Pride in my Disability

di Maddy Ulmann, born in China and raised in the USA.

I wrote this on the last day of disability pride month (July).

I started disability pride month at a conference on a panel discussing the intersectionality of disability and adoption. The audience heard me and my truths saying things like:

  • If someone handed me a magic cure today, that would get rid of all my disabilities, I wouldn’t take it. I don’t know who I’d be without disability and there’s beauty in that.
  • Disability has taught me to be adaptive and resourceful. I have more empathy. More drive.
  • I am so proud to call myself disabled and I have cultivated a full life with it.

That is my truth.

It is not my only truth, though. In all honesty, I am exhausted. I am angry. This world is not made for anyone with disabilities in mind. Lately, I’ve been feeling the weight of my existence. Let me tell you more. It takes so much more every day to exist and function in society with any health condition. I work hard just to exist. The people around me have to do more if the environment isn’t accessible.

Disability is the one of the few marginalised groups anyone can be a part of, at any time in their life. 

For the first time, I brought my walker to a conference. It absolutely saved me. The walker is something I’ve had to struggle with my vanity to use. Even though it helps me out so much. My walker is a beautiful red colour, carries so much, and I walk better with it. Still, it’s a struggle to use what helps me so much. There is accessibility but it’s usually far and hard to find. Little things like doors make all the difference. Especially when the doors are heavy.

I love my walker. What does it say about society and accessibility when it actually takes more thought for me to use what helps me? This internal struggle is something I’m always at war with. One day, I aspire to use my walker every day with pride.

I have to remind myself every day. Yes it’s okay for me to take up space. I am worthy of that space. I have to give myself permission to be enough. I am always prepared to make that space if it doesn’t exist on its own. Spoiler alert, I often have to carve it out with my bare hands. Every time I step into a room, I have to set the standard. I have to be extraordinary.

With all that said, I am choosing to honor disability pride month by allowing myself to sit in the discomfort. I give myself permission to be enough and live well without guilt and matter what productivity the day may bring.

Friends, please remember your existence is enough and you are worthy of whatever space you may hold. ❤️


Navigating disability and rare medical conditions as an intercountry adoptee (webinar with Maddy Ullman)

Searching for my family in the Philippines

The following blog series will be dedicated to our Ricerca in adozione internazionale series. These individual stories are being shared from our Carta di prospettiva that was also shared with our Webinar, Searching in Intercountry Adoption by Adoptee Experts..

di Desiree 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? 

Coming Next: Searching for my family in Sri Lanka


Ricerca e Riunione nell'adozione internazionale

Alla ricerca della mia famiglia in Vietnam

The following blog series will be dedicated to our Ricerca in adozione internazionale series. These individual stories are being shared from our Carta di prospettiva that was also shared with our Webinar, Searching in Intercountry Adoption by Adoptee Experts.

di Huyen Friedlander, born in Vietnam, raised in the USA

On Sunday, I learned that my birthfather had died. I’m still sifting through how that feels, a unique kind of loss of a parent. Even though we reunited over 20 years ago, there was still a lot left unspoken, and maybe a lot that we didn’t know or understand about each other. We met in-person twice. The first time was shortly after 9/11. I had his contact information for almost a year, but I wasn’t ready to reach out. Knowing that he lived in New Jersey, so close to NYC where the towers fell, I felt a sense of urgency that I shouldn’t waste any more time. I called on a Friday night. I left a voicemail that my name was Huyen and that I thought he had been a friend of my family in Viet Nam. The next morning, he returned my call. 

In the first few seconds of our conversation, I said my name again, said who my birthmother was and said, “I think you may be my birthfather.” Immediately, without any hesitation, he said, “I think I am, too.” That was an enormous gift to me. No denial. No defensiveness. “I thought you and your mother had died.” 

He had been told by an army connection that my mother had died trying to make it to Thailand, and that I had died in the Babylift crash. He said he had wanted to marry my birthmother, but wasn’t allowed to because her family had originally been from the North. 

It felt so surreal to finally have this information, a little window into what had happened. Within a few weeks, I was headed to the East Coast with my adoptive father, my husband and my 17-month-old son in tow. I was about two months pregnant with my daughter at the time. My birthfather and his wife greeted us at a restaurant, with a hug and flowers in hand. After dinner, they were gracious and invited us home for cannoli and a chance to visit more. 

