Reunification with my Colombian Family

by Anonymous, adopted from Colombia to Australia

I was born in Cali, Colombia in 1993 during the midst period of civil war, disruption, political instability known as ‘la Violencia’. This period saw the degradation and exploitation of state civil services through corruption, war and systematic racism, which in turn resulted in tremendous damage to the lives, human rights and cultural heritage of millions of Colombians, Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Colombians whom who were displaced from their tradition lands an often subject to violence and systematic oppression.  As a result of these circumstances and internal corruption within the adoption industry, I was separated from my biological mother and adopted to Australia at the age of one. I have a close but complex relationship my adoptive family.

Growing up, I loved to be outside and activate like most Aussie kids at the time and spent most of my time, fishing, kicking the footy around, and riding bikes around the neighbourhood with friends.

While I was always social and enjoyed making friends, I also struggled with bullying, racism, and the spectre of isolation/identity crisis/lack of racial mirrors that many of us adoptees experience.  I fondly remember finding refuge and solace in books, stories, myths, and legends, everything ranging from magical fantasies like Harry Potter and the Homer’s Iliad to biographies and the encyclopedia on the Fall of Rome.

I distinctly recall being in grade 1 and recall reading Harry Potter and afterward, daydreaming about an imaginary time when my biological family would appear in a fireplace one day, tell me I was a wizard and take me off to enrol at Hogwarts with the other Wizards.

As a child, although I recall some intense moments of isolation and loneliness, I also had a close relationship with my younger brother, immediate and extended family who always made me feel welcome and as part of the family. It is only as I entered by teenage and adult years that these relationships began to shift and change, not as a result of any ill intent but largely due to the development of my own awareness about my place in the world (or lack thereof) as a black Afro-Colombian/Afro-Australian and subsequent experiences with racism and micro-aggressions.

This tumultuous but unique start to life, in conjunction, with the lived experience of navigating the word though the lens of an Afro-Colombian/Afro-Australia male, has aided in the development of a nuanced but balanced understanding of cultural, adoption and racial politics of today’s multicultural Australia.

This lived experience, is further supplemented by an academic background in law, investigations, government, politics and international relations, the pursuit of which in retrospect and with the aid of therapy, was both my innate curiosity to learn more about the world, a desire to effect change, and my inner child seeking validation and identity through achievements.

It was during this period, that I spent a year studying and playing college basketball at Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom. Not whole lot of studying was done and the academic transcript upon return was not great but I can honestly say this was one of the best years of my life. I say this, as it was the first time in my life where I was not the only person of colour but also the first time in 21 years that I was around racial mirrors and a large Afro British/West African community. I think, in only my second week, I joined both the African and Latin American societies and immediately felt welcomed and at home.

Fast forward to 2022 and that sample feeling of what it was like to belong, in conjunction with the covid pandemic and the BLM movement, I was motivated to start to take some concrete steps to look into my own background and search for my biological family in Colombia. I really started to ‘come out of the adoptee fog’ as we tend to call it.

I joined a number of extremely welcoming and supportive online adoptee support and re-unification groups and through one of these groups, I was fortunate to connect with an extremely kind and amazing Colombian adoptee who explained further the history of illicit adoptions in Colombia and how and what documents I would need to start my search.

I diligently followed the advice provided and unearthed the limited documents I had (a birth certificate, a few medical records, abandonment certificate and adoption paperwork) and wrote a short blurb about myself with some baby and current photos. I then posted to range of reunification groups both here and in Colombia.

I was sceptical that anything would come of it especially knowing the current social and political climate of Colombia both now and at the time of my birth. I had grieved and accepted that I would most likely never find my biological family or that that they would be deceased.

Despite those initial reservations, approximately 24 hours after I had posted the search, I woke up to hundreds of messages on Facebook from people all around Colombia (nurses, doctors, private investigators and ordinary people ) offering to help or sending pictures of profiles of people who fit the description based on the information I had provided.

One of the groups who reached out was Plan Angel (an adoptee led organisation that specialise in biological reunification in Colombia). They sent through Facebook the profile of a lady with the same name as the woman listed on my birth certificate. Funnily enough, this happened to be a profile I had come across in my own searches but had discounted it as the date of birth did not match my birth certificate.

Plan Angel explained they had been contacted ‘by a lady, who knew a lady, who use to baby sit children that looked like you’ and asked whether I ‘would like them to make further enquires to confirm’. With my heart in chest, I replied, ‘Of course!’ 8 or so hours later, Plan Angel called at 7am in the morning saying, ‘We have confirmed that it is your biological mother, would you like to arrange a time to speak to her’. I calmly replied yes, expecting that this  meeting would occur in few days, weeks or months but to my great surprise, the lady pressed a button and in a little box at the top of my cracked iphone and for the first time in 30 years, I saw the face of  my mother, this illusive woman  whose face and personality I had imagined since as long I could remembered; a woman and a queen who had generously carried me around for 9 months and made me 50% of who I am. I think in that moment, even if it was for a split second, I felt at peace and knew what it was to truly have a point of reference for identity and place in this world.

As soon as we saw each other, we burst out in tears because we knew.  Looking back, I can honestly say this was a call that changed my life, as  I went from not knowing my place in the world,  feeling culturally isolated  and from a close loving but small two  sibling family, to 25 minutes later being the 3rd oldest in a crazy Afro-Colombian family of 13 and finally understanding and having a sense of culturally finding home and place! Here, I was not only  accepted for who I was, but I was celebrated.

Since that day, life and process of navigating the reunion process has been one wild, humbling, joyous, sad, grief filled, soothing yet erratic adventure that has really felt like the screenplay to a classic Latin telenovela. It has an unpredictable mix of horror, happiness, scandal, secrecy, crime, horror, drama, pain, love and family all mixed together.

A big part of what made this journey possible and survivable, has been the ongoing support, guidance, mentoring, exchange of shared experiences, friendship, healing education and community offered/provided by Lynelle and other adoptees through ICAV, Plan Angel as well as the wider adoptee community. It is my hope, that by sharing my tale, I am able to pay it forward, raise awareness around the realities of adoption (the need for improved support services), hopefully provide guidance and a relatable perspective to other intercountry adoptees both in general and for those who are thinking about reunification.

