Adottivi presso la Commissione speciale dell'Aia

Next week on 4-8 July, the 104 signatory countries of the Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption will gather online together at the Special Commission meeting to discuss Post Adoption e Illicit / Illegal Adoption matters. It is a significant event that happens usually every 5 years and this marks the first time there will be broad representation of intercountry adoptees attending as Observers. Historically since 2005, International Korean Adoptee Association (IKAA), the network representing Korean adoptee interests has been the only adoptee organisation to attend. In 2015, Brazil Baby Affair (BBA) was the second adoptee led organisation to attend with IKAA. Due to COVID, this current Special Commission meeting was postponed and over the past years, I can proudly say I have helped to spread the knowledge amongst adoptee led organisations of HOW to apply and encouraged lived experience organisations like KUMFA (the Korean mothers organisation) to represent themselves. This year, we proudly have 6 adoptee led organisations representing themselves and their communities. We have progressed!

Back in 2015, I wrote the blog titled Why is it Important to have Intercountry Adoptee Voices on this website. Many times over the years I have advocated about the importance of our voices being included at the highest levels of government discussions. So I say again, our voices are immensely important at these highest levels of adoption policy, practice and legislation discussions.

Some critics might say we change nothing in intercountry adoption by attending these meetings, however, I would like to suggest that merely seeing us represent our adult selves in numbers, helps governments and authorities realise a few key points:

  • We grow up! We don’t remain perpetual children.
  • We want to have a say in what happens to future children like ourselves.
  • We help keep them focused on “who” we really are! We are not nameless numbers and statistics. We are alive people with real feelings, thoughts and a myriad of experiences. Their decisions MATTER and impact us for life and our future generations!
  • We help them learn the lessons from the past to make things better for the future and remedy the historic wrongs.
  • We are the experts of our lived experience and they can leverage from our input to gain insights to do their roles better and improve the way vulnerable children are looked after.

One of the advantages of the framework of the Hague Convention, is that it creates opportunities like the upcoming Special Commission where adoptees can have visibility and access to the power structures and authorities who define and create intercountry adoption. Domestic adoptees lack this framework at a global scale and are disadvantaged in having opportunities that bring them together to access information and people which is important in advocacy work.

I’m really proud of our team of 8 who are representing ICAV at this year’s meeting. I have ensured we cover a range of adoptive and birth countries because it’s so important to have this diversity in experiences. Yes, there’s still room for improvement, but I’ve been limited by people’s availability and other commitments given we all do this work as volunteers. We are not paid as government or most NGO participants at this upcoming meeting. We get involved because we are passionate about trying to improve things for our communities! Equipping ourselves with knowledge on the power structures that define our experience is essential.

Huge thanks to these adoptees who are volunteering 4 days/nights of their time and effort to represent our global community!

  • Abby Forero Hilty (adopted to the USA, currently in Canada, born in Colombia; Author of Colombian adoptee anthology Decoding Our Origins, Co-founder of Colombian Raíces; ICAV International Representative)
  • Ama Asha Bolton (adopted to the USA, born in India, President of People for Ethical Adoption Reform PEAR; ICAV USA Representative)
  • Colin Cadier (adopted to France, born in Brazil, President of La Voix Des Adoptes LVDA)
  • Jeannie Glienna (adopted to the USA, born in the Philippines, Co-founder of Adotta Kwento Kwento)
  • Judith Alexis Augustine Craig (adopted to Canada, born in Haiti; Co-founder of Adult Adoptee Network Ontario)
  • Kayla Zheng (adopted to the USA, born in China; ICAV USA Representative)
  • Luda Merino (adopted to Spain, born in Russia)
  • Myself, Lynelle Long (adopted to Australia, born in Vietnam; Founder of ICAV)

We represent ourselves together with our adoptee colleagues who represent their own adoptee led organisations as Observers:

I’m not expecting great changes or monumental happenings at this upcoming meeting, but it’s the connections we make that matter whether that be between ourselves as adoptees and/or with the various government and NGO organisations represented. Change in this space takes decades but I hope for the small connections that grow over time that accumulate and become a positive influence.

The next few posts will be sharing some of the key messages some of our team put together in preparation for this Hague Special Commission meeting on Post Adoption Support and what the community via these leaders, wish to share. Stay tuned!

Perdonare e andare avanti

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

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

I know when my heart changed.

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

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

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

Ready to forgive it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that’ll be a whole new adventure.