At the house, I was excited to meet my half-sister, who was also the mother of a young son. My birthfather brought out a photograph of me, probably at about 2 years old, a pristine copy of a tattered photo that my birthmother’s sister had held on to for 20 years in Viet Nam. We never did DNA testing; this picture that they had both saved was proof enough. My birthfather also gave me a gold cross that my birthmother had given to him before he left Viet Nam, to protect him on his way home. Similarly, when my birthmother took me to the Friends of the Children of Viet Nam in Saigon to relinquish me, she had put a St. Christopher’s medallion on a string and tied it tight around my neck, to protect me in my new life. Giving me the photograph and the cross felt generous and thoughtful. 

Over the next decade, we checked in periodically by letters or telephone. By the time we would meet in person again, I was widowed, a single mother of two young adolescent children. Having lost my husband, I again felt some urgency in making sure that my kids would meet their biological grandfather. And again, my birthfather was gracious in saying yes to my request. Our visit was sweet and the kids thought he and his wife were fun and kind. Before we left, my birthfather gifted us with an ornate serving set that he had brought back with him from Viet Nam. 

Following that visit, much of our communication happened through Facebook, with occasional comments on each other’s posts. Facebook allowed us to see aspects of each other’s lives in a very natural way. I got a tiny idea of his sense of humour, his love of fishing and model trains. Facebook also happens to be the primary way that I maintain contact with my birthmother; we FaceTime and she sees my posts and photographs.

I didn’t want to post anything about my birthfather’s death on Facebook until I had the opportunity to FaceTime my birthmother in Viet Nam to let her know. During that initial visit with my birthfather in 2001, he told my dad that my birthmother had been his first love. This was a gift to hear, even knowing the sad outcome for them, because in some way it validated my birthmother’s faith that he would come back for us. She waited for eight years. 

In my reunion video with my birthmother (five years before I found my birthfather), we are sitting at my grandparents’ dining room table. She is beaming at me, with an arm around me, and laughing, she says, “Beaucoup love made you! Yeah, beaucoup love made you.” When she looked at me, she saw him. She’d point to my features and say, “Same! Same!” It seemed to bring her joy, to see him in my face. 

I was nervous to call her tonight to tell her the news. I asked my dear friend Suzie to join the call to help translate. I spoke in English, “My birthfather has died. X died. I am so sorry.” And immediately, she let out a mournful cry. Even though my birthmother eventually married and had five more children—the foundation and joy of her life—my birthfather held a special place in her heart as her first love. For a year in their young lives, they had loved each other a lot. 

Suzie helped to translate the details that I’ve heard before. It was wartime. There was nothing they could do to be together. 50 years later, my birthfather’s passing is a loss to my birthmother. As a devout Catholic, she is praying for him now. There was a lot I didn’t know about my birthfather, and I would still like to know more, but I can also be at peace with what I know. 

For now, I’m staying grounded in the gratitude that I feel for having found him, gratitude that he recognised me, and gratitude for the opportunities that I had to connect with him and his family. I’m saying a prayer for his wife and family as they navigate this loss.

Coming Next: Searching for my family in South Korea


Ricerca e Riunione nell'adozione internazionale

Cerco la mia famiglia in Colombia

The following blog series will be dedicated to our Ricerca in adozione internazionale series. These individual stories are being shared from our Carta di prospettiva that was also shared with our Webinar, Searching in Intercountry Adoption by Adoptee Experts.

di 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 ferita primordiale by Nancy Verrier and Viaggio del Sé Adottato by Betty Jean Lifton to name a couple of outstanding examples. I am a regular listener to adoptee podcasts including Adozioni attivate with host Haley Radke and adattato 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 La scimmia di 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 Voci degli adottati internazionali. 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: Alla ricerca della mia famiglia in Cina


Ricerca e Riunione nell'adozione internazionale

Dolore in adozione

di Cosette Eisenhauer adottato dalla Cina negli Stati Uniti, co-fondatore di Navigare nell'adozione

Il dolore è un concetto strano. Mi aspetto di addolorare le persone che conosco, la famiglia e gli amici che sono morti. Quelle volte ha senso addolorarsi per la perdita di una persona cara. Li conosco e li ho amati. Sono in grado di addolorare una persona che ho incontrato, una persona che ha avuto un impatto sulla mia vita per un motivo o per l'altro. Le persone si addolorano anche quando ci sono eventi tragici, molte volte questo deriva dal conoscere i loro nomi e volti.