Click here to RSVP to ICAVs upcoming webinar on Reunion and Beyond:


ICAVs webinar on Searching in Intercountry Adoption

Je recherche ma famille en Russie

Ceci est le dernier de notre série de blogs dédiés à Recherche dans Adoption internationale. Ces histoires individuelles sont partagées depuis notre Papier de perspective qui a également été partagé avec nos Webinaire, Recherche dans l'adoption internationale par des experts des adoptés

par Raya Neige né en Russie, élevé au Canada

Je suis né dans la ville de l'oblast d'Ivanovo, en Russie, en 1989. Elle est située au nord-est de Moscou et compte 361 641 habitants. Après ma naissance, ma mère et mon père ont déménagé dans le Caucase russe, à Derbent. Après mes 3 ans, mes parents ont divorcé et ma mère et moi avons déménagé à Stavropol, au nord du Caucase. 

Finalement, ma mère a rencontré un autre homme et nous avons commencé à vivre ensemble dans un appartement de deux chambres. C'était un homme très violent et narcissique qui maltraitait ma mère et moi-même. Je crois que ma mère l'a quitté un jour, me laissant sous sa garde. N'étant pas son parent par le sang, il m'a rapidement déposé chez la grand-tante de ma mère. C’est là que mon voyage s’est vraiment déroulé. 

Mon arrière-grand-tante (Elvira) était une femme âgée et religieuse dont la vie tournait autour de l'Église et de Dieu. Nous vivions assez heureux ensemble, mais je me demandais toujours où était ma mère et où elle se trouvait. Parfois, ma mère venait me voir à la maison, mais ces visites étaient toujours incroyablement courtes. Comme elle n'était jamais là, les voisins ont commencé à remettre en question ma santé et mon éducation. Elvira a alors pensé à commencer à chercher un foyer permanent pour moi-même. 

Je me souviens, elle me conseillait d'avoir un bon comportement, de bien écouter, pour qu'une famille me prenne ou me rachète. N'ayant que 5 ans environ, j'étais très enthousiaste à l'idée de pouvoir rendre visite à d'autres familles avec enfants, jouer avec eux et apprendre à les connaître. Au fond de mon cœur, je savais que je ne pourrais pas rester avec eux parce que certains étaient bien pires que moi, vivant avec ma tante. 

Un jour, une dame est venue à la porte et a demandé à parler à Elvira au sujet d'une famille canadienne qui souhaitait adopter une petite fille russe. Elvira était si heureuse de cette nouvelle qu'elle a permis à la femme de prendre des photos d'elle qu'elle enverrait ensuite à la famille au Canada. La femme nous a fait savoir qu'un homme viendrait dans les semaines suivantes pour nous dire si la famille canadienne était intéressée par l'enfant, moi. En attendant, je continuais à aller de maison en maison pour voir si quelqu'un était intéressé à m'acheter. 

Un mois ou deux plus tard, on frappa à nouveau à notre porte et comme la dame l'a mentionné, il y avait un homme (George) qui est venu voir Elvira et moi. George nous a apporté des fruits et des bonbons que je mangeais pendant que les deux parlaient intensément. . Il a fait savoir à Elvira que la famille canadienne s'intéressait à moi et était prête à payer une grosse somme pour m'adopter. Elle lui a fait savoir que le processus ne serait pas facile car tous mes documents avaient été perdus dans un accident de voiture au cours duquel mes deux parents sont morts tragiquement. 

Selon sa déclaration, j'ai survécu miraculeusement grâce à la volonté de Dieu. Elle a ensuite montré à George l'acte de décès de mes parents, me laissant, un petit orphelin dans son testament. George a suggéré que nous commencions le processus en recréant de nouveaux documents, en indiquant le nom de ma mère et lui comme père biologique sur mon nouvel acte de naissance. 

Moi, étant cette petite fille, comprenant que ma mère ne me reviendrait jamais, car elle était partie et que je ne l'avais pas vue depuis des mois peut-être, j'ai senti qu'une nouvelle aventure était sur le point de se dérouler. George a commencé à venir plus souvent à la maison, gagnant ma confiance et moi la sienne. Nous sommes devenus de grands amis et j’ai apprécié avoir une « figure paternelle » dans ma vie. Le week-end, j'allais chez lui et je rencontrais sa femme et ses enfants, qui m'accueillaient à bras ouverts. 

Un tournant était sur le point de se produire lorsqu'Elvira a parlé à nos voisins et leur a fait savoir qu'elle allait emmener l'argent et moi-même vers l'ouest, dans les montagnes de l'Oural, où résidait le reste de notre famille. Les voisins ont été attristés par cette nouvelle car j'étais une petite fille très malnutrie qui avait besoin de soins médicaux attentifs, ils ont donc immédiatement appelé George et lui ont fait part de la nouvelle alarmante. George, bien sûr, a appelé la famille potentielle au Canada et leur a fait savoir qu'ils devaient me sauver et me cacher pendant que le reste de la documentation était en préparation. La famille canadienne a accepté et j'ai été amenée dans une petite ville près de Moscou, où vivaient les parents biologiques de leur famille. Là-bas, j'ai rencontré ma merveilleuse mère adoptive, avec qui j'ai noué un attachement instantané parce que je voulais désespérément me sentir aimée et prise en charge. 

Je crois que j'ai vécu avec ma famille à Moscou pendant environ 6 mois. Pendant que mes documents étaient en préparation, j'ai commencé à fréquenter l'école maternelle, j'ai passé du temps avec des parents le week-end, j'allais à l'église le dimanche et j'accueillais un nouveau colis de ma famille canadienne toutes les quelques semaines environ. 

C'était au mois de juin que George est revenu dans ma vie. Cette fois, nous allions commencer notre voyage au Canada. Le processus a été très délicat, j'ai dû apprendre à l'appeler « papa » et il m'appelait « fille ». George m'a fait savoir que nous devions simuler une caution, afin que les autorités ne puissent pas remettre en question nos relations les unes avec les autres. Nos vies étaient en jeu si l'un d'entre nous faisait quelque chose de douteux, je pouvais être envoyée dans un orphelinat et lui en prison. 

Nous avons d'abord commencé notre voyage à Moscou, où nous sommes restés quelques jours chez le père aveugle de George avant de partir sur un cargo vers la Turquie. Je me souviens bien du navire et j'ai commencé à aimer les gens qui s'y trouvaient. Une fois arrivés en Turquie, nous avons pris un vol pour la France dont je n'ai aucun souvenir, et de là nous nous sommes envolés pour le Canada. 

Une fois descendus de l'avion, j'ai pu voir dans le couloir au-dessus de moi qu'il y avait beaucoup de gens qui attendaient pour saluer leurs proches. Mes parents adoptifs faisaient partie de ces personnes qui attendaient avec des ballons et une caméra pour ce tout premier câlin. George et ma mère adoptive ont fini par se marier et cette fin « heureuse » a duré encore quelques années jusqu'à ce que George et ma mère adoptive se séparent (finalisent le divorce), puis elle réclame la garde complète de moi. 

