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: Searching for my family in China

Ressourcen

Suche und Wiedervereinigung bei der internationalen Adoption

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

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.

UK Intercountry Adoptees Webinar

Am 30. Januar 2023 nahm eine kleine Gruppe internationaler Adoptierter im Vereinigten Königreich an einer Webinar-Veranstaltung teil, um ihre Gedanken und Erfahrungen mit Adoptivelternorganisationen auszutauschen. AdoptionUK.

In diesem Webinar treffen Sie Sarah Hilder, adoptiert aus Sri Lanka, Joshua Aspden, adoptiert aus Ecuador, Emma Estrella, adoptiert aus Brasilien, Meredith Armstrong, adoptiert aus China, und Claire Martin, adoptiert aus Hongkong. Gemeinsam beantworten wir einige Fragen, die Adoptiveltern stellen AdoptionUK fragen.

Sehen Sie sich das Webinar an und unten finden Sie einen Zeitcode, Schlüsselbotschaften und relevante Ressourcen.
Hinweis: Wenn Sie es in Chrome ansehen, klicken Sie auf die Schaltfläche „Mehr erfahren“, um das Video anzusehen

Webinar-Zeitcode

00:20 Einleitung von AdoptionUK
01:03 Einleitung von Lynelle von ICAV
02:44 Sarah Hilder
03:35 Claire Martin
05:34 Meredith Armstrong
07:39 Emma Estrela
09:39 Joshua Aspden
12:17 Wie kann ich mich bei der Suche nach meiner Familie vor Betrügern schützen? – Lynelle
17:23 Tipps für die Herangehensweise an die Lebensgeschichtenarbeit – Meredith
20:54 Glauben Sie, dass das Leben besser gewesen wäre, wenn Sie von einer Familie in Ihrem Geburtsland adoptiert worden wären?
21:27 Josua
24:56 Emma
28:00 Was möchten wir Adoptiveltern wissen, wenn sie mit einer internationalen Adoption beginnen?
28:24 Claire
32:25 Meredith
35:12 Sarah
38:24 Emma
40:24 Josua
43:34 Lynelle
45:30 Was verbindet Sie am meisten mit Ihrer Herkunft?
45:45 Sarah
48:23 Claire
49:30 Josua
51:07 Planen Sie, eine Pflegefamilie zu besuchen, irgendwelche Tipps oder Hinweise, um mit den großen Emotionen umzugehen, die für Adoptierte aufkommen werden?
51:30 Meredith
52:24 Emma
54:25 Lynelle
56:24 Jo Ende und Danke

Zusammenfassung der Kernbotschaften des Webinars

Klicken Sie hier für eine pdf dokumentieren

Relevante Ressourcen

Können wir ignorieren oder leugnen, dass Rassismus für Farbige existiert?

Der Kontakt zu Farbigen ist für transrassische Adoptierte nicht automatisch

Rennressourcen für Adoptiveltern

Kulturressourcen für Adoptiveltern

Globale Liste der Unterstützung nach der Adoption speziell für internationale Adoptierte

Die Bedeutung der Unterstützung vor und nach der Adoption

Such- und Wiedervereinigungsressourcen

Gedanken für Adoptiveltern

Adoptiert werden

von Marcella Moslow in Kolumbien geboren und in die USA adoptiert; Traumatherapeut

Die schwierigen Realitäten, mit denen Adoptierte umgehen müssen, sind atemberaubend und komplex. Die Leere, die wir in uns tragen, ist enorm und egal wie viel Liebe wir erhalten, es fühlt sich oft so an, als wäre es nicht genug. Die Verbindung und Einstimmung, die wir suchen, die Kultur, auf die wir ein Recht haben, die Bindung, für die wir verkabelt wurden, wird von uns abgestreift und hinterlässt tiefe Wunden. Dies ist verheerend für das System eines Individuums und überträgt sich auf zukünftige Generationen. Wir ringen mit der Realität, dass uns nicht nur etwas zugestoßen ist, sondern uns auch so viel von dem vorenthalten wurde, was wir brauchten. Trauma kann beides sein – das, was uns passiert, sowie das, was uns nicht passiert.

Folgen Sie Marcella bei Insta @marcellamoslow

Ihr neuer Podcast ist zu finden @adopteesdishpodcast

Geld macht nie wieder wett, was ich als Kanadier der First Nations verloren habe

von Jen Etherington, born as a First Nations Canadian and adopted into an Australian family.