Il lutto per i miei genitori biologici e per la vita che avrei potuto avere in Cina è uno strano tipo di dolore. Persone in lutto che non ho mai incontrato e una vita che non ho mai avuto è un tipo di dolore confuso. Non c'è persona da guardare, non c'è nome che si associ al dolore. Poi c'è il dolore e l'intorpidimento quando si tratta di addolorarsi per informazioni che non conosco. Il dolore in generale come adottato all'estero è un concetto strano, è una parola strana.

C'è sempre stato un vuoto nel mio cuore per la mia famiglia biologica. Un mio sogno era quello di avere la mia famiglia biologica al mio matrimonio e man mano che il giorno si avvicina, diventa più reale la comprensione che probabilmente non realizzerò quel sogno. Il dolore è stato così reale, è stato sopraffatto. A volte il dolore che ho arriva e non mi rendo nemmeno conto che sia dolore fino a quando non sto lottando in quel momento. È lo stesso concetto di lutto per qualcuno che conosco personalmente, non c'è nome, né volto per queste persone. Non ho mai conosciuto la loro voce o il loro stile di vita. Sta addolorando qualcuno che non ho mai incontrato.

Ho imparato che va bene soffrire, sono un essere umano. Ogni singola persona ha perso qualcuno che conosce e ha attraversato il processo del lutto. Le persone soffrono in modi diversi. Non paragono il modo in cui soffro con il modo in cui qualcun altro soffre. Non c'è una tempistica su quando dovrei smettere di soffrire. Potrei pensare di aver finito, e poi ricomincia.

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La conferma che siamo nati come adottati

di Hollie McGinnis nato in Corea del Sud, adottato negli Stati Uniti, fondatore di Also Known As (AKA), Assistant Professor of Social Work presso la Virginia Commonwealth University

Come molti adottati, le uniche foto che avevo della mia nascita erano quelle di quando sono entrata in orfanotrofio intorno ai due anni che hanno convinto i miei genitori che sarei diventata loro figlia e le foto del mio arrivo negli Stati Uniti quando ero tre. E così, da bambino mi sono sentito caduto dal cielo su un Boeing 747, camminando, parlando e imparando a usare il vasino.

Nascere era straniero. Non avevo prove che mi stesse accadendo, nessuno che fosse il mio specchio per ricordarmelo, tranne quando mi sono guardato allo specchio e ho visto un volto che mi sembrava estraneo perché non corrispondeva ai volti di quelli che chiamavo la mia famiglia , guardando indietro.

È stato un lungo viaggio per conoscere ~ e accettare e amare ~ quel volto, questo corpo, che conteneva tutta la conoscenza della mia nascita. Il terreno della mia faccia lo porto da mia madre e mio padre e dai miei antenati in Corea. Eppure, le risate, le zampe di gallina, sono tutte impresse da una vita piena di amore dalla mia famiglia e dai miei amici in America.

Dopo aver incontrato per la prima volta la mia Umma, la mia mamma coreana, ha dato la foto sopra di me (a sinistra) da bambina che aveva portato con sé al mio papà adottivo, che era il direttore del mio orfanotrofio, che me l'ha inviata . Ricordo che io e mia madre Eva Marie McGinnis siamo rimasti scioccati nel vedermi da bambino con i miei capelli ricci! Anche a lei era stata negata ogni prova della mia infanzia.

Più tardi, quando ho rivisto la mia Umma, mi ha detto che l'aveva arricciato e mi aveva scattato questa foto. Rise di cuore per aver scattato la foto ed era chiaro che le riportava un ricordo felice. Ho cercato di immaginare il momento catturato in questa foto: la mia Umma che si prende il tempo per arricciare i capelli di un bambino (devo essermi dimenata per tutto il tempo!), i vestiti che ha scelto, trovando un posto dove mettermi in posa. Tutti i gesti sembravano così familiari, i ricordi di mia madre che mi aiutava a sistemarmi i capelli, a cercare un bel vestito, a trovare un posto dove posare (vedi la foto del ballo di fine anno sotto).

L'integrazione è un percorso verso l'interezza, eppure per così tanti adottati questo non è possibile perché non c'è l'opportunità di trovare la famiglia di nascita, nessuna foto, nessun ricordo che stimoli la mente a immaginare e dare un significato. E così ci resta un vago senso di sapere, ovviamente, giusto, ho una linea di sangue, sono nato. Ma ci rimangono solo i lineamenti invecchiati dei nostri volti e dei nostri corpi a testimonianza che siamo nati in questo mondo come il resto dell'umanità, ma ci viene impedito di avere informazioni veritiere al riguardo.