Read Desiree’s previous blog: Adoption can be a Psychological Prison e seguila a Weebly o Instagram @starwoodletters.

Due motivi per rimanere in fiore

di Roxas-Chua, adottato dalle Filippine negli USA; autore, artista.

Per molte persone adottate l'adozione è traumatica. Non sono così lineare nella mia condivisione della storia perché non posso rimanere a lungo a respirare quell'atmosfera. Scelgo scrittura, calligrafia e arte per lavorare sulla mia storia. Poiché non ho avuto una buona nascita, mi piacerebbe avere la possibilità di avere una buona morte. Sono su un percorso che ricostruisce da forme mozzate e pezzi invisibili. È un percorso in cui costruisci dalle tue illuminazioni trovate. È un posto in cui sono un neonato, un ragazzo e un uomo che accadono tutti allo stesso tempo. Scrivere e fare arte non sono facili anche se sembra che lo sia. Ecco le verità raccontate in due astrazioni, due lividi quando i miei sensi proiettano una posizione del dolore all'interno del corpo. Non c'è bisogno di mettere in discussione le storie di persone adottate o abbandonate da bambini quando non si adattano alle narrazioni di benessere della società e dei media. Ti chiedo di ascoltare, vedere e sederti con me quando ti apro il mio corpo.

Ascoltando Piccole Cose di Ida – https://youtu.be/pmrsYPypQ

Vedi il blog precedente di Roxas-Chua: Se la luna potesse essere la mia madre natale adesso

Per di più da Roxas-Chua, guarda il loro podcast Caro qualcuno da qualche parte e prenota Dire il tuo nome tre volte sott'acqua.

Un Adottivo condivide la terapia EMDR

di Gabriela Paulsen, adopted from Romania to Denmark.

EMDR Therapy Changed My Life!

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy for me, involved the therapist moving 2 fingers in front of my head so the eyes are moving side to side, while I was thinking about a trauma event. The stimuli can also be something I hold in my hand which is vibrating or it can be tapping done by the therapist. The eye movements help the brain to take up the trauma and reprocess it again, so it does not disturb me in daily life. During the eye movements, I sometimes had different reactions such as crying or maybe some body sensations like getting hot or fast breathing because my body experiences the trauma event again. There can many kind of different reactions and the tricky part is that I had no idea how I would react until I tried it!

In my case, I wanted to work with a trauma I had from my time in Romania as an orphan, I think it was from the orphanage, but I am not completely sure as it could also be a memory from my time in hospital.

My trauma was a memory I only got when I was sleeping and when the trauma was about to occur it felt like I might pass out and loose control. In that moment I knew that I would relive the trauma event again. I experienced the nightmare quite often as a teenager. The last time it happened, was around 10 years ago, just before I turned 17-18 years old. The trauma event felt extremely real. I was very scared and after I woke up, I was completely paralysed with fear. I had always thought this was something real, so when my therapist recommended EMDR therapy for me, I said yes and we started to work with this trauma. I only have my nightmare to work from, so it was not much. I had absolutely no idea whether I would react or not and it was actually quite difficult to think about such an old memory during the eye movements!

Session 1
On my first session of EMDR, it took a while before I started to react. I started to sit as if paralysed, I could only look straight forward and talked more slowly because it felt like I was put into a hypnotic state of mind. I then started to remember more of the trauma and I starting to breath faster even though it felt like I was holding my breath. My body was definitely starting to prepare for the trauma event memories and I felt very alert.

After that session, my brain continued to work with the trauma, which is expected. I could feel it because I was very alert, I was scared of being in a dark room and of some gloves I had because they are a symbol of a hand. During a work day, there was a potentially dangerous situation of a woman who was very threatening towards one of my colleagues, who reacted with aggression. I got extremely tense because of that and I was breathing like hell because I was ready to fight. It was a huge and shocking reaction I had and I couldn’t talk properly because of my breathing, so I had to take 5 minutes break to calm myself.

Session 2
I had problems getting my mind to go back into the trauma so my therapist and I had a short break from the eye movements to relax and help me get back into it. After a while I started to react with the paralysed / hypnotic state of mind and quick breathing but within myself, it felt silent and it appears like I am not breathing. After a while, I wanted to move my arm but directly afterwards I regretted this because I immediately felt like I did something wrong. Later, I started to remember more, it was like a part of me was revisiting the traumatic event. It was very interesting to explore because I got new information about my trauma. After going deeper and deeper into the trauma my breathing got faster and faster and suddenly I felt like I was about to break down into tears. I continued for a few minutes more and then I stopped doing the eye movements because I got very sad, I was crying and then my breathing was changing to be very big and deep, from within my stomach. I could feel my bones in my back so much from the heavy breathing. During this, I experienced the most insane feelings inside of me whilst my tears were running freely.