It looks like the final payments for the sixties scoop has started going out. I get mixed feelings about it and the process.

I feel a sense of loss of culture, family and country. I’m not saying I’m not grateful for my adoptive parents and all that life has given me here in Australia but it also doesn’t mean that I don’t feel the sense of loss for everything else.

My bio parents died when I was 9 years old and that hope of meeting them was gone forever. My partner and I are currently listening to Harry Potter and I cry because I can relate to the loss of his parents and how he feels, as well as the pining to know about them. People from home in Canada tell me stories about them and I get so happy and so sad at the same time.

I see posts from bio cousins about different cultural events and traditions and I feel sad that I don’t know my culture. People here in Australia get excited when I tell them I’m First Nations Canadian and ask about my culture and I don’t have anything for them.

My bio parents didn’t have any more children because they didn’t want them to be taken away (or so I believe). I always hoped I’d have a long lost sibling out there.

I feel a big sense of loss about my last miscarriage because that was my last chance at experiencing a biological connection.

Anyway, the payment was $25,000 and I know there are people out there where this amount of money will help and make a difference but I also feel like it’s kind of hush money. I don’t feel like it is much for what happened to so many of us.

Further Reading

$25,000 settlement for Sixties Scoop Survivors, a “Slap in the Face”

Forgiving and Moving On

My adoptive aunt passed away two days ago and when the grief of this additional news struck, I took space to mourn, and while embracing more of life’s inexplicable changes, I discovered a new and unexpected change in my heart.

In this time, I’ve been home a lot, staying comfy and quiet in Aina Haina, not wanting to go out. I didn’t know this would happen or that my anger would ever subside. But I came to find myself able to forgive in the end, and let bygones be bygones.

I know when my heart changed.

It happened after I’d been doubling up on my therapy for weeks, and specifically, at the moment when I was sitting in a pew, at a new church a few Sundays ago. This is when it happened.

It was probably the most hilarious and beautiful Sunday mass I’d ever been too, in this chapel, with glass windows that reached this vaulted ceiling, overlooking the ocean, on the beach. This guy came in with beach trunks, and no shirt, and every time the musical accompaniment played, he’d stand up and read really loudly out of the bible without being prompted to do this. My seriousness broke into a giddy smile watching this. I started taking photos of him on my phone like a tourist, and that’s when I just felt better.

Understanding dawned on me. Life. Love. Heartbreak. Dissapointment. Loss. Hope. Resiliency. Ke Akua. God. People. Acceptance. This story of my life, where I never got my family, I was never born with culture. But I always knew the values of the world we live in today. Why values are the only thing that keeps us all alive. And I talked to my therapist after that and I told her, I was ready now.

Ready to forgive it all.

It’s Sunday evening. I’m ready for tomorrow too.

I spent all day today reading student poetry and replying to their writings. Outside, it is dark. I can hear the cars passing by my window. And inside me, I feel okay with my adoptee relations and all that’s happened. Inside, I don’t hold resentment.

After reviewing my students’ poetry, I visited a favorite beach of mine and took a photo of the water. After that, I went and got some poké at a nearby food store. I snacked on the poké at the side of my house, overlooking the water as the sun was setting. My kitty was next to the window beside me, watching me through the screen.

For a while, I’ve been questioning what what kind of genre my life is. I used to believe my life was a dark dystopian horror where I was a victim to unfortunate events. That my life was littered with raw, dark situations and characters. It was just today, where I realized, my life is not a horror genre! It’s in fact, been a coming of age story all along.

In the end, I live a quiet life on Oahu. I live humble, alone on my own, in a quiet side of the island. I have my kitty and I’m spending my summer teaching students how to write, watching movies at home, visiting a few of my favorite places each week. I started a new Instagram that I hope might make some new connections.

Even though I get bored at times, I know that the worst is over.

I’m happy to not be in love. I’ve been living my dream of living next to the ocean. I’m reaching a newfound conclusion with life and how my adoptive relations all turned out. I don’t feel the need to block anyone anymore, and these days. I am ready to be authentic and have healthy relations universally, with the boundaries from my commitment to healing and overcoming everyday. And I’m ready to learn more about native cultures and Hawaii, and teach today’s multicultural youth on how to be their own voice in this world.

Now , these days, I’m mostly just wanting to have my own home where it’s affordable to live.

And that’ll be a whole new adventure.

Lesen Sie Desirees vorherigen Blog: Adoption can be a Psychological Prison and follow her at Weebly or Instagram @starwoodletters.