Vingt-cinq ans se sont écoulés, j'ai commencé la recherche de mes parents biologiques que j'ai trouvés avec beaucoup de succès. J'ai eu l'aide d'une amie de ma mère adoptive qui a pu m'aider à retrouver ma mère biologique sur une application russe. J'ai retrouvé ma mère biologique, qui est toujours bien vivante avec une belle et grande famille qui l'a soutenue tout au long de la perte de son enfant, moi. J'ai également renoué avec mon père biologique, que j'ai découvert grâce à une émission de télévision russe et qui avait été en guerre entre 1994 et 1996 entre les Tchétchènes et les Russes. Après la fin de la guerre, il a commencé à me rechercher, sans aucune réponse claire sur l'endroit où je me trouvais ou sur ma mère biologique d'Elvira. 

C'est une histoire vraie. C'est une histoire de chagrin, de perte, d'abandon et aussi de bonheur. Je voudrais faire prendre conscience que les enlèvements existent, que la traite des enfants existe et qu'il faut en parler. Les adoptés manquent de soutien dans ces domaines car nous sommes terrifiés à l’idée de parler de nos vérités et de ce que la vérité pourrait faire à ceux qui nous entourent. 

C’est une nouvelle ère, un espace pour éclairer nos parcours, aux yeux de nos gouvernements, de nos adoptants, des organisations d’adoption et de nos pairs. Commençons par créer des changements juridiques grâce au plaidoyer et au soutien de nos camarades adoptés ! Ensemble, partageons nos vérités !


Recherche et Retrouvailles en Adoption Internationale

Searching for my family in Sri Lanka

La série de blogs suivante sera consacrée à nos Recherche dans Adoption internationale série. Ces histoires individuelles sont partagées depuis notre Papier de perspective qui a également été partagé avec nos Webinaire, Recherche dans l'adoption internationale par des experts des adoptés.

par Gabbie Beckley, born in Sri Lanka, raised in Australia

When I cook, standing in my kitchen, surrounded by the scents and smells of Sri Lankan spices, curries and dhals, I am transported back to one of my first memories of meeting my Amma in her small smokey kitchen back in the year 2000. I then fast forward to 2019, sitting in my younger sisters apartment watching her cook, being entranced by the smells, laughter and life coming from her kitchen in her home.

My life has taken so many unexpected twists and turns. I reflect upon the different versions of myself through my search and reunion with my family. I reflect at the past global climate when Sri Lanka was in the grips of a bloody civil war war and what life is like now amidst the current political instability.

I think of choices parents make for their children and the hopes and dreams we have for them. I know we all share a common thread, we want our children to be happy, healthy and content with life. I know that is what my Amma and Thatha want(ed) for me and my siblings and I know that is what I want for my children.

Yet the complex psychosocial strings that took me away from my first family and weaved a complex narrative in my second, continues to undo and reconnect as I attempt to parent my own and leaves me feeling some days like I have an understanding of what’s going on, yet most days, I struggle to make sense of it all.

My story is mine to tell, yet I am only one part of a multitude of layers, stories and connections. To tell my story is to honour my first family’s story. Our story is a love story of two people shaped by an extreme set of extraordinary circumstances that include war, love, poverty and hope. Then my second family who also experienced war, love, loss, trauma and hope; and finally the family that I have created, also has love, loss, hope and possibilities.

The way that I comprehend searching for my family is it has always been about finding out who I am, recognising the person staring back at me in the mirror and understanding who I am as a person and how I relate to the world. 

Searching for me is coming to understand it doesn’t stop when you have the answer  to your prayers, it’s then understanding and building relationships with the people who share your bloodlines and those that don’t. It’s accepting the choices that people made ‘in your best interests’ and placing those choices with the people that made them and not on myself.

Searching over the past 23 years has been important, life affirming and life saving. I have now know my first family longer than I haven’t known them — and for me that’s important milestone because it helps me understand the complex person within.

I know the trauma of that first great loss in my life has impacted my whole life. I want to bust the myth that love it s enough to conquer the hurt, pain and the trauma — it is not. 

Connection, meaningful connections and conversations, intentional understanding, acceptance, trauma informed care and a safe space to feel my feelings is what I have needed. Finding purpose and meaning in my life has come from reuniting with my family, culture and kin. I know what it is like to walk the walk and I know why it’s important to give back and assist others in their journey of healing.

Searching has never been the end goal, searching is part of the healing journey I take every day.

Prochainement: Je recherche ma famille en Russie


Recherche et Retrouvailles en Adoption Internationale

Searching for my family in the Philippines

La série de blogs suivante sera consacrée à nos Recherche dans Adoption internationale série. Ces histoires individuelles sont partagées depuis notre Papier de perspective qui a également été partagé avec nos Webinaire, Recherche dans l'adoption internationale par des experts des adoptés..

par Désirée Maru, born in the Philippines, raised in the USA

I was born in destitute poverty in the Philippines in 1985 and hence relinquished to an adoption agency on the day that I was born. I was taken care of at Asilo de la Milagrosa, in the care of Catholic nuns who were social workers at the time, and adopted via Holt International to the USA when I was about two years old. I did not know my adoptive parents, nor did they come out to the Philippines to get to know me. My name legally changed, and I was flown from an airplane and delivered to Caucasian strangers that were my legally binding family.

I grew up in Wisconsin, in the Midwest, and had an adopted brother, who was two years older than me, who was also adopted from the Philippines, from a different orphanage. We grew up not being taught about the Philippines. We grew up with a lack of pride or understanding of our home culture, heritage, customs and language. Instead we were heavily assimilated into the Western culture; we were asked a few times about our culture from our adoptive parents but it wasn’t enough support to keep us connected to our home traditions. 

Barriers included a lack of being informed from our adoptive parents about our homeland, ancestry and we also lacked emotional-psychological support for intercountry adoptees in the Midwest at the time. I vaguely remember a time when my adoptive mother sat me down in the living room, back in Wisconsin, she told me I was adopted, and I said, “I know,” and walked out of the living room. I went back to my bedroom to be by myself. That’s the tone of my childhood, where I was showing like I didn’t care when in fact, the whole experience was difficult for me. But I didn’t know how to reach out or talk about it to anybody.

My brother had a lot of issues and we moved to Arizona in high school to try to start over as a family. This is a time when my adoptive mother came into my bedroom and showed me my biological papers. She said she had to wait until I was 18 to give these to me, but I was close enough to the age, or something along those lines. She left, and I looked at them and I cried. I saw the name of my birth mother, and I longed to know more about her. 

