Steves Mutter in Victoria lebte. Ich weiß, Kerrys Traum für mich war, dich zu treffen, wenn ich bereit war. Ich weiß, dass sie untröstlich war, als sie die Nachricht hörte, dass du gestorben bist. Ich war verwirrt. Ich wusste, dass ich die ganze Zeit adoptiert wurde, weil ich anders aussah als Kerry, Steve, Josh und Brody. Als ich gefragt wurde, ob ich zu Ihrer Beerdigung gehen möchte, war ich 9 Jahre alt und nicht sicher, wie ich das verarbeiten soll, und bedauere jetzt, dass ich es nicht geschafft habe.

Abgesehen von Mobbing und sexuellem Missbrauch hatte ich eine ziemlich gute Schulerfahrung. Mir wurde gesagt, ich sei schlau wie Papa. Ich strenge mich selten an, die Intelligenz zu nutzen. Ich bin mir nicht sicher, ob es Selbsterhaltung ist, nicht mehr aufzufallen als ich.

Es gab eine dritte Person, die mich großgezogen hat, und sie war unglaublich. Sie war meine Tante Nanette. Ich liebte sie so sehr und sie war eine unglaubliche Person. Schon vor der Anruferkennung auf Telefonen wusste ich immer, wann sie anrief. Nanette hat mich auch bei meiner Hochzeit verschenkt. Meine Hochzeit war vor 20 Jahren vor zwei Tagen. Der Mann, den ich geheiratet habe, war kein netter Mensch. Ich wurde von ihm sehr beschimpft. Wir haben uns glücklicherweise 10 Jahre nach unserem Kennenlernen getrennt. Ich hatte keine Kinder und war deswegen 12 Monate lang in Therapie. Ich kämpfte darum, damit einverstanden zu sein, wenn ich jemals Kinder hatte. Ich kann mir nicht vorstellen, wie es für dich war, mich zu verlieren, und ich war so besorgt, dass ich diese Erfahrung noch einmal erleben würde und wie es für dich war.

Ich bin mir nicht sicher, woher meine Empathie kommt, aber sie ist Segen und Fluch zugleich. Ich hatte zwei Fehlgeburten und nur bei der zweiten hörte ich den Herzschlag. Das ist ein Foto von mir gestern bei der Arbeit. Sie hatten Tag der Harmonie und stellten unser Totem auf.

Ich habe so viel, was ich dich fragen und dir sagen wollte. Ich liebe dich Mama und Papa. Ich habe jetzt eine wundervolle Familie – meine Mutter und meinen Vater (Kerry und Steve), meine Brüder, meine Nichten und Neffen und meinen Partner James. Meine Tante ist leider verstorben, aber ich bin so dankbar, dass ich Zeit mit ihr hatte.

Lesen Sie Jens vorherigen Blog: Geld macht nie wieder wett, was ich als Kanadier der First Nations verloren habe


First Nations in Kanada

Über 200 gestohlene Kinder der First Nations in ungekennzeichnetem Grab in Kanada gefunden

Die gestohlenen Generationen – Kanada und Australien: das Erbe der Assimilation

Suche in internationalen Adoptionen durch Experten für Adoptierte

On April 23, ICAV will be providing a webinar on some of the complex issues involved in searching in various birth countries, but with specific knowledge of Colombia, Ethiopia, Haiti, Greece, Korea, and Sri Lanka.

Our webinar will be unique in that we are not only bringing our lived experience as individuals, but also presenting as a global resource, highlighting the adoptee led organisations who provide a formal search and support services. Our panelists hold the dual role of knowing intuitively how complex searching is as individuals having done their own searching and also having decades of experience in providing formal search and support services to the community.

ICAV knows intuitively what the latest Forschung (p231) conducted within the Korean adoptee community shows – i.e.,, that intercountry adoptees find their peers and adoptee led organisations to be the most helpful in their searches. There’s nothing better than those who live it knowing intuitively how to best provide the services we need as a community.

If you’d like to be part of our audience, click here to RSVP.

Our 8 panelists are:

Marcia Engel

Marcia is the creator and operator of Engel planen, a nonprofit human rights foundation currently based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Her organization has a powerful mission: helping Colombian families find their children who were lost to child trafficking and adoption.

For fifteen years now, Plan Angel has grown a strong community with over 1,000 families in Colombia. The foundation helps these families search for their missing adopted children all over the world, hoping to one day reconnect them with each other. Marcia and her foundation have reunited hundreds of families and continue to support them after their reunion.