I didn’t understand at the time what happened because my brain was in the present and yet my body was reliving the trauma I had experienced. It was very hard to feel the trauma again. I thought that I must have looked like a person getting raped or tortured. It was a completely insane experience and afterwards I felt very confused about what happened and I asked my therapist to explain it to me.

Afterwards, I was extremely tired and my whole body felt very heavy. My muscles in my arms felt like they had lifted something way too heavy! I was also very alert and the rest of the day and the next 3-4 days, I was in this stressful state of mind. I would feel suddenly deep sorrow and tiredness several times a day without knowing why. It was literally like something was hurting inside me several times a day and like something wanted to come out of my body but I was with family, so I worked very hard to not break down and at the same time, I felt like I couldn’t get the emotions out either. It was very confusing. I also started to not like high noises and I felt scared if there where many people too close around me, like when I was on public transport. I usually do not have such problems. I was still scared of darkness and sometimes I got scared without knowing why. One of the times I was scared I was thinking about the woman who had caused my trauma.

I felt like I didn’t want to sleep after I have my nightmare about my trauma, because I was so scared!

Session 3
After 3 weeks, I was going to do EMDR again and I was very nervous and exciting about what would happened. The night before therapy I had a very short nightmare again which had not happened for around 10 years! This time, it was like I was further in the trauma event as compared to in the past, I had only ever dreamed as if I was at the beginning. In the nightmare some people were about to do something that I definitely didn’t like and I was thinking “stop”, so the nightmare ended extremely short. It felt like a few seconds but it was enough for me to feel again how I actually felt during the trauma event from years past. The next day, I was very stressed and actually scared.

During EMDR therapy session after this, I felt like my eyes were working against me, not wanting to participate. So I talked with my therapist about how I had completely closed down because of the nightmare. I didn’t have huge reactions during that session nor the next 2 sessions. In the last EMDR session, I could nearly get the image of the trauma event in my mind and I no longer felt scared – it was as if the trauma no longer affected me as powerfully as before. Between the sessions, I have felt very bad mentally but one day, it was like gone completely and I felt much happier, more relaxed and not as chronically tense. I also stopped having problems sleeping in a dark room – in the past, a completely dark room signalled that the re-lived trauma would occur.

In the past and prior to doing EMDR therapy, I would get anxiety from the outside getting dark, or having many people around me and high noises. Now all of these things are no longer a problem so I feel like I can go on living as myself once again. My friends have also told me that I seem more relaxed and most importantly, I feel a huge difference in my life!

I can highly recommend EMDR therapy for adoptees especially when it comes to trauma that the body remembers. I feel like I have healed my body and let out a terrible experience. Before EMDR therapy, I didn’t understand that my body was reliving such huge trauma all the time and how much it was impacting me.

risorse

Trovare la giusta terapia da adottante

Screening for an adoption competent therapist

Il trauma inerente alla rinuncia e all'adozione

Abbiamo ancora molta strada da fare per raggiungere il grande pubblico ed educarlo sul trauma intrinseco e sulle perdite dovute alla rinuncia e all'adozione. Per aiutare con questo, sto cercando di connettermi in spazi che non sono specifici dell'adozione e condividere il nostro messaggio.

Ho recentemente inviato il nostro Video per professionisti a un'organizzazione Stella che fornisce cure mediche per il disturbo post traumatico da stress (PTSD) chiamato Blocco del ganglio stellato (SGB). Chissà, forse potrebbe essere efficace per alcuni adottati? Il nostro trauma da abbandono spesso non ha un linguaggio perché ci è successo da bambini piccoli o neonati, quindi sono costantemente alla ricerca di nuovi trattamenti o opzioni che possano aiutare a dare sollievo al campo minato emotivo in corso che vivono molti adottati. SGB lavora sulla premessa di smorzare la nostra risposta di lotta/fuga che risulta da un trauma in corso.