I imagined my birth mother a lot in those days. I wrote poetry, and it was never enough to fill the gap and missing pieces of my heart. 

Obstacles in searching at the time was that my biological papers, which had been established by social workers in the Philippines, didn’t preserve much of any functional information for independently searching for family members or family history. These biological papers lacked any kind of suitable, identifiable information that preserved in any way my heritage and family tree information, which would be necessary to piece together my past without needing the very individuals to re-establish the knowledge of my heritage. 

My biological papers revealed next to nothing about my father, which later on, I would find that the information that was volunteered by my birth mother was also false. But as a teenager, when all I have are these old, governmentally-certified papers from my home country, that’s all that I had. So these old-fashioned, brittle documents were my only hope, which were papers that scarcely were able to certify my birth on thin, fragile paper. I had a feeding schedule from my orphanage and a mighty, descriptive report of what I looked like and acted like as a vulnerable baby in the orphanage. And that was all I had of my entire past. These artefacts showed I was just a product of the adoption process. 

I finally decided to pursue a reunion when I was in my mid-twenties. I discovered that Holt International actually had a search and reunion department, so I emailed them, and started the process. They reached out to my old orphanage, Asilo de la Milagrosa, and the kind social workers there had found my files. They also went themselves to the address of my birth mother, and thankfully, she still lived there. From that point, they coordinated with her.

I planned a trip to the Philippines with barely enough funds to cover this at the time. It was difficult because my adoptive mother wasn’t supportive at all, and nobody from my adoptive family supported me either. But in a few months, I was able to create an itinerary. I was to leave Seattle, to the Philippines, and I was given a place to stay with the Intercountry Adoption Board of the Philippines, and later, Asilo de la Milegrosa had guest quarters too. 

The cost of a reunion is plenty. The cost of travel is hefty. But the main cost to consider is the toll of what you’re undergoing psychologically and emotionally. You’ve spent all your life fabricating an identity away from this place, and now you’re returning, and you’re having to break out of that safety net to acknowledge and face parts of your past that had been concealed all this time. So it is disruptive to the security in our lives. It is a risk one takes as well, because you don’t know the results, and how you’ll process the experience post-reunion either. 

The outcome of this search was that I was unknowingly able to have a reunion granted for me, with my birth mother and half-birth brother, due to all of these circumstances leading up to this being uniquely favourable and available to me at the time. 

My reunion was in 2012, and it is now 2023 and I’m living on my own in Indiana. My adopted brother recently passed away last year, homeless on the streets of the Philippines, in 2022. He lacked much needed support throughout his whole life, which will always weigh on me, and I miss him everyday. I don’t talk with my adoptive family anymore, although I had kept in touch with my adoptive parents and grandparents mainly. I just have one surviving adoptive grandfather now as well, so life has changed even in their circumstances. 

After experiencing the whole search and reunion process, I do have my own perspectives to share. I think what is needed is that every adoption company and governmental organisation should have a search and reunion department for all adoptees to utilise.

Every adoption agency and birth country of an orphaned or vulnerable child should be collecting all of their biographical information including family trees and family members, so that they can have the knowledge of their past to utilise for their own personal purposes. Adoptees should have a right to have their family history preserved and safeguarded, administratively. Their biographical information, including birth information and birth records, needs to be preserved as best as possible, and social workers should make sure that all information is accurate and not in fact made up. 

This biographical information is what holds the last of an adoptee’s own cultural identity and historical background, and even medically, this is paramount. This information could give a sense of security and psychological support if anything, which could save society a lot of issues in the long run. It would hold well in the search and reunion process because the more information adoptees are given, the more options adoptees have for meeting or getting to know their home countries in ways that are comfortable for them.

Supportive resources include the adoption agencies free search and reunion administrative support, biological paper filing and holding for the adoptee; it is giving an adoptee full access to their records at any time as well. Intercountry adoption boards or agencies of the home country, and the orphanage that the adoptee was cared for at, all need to be officially accountable. They all need to have proper records of the vulnerable child, and proper process and procedures for the search and reunion. Support should be accessible on a regular basis. 

There should be rapid communication readily available for adoptees today such as having proper email addresses, current phone numbers and customer service at hand. Support should be granted such as places to stay when the adoptee visits the home country and on a reunion; they should be informed of the reunion process, given counselling support, translator support, and if someone can document the reunion for the adoptee, that could help too. 

Now in 2023, after all these years of living life, pursuing therapies, working and becoming the owner of my own life, I’ve decided to start a new chapter of my search and reunion by requesting a MyHeritage DNA Kit for starting an initial search for biological relatives, and to also learn about my DNA heritage, and where I come from. This DNA kit was free due to the program in place recently, which was why I’d participated in requesting this kit. 

The difference in this is that before, I would say, I experienced more of a direct line to my poverty-stricken past at Asilo de la Milagrosa, where in my mid-twenties, I met my birth mother and half birth-brother in 2012. Now, it is simply nice to search in a more discovery-toned, self-paced way, versus having to respond to a critical need to grasp the truth of what happened to me as a vulnerable baby and understand why my mother gave me up when I was born.

In this DNA search, I don’t have to ask too many hard questions, although even to this day, some questions can still linger in my mind from time to time: Why didn’t my biological family contact me all this time? Why wasn’t I able to mend the fabric of my biological family history at a certain point in my life? And, why did my past have to be such a void? 

Prochainement: Searching for my family in Sri Lanka


Recherche et Retrouvailles en Adoption Internationale

A la recherche de ma famille en Corée du Sud

La série de blogs suivante sera consacrée à nos Recherche dans Adoption internationale série. Ces histoires individuelles sont partagées depuis notre Papier de perspective qui a également été partagé avec nos Webinaire, Recherche dans l'adoption internationale par des experts des adoptés.

par Samara James, born in South Korea, raised in Australia

artwork by Samara

When I first moved to South Korea back in 2008, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to locate my birth family. How do you know whether you want to unlock the biggest mysteries of your life? How do you know if you are ready for it? For me, it was a curiosity, but for my Korean friends, they seemed determined to make the reunion a reality with an almost feverish determination. This is what really propelled the search for my birth family, and despite not really understanding what that would mean or preparing for what may happen, I agreed to do the search. Ann Babe, breaks down the attitudes toward gyopos into three types. She described the first as, “A person that’s older who is sort of angry about you being a Korean but not being fully Korean.” There are the “people who seem flummoxed and simply incapable of grasping your background” but then there are also those who are “very friendly and helpful” but sometimes “overbearing when they try to convert you or reform you” (Wiggin, 2010). My Korean friend (who was also my boss) was this third type. As an older sister figure to me in Korea (or unnie) she took me under her wing and introduced me to Korean life; eventually the reunion between myself and my birth family became her personal mission. My adoptive parents were concerned about me locating my birth family. I knew they didn’t really want me to do it. My mother used to watch movies about adoptees reuniting with their birth families and choosing to stay and live with them, as if they were horror movies, “You would never do that would you?” she used to ask me. I had always promised I wouldn’t but when I asked for my adoption paperwork, I knew in a way I was betraying them. 