Adoption kann ein psychologisches Gefängnis sein

How do I start over?

The question echoes in my brain every day here in Hawaii, now totally away from the relations of my former adopted life.

How do I live anew as one person in this world?

I left my adoptee ties that were technically governmentally bonded relations that I had no control over as a Filipino orphaned child circa 1980’s. For me, they had been total strangers and I didn’t have any oversight or support in post-adoption.

As time went on for me, I wasn’t able to have the fortune to get to know my biological family as after my reunion in 2012 in the Philippines, I decided to go my own way once I discovered our language barriers and my inability to confirm any facts on them.

So yes, fast-forward to current times and it is Sunday, and I have relinquished my bond of my adoptive ties for various reasons, and it hasn’t been easy but for me, it was necessary.

This break action has been mental, emotional and physical. Slamming this lever down included making physically strategic distance by moving far, far away on my own to the Pacific islands in 2019, re-establishing dual citizenship to my birth country in the Philippines in 2021, and civilly sending a kindly written email to my adoptive parents this year after my adoptive brother’s jarring and untimely death.

Additionally, the extended adoptive ties I’ve noticed can also naturally deteriorate with time itself after years of peaceful but gently intentional non-communication.

What happens after you’re on this path of annexation, you wonder?

For me, I’ve arrived at an interesting intersection in my adulthood when I’ve sort of returned to a former state of orphanhood with no real station in life, no bonds, all biological history, heritage and economic status obsolete all over again.

Doesn’t sound that appealing, I know! Tell me about it.

The perk is that instead of being a vulnerable child, I am a 36-year-old woman living in Hawaii. I have rights. I am in control of my wellbeing and fate. I have responsibilities. I drive my own car, I pay bills, I have funds; I have a job and I am not helpless.

I can take care of myself. So to me, the biggest perks are in being healthy and reclaiming my life, identity and sovereignty needed over my own needs and wellbeing.

So quickly the adoptee bond can turn into toxic relations if the parents are narcissistic or emotionally or physically abusive.

After the death of my adopted brother, who was also a Filipino American adoptee and died of severe mental issues and alcohol poisoning, I had a stark wake-up call of how these adoptee relations were silently impacting me too.

And I had to make better choices for myself, I would be risking too much if I ignored this.

It is like leaving a psychological prison, I told Lynelle on a weekend in May.

After some reflection, I realized that as a child and having to make structured attachments from being displaced, this legal bond fastens.

And as a displaced, vulnerable child, I think one falls privy to co-dependency, the need for a family structure overrides even the need for safety for his or her own wellbeing, like if abuses arise in this domestic home.

Or other aspects might not nurture the adoptee, like when the child isn’t being culturally nurtured according to their birth country.

Or when the parents or family members are financially and socially acceptable as to meeting criteria of adoption, but possess narcissistic personalities which is also detrimental to the child’s personal, emotional, psychological and cultural development.

A child stays glued and psychologically devoted to their family ties through development stages and on past adulthood because the need for foundational attachments is paramount to one’s psychological upbringing and success.

And if these ties are in any way bad for the adoptee early on, I think these relations that were once saving can quickly turn into a psychological prison because you are truly bound to these social ties until you’re strong enough to realize that you have a choice.

And you can break out of this bond, this governmentally established bond, although possibly later on as an adult. And, with some finesse.

As an adult adoptee, from my experience adoptive ties that develop healthily or dysfunctionally, after a certain amount of time both types transitions into permanence to that adoptee. Adoptive ties mesh and fuse just the same as biological ties, once you’ve gone so long in the developmental process.

This adoptive relation is totally amazing when it’s good, like any good relationship.

The spin is that when there are issues plaguing the adoptive unit, which can be subtle, interplaying with the personality and culture of the adoptive relations, these issues can go totally disguised, unreported, and it can be toxic and the affects can last a lifetime.

From experience, I see that it is because the adoptee child is vulnerable and doesn’t know how to report issues in the relations, because the option isn’t even granted to them.

No one is really there to give or tell the adoptee child that they have these rights or options. When it comes to post-adoption, there isn’t much infrastructure.

Sadly, if dynamics are not supportive to the adoptee, in time, it can cost an adoptee the cultural bonds to their own birth country or the loss of their native language.

It can cost an adoptee their sanity and mental health.

It can cost an adoptee their self-esteem, which all bleeds and returns into the social sea of their placement or back out into other countries.

And, it can cost an adoptee their life.