Linda Carol Forrest Trotter

Linda is a Greek-born adoptee, adopted by American parents and found her biological family in Greece five and a half years ago. She is the founder and president of Das Eftychia-Projekt, a nonprofit organization that assists and supports, free of charge, Greek-born adoptees searching for their roots and Greek families searching for their children lost to adoption.

In addition to its Search and Reunion program, the Eftychia Project, in collaboration with the MyHeritage DNA company, distributes DNA kits for free to adoptees and Greek families. To date, The Eftychia Project has facilitated the reconnections of 19 adoptees with their Greek families.

The Eftychia Project also actively advocates on behalf of all Greek-born adoptees with the Greek government for their birth and identity rights, including transparency about their adoptions, unfettered access to their birth, orphanage and adoption records, and the restoration of their Greek citizenship.

Kayla Curtis

Kayla is born in South Korea and adopted to South Australia. Kayla has been searching for her Korean birth family for over twenty years. She returned to Korea to do ‘on the ground’ searching using posters, newspapers, local police, and adoptee search organisations. In the absence of having a reunion with birth family, she has built a meaningful relationship with her birth country and Korean culture and proudly identifies as Korean-Australian.  

In her professional life, Kayla works as a Senior Counsellor for the Internationaler Adoptiv- und Familienunterstützungsdienst (ICAFSS) at Relationships Australia.  

Kayla is a qualified Therapeutic Life Story Worker and has a Master’s in Social Work as well as extensive experience working in the area of adoption both in government and non-government, providing counselling, education and training, community development and post adoption support.  In this role, Kayla supports intercountry adoptees with searching and navigating this uncertain and complex process between countries, as well as offering therapeutic support to adoptees, on this journey. 

Jonas Désir


Jonas is a Haitian adoptee raised in Australia who has spent many years assisting his fellow Haitian adoptees to search for their families in Haiti. He was adopted from Haiti at 6 years old and eventually was able to find his mother in Haiti. Today he is happily married with children and works a lot to help mentor other younger adoptees and help adoptive families.

Benoît Vermeerbergen

Benoît was born in Villers-Semeuse, France under “Sous X”. This means that his parents and especially his mother did not want to be known or found. His birth certificate literally only shows X’s as parents’ names. Growing up Benoît had a lot of questions trying to understand all of this. After his studies, he purposely began working for the ‘Population Services’ in the hope of discovering more information about his birth mother. 

During this process and the years that followed, Benoît helped so many other people in their search (for example, trying to find their biological birth parents), that he made genealogical research his main source of income. It has always been and will always be his greatest passion in life! 

Genealogy and adoption therefore are his field of specialisation. In the past couple of years he has also started working in the field of ‘DNA’. In 2019, he found his biological mother through this method. Today, he cooperates with a lot of genealogical and adoption related authorities and helps to invent and build many adoption related platforms. Although Belgium is his home country, he also has experience in doing research abroad, i.e. Australia, Mexico, and The Netherlands.

Rebecca Payot

Rebecca is the founder of the association Racines Naissent des Ailes and co-founder of Emmaye Adoptee’s Family Reunion. Adopted in Ethiopia at the age of 5, Rebecca is a graduate in early childhood psychology specialising in adolescents in identity crisis. She has worked for 20 years in international adoption in France as a consultant and speaker on quest of origins. She is the author of her first book entitled “The Quest of Origins, a Miracle Remedy for the ills of the adopted?”

Hilbrand Wester

Hilbrand is a Korean adoptee raised in the Netherlands and has the longest track record, working with and for adoptees in the Netherlands since 1989. Internationally, his name is well known and disputed at the same time by the first generation of intercountry adoptees because he dared to oppose the Disney fairytale of adoption. He is also the first adoptee in the world to receive an official Royal decoration by the King of the Netherlands in 2015 and is Knighted in the Order of Orange Nassau for outstanding work for adoptees and in the field of adoption.

In daily life, Hilbrand runs his own school in systemic work and is a renowned teacher and trainer nationally and his work has sparked great interest in the UK. He spends time bridging the work in this field between the Netherlands and the UK. Hilbrand is a confidant and executive coach for leaders and directors in the Netherlands and also works partly with the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

Celin Fässler

Celin is adopted from Sri Lanka to Switzerland and is the Communications Manager and Board Member at Zurück zu den Wurzeln. Back to the Roots is a Swiss NGO founded in 2018 by Sri Lankan adoptees. Its main goal is to raise awareness of the complex search for origins and to support adoptees in their searching process. Since May 2022, Back to the Roots has been funded by the Swiss government and the regional districts in order to provide professional support to adoptees from Sri Lanka to Switzerland.

Sarah Ramani Ineichen

Sarah is adopted from Sri Lankan to Switzerland and is the President of Back to the Roots and may present jointly with Celin in this webinar.