My paperwork was scarce to say the least, a piece of paper with my parents’ names dates of birth, the name I was issued by the adoption agency, and the province I was born in, translated into English that only led to dead-ends and we exhausted most of my options quickly. Leanne Lieth, founder of Korean Adoptees for Fair Records Access, explains, “Access to our Korean records is dependent upon whether the adoptee knows that there are duplicate or original records in Korea, that those records may have additional information… and that the adoptee has the will and tenacity to investigate across continents and languages with the often uncooperative and hostile Korean international adoption agencies. This process is arbitrary, inconsistent, and can drag out for years” (Dobbs, 2011). According to Dobbs (2011), “There are no laws sealing or regulating adoption files, which are technically agency private property. The agencies could burn the records if they wanted.” Eventually, my friend convinced me to go on a Korean reality TV show where adoptees can make a public plea for any information that may help to locate their families. Say your Korean name into the camera, she said. I had never used my Korean name before. “My name is Kim Soo-Im. If you have any information about my biological family”… the rest was a blur. Before I knew it, we had found them. 

After declining to film the reunion on air, we drove to meet my birth family. I had no idea what I was walking into, or even where we were. I didn’t expect to have family, I thought I was an orphan but when I walked in the door, I was taken aback to see almost 20 relatives – mother, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents who were all crying inconsolably. I didn’t understand. My friend was so excited and I was completely at a loss for how to react. I didn’t have any questions prepared, I think I was still in a state of shock. All I could think was, why couldn’t I have stayed here? Why are they crying when they abandoned me? 

My friend did the introductions in Korean, and it was only then I realised, she wouldn’t be able to bridge the linguistic and cultural gaps between us. I struggled to understand most of what was said, but a few things came through. I looked like my father who had died a few years earlier. I guessed by my mother’s age, that he may have been in his 40’s at the time. They couldn’t explain to me how he died exactly, but I inferred by their hand signals it was something to do with the chest – I hope it isn’t hereditary. I was told that I have two siblings (who were also put up for adoption) and I was the last of the three children to reunite with the family. My brother who was there, didn’t say anything to me that day. Apparently, he could speak English, but I guess chose not to. I have no idea what he was thinking or what his story was. My sister wasn’t there, when I asked where she was, the reply was “she’s gone”. I couldn’t figure out what ‘gone’ meant. Was she missing? Was she dead? 

My birth mother plead with my friend to tell me that she regretted putting me up for adoption and that she tried everything to undo it. She didn’t know I was sent overseas. My friend looked so overjoyed, but I wasn’t sure what to say, I couldn’t understand. I thought she didn’t want me, I was told I had been abandoned after birth. I was prepared for rejection but regret, despair, shame, longing I didn’t know what to do with. I sat there silently for what felt like hours, then the family asked if I was staying to re-join the family and asked if I would help take care of my ageing mother. Everyone was looking at me expectantly. It was at this point I felt something shutdown inside me, and I told them that I was going to go back to Australia. My birth mother asked if I would sleep over that night and let her hold me. I declined. I wanted to enter that world, but I didn’t know how. It’s something that still haunts me. This part of my life had been closed for over 20 years, and for those moments when I opened it again, I didn’t know what to do. I had never felt so useless, so I closed it again as quickly as possible and I haven’t spoken to them again. This was 15 years ago. 

Behar (1996) who talks about ‘roots’ and ‘routes’, asks how do you return to a home that is lost? How do you reckon with what you uncover? What are you really returning to? What does it offer? Digging through old paintings, I find a self-portrait from when I was a teenager. Half human and half tree, floating above a dark ocean. My roots are exposed and I’m crying the sea of tears that I’m floating above. If I was trying to replant my roots, I was experiencing transplant shock. I didn’t know how to process what had happened. Returning to my office after our reunion, I found a large box of dried squid on my desk. “It’s from your family, they really must love you” my friend exclaimed. I am still at a loss to what that means. What a cruel irony, I had spent my life trying to blend in with my peers in Australia, trying to belong as an Australian. It was all I ever wanted. But in those moments, I wish I could have been Korean. Korean enough to understand what my family was saying and the meaning and context behind it. Now I’m so Australian that it feels like I’ve locked myself out of that world. 

15 years later, looking back from a point in my life where I realise the gravity of what I dug into and how it lingers in my subconscious as an unresolved part of my life. Now that I understand a little more about Korean culture, the adoption system, and the impossible choices my birth mother would have faced, I have finally come to a point where I want to try and reconnect with them again. I realise now that the birth family search is not about guaranteeing a fairy-tale ending, but it’s about opening yourself to something. This time I’ll go in with a completely open mind and heart, no expectations and an adoption specialising translator. I just hope my birth mother’s still alive so I can properly meet her this time.

Samara James (Kim Soo Im)

Les références

Behar, R., 1996. Anthropology that breaks your heart. The Vulnerable Observer. 

Dobbs, J.K., 2011. Ending South Korea’s Child Export Shame. [Online]. Foreign Policy in Focus. Last Updated: 23 June 2011. Available at: 

Wiggin, T., 2010. South Korea’s complicated embrace of gyopo. Los Angeles Times. [Online]. 14 February 2010. Available at 

Prochainement: Searching for my family in Romania


Recherche et Retrouvailles en Adoption Internationale

A la recherche de ma famille au Vietnam

La série de blogs suivante sera consacrée à nos Recherche dans Adoption internationale série. Ces histoires individuelles sont partagées depuis notre Papier de perspective qui a également été partagé avec nos Webinaire, Recherche dans l'adoption internationale par des experts des adoptés.

par Huyen Friedlander, né au Vietnam, élevé aux États-Unis

Dimanche, j'ai appris que mon père biologique était décédé. Je suis toujours en train de passer au crible ce que ça fait, une sorte unique de perte d'un parent. Même si nous nous sommes réunis il y a plus de 20 ans, il y avait encore beaucoup de non-dits, et peut-être beaucoup de choses que nous ne savions pas ou ne comprenions pas les uns des autres. Nous nous sommes rencontrés en personne deux fois. La première fois, c'était peu après le 11 septembre. J'avais ses coordonnées depuis près d'un an, mais je n'étais pas prêt à le contacter. Sachant qu'il vivait dans le New Jersey, si près de NYC où les tours sont tombées, j'ai ressenti un sentiment d'urgence que je ne devais plus perdre de temps. J'ai téléphoné un vendredi soir. J'ai laissé un message vocal disant que je m'appelais Huyen et que je pensais qu'il avait été un ami de ma famille au Viet Nam. Le lendemain matin, il a retourné mon appel. 