On the upside, if the placement is good, it can save a person’s life as well! And it can allow this adoptee happiness and joy forevermore.

Each side of the coin both instills an adoptee’s human value and the toll the placement takes on every child who becomes an adult in society is also expensive, leading to exponential advantage and success in society, or potential burnouts.

For me, my adoptive placement was costly in the end. However, I was still able to survive, work and live. I was materialistically taken care of, thankfully.

I honestly think much was due to my own faith, offbeat imagination and whatever blind luck I was born with that all carried me through this.

Overall, this has been a total trip and my journey has been very far from embodying the traditional fairy tale adoption story.

So now, it’s time to do the hard work, an adoptee mentor messaged me today. But I can do it, we all can do it! It just takes good choices and regular upkeep.

Nearing the end of this post, I will share to my adoptee community that we have a choice especially once we’re of legal age. I’m sort of a wildflower in general, and a late bloomer, so I’m coming out of the fog and becoming aware now in my mid-thirties.

Yes, we have a lot to rear ourselves depending on the economic status we find ourselves in without our adoptee ties. But like other adoptee peer support has shared, you should not do this kind of thing by yourself. You can have support structures the whole time in this.

And yes, it is terrifying, because you will have to rebuild your sense of identity when leaving toxic family relations. As yes, it can be like rebuilding your identity all over again from when you leave them and start anew, as a now a self-made, sovereign person.

From a Hawaiian private school I work at now, I have come to find that cultural identity building begins in the present and it is built upon values, history, education and the wisdom of the past. Now that I have found a home in Hawaii, maybe I can learn more about it.

I will also be working on weekly goals that I hope to share to the community as I continue on this never-ending journey.

In conclusion, if you are in a good adoptive family, God bless your fortune and I have so much love and happiness for you! However, if you are needing to split away from the ties, like if your adoption wasn’t that healthy, then please know it isn’t impossible.

Professional and peer support is here for you, every day on your way to freedom. You can create your own sovereignty, it will just take work.

Read Desiree’s earlier post at ICAV: What I Lost When I Was Adopted and follow her at Weebly or Instagram @starwoodletters.

Anthologie äthiopischer Adoptierter

von Aselevech Evans, von Äthiopien in die USA adoptiert.

Ich bin so aufgeregt, euch allen das Cover unseres Buches zu zeigen, “Löwen brüllen weit weg von zu Hause“, eine Anthologie von äthiopischen Adoptierten der Diaspora, die in den USA, Kanada, Australien, Belgien, Frankreich, Schweden und den Niederlanden aufgewachsen sind. Das Cover-Artwork stammt von einem renommierten äthiopischen Künstler, Nahosenay Negussie.

Dieses Buch ist eine Herzensangelegenheit, an der wir sechs Jahre gearbeitet haben, um es zu produzieren. Diese Geschichten sind heilig und stellen die traditionelle Erzählung rund um die Adoption in Frage.

Bevor ich in die antirassistische Arbeit einstieg, befasste ich mich in meiner Arbeit mit den Schnittstellen von Kinderfürsorge und grenzüberschreitenden Adoptionen. Ich begann diese Arbeit mit 17, sprach mit Psychologen und Sozialarbeitern und drängte Behörden, die Komplexität zu verstehen, Kinder aus ihren ersten Familien zu entfernen.

Die National Association of Black Social Workers betrachtete transrassische Adoptionen als eine Form des kulturellen Völkermords – und wir alle müssen verstehen, wie wichtig der Familienerhalt ist.

Ich betrachte mich als politisierten Familienschützer, der radikal davon überzeugt ist, dass transrassische Adoptionen in Verlust, rassistischem Trauma und Trauer verwurzelt sind. Ich habe in Äthiopien im Bereich der Familienerhaltung gearbeitet und eine Systemverantwortung gefordert, die den Zugang zu Geburtsurkunden und die Suche nach Familien beinhalten würde. Es war und ist lebensverändernde Arbeit, denn Gerechtigkeit fühlt sich nicht greifbar an. Es wurde so viel Schaden angerichtet.

Viele von uns sind gestohlene Kinder, die so viel verloren haben. Während ich davon absehen werde, meine politischen Ansichten zu transrassischen und internationalen Adoptionen hier hinzuzufügen (Sie können meine Ansichten lesen, wenn Sie das Buch erhalten), werden wir Adoptierten wie indigene Völker unserer Kultur, Sprache und Geschichte beraubt und gezwungen, uns zu assimilieren in die von Weißen dominierte Kultur.