Il capo psicologo di Stella, La dottoressa Shauna Springer e il capo delle partnership, Valerie Groth, hanno entrambi chattato con me e guardato i nostri video. Fino ad allora, entrambi come clinici non avevano idea dei traumi inerenti alla rinuncia e all'adozione. Sono ispirati a unirsi a me per aiutare a educare il pubblico, quindi ecco la breve intervista al podcast di 30 minuti che hanno condotto per facilitare questo. Clicca sull'immagine per ascoltare il podcast.

Se conosci già i traumi inerenti all'adozione, nulla in questo sarà nuovo, ma se desideri un podcast che aiuti gli altri a capire dal punto di vista del primo studente, forse potresti considerare di condividerlo con loro.

Abbiamo anche il nostro elenco compilato di risorse come punto di partenza per chi è interessato a saperne di più sulla connessione tra trauma e adozione da esperti di tutto il mondo.

Cosa c'è in un nome?

di Stephanie Dong Hee Kim, adottato dalla Corea del Sud nei Paesi Bassi.

Un nome è solo "ma" un nome?

Il significato delle parole e del linguaggio è molto più di una raccolta di lettere, segni o suoni.

Parole e suoni hanno un significato, questi sono simboli, riflettono sentimenti e pensieri. Un nome esprime la tua identità: chi sei, da dove vieni e chi e dove appartieni (a)?

Domande che non hanno una risposta ovvia per molti adottati e per ogni persona che sta cercando entrambi o uno dei loro genitori naturali.

Sono stata concepita e cresciuta fino a diventare un essere umano nel grembo di mia madre coreana, come quarta figlia della famiglia Kim (김), ei miei genitori mi hanno chiamato Dong-Hee (동희) dopo la mia nascita.

Sono stato adottato da una famiglia olandese e ho avuto un nuovo nome e anche un nuovo cognome. Ultimamente, per me questo ha iniziato a sembrare come "sovrascrivere" la mia identità e non mi sento più senang per questo.

Mi vedo sempre più come una donna coreana cresciuta nei Paesi Bassi e di nazionalità olandese. La mia identità coreana è il mio background e costituisce una parte importante di ciò che sono, anche se non sono cresciuto in quella cultura.

C'è una leggera differenza tra come mi sento riguardo al mio nome e come mi sento per il mio cognome.

Sono grato che i miei genitori adottivi non mi abbiano mai portato via 동희 e abbiano appena aggiunto Stephanie in modo che la mia vita qui fosse più facile. Al giorno d'oggi è ancora più facile avere un nome occidentale, dal momento che la discriminazione non è scomparsa nel corso degli anni.

Sento sempre di più che la mia parentela e il mio background coreano sono dove voglio che il mio cognome si riferisca, sono orgoglioso di essere un membro della famiglia 김.

Sento meno legame con il cognome olandese, perché non condivido alcuna storia familiare culturale e biologica con questo nome e le persone che lo portano. Inoltre, non ci sono mai stati molti contatti o legami con nessuno di quei membri della famiglia, a parte il mio padre adottivo ei miei fratelli.

Ecco perché ho deciso di abituarmi a cosa vuol dire farmi conoscere con i miei nomi coreani, a cominciare dai social. Solo per sperimentare cosa mi fa, se mi fa sentire più me stesso e al suo posto.

Vorrei che le persone iniziassero a sentirsi a proprio agio nel chiamarmi con uno dei miei nomi. Penso che mi aiuterà a capire quali nomi mi ricordano di più chi sono veramente, mi fanno sentire a casa. Forse è uno di loro, forse sono entrambi. Sto bene con tutti i risultati.

È in qualche modo scomodo per me perché mi sembra di togliermi una giacca e con ciò sono un po' esposto e vulnerabile.

Ma va bene, dal momento che mi identifico con i miei nomi olandesi da più di 42 anni.

Questo è stato originariamente pubblicato su Instagram e redatto per la pubblicazione su ICAV.

risorse

Cosa c'è in un nome? Identità, rispetto, proprietà?

Il mio viaggio di adozione

di Anna Grundström, adottato dall'Indonesia alla Svezia.

Non molto tempo fa pensavo alla mia adozione non come un viaggio, ma una meta. Sono finito dove sono finito, ed era chiaro fin dall'inizio che non ci sarebbero mai state risposte al perché. Le mie domande sono passate in secondo piano e sono rimaste lì per anni, osservando una corsa a cui non mi legavo, i miei inizi.