Dans les premières secondes de notre conversation, j'ai redit mon nom, dit qui était ma mère biologique et dit: "Je pense que tu es peut-être mon père biologique." Immédiatement, sans aucune hésitation, il a dit: "Je pense que je le suis aussi." Ce fut un énorme cadeau pour moi. Pas de refus. Aucune défensive. "Je pensais que toi et ta mère étiez morts." 

Un lien avec l'armée lui avait dit que ma mère était morte en essayant de se rendre en Thaïlande et que j'étais mort dans l'accident du Babylift. Il a dit qu'il avait voulu épouser ma mère biologique, mais qu'il n'avait pas été autorisé parce que sa famille était originaire du Nord. 

C'était tellement surréaliste d'avoir enfin cette information, une petite fenêtre sur ce qui s'était passé. En quelques semaines, je me dirigeais vers la côte Est avec mon père adoptif, mon mari et mon fils de 17 mois en remorque. J'étais enceinte d'environ deux mois de ma fille à l'époque. Mon père biologique et sa femme nous ont accueillis dans un restaurant, avec un câlin et des fleurs à la main. Après le dîner, ils ont été aimables et nous ont invités à la maison pour des cannoli et une chance de visiter plus. 

À la maison, j'étais ravie de rencontrer ma demi-sœur, qui était également mère d'un jeune garçon. Mon père biologique a sorti une photo de moi, probablement à environ 2 ans, une copie vierge d'une photo en lambeaux que la sœur de ma mère biologique avait conservée pendant 20 ans au Viet Nam. Nous n'avons jamais fait de tests ADN; cette photo qu'ils avaient tous deux enregistrée en était la preuve suffisante. Mon père biologique m'a également donné une croix en or que ma mère biologique lui avait donnée avant son départ du Viet Nam, pour le protéger sur le chemin du retour. De même, lorsque ma mère biologique m'a emmenée chez les Amis des Enfants du Viet Nam à Saigon pour m'abandonner, elle avait mis un médaillon de Saint-Christophe sur une ficelle et l'avait attaché autour de mon cou, pour me protéger dans ma nouvelle vie. Me donner la photo et la croix m'a semblé généreux et attentionné. 

Au cours de la décennie suivante, nous nous sommes enregistrés périodiquement par courrier ou par téléphone. Au moment où nous nous rencontrions à nouveau en personne, j'étais veuve, mère célibataire de deux jeunes adolescents. Ayant perdu mon mari, j'ai de nouveau ressenti l'urgence de m'assurer que mes enfants rencontreraient leur grand-père biologique. Et encore une fois, mon père de naissance a eu la gentillesse de dire oui à ma demande. Notre visite a été agréable et les enfants ont pensé que lui et sa femme étaient amusants et gentils. Avant notre départ, mon père de naissance nous a offert un ensemble de service orné qu'il avait ramené avec lui du Viet Nam. 

Suite à cette visite, une grande partie de notre communication s'est faite via Facebook, avec des commentaires occasionnels sur les messages des autres. Facebook nous a permis de voir des aspects de la vie de chacun d'une manière très naturelle. J'ai eu une petite idée de son sens de l'humour, de son amour de la pêche et des trains miniatures. Facebook se trouve également être le principal moyen par lequel je maintiens le contact avec ma mère biologique ; nous FaceTime et elle voit mes publications et mes photos.

Je ne voulais rien publier sur la mort de mon père biologique sur Facebook jusqu'à ce que j'aie eu l'occasion de faire face à ma mère biologique au Viet Nam pour lui faire savoir. Lors de cette première visite avec mon père biologique en 2001, il a dit à mon père que ma mère biologique avait été son premier amour. C'était un cadeau à entendre, même en connaissant le triste résultat pour eux, car d'une certaine manière, cela validait la foi de ma mère biologique qu'il reviendrait pour nous. Elle a attendu huit ans. 

Dans ma vidéo de retrouvailles avec ma mère biologique (cinq ans avant de retrouver mon père biologique), nous sommes assis à la table de la salle à manger de mes grands-parents. Elle est rayonnante vers moi, avec un bras autour de moi, et en riant, elle dit : « Beaucoup d'amour t'a fait ! Ouais, beaucoup d'amour t'a fait. Quand elle m'a regardé, elle l'a vu. Elle pointait mes traits et disait : « Pareil ! Même!" Cela semblait lui apporter de la joie, de le voir sur mon visage. 

J'étais nerveux de l'appeler ce soir pour lui annoncer la nouvelle. J'ai demandé à ma chère amie Suzie de se joindre à l'appel pour aider à traduire. J'ai parlé en anglais : « Mon père de naissance est décédé. X est mort. Je suis désolé." Et aussitôt, elle poussa un cri lugubre. Même si ma mère biologique s'est finalement mariée et a eu cinq autres enfants - la base et la joie de sa vie -, mon père biologique occupait une place spéciale dans son cœur en tant que son premier amour. Pendant un an de leur jeune vie, ils s'étaient beaucoup aimés. 

Suzie a aidé à traduire les détails que j'ai entendus auparavant. C'était en temps de guerre. Ils ne pouvaient rien faire pour être ensemble. 50 ans plus tard, le décès de mon père biologique est une perte pour ma mère biologique. En tant que fervente catholique, elle prie maintenant pour lui. Il y avait beaucoup de choses que je ne savais pas sur mon père biologique, et j'aimerais toujours en savoir plus, mais je peux aussi être en paix avec ce que je sais. 

Pour l'instant, je reste ancré dans la gratitude que je ressens pour l'avoir trouvé, la gratitude qu'il m'ait reconnue et la gratitude pour les opportunités que j'ai eues de me connecter avec lui et sa famille. Je dis une prière pour sa femme et sa famille alors qu'ils traversent cette perte.

Prochainement: A la recherche de ma famille en Corée du Sud


Recherche et Retrouvailles en Adoption Internationale

A la recherche de ma famille en Chine

La série de blogs suivante sera consacrée à nos Recherche dans Adoption internationale série. Ces histoires individuelles sont partagées depuis notre Papier de perspective qui a également été partagé avec nos Webinaire, Recherche dans l'adoption internationale par des experts des adoptés.

par 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!