Äthiopier sind kein homogenes Volk. Es gibt 86 ethnische Gruppen mit unterschiedlichen Geschichten, Kulturen und Abstammungslinien, obwohl der Kolonialismus Ihnen etwas anderes sagen wird. „Sie haben versucht, uns zu begraben, aber sie wussten nicht, dass wir Samen sind.“ .

Dieses Buch ist aus vielen Gründen einflussreich und integriert auf wunderbare Weise die Perspektiven äthiopischer Adoptierter im Alter von 8 bis über 50 Jahren.

Ich spreche den koreanischen Adoptierten, auf deren Schultern ich mich stütze, meine tiefste Dankbarkeit aus, da sie die erste Gruppe von Aktivisten waren, die internationale Adoptionen wegen ihres Imperialismus, ihrer Dominanz und Korruption aufriefen.

Löwen brüllen weit weg von zu Hause“ wird Sie bestmöglich herausfordern. Bleiben Sie dran für das Veröffentlichungsdatum und genießen Sie in der Zwischenzeit dieses schöne Cover.

Ich möchte auch meinen Mitherausgebern Kassaye und Maureen danken – dieses Buch wäre ohne Sie nicht möglich gewesen. Vielen Dank, dass Sie an dieses Buch glauben und sich unserer Vision verpflichtet fühlen.

Sie können mehr von Aselevech auf ihrer Website lesen Äthiopische Tochter.

Kraft finden in der dunkelsten Stunde

My brother, adopted 2 years before I arrived in our adoptive home, died homeless and mentally ill in the Philippines last week. He was an intercountry Filipino American adoptee, just like me.

We don’t know what happened. He was involved with bad company. I have a feeling that the death was assisted. Neglect was involved. It was in Mindanao, in a rural area, where it’s dangerous for Americans to travel into, I hear. Real kidnappings happen there if they find out you’re American. I couldn’t go to see if this was real. The only person informing was a lady who was bad news from the start. She always asked him for money. Hounding my brother to get a hold of my adoptive mother. And she was a part of this death, taking photos of my brother days before he died homeless of suspected alcohol poisoning.

The news hit me and the grief process has been real and harrowing. I had trouble giving the news to my co-workers. The first day back at work, I cried in the last hour.

What I want to write is what I’ve learned from my life and world as a Filipino American adoptee. This life has never been easy. It hasn’t been fun. I was never comfortable with my white, adoptive family. And I had a mentally ill brother who was from my birth country, brown like me, and only two years older than me, and I loved him with all my heart.

However, he was never healthy. He was abusive to me growing up. He was mentally ill and his abuse grew to where he inflicted it on himself. And he tried to involve me with that too, so I had to have boundaries. I waited for him to get better. I thought he would, but he only got worse. And it made me feel worse as the years went on, carrying this pain. Not knowing where to put it, who to blame, why it was there.

After everything, I want to say that there comes a time when you just need to choose. Where instead of reacting as you had before, you look up and take a new breath because it’s all just gotten to be too much. You notice new details in the clouds and realize that you’re still kicking and you can’t keep having the same thoughts, or the same habits. You feel a shift. You see the need to face the adversity and want to grin in its ugly face instead. You see the need to give yourself the space to be the real you. Because there’s no going back.

I spent so many years hiding in the grief and trauma of my past and I guess I’m writing this because those times are over.

All I know, is that from here, I am going to be strong.

I honor my experience as a Filipino American adoptee with reverence. I will never be ashamed of what I’ve gone through. I will not be embarrassed of my suffering, which I caught myself feeling today, around my co-workers. I will not carry the burdens of my brother’s pain anymore either, which I had. I will love myself. I will forgive myself. I will be gentle on myself. I will no longer be so hard on myself, as before.

All this time, I’ve been carrying around the burdens of a life I never had. I held on to the pain of a love I never got to hold.

Of a family I never got to know.

But my brother died, the only person in the world that I probably ever loved. The only person in whom I ever saw to be real family. And something changed in me.

I breathe, writing this. I am alive, writing this.

I am here in the present. I have survived all of this messed up shit. Being orphaned as a baby in the Philippines. Having to traverse the American life I was given, because that’s how the cookie crumbles. We are given what we’re dealt with and you have to deal with it. You have to adjust. And sometime in adulthood, you learn the importance of being kind to yourself and others in the process because wellbeing is a part of one’s survival.

After all of this, I feel a sense of palpable resolution in the bones of my being. It is to be strong. It is to love what I have in this world today. And it is to not give up.