Quindi il mio augurio per il mio compleanno, è che tutte le persone adottate abbiano accesso alle informazioni sulle loro origini in modo che possano avere l'affermazione della loro nascita e umanità. E invito chiunque si senta disconnesso dalle proprie origini, a sapere che li porti nel tuo corpo. La tua capacità di guardarti allo specchio e vedere tua madre e tuo padre con l'amore, la compassione e la tenerezza che guarderesti nella foto di un bambino è la foto che hai sempre cercato.

Puoi connetterti a Hollee su Insta @hollee.mcginnis


Leggi la precedente partecipazione di Hollee all'ICAV dal 2014 in poi Identità

Altri articoli scritti da Hollee McGinnis

I pensieri di un adottato su Haaland vs Bracken

di Patrizio Amstrong adottato dalla Corea del Sud negli Stati Uniti, Adoptee Speaker, Podcaster e Community Facilitator, Co-Host of the Janchi Show, co-fondatore di Asiatici adottati dell'Indiana

Oggi la Corte Suprema esaminerà il caso di Haaland contro Bracken.

Cosa c'è in gioco?

Il Legge indiana sul benessere dei bambini (ICWA) e potenzialmente, altre protezioni federali per le tribù indigene.

Secondo il New York Times:

“La legge è stata redatta per rispondere a più di un secolo di bambini nativi allontanati con la forza dalle case tribali dagli assistenti sociali, mandati in collegi governativi e missionari e poi collocati in case cristiane bianche.

L'obiettivo del ricongiungimento della legge - collocare i bambini nativi nelle famiglie tribali - è stato a lungo un gold standard, secondo i brief firmati da più di due dozzine di organizzazioni di assistenza all'infanzia.

Costruire la connessione di un bambino nativo con la famiglia allargata, il patrimonio culturale e la comunità attraverso il collocamento tribale, hanno affermato, è inerente alla definizione di "migliore interesse del bambino" e un fattore stabilizzante critico quando il bambino esce o invecchia fuori dall'affidamento. "


I Brackeen stanno combattendo questa legge perché nel 2015 hanno allevato, poi adottato, un bambino navajo e loro, insieme ad altre famiglie, credono che dovrebbe essere più facile adottare bambini indigeni.

Lo afferma la difesa “la legge discrimina i bambini nativi americani così come le famiglie non native che vogliono adottarli perché determina gli alloggi in base alla razza”. 🫠🫠🫠

☝🏼 Non mi sfugge che questo caso venga discusso a novembre, che è sia il mese nazionale di sensibilizzazione sull'adozione sia il mese del patrimonio dei nativi americani.

✌🏼 Questo caso è maggiormente indicativo dei problemi sistemici che opprimono le comunità indigene e invalidano le esperienze degli adottati.

I bianchi che vogliono adottare devono capire questo semplice fatto:


Soprattutto un figlio della maggioranza globale.

⭐️ Affidarci o adottarci non ti rende automaticamente una brava persona.

⭐️ Affidarci o adottarci non ci “salva” da niente.

⭐️Credere di avere il diritto di adottare o affidare il figlio di chiunque è la definizione di privilegio.

Se i Brackeen e i loro co-querelanti hanno dedicato così tanto tempo, energia e impegno a sostenere le famiglie e le comunità indigene mentre cercano di ribaltare la legge costituzionale, chissà quante famiglie avrebbero potuto essere preservate?

A tal proposito, perché non stiamo lavorando attivamente per preservare le famiglie?

🧐 Questa è la domanda di questo mese: perché non la conservazione della famiglia?

Puoi seguire Patrick su Insta: @patrickintheworld o su LinkedIn @Patrick Armstrong


La Corte Suprema ascolta il caso che sfida chi può adottare bambini indigeni

Ascolta dal vivo: La Corte Suprema ascolta i casi sulla legge sull'adozione intesi a proteggere le famiglie dei nativi americani

Sfidare l'Indian Child Welfare Act

In che modo il caso SCOTUS di una coppia evangelica potrebbe influenzare i bambini nativi americani

La Corte Suprema deciderà il futuro dell'Indian Child Welfare Act

di Jena Martin articolo che esamina le differenze e le somiglianze tra l'ICWA e la Convenzione dell'Aia sull'adozione internazionale

Adottare Paura e Vulnerabilità

di Oleg Lougheed, adottato dalla Russia negli USA. Fondatore di Superare le probabilità.