The webinar will be recorded and made available at ICAVs website.

If you have questions you’d like to see addressed in our webinar, please add your comments to this blog or Kontakt us.

Großen Dank an die Australian Government, DSS for funding this event via our Relationships Australia, Programm für kleine Zuschüsse und Stipendien.

Liebes Korea, Über Mia*

*Name has been changed to protect identity

von kim thompson / 김종예 born in South Korea, adopted to the USA, Co-Founder of Der universelle Asiate

This article was written for Finding the Truth of 372 Overseas Adoptees from Korea published in Korean

Artwork: Gone But Not Forgotten by Amelia Reimer

Dear Korea,

I want to tell you all about my friend Mia, but I am limited in how I can tell you her story as she is no longer here and cannot give consent to my re-telling of what is hers and hers alone.

And so, Korea, I will tell you about my experience and observations of her and of our friendship.

Mia was a fellow adoptee and my friend. We met in your city of Seoul around 2013 or 2014. I was in my fifth year of living there. Mia was, as is the case for many adoptees in Seoul, trying to learn your language and doing various freelance jobs related to writing and teaching English, as well as working as a journalist for publications in the country she had been adopted to and raised in. She was an immensely talented writer and photographer.

Mia was quirky. For example, she loved marshmallows more than any child or adult I have ever met. She loved them to the point of ecstasy–we used to laugh at how deliriously happy it made her to roast a marshmallow on a rotating spit over hot coals where we’d previously been cooking our 양꼬치 (lamb skewers). Mia was her own unique self. When it came to your food and cafes, Mia loved everything about you, but the fact that you could get marshmallows from 다이소 made her love you even more, even if they weren’t (according to her) quite the same as she could get in the country where she’d been raised. She laughingly said it made her life with you that much easier.

Mia was funny, kind, thoughtful, and incredibly generous both with her time and money. She once hunted down and gifted my then-partner and myself with two specialty sakés from Yoshida Brewery because we had told her how much we loved the documentary The Birth of Saké. She cared deeply for others, freely and easily expressed gratitude, and was just an all-around fun person to hang out with. She had a laugh that I can still easily recall.

Mia loved the band 넬(Nell) and used to, needlessly, thank me constantly for “introducing” them to her. “They’re sooooooo good~~~” she’d earnestly exclaim when talking about an album of theirs she’d been listening to on repeat. She was an intelligent, articulate, and creative mind who had a delightful hunger for life, art, travel, new experiences, and good food… and marshmallows.

Mia also had a very deep awareness and understanding of her mental health struggles and was as proactive as one could be about working to be healthy. She sought out the professional help she needed. She used her very real diagnosed depression as a positive in that she allowed it to make her an even more empathetic being, which was so evidenced in her professional career as a journalist and how she conducted her personal relationships. Mia had lived through traumas and tragedies that are all too common for adoptees and had profound sorrows and losses.

Korea, I am writing to tell you that Mia was such a good friend to many, including myself. She was genuinely interested in and curious about the lives of those around her. When one was with Mia, one felt seen, heard, loved, and cared for.

Four years have passed since she took her life, and I still and shall always love and miss her.

Something else I can tell you, Korea, with as much certainty as possible, is that if the adoption agency through whom she was exported from knew of her suicide they would quickly blame her adopters, her circumstances, her environment, her traumas, her mental health, and Mia herself. They would never think to own their responsibility in being the root cause for all of the “reasons” for why she felt she could no longer stay in her life or this world.

Korea, chances are, the agency would tell you that while it’s an unfortunate reality that “every so often” “bad” adopters manage to get through their system–that it’s a “rarity.” They would dig their heels in, feigning willful ignorance and dismissal over the well-researched and known statistic that adoptees are four times more likely to attempt or commit suicide than non-adoptees. They would tell you that they are not to be held accountable for Mia’s mental health, and that she should have gotten the help she needed. They would say that what happened to her is too bad, and I do not doubt that they would mean it, but they would in the same breath tell you that none of this is their fault.

And yet, Korea, it was the agency that placed Mia in the family she was raised in via a system that has been empowered and enabled on both societal and governmental levels to prioritize and value financial gain over keeping children with their ummas and appas. Mia’s physical and emotional safety and support she needed were not prioritized, nor were they valued.

The responsibility for her mental and physical wellness was placed directly onto her shoulders. The responsibility for her surviving her childhood; learning how to thrive; and later, as an adult, trying to adapt to life in Korea; to explore and embrace her cultural and racial identity; to try and learn the language; and to search or not to search for her first family were also all placed directly onto her shoulders. Mia’s birthright to family, culture, and identity had been sold right from under her without her consent when she was a baby, and she was then left to pay the price for someone else’s immense financial profit.