My resolution is to keep working. To live a healthy life. To be authentic. To live true. I am still here in this world. And I am alone, but I made it out with my faculties in tact.

I haven’t made a lot of friends on this path but I was stern in working hard, turning to a world of art, libraries and schools for an outlet.

I lead a life of reserved strength. I developed my own expression of creative media, wild in my own intellect and undertakings.

And I am just starting out in this world even at 36-years-old.

I don’t know if anyone will relate to this blog but if someone does, just know that I am never going to give up and I don’t want you to ever give up either. Because I’ve been blessed with hearing the stories of just a few of you, and having met a few of you on Christmas, and it has been something to treasure. And you are so vital in this world, you truly are.

I will believe in you and in love as I did when I was younger and I will never stop. Just the way I believed in God as I did when I was younger and I never stopped either. I won’t stop believing in the human race. I won’t stop working towards a higher purpose because that is what gets me up in the morning.

I am here today to say, that the pain and the trials and the struggles will serve a purpose in time.

There is a reason for living and you will find it.

In the darkest hour, you will find strength.

Or strength–will find you.

Read Desiree’s previous blog at ICAV: What I Lost When I Was Adopted

A Tribute and Legacy to My Sri Lankan Mother

von Nimal van Oort, adopted from Sri Lanka to the Netherlands. Founder of NONA Foundation.

About eighteen years ago, my twin brother Djoeri and I received a message from Sri Lanka that would change our lives forever. For a long time we had been looking for our mother in Sri Lanka, but the message told us that our mother had sadly passed away many years before.

The cause of her death made us sad and actually furious. She had been raped several times and was abandoned by family and the environment because she allegedly – by being raped – would have become a disgrace to the community. Because of this and the lack of protection and medical care, she died at the age of 21 .

To be fair, at that moment I really didn’t see life. Our biggest dream of ever meeting her would never come true and knowing that our mother had suffered so much injustice, I really didn’t know what to do .

I went to Sri Lanka then to be able to be at her grave. On the way – during my first days in Sri Lanka – I saw a lot of young girls who made me think of my mom. Because they were victims of sexual abuse too, they were abandoned by everyone despite their young age. These girls had no one.

When I was at my mother’s grave and my grandmother told me about her daughter’s short, but difficult life – I realised that I may not be able to help my own mother anymore, but I would out of love for her, and as tribute to her, I would start trying to help the girls of today.

Once back in the Netherlands I started preparing for this and I created the NONA Foundation. Honestly, nobody trusted my plans. Everybody told me that doing something from the Netherlands for girls and women in Sri Lanka who have no value for the society there, would be impossible. Above all, I was too young, inexperienced, and not highly educated enough to fulfil my vision .

Yes, I definitely had a vision, or actually a dream. I wish these girls and women of today never have to experience what my mother and a lot of other women went through. I wanted them to have a chance for a humane existence.

A royal award from the deputy mayor of Amsterdam. Nimal was appointed the ‘Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau’ award for his work in NONA Foundation (2020).

Today, 18 years later, we have actually been able to help over 1900 girls with shelter, care, education and empowerment facilities. Making them self-confident and independent remains our main starting point. I am also still very honoured that I have received a Royal Award in 2020 for this work and that we are also taken seriously at a high level in Sri Lanka.

What I’m most proud of is that we’ve really been able to help a lot of girls and women regain their passion for life and they’re now back in the middle of society. Most of them now have a nice family and a nice job. We are one big family in which everyone is equal: from the girls and women we help, to the board of directors, from the cleaner to the chairperson. We are one team with the same mission — to make the lives of these girls and women less risky and more meaningful; a life with freedom, justice and being treated like a human being .

Last month, a girl who needed our help badly in 2011 was appointed as a teacher with us . Isn’t this beautiful?

On Sunday 10 April, we will celebrate the NONA-Day in Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam. On this day we will share more about our work in Sri Lanka, what we have done, but also about our ongoing projects and future plans. There are also inspiring guest speakers and various singing and dance performances. There will also be another delicious Sri Lankan – Indian buffet. I personally invite you to attend this, really everyone is welcome and you can register at www.nonadag.com.

And if you cannot make it to the NONA Day celebration, but you might want to contribute to our organisation in any way, please contact us because we could really use your help.

Many special thanks to my loyal board members Djoeri, Ad, Dhilani, Shivanie, Hartini and Varishna who have been fully volunteering for our organisation for many years.

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