Mi è mancata la mia famiglia natale.

Volevo rivederli.

Ma non era più possibile.

Invece, dovevo accontentarmi di ciò che era.

Il telefono.

Io, ascoltando la loro voce mentre viaggiava per migliaia di miglia attraverso l'Oceano Atlantico.

Una voce piena di elementi di paura e amore.

Loro, sentendo la mia voce.

La rassicurazione di essere vivo e che le cose stavano andando bene.

L'attesa tra le chiamate è stata dura da gestire.

Ogni chiamata ha suscitato molte emozioni.

Emozioni che non ero preparato ad affrontare.

Non mi è stato insegnato come stare con le mie emozioni mentre vivevo in Russia.

Una parte di me voleva provare qualcosa di nuovo.

Mi sono rivolto ai miei genitori adottivi.

Eppure, ogni volta che giravo le spalle e aprivo la bocca, si chiudeva immediatamente.

Sentivo che condividere quelle emozioni con loro li avrebbe fatti sentire meno o come se avessero fatto qualcosa di sbagliato.

Quindi, li ho tenuti per me.

Nascosto, profondità sotto la superficie.


Solo qualche tempo dopo ho potuto condividere quello che stavo passando.

La narrativa in cui credevo, facendo sentire i miei genitori meno o come se avessero fatto qualcosa di sbagliato, non mi serviva più.

Sono crollato mentre ero seduto nella mia camera da letto con la mia mamma adottiva al mio fianco.

Ripensandoci, ha giocato un ruolo enorme nell'aiutarmi a capire come provare e parlare di ciò che provavo.

La sua scelta di ascoltarmi mi ha fatto sentire al sicuro.

Le sue parole dopo che ho finito di condividere hanno fornito il conforto e la rassicurazione tanto necessari che andava bene per sentire come mi sentivo.

La sua curiosità per me e per me è diventata un trampolino di lancio per aiutarmi a sentire per gli anni a venire.

Per di più da Oleg, guarda il suo discorso su TedX, Superare le probabilità
Seguilo su Facebook, Instagram e LinkedIn @overcomingodds

L'adozione può essere una prigione psicologica

Come faccio a ricominciare?

La domanda risuona nella mia mente ogni giorno qui alle Hawaii, ora completamente lontana dalle relazioni della mia precedente vita adottiva.

Come faccio a vivere di nuovo come una sola persona in questo mondo?

Ho lasciato i miei legami di adozione che erano relazioni tecnicamente vincolate dal governo su cui non avevo alcun controllo da bambino orfano filippino intorno agli anni '80. Per me erano stati dei perfetti sconosciuti e non ho avuto alcuna supervisione o supporto nel post-adozione.

Col passare del tempo per me, non ho potuto avere la fortuna di conoscere la mia famiglia biologica poiché dopo la mia riunione nel 2012 nelle Filippine, ho deciso di andare per la mia strada una volta scoperte le nostre barriere linguistiche e la mia incapacità di confermare qualsiasi fatto su di loro.

Quindi sì, avanzo veloce ai tempi attuali ed è domenica, e ho rinunciato al legame dei miei legami adottivi per vari motivi, e non è stato facile ma per me era necessario.

Questa azione di pausa è stata mentale, emotivo e fisico. Sbattere verso il basso questa leva includeva prendere una distanza fisicamente strategica spostandomi molto, molto lontano da solo verso le isole del Pacifico nel 2019, ristabilire la doppia cittadinanza nel mio paese natale nelle Filippine nel 2021 e inviare civilmente un'e-mail scritta gentilmente al mio adottivo genitori quest'anno dopo che mio fratello adottivo è stridente e prematuro Morte.

Inoltre, i legami adottivi estesi che ho notato possono anche deteriorarsi naturalmente con il tempo stesso dopo anni di non comunicazione pacifica ma delicatamente intenzionale.

Cosa succede dopo che sei su questo percorso di annessione, ti chiedi?

Per me, sono arrivato a un incrocio interessante nella mia età adulta quando sono tornato a un precedente stato di orfanotrofio senza una vera posizione nella vita, senza legami, tutta la storia biologica, il patrimonio e lo stato economico sono di nuovo obsoleti.

Non suona così attraente, lo so! Parlamene.