Dear Korea, I want… I need you to know that Mia, like so many adoptees including me, had to constantly navigate statements from the agency, adopters, and non-adoptees like: “You sound so bitter and angry. You should be more grateful.” “Your life is so much better than if you’d grown up an orphan in South Korea.” “You don’t know how poor South Korea was.” “You’re so lucky to have been raised in the West. Your life is so much better.”

I need you to know… to feel… to somehow understand that no matter how emotionally or mentally strong or proactive we as adoptees are in advocating for ourselves, no matter how “perfect” some of our adoptive parents might be, these kinds of statements, which embody attitudes and perceptions of denial, dismissal, and diminishing, take a toll on our mental health. They are forms of what is now known as “gas lighting.” They can cause us to question our sanity, goodness, love, gratitude, self, and sense of worth. They make us feel like we really might be ungrateful, unloving human beings who should be good with not knowing our parents, our ancestral roots, language, or culture because: “We got to grow up in the ‘rich’ West.” These are things that no adoptee I have ever known, myself included, is truly equipped to handle, and yet the responsibility to do so, is always on us.

I think about how all of this must have worn Mia down. I think about how even though she knew on an intellectual level that her traumas were never her fault, she bore the emotional toll.

Dear Korea, when Mia took her life, your citizens did not wail aloud in the streets wearing black and white. The adoption agencies operating on your soil that to this day export children to the West for financial profit did not fall to their knees asking the gods and Mia’s soul for forgiveness. 

The ones who were wailing, the ones left falling to their knees under the gut-wrenching sorrow and ache of Mia’s suicide were and remain the same ones who also live as survivors of adoption–us adoptees. You see, when any one of our 200,000 is lost to suicide or addiction or abuse, the loss is deep and the loss is a collective and a permanent one. Four years later, and I still feel the absence of her presence not just in my life, but also in this world.

I am writing you Korea, because it is imperative that you always remember that Mia’s decision to end her life was not her fault. Yes, she made that choice at the very end, but in so many ways that choice had been made for her the day her agency got their hands on her and sold and sent her away from your shores to her adopters.

Yes, it’s true that chances are, Mia would have always struggled with aspects of her mental health even if she’d been able to grow up in the family and place that was rightfully hers. But, I am also confident in saying that her taking her life in her late 30s most likely would not have happened because she would not have had any of the traumas inflicted by coerced abandonment and adoption to carry in her heart that was too big and beautiful for this world.

When Mia died, not only did I lose a dear friend, we the collective of adoptees lost yet another of ours, and whether one can or wants to see this or not–you, my beloved South Korea, you lost a great woman, a great creative mind, a great friend, a great daughter, a great sister, a great aunt, a great partner, a great heart, and a great Korean who had all the potential to significantly contribute to the richness of your literature, arts, and culture.  

But more than anything dearest Korea, when Mia lost her life to the wounds and traumas of adoption inflicted on her by her agency, you lost one of your children.


Intercountry Adoption and Suicide: A Scoping Review

Internationale Konferenz zur Überprüfung und Gewährleistung der Menschenrechte koreanischer Adoptierter im Ausland (Englisch – Koreanische Übersetzung, Forschungsüberblick über die größte Studie zu koreanischen Auslandsadoptierten)

Internationale Denkmäler für Adoptierte

Forschung zu Adoptierten und Selbstmord

Adoptierte und Selbstmordrisiko

RU-OK-Tag? – Es ist an der Zeit, über Adoptierte und Suizidversuche zu sprechen

Adoptierte Trauer und Zen-Meditation

In Indianapolis habe ich kürzlich begonnen, Zen-Meditation mit einer Sangha in der Linie des Mahayana-Buddhismus aus der Kwan-Um-Schule des Zen zu praktizieren, die von Zen-Meister Seung Sahn gegründet wurde. Ich begann mein Studium damit, mit einer Gemeinschaft von Praktizierenden im Indianapolis Zen Center zusammenzusitzen. Die Übungen bestehen aus Sitz- und Gehmeditation, dem Hören von Zen-Dharma-Lesungen und der Teilnahme an unbeschwerten Dharma-Diskussionen im Wartezimmer.