Prochainement: A la recherche de ma famille au Vietnam


Recherche et Retrouvailles en Adoption Internationale

A la recherche de ma famille en Colombie

La série de blogs suivante sera consacrée à nos Recherche dans Adoption internationale série. Ces histoires individuelles sont partagées depuis notre Papier de perspective qui a également été partagé avec nos Webinaire, Recherche dans l'adoption internationale par des experts des adoptés.

par 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 La blessure primordiale by Nancy Verrier and Parcours du moi adopté by Betty Jean Lifton to name a couple of outstanding examples. I am a regular listener to adoptee podcasts including Adoptés le with host Haley Radke and Adapté 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 Le singe d'Harlow. 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 Voix des adoptés internationaux. 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. 

Prochainement: A la recherche de ma famille en Chine


Recherche et Retrouvailles en Adoption Internationale

Webinaire sur la recherche dans l'adoption internationale par des experts des adoptés

Le 23 avril 2023, l'ICAV a organisé un webinaire pour vous apporter l'expertise de nos professionnels de la recherche dans le monde entier, partageant leurs meilleures paroles de sagesse sur ce qu'il faut prendre en compte lors d'une recherche en adoption internationale. Ils représentaient directement des organisations d'adoptés du Sri Lanka, d'Éthiopie, de Corée du Sud, d'Haïti, de Colombie et de Grèce.

Regardez le webinaire ici :
Remarque : si vous regardez dans Chrome, cliquez sur le bouton En savoir plus pour regarder la vidéo

Code temporel

Pour ceux qui manquent de temps et qui souhaitent passer aux sections pertinentes, voici un code temporel pour vous aider :

00:20 Intro, Bienvenue, But
04:30 Présentation des panélistes
04:39 Marcia Engel
06:48 Rébecca Payot
09:29 Jonas Désir
10:25 Linda Carol Trotter
12:55 Kayla Curtis
15:22 Hilbrand Westra
17:44 Benoit Vermeerbergen
21:00 Celin Fässler

Questions et réponses

23:28 En quoi consiste le processus de recherche générale ? – Kayla
27:30 Que doivent faire les adoptés pour se préparer ? –Linda, Marcia
35:51 Quels sont certains des résultats ? – Jonas, Kayla, Linda
46:50 Quelques obstacles possibles à prévoir ? – Rebecca, Linda
56:51 Quelle éthique considérer ? –Marcia, Kayla
1:06:40 Combien devrait coûter une recherche ? – Rebecca, Linda, Célin
1:11:46 A qui faire confiance ? Hilbrand, Jonas
1:16:16 Quels problèmes prendre en compte dans les tests ADN ? – Benoit
1:19:18 Quels résultats peuvent résulter des tests ADN ? – Benoit
1:20:40 Quels tests ADN recommandez-vous ? Benoît, Marcia
1:23:51 Quels sont les avantages d'utiliser une organisation de recherche dirigée par des adoptés ? – Célin, Marcia
1:28:28 Qu'impliquait de devenir un organisme de recherche financé par le gouvernement et digne de confiance ? – Céline
1:30:36 De quoi les gouvernements ont-ils le plus besoin pour aider les adoptés dans nos recherches ? – Hilbrand, Marcia

Résumé des messages clés

Cliquez sur ici pour un pdf de notre Messages clé de chaque panéliste


Un grand merci aux 26 adoptés qui ont voulu partager leurs expériences de recherche afin que d'autres puissent approfondir leur compréhension. Ils représentent les expériences de 13 pays de naissance (Chine, Colombie, Inde, Malaisie, Maroc, Pérou, Philippines, Roumanie, Russie, Corée du Sud, Sri Lanka, Thaïlande, Vietnam), envoyés dans 9 pays d'adoption (Australie, Belgique, Canada, France , Allemagne, Écosse, Suède, Royaume-Uni, États-Unis).

Le dernier document de perspective de l'ICAV sur Recherche dans Adoption internationale

Pour plus de ressources, consultez notre Recherche & Réunion page

Recherche dans Adoption internationale par des experts en adoption

Le 23 avril, l'ICAV organisera un webinaire sur certaines des questions complexes liées à la recherche dans divers pays de naissance, mais avec une connaissance spécifique de la Colombie, de l'Éthiopie, d'Haïti, de la Grèce, de la Corée et du Sri Lanka.

Notre webinaire sera unique en ce sens que nous n'apporterons pas seulement notre expérience vécue en tant qu'individus, mais que nous nous présenterons également comme une ressource mondiale, mettant en évidence les organisations dirigées par des adoptés qui fournissent une recherche formelle et des services de soutien. Nos panélistes ont le double rôle de savoir intuitivement à quel point la recherche est complexe en tant qu'individus ayant effectué leur propre recherche et ayant également des décennies d'expérience dans la fourniture de services formels de recherche et de soutien à la communauté.

ICAV sait intuitivement quelles sont les dernières recherche (p231) menée au sein de la communauté des adoptés coréens montre - c'est-à-dire que les adoptés internationaux trouvent que leurs pairs et les organisations dirigées par des adoptés sont les plus utiles dans leurs recherches. Il n'y a rien de mieux que ceux qui la vivent en sachant intuitivement comment fournir au mieux les services dont nous avons besoin en tant que communauté.

Si vous souhaitez faire partie de notre public, cliquez ici pour RSVP.

Nos 8 panélistes sont :

Marcia Engel

Marcia est la créatrice et exploitante de Plan Ange, une fondation à but non lucratif des droits de l'homme actuellement basée à Amsterdam, aux Pays-Bas. Son organisation a une mission puissante : aider les familles colombiennes à retrouver leurs enfants qui ont été perdus à cause du trafic d'enfants et de l'adoption.

Depuis quinze ans maintenant, Plan Angel a développé une communauté forte avec plus de 1 000 familles en Colombie. La fondation aide ces familles à rechercher leurs enfants adoptés disparus partout dans le monde, dans l'espoir de les reconnecter un jour. Marcia et sa fondation ont réuni des centaines de familles et continuent de les soutenir après leur réunion.

Linda Carol Forrest Trotteur

Linda est une adoptée d'origine grecque, adoptée par des parents américains et a trouvé sa famille biologique en Grèce il y a cinq ans et demi. Elle est fondatrice et présidente de Le projet Eftychia, une organisation à but non lucratif qui assiste et soutient gratuitement les adoptés d'origine grecque à la recherche de leurs racines et les familles grecques à la recherche de leurs enfants perdus à l'adoption.