Circa due anni fa, in qualche modo sono passato dal sedile posteriore al sedile del conducente e ho messo entrambe le mani sul volante. Anche se non c'erano ancora risposte alle mie domande, mi sono reso conto che potevo ancora farle.

Sono arrivato a capire che chiedere non significa sempre ottenere una risposta sbagliata o giusta, o addirittura una risposta, in cambio. Chiedere significa riconoscere me stesso, i miei pensieri e sentimenti. Dare il permesso di chiedersi ad alta voce, di essere sconvolti, arrabbiati e frustrati. Per riconoscere la perdita di cose, luoghi e persone. E a volte ci sono risposte, così sottili che quasi mi mancano: come notare come mi lamento quando il sole sorge per la prima volta al mattino, o come un particolare senso di desiderio mi pervade la schiena quando inalo un profumo casuale.

C'è qualcosa nel riconoscere la perdita del nostro passato come adottati, nominarlo, incarnarlo, anche se non sappiamo perché o come. Da qualche parte all'interno del nostro corpo lo sappiamo. Da qualche parte nel corpo è tutto ancora lì. Festeggiare, soffrire e accettare: fa tutto parte del mio viaggio di adozione.

Anna offre laboratori creativi e di movimento guidato per gli adottati: dai un'occhiata a lei sito web per vedere cosa sta succedendo!

Compleanni di adozione

di Maars, portato dalle Filippine al Canada. Puoi seguire Maars @BlackSheepMaars

I compleanni sono difficili per un adottato.

È un ricordo del giorno in cui mi è stata data la vita. È un promemoria di ciò che una madre e un padre potevano solo sognare per me.

Tuttavia, in adozione, quei sogni sono di breve durata e qualcun altro ne sogna uno nuovo per me, ma non è mai garantito. Non tutti i sogni portano la stessa intenzione e amore e questo è vero in molti modi per me che ho perso i miei genitori naturali.

Ma ora sogno per me stesso, e sono io che mi reclamo.

Mentre rifletto oggi, quali sono stati 34 anni, piango ancora quel bambino con quel sorriso, quanto non sapeva sarebbe stato davanti a lei. Quanta perdita e dolore avrebbe dovuto superare con il passare degli anni e la perdita di tutto ciò con cui era nata.

Avrei voluto salvarla. Avrei voluto salvarla da tutti i momenti dolorosi che avrebbe dovuto affrontare e avrei potuto tenerla stretta per ogni volta che si lamentava per i suoi genitori naturali. Vorrei poterle garantire che un giorno avrebbe ritrovato tutti i suoi pezzi e che sarebbe arrivato con un diverso tipo di dolore. Vorrei sapere come essere lì per lei.

Oggi auguro a lei e a me stesso che la piccola Maars e io continuiamo a curare le ferite a cui non ha più bisogno di aggrapparsi. Mi auguro che possa trovare pace e felicità nel presente.

Alcune cose non le supero mai, altre troveranno sempre il modo di emergere. Alcune cose guariranno nel tempo.

Buon compleanno piccola Maars, stiamo andando bene!

Dai un'occhiata a un recente blog di Maars: Tanta perdita nell'adozione

Sue-Yen Bylund sul razzismo

Il 3 aprile 2022, un gruppo di 19 adottati internazionali australiani ha partecipato a una consultazione dell'ICAV per la Commissione australiana per i diritti umani (AHRC) che hanno sviluppato un Carta concettuale per un Quadro nazionale contro il razzismo. Riteniamo che gli adottati internazionali/transrazziali siano sottorappresentati nelle discussioni razziali in quasi tutti i paesi adottivi e volevamo assicurarci di avere voce in capitolo. I prossimi blog saranno una selezione degli input degli adottati che hanno partecipato per dare una visione più sfumata della nostra esperienza vissuta di razzismo e dei nostri pensieri su ciò che deve essere fatto per sostenerci meglio.

di Sue-Yen Bylund, adopted from Vietnam to Australia, ICAV VIC Representative

Racism is here to stay. It is enmeshed in the very fabric of society, at every level. It manifests within us as individuals, at a systemic level pervading our policies and practices, reflected in our interpersonal behaviours and is accumulated and compounded in the base structures of our history, culture and ideology.

In order to mitigate the harm caused by racism we must be actively anti-racist. It is not enough to merely be “not racist”, as this, often results in a passive racism, which is as equally toxic as overt racism. Tolerance is a poor substitute for acceptance. Tolerance offers tokenism and indifference. Acceptance offers a place for all voices, a public validation as individuals and a genuine place at the table to self-determination.