Il vantaggio è che invece di essere una bambina vulnerabile, sono una donna di 36 anni vivere alle Hawaii. Ho dei diritti. Ho il controllo del mio benessere e del mio destino. Ho delle responsabilità. Guido la mia macchina, pago le bollette, ho i fondi; Ho un lavoro e non sono impotente.

Posso prendermi cura di me stesso. Quindi, per me, i vantaggi più grandi sono nell'essere in salute e nel rivendicare la mia vita, identità e sovranità necessarie sui miei bisogni e sul mio benessere.

Così rapidamente il legame adottato può trasformarsi in relazioni tossiche se i genitori sono narcisisti o emotivamente o fisicamente violenti.

Dopo la morte di mio fratello adottivo, che era anche lui un filippino americano adottato ed è morto per gravi problemi mentali e avvelenamento da alcol, ho avuto un chiaro risveglio di come queste relazioni con gli adottati stessero silenziosamente influenzando anche me.

E dovevo fare scelte migliori per me stesso, rischierei troppo se lo ignorassi.

È come uscire da una prigione psicologica, L'ho detto a Lynelle in un fine settimana di maggio.

Dopo qualche riflessione, mi sono reso conto che da bambino e dovendo creare attaccamenti strutturati dall'essere spostato, questo vincolo legale si consolida.

E come bambino sfollato e vulnerabile, penso che uno cada a conoscenza della co-dipendenza, il bisogno di una struttura familiare prevale anche sul bisogno di sicurezza per il proprio benessere, come se in questa casa domestica sorgano abusi.

Oppure altri aspetti potrebbero non nutrire l'adottato, come quando il bambino non viene nutrito culturalmente in base al paese di nascita.

Oppure quando i genitori oi familiari sono finanziariamente e socialmente accettabili per soddisfare i criteri di adozione, ma possiedono personalità narcisistiche che sono anche dannose per lo sviluppo personale, emotivo, psicologico e culturale del bambino.

Un bambino rimane incollato e psicologicamente devoto ai propri legami familiari attraverso le fasi di sviluppo e nell'età adulta passata perché il bisogno di attaccamenti fondamentali è fondamentale per la propria educazione psicologica e il successo.

E se questi legami sono in qualche modo negativi per l'adottato all'inizio, penso che queste relazioni che una volta erano salvatrici possano trasformarsi rapidamente in una prigione psicologica perché sei veramente legato a questi legami sociali finché non sei abbastanza forte da capire che hai una scelta.

E tu Potere rompere questo legame, questo legame stabilito dal governo, anche se forse in seguito da adulto. E, con una certa finezza.

Da adulto adottato, dalla mia esperienza i legami adottivi che si sviluppano in modo sano o disfunzionale, dopo un certo periodo di tempo entrambi i tipi passano alla permanenza in quello adottato. I legami adottivi si intrecciano e si fondono proprio come i legami biologici, una volta che hai passato così tanto tempo nel processo di sviluppo.

Questa relazione adottiva è assolutamente sorprendente quando è buona, come ogni buona relazione.

Il punto è che quando ci sono problemi che affliggono l'unità adottiva, che possono essere sottili, interagendo con la personalità e la cultura delle relazioni adottive, questi problemi possono essere completamente mascherati, non denunciati e possono essere tossici e gli affetti possono durare tutta la vita .

Per esperienza vedo che è perché il bambino adottato è vulnerabile e non sa come segnalare problemi nelle relazioni, perché l'opzione non gli è nemmeno concessa.

Nessuno è davvero lì per dare o dire al bambino adottato che ha questi diritti o opzioni. Quando si tratta di post-adozione, non c'è molta infrastruttura.

Purtroppo, se le dinamiche non supportano l'adottato, nel tempo può costare un adottato i legami culturali con il proprio paese di nascita o la perdita della propria lingua madre.

Può costare a un adottato la sanità mentale e la sanità mentale.

Può costare a un adottato la sua autostima, che tutto sanguina e ritorna nel mare sociale della sua collocazione o torna indietro in altri paesi.

E può costare la vita a un adottato.

Al rialzo, se il posizionamento è buono, può salvare anche la vita di una persona! E può permettere a questo adottato felicità e gioia per sempre.

Ogni lato della medaglia infonde entrambi il valore umano di un adottato e anche il pedaggio che il collocamento assume per ogni bambino che diventa adulto nella società è costoso, portando a un vantaggio esponenziale e al successo nella società, o potenziali burnout.

Per me, il mio collocamento adottivo alla fine è stato costoso. Tuttavia, ero ancora in grado di sopravvivere, lavorare e vivere. Per fortuna, mi sono preso cura di me materialmente.