En plus de son programme Recherche et Réunion, le Projet Eftychia, en collaboration avec le Mon héritage Société ADN, distribue gratuitement des kits ADN aux adoptés et aux familles grecques. À ce jour, le projet Eftychia a facilité la reconnexion de 19 adoptés avec leurs familles grecques.

Le projet Eftychia défend également activement au nom de tous les adoptés nés en Grèce auprès du gouvernement grec leurs droits à la naissance et à l'identité, y compris la transparence de leurs adoptions, l'accès sans entrave à leurs registres de naissance, d'orphelinat et d'adoption, et le rétablissement de leur citoyenneté grecque.

Kayla Curtis

Kayla est née en Corée du Sud et adoptée en Australie du Sud. Kayla est à la recherche de sa famille biologique coréenne depuis plus de vingt ans. Elle est retournée en Corée pour effectuer des recherches « sur le terrain » à l'aide d'affiches, de journaux, de la police locale et d'organisations de recherche d'adoptés. En l'absence de retrouvailles avec sa famille biologique, elle a construit une relation significative avec son pays d'origine et la culture coréenne et s'identifie fièrement comme coréenne-australienne.  

Dans sa vie professionnelle, Kayla travaille comme conseillère principale pour le Service de soutien aux adoptés internationaux et aux familles (ICAFSS) à Relations Australie.  

Kayla est une travailleuse qualifiée en histoire de vie thérapeutique et possède une maîtrise en travail social ainsi qu'une vaste expérience de travail dans le domaine de l'adoption, tant au sein du gouvernement que dans le secteur non gouvernemental, offrant des conseils, de l'éducation et de la formation, du développement communautaire et du soutien post-adoption. Dans ce rôle, Kayla aide les adoptés internationaux à rechercher et à naviguer dans ce processus incertain et complexe entre les pays, ainsi qu'à offrir un soutien thérapeutique aux adoptés tout au long de ce voyage. 

Jonas Désir


Jonas est un adopté haïtien élevé en Australie qui a passé de nombreuses années à aider ses compatriotes adoptés haïtiens à rechercher leurs familles en Haïti. Il a été adopté d'Haïti à 6 ans et a finalement pu retrouver sa mère en Haïti. Aujourd'hui, il est marié, a des enfants et travaille beaucoup pour encadrer d'autres adoptés plus jeunes et aider les familles adoptives.

Benoit Vermeerbergen

Benoît est né à Villers-Semeuse, France sous « Sous X ». Cela signifie que ses parents et surtout sa mère ne voulaient pas être connus ou trouvés. Son certificat de naissance ne montre littéralement que les X comme noms de parents. En grandissant, Benoît s'est posé beaucoup de questions pour comprendre tout cela. Après ses études, il a délibérément commencé à travailler pour les 'Services de la Population' dans l'espoir de découvrir plus d'informations sur sa mère biologique. 

Au cours de ce processus et des années qui ont suivi, Benoît a aidé tant d'autres personnes dans leurs recherches (par exemple, en essayant de retrouver leurs parents biologiques), qu'il a fait de la recherche généalogique sa principale source de revenus. Cela a toujours été et sera toujours sa plus grande passion dans la vie ! 

La généalogie et l'adoption sont donc son domaine de spécialisation. Au cours des deux dernières années, il a également commencé à travailler dans le domaine de "l'ADN". En 2019, il a retrouvé sa mère biologique grâce à cette méthode. Aujourd'hui, il coopère avec de nombreuses autorités généalogiques et liées à l'adoption et aide à inventer et à construire de nombreuses plateformes liées à l'adoption. Bien que la Belgique soit son pays d'origine, il a également de l'expérience dans la recherche à l'étranger, c'est-à-dire en Australie, au Mexique et aux Pays-Bas.

Rébecca Payot

Rebecca est la fondatrice de l'association Racines Naissent des Ailes et co-fondateur de la réunion de famille d'Emmaye Adoptee. Adoptée en Éthiopie à l'âge de 5 ans, Rebecca est diplômée en psychologie de la petite enfance spécialisée dans les adolescents en crise d'identité. Elle travaille depuis 20 ans dans le domaine de l'adoption internationale en France en tant que consultante et conférencière en quête d'origines. Elle est l'auteur de son premier livre intitulé « La Quête des Origines, un Remède Miracle aux maux des adoptés ?

Hilbrand Westra

Hilbrand est un adopté coréen élevé aux Pays-Bas et a la plus longue expérience professionnelle, travaillant avec et pour les adoptés aux Pays-Bas depuis 1989. Internationalement, son nom est bien connu et contesté en même temps par la première génération d'adoptés internationaux parce qu'il a osé pour s'opposer au conte de Disney de l'adoption. Il est également le premier adopté au monde à recevoir une décoration royale officielle par le roi des Pays-Bas en 2015 et est fait chevalier dans l'Ordre d'Orange Nassau pour son travail exceptionnel en faveur des adoptés et dans le domaine de l'adoption.

Dans la vie quotidienne, Hilbrand gère sa propre école en travail systémique et est un enseignant et formateur renommé à l'échelle nationale et son travail a suscité un grand intérêt au Royaume-Uni. Il passe du temps à faire le pont entre le travail dans ce domaine entre les Pays-Bas et le Royaume-Uni. Hilbrand est un confident et un coach exécutif pour les dirigeants et les directeurs aux Pays-Bas et travaille également en partie avec le ministère de la Défense et le ministère de l'Éducation, de la Culture et des Sciences.

Celin Fassler

Celin a été adoptée du Sri Lanka en Suisse et est responsable des communications et membre du conseil d'administration de Retour aux sources. Back to the Roots est une ONG suisse fondée en 2018 par des adoptés sri lankais. Son objectif principal est de sensibiliser à la recherche complexe des origines et d'accompagner les adoptés dans leur démarche de recherche. Depuis mai 2022, Back to the Roots est financé par le gouvernement suisse et les districts régionaux afin d'apporter un soutien professionnel aux adoptés du Sri Lanka vers la Suisse.

Sarah Ramani Ineichen

Sarah a été adoptée du Sri Lanka en Suisse et est la présidente de Back to the Roots et peut présenter conjointement avec Celin dans ce webinaire.

Le webinaire sera enregistré et mis à disposition sur le site Web de l'ICAV.

Si vous avez des questions que vous aimeriez voir abordées dans notre webinaire, veuillez ajouter vos commentaires à ce blog ou contact nous.

Un grand merci au Gouvernement australien, DSS pour avoir financé cet événement via nos Relations Australie, Programme de petites subventions et bourses.