Was die Meditationspraxis grundlegend verändert hat, war das Meditieren mit offenen Augen. Ich beschloss, es zu versuchen, und war von seinen Funktionen und seiner Nützlichkeit beeindruckt. Ich bin völlig wach, anstatt mich in verschiedenen schlafenden, subtilen Meditationsphasen zu bewegen, mit denen ich normalerweise inneren Frieden finde. Ich bin wach in der Achtsamkeit, die ich mit geschlossenen Augen gewinne, und was meine Meditationen vorantreibt, ist, dass ich in meinem Wachleben sofort eine Achtsamkeit entwickle, anstatt meine Augen zu schließen, all diese Arbeit im Dunkeln zu erledigen und sie später zu integrieren die Welt.

Was seit meinem kürzlichen Umzug in diese neue Stadt aufgekommen ist, ist die lebendige Trauer, in die ich eingetaucht bin, wenn ich meine Augen schließe. Ich empfinde es in meinen Meditationen als einen wilden, alles verzehrenden Ozean. Und daraus ergibt sich eine Schwere in meinem Kopf. Und ich schaue durch diese Schwere wie Nebel oder Schmutz auf einem Fenster. Aber es ist klar, was ich in Sekundenbruchteilen vorübergehender Klarheit erreicht habe. Und dann spüre ich im gegenwärtigen Moment exakte Lebendigkeit, und ich habe überhaupt keinen Verstand. Ich bin gerade wach in dem Raum, in dem ich sitze.

Während eines Zen-Retreats, das ich gestern hatte, konnte ich ein Interview mit einem Lehrer führen. Ich habe meine Trauer in der Mediation angesprochen und meine Erfahrung, wenn sie sich auflöst.

"Wo geht es hin?" fragte der Lehrer.

„Er verschwindet“, sagte ich.

„Dann hast du die Wahl“, sagte er lächelnd.

Ich beschrieb die Trauer und die Schwere, wie sie an mir ziehen und mich schläfrig machen kann, und wie die Gefühle der Traurigkeit und diese Schwere meine Klarheit verdunkeln können, und suchte Zen-Rat zur Meditation mit diesen schwierigen Empfindungen, die sich fast wie ein Kreis drehen. Ich beschrieb, dass ich eine starke Anhaftung daran habe, dass ich es vielleicht noch größer gemacht habe, indem ich mich im Laufe der Jahre in meinen Meditationen darauf konzentriert habe, unwissentlich meinen Geist darauf konzentriert und es gefüttert habe, aber jetzt sehe, wie es in mir verweilt Augen auf, und ich kann mir nur vorstellen, wie es auch mein Wachleben unbewusst beeinflussen könnte. Also war ich beunruhigt, weil all dies so ist, als ob ich mein lebenslanges Karma als Adoptierter auf mich nehmen würde, wovon der Lehrer zum Glück ein wenig weiß.

„Lernen Sie daraus“, sagte er, „und wenn ich es erlebt habe, wäre ich ihm dankbar. Ich bedankte mich für die Lektion.“ Er beschrieb seine eigenen Lebenserfahrungen in Trauer, erwähnte ein Buch mit dem Titel: Wie man mit seinen Dämonen befreundet ist, und sagte, es ging für ihn weg.

Ich fühlte einen plötzlichen Hoffnungsschimmer in diesem Gespräch.

„Also kann ich versuchen, seine Anwesenheit wahrzunehmen und mit dem Üben fortfahren“, bestätige ich ihm.

„Das muss man spüren“, sagte die Lehrerin gegen Ende meines Zen-Interviews zu mir. „Du musst es besitzen.“ Ich starrte ihn an und verstand jetzt, dass es einen Weg gibt, Zen sogar mit Trauer zu praktizieren. Und dass es einen Weg gibt, es zu besitzen und ihm nicht die Kontrolle über mein Leben zu überlassen.

In meiner neuen Wohnung in Indianapolis sehe ich die Trauer in meinem Leben, wie sie heute ist, und die Schwere, die sie erzeugt, mit offenen Augen, und ich schreibe Tagebuch darüber, was sie mich lehrt. Ich stelle mir selbst kritische Fragen nach dem, was ich beobachte, auch wenn es schwer ist. Anstatt mich ganz auf meine Trauer zu konzentrieren, gebe ich Raum, ihr zu danken und ihre Präsenz in meinem Leben und meiner Wachwelt und alles, was sie mich lehrt, zu schätzen. Aus meiner Erfahrung mit Trauer ist sie ein verletzter, berauschender Begleiter für mich, besonders mit dem Tod meines philippinischen amerikanischen Bruders im letzten Jahr. Aber mir wurde auch klar, dass ich meine Trauer nicht aufgebe, indem ich sie wertschätze und sie wieder mit der Liebe in mir verbinde.

Lesen Sie Desirees vorherigen Blog: Weiterziehen in einer neuen Stadt


Trauma in Adoptionsressourcen

Deine Trauer ist dein Geschenk