Onestamente penso che molto sia stato dovuto alla mia stessa fede, immaginazione insolita e qualunque fortuna cieca con cui sono nato, tutto ciò mi ha portato attraverso questo.

Nel complesso, questo è stato un viaggio totale e il mio viaggio è stato molto lontano dall'incarnare la tradizionale storia di adozione da favola.

Quindi ora, è il momento di fare il duro lavoro, un mentore adottato oggi mi ha mandato un messaggio. Ma posso farcela, possiamo farcela tutti! Ci vogliono solo buone scelte e una manutenzione regolare.

Verso la fine di questo post, Condividerò con la mia comunità di adottati che abbiamo una scelta soprattutto una volta che saremo maggiorenni. Sono una specie di fiore di campo in generale, e una fioritura tardiva, quindi sto uscendo dalla nebbia e sto diventando consapevole ora che ho circa trentacinque anni.

Sì, abbiamo molto da crescere a seconda dello stato economico in cui ci troviamo senza i nostri legami di adozione. Ma come ha condiviso altri supporti tra pari adottati, non dovresti fare questo genere di cose da solo. Puoi avere strutture di supporto per tutto il tempo in questo.

E sì, è terrificante, perché dovrai ricostruire il tuo senso di identità quando lasci relazioni familiari tossiche. Come sì, può essere come ricostruire di nuovo la tua identità da quando la lasci e ricomincia da capo, come una persona sovrana che si è fatta da sé.

Da una scuola privata hawaiana in cui lavoro adesso, ho scoperto che la costruzione dell'identità culturale inizia nel presente e si basa su valori, storia, educazione e saggezza del passato. Ora che ho trovato una casa alle Hawaii, forse posso saperne di più.

Lavorerò anche su obiettivi settimanali che spero di condividere con la comunità mentre continuo in questo viaggio senza fine.

Insomma, se sei in una buona famiglia adottiva, Dio benedica la tua fortuna e ho tanto amore e felicità per te! Tuttavia, se hai bisogno di separarti dai legami, come se la tua adozione non fosse così salutare, sappi che non è impossibile.

Il supporto professionale e tra pari è qui per te, ogni giorno sulla tua strada verso la libertà. Puoi creare la tua sovranità, ci vorrà solo del lavoro.

Leggi il post precedente di Desiree su ICAV: Cosa ho perso quando sono stato adottato e seguila a Weebly o Instagram @starwoodletters.

America: hai reso difficile essere orgoglioso di essere asiatico-americano

by Mary Choi Robinson, adopted from South Korea to the USA

As I sit down to my laptop it is May 2, the second day of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Awareness Month and I reflect on Alice Wu’s The Half of It I watched last night to commemorate the first day of AAPI month. Watching the movie with my daughter, I thought how I wished it or something like it had been available when I was a teenager or even in my early twenties. To see an entire film focused on the life of a young Asian woman on the cusp of self-discovery and adulthood would have made me feel seen and a part of the fabric of American identity. So while this month is meant to showcase AAPI heritage I am not in fact proud to be Asian-American…yet.

I am sure my previous statement will elicit reactions from disbelief, to shock, to anger, and everything in between from varying groups of identities. So let me explain why I am not proud yet, how America made it nearly impossible for me to be proud, and how I’m gaining pride in my Asianness. As a Korean adoptee, raised by white parents in predominately-white areas, I have always navigated two racial worlds that often oppose each other and forever contradict my identity. The whiteness of my parents did not insulate or protect me from racism and in fact would even appear at home. When I first arrived to the US, my sister, my parent’s biological child, took me in as her show and tell for school with our parents’ blessing. Her all white classmates and teacher were fascinated with me and some even touched my “beautiful silky shiny jet black” hair, something that would continue into my early thirties until I realized I did non have to allow people to touch my hair. Although I start with this story, this is not a piece about being a transracial, transnational adoptee—that is for another day, maybe in November for National Adoption Awareness Month—but to illustrate how my Asian identity exists in America.

As I grew up, I rarely saw other Asians let alone interacted with them. Instead, I lived in a white world full of Barbie, blonde hair and blue eyes in movies, television shows, magazines, and classrooms. The rare times I did see Asians in person were once a year at the Chinese restaurant to celebrate my adoption day or exaggerated or exocticized caricatures in movies and tv shows. Think Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Long Duck Dong in Sixteen Candles, or Ling Ling the “exotic gem of the East” in Bewitched. Imagine instead an America where Wu’s film or To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before o Crazy Rich Asian o Fresh Off the Boat o Kim’s Convenience would have opened up for generations of Asian Americans. Rarely would I spot another Asian in the school halls. However, I could never form friendships with them, heavens no, they were real full Asians and society had taught me they were weird, ate strange smelly things, talked funny, and my inner adolescent warned me association with “them” would only make me more of an outsider, more Asian. In classrooms from K-12 and even in college, all eyes, often including the teacher, turned to me when anything about an Asian subject, regardless of whether it was about China, Vietnam, Korea, etc., as the expert to either verify or deny the material. I always dreaded when the material even had the mention of an Asian country or food or whatever and would immediately turn red-faced and hot while I rubbed my sweaty palms on my pant legs until the teacher moved on, hoping the entire time I would not be called on as an expert like so many times before.

My white family and white friends would lull me into a false sense of belonging and whiteness by association. That false sense of security would shatter when they so easily and spontaneously weaponized my Asianness against me with racial slurs during arguments. Of course, I was used to racist verbal attacks from complete strangers, I had grown up on a diet of it, but it especially pained me from friends and family. The intimacy of those relationships turned the racism into acts of betrayal. That was the blatant racism; the subtle subversive racism caused just as much damage to my sense of pride. As a young professional in my early twenties, a white colleague told me how beautiful I was “for an Asian girl.” A Latina student in one of my courses loudly and clearly stated, “The first day of class, I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to understand you and I’m so glad your English is so good!” And of course I regularly receive the always popular, “Where are you from? No, where are you really from?” Because Asian Americans, whether born here or not, are always seen as foreigners.

AAPI Awareness Month did not even become official until 1992. But anti-Asian sentiment in the US has a long history and was sealed in 1882 with the first national stance on anti-immigration that would be the catalyst for future immigration policies, better known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, coincidentally signed into law also in the month of May. In February 1942, the US rounded up and interned Japanese-Americans and Asian-Americans of non-Japanese decent after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Now in 2020 amidst the global lockdown of Covid-19, anti-Asian attacks, both verbal and physical, have increased to startling numbers. As recently as April 28, NBC News reported Over 30 percent of Americans have witnessed COVID-19 bias against Asians. Think about that—this is Americans reporting this not Asian Americans. The attacks have been worldwide but this report shows what Asian Americans are dealing with alongside the stress of the pandemic situation in the US. Keep in mind the attacks on Asian Americans are not just from white folks, indeed we’re fair game for everyone as evidenced by Jose Gomez’s attempt to murder an Asian American family including a two-year old child in Midland, Texas in March. Let that sink in—a two-year old child simply because they are Asian! Asians are being spat on, sprayed, e worse by every racial group.

To help combat this current wave of American anti-Asian sentiment, highly visible leader and former presidential candidate, Andrew Yang advised Asian Americans in a Washington Post op-ed to:

“…embrace and show our American-ness in ways we never have before. We need to step up, help our neighbors, donate gear, vote, wear red white and blue, volunteer, fund aid organizations, and do everything in our power to accelerate the end of this crisis. We should show without a shadow of a doubt that we are Americans who will do our part for our country in this time of need.”

My reaction to Mr. Yang’s response bordered on anger at the implication for Asian Americans to continue the perpetuation of the model minority myth. The danger of which, besides reinforcing divides between racial and minority groups, extols the virtue of suffer in silence. Do not make waves, keep your head down, be a “good” American. Sorry Mr. Yang, I am finally gaining pride in my Asianess and I cannot and will not stay silent any longer.

It has taken me my whole life to gain nuggets of pride in my Asian identity. Now I appreciate the color of my tan skin and dark almond-shaped eyes and no longer compare my physical beauty to white women and the standards society has forced on us all. For the first time I actually see myself, and all Asian women and men, as beautiful because of and not in spite of being Asian. I no longer avoid other Asians and cherish friendships with those who look like me. I love to explore the diversity of Asian cuisines, cultures, and traditions and continue to learn about them since, remember, “Asian” is diverse and not a monolith of just one culture. Now I speak up without fear of rejection or lack of acceptance when I witness anti-Asian or any racist behavior and use those moments as teaching opportunities whenever I can. I no longer resent not being able to pass as white. I am becoming proud to be Asian.

Read Mary’s earlier blog My Adoption Day Is An Anniversary of Loss

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