Every person carries their racial biases differently. Acknowledgment of these biases on a personal individual level is important, however being open to listening, validating and accepting the experiences of others takes courage. 

My expectation within this forum, is to offer to an opportunity to broaden the discussion of anti-racism to embrace all forms and manifestations of racism within Australian society today. To offer encouragement to address the complex “grey” zones of racism. Through this broadening a more mature collective and inclusive voice will evolve, which I believe Australia is ready to share with the world.

The foundations of my identity lie amongst the chaos of war time Vietnam 1974. Within the first 3 weeks of my life, I experienced my initiation into the full audio and aromatic reality of war, surrounded by screaming and traumatised children and adults. Racial identity did not protect any of us from the horrors, what we all absorbed would remain forever with us as visceral burdens to tame. War and terror are the greatest levellers in stripping even the bravest to the very foundations of humanity. And then in one swift spin of the planet I would find myself a world away in the eerie quiet and calmness of Perth, Western Australia. This journey would also mark the beginning of a life’s self-education of racial fluidity. Being one heart and soul, but a chameleon of racial identities. Born of one culture, raised in another, looking as though I belong to one group, but in at my core, I belong to another, the duplicity and fluidity is complex and exhausting.

The need to feel safe, accepted, understood and validated seems to be a naturally human pursuit. As an intercountry adoptee the journey is complex and confusing. We slip into the cracks of racial stereotypes offering up apologetically a reason for inclusion or explanation for exclusion. Either way no matter where we are in our communities we are an anomaly. We are constantly offered up as a reminder that a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover and if you care to listen carefully, you will hear the simple request for safety and acceptance.

My childhood cultural identity was shaped through the lens of middle class suburban 1970’s Australia. It was fortunate that the primary school I went to attracted a good proportion of Asian immigrant families. This enabled me, at a young age to observe the “other” type of Asian. The Asian person who spoke the language, ate the food, complied with the Asian cultural norms, while they themselves were carving out the unique existence in post “White Australia Policy” era. It was clear to me from the very beginning that I was an “Asian variant”. I was to experience racial prejudice from all sides. My immediate family comprised of a white Australian adoptive mother, a white Dutch (first generation migrant) adoptive father and their two biological white sons. Straddling my home and school environments I began to acknowledge the fragmented racial identity which was uniquely mine.

I would learn to instinctively navigate the pros and cons of racial profiling expressed by adults and classmates. At times it afforded me a shield to hide behind, at other times it just bewildered me at how ignorant and entitled people could be. 

Teachers would regard me with the marginalising stereotype of female Asian student, this meant that no matter what I did, or didn’t do, I was considered polite, conscientious and studious. This enabled me to glide through my studies relatively smoothly. Where this backfired was when I would be herded together with all the Asian “look-a-likes” to be given special instructions in Chinese/Cambodian/Vietnamese. There were always a few of us that would simply shrug our shoulders, knowing it was too hard to explain to the teachers that English was in fact our only language. 

Classmate interactions were more complex. While they seemed to want to flex their insecurities through bullying behaviours, I suspect they would often leave these bullying interactions more confused and with increased insecurities about themselves. They would corner me and spit out racial slurs “Ching Chong!”, “Go back to where you came from!”, “Asians out!” with the standard accompanying slanted eye gesture. I learnt very early to lean into the bullying. To not turn away in shame or embarrassment, I summoned the  airs of entitlement I learnt from my white Australian family. It was an educational opportunity. I would not show weakness. So armed with a vocabulary not generally associated with a small Asian female of 11 years I would lean in and say with a perfect Aussie twang, “Get f***ed you immature ignorant bigot!” While they processed the response in stunned silence, I was already half down the hall or across the oval. When I think back to those times, I know in my heart I still hold a deep resentment toward those who racially vilified me. The fact I could still name those individuals today shows how deeply it affected me. I built a wall to protect myself, a tough persona that would later in life be softened with self-depreciating humour. 

Humour has become one of the most powerful tools for disarming awkwardness though it should be noted that humour can only be genuinely offered by me (the vilified) otherwise it can have the effect of adding insult or increasing alienation.

Australian society in general is getting better at navigating racially blended families. However, there have been times where an awkward visual double take or racial slur has been reconsidered once formal introductions have concluded. 

For example, my adoptive mother is the personified “white saviour” heroine and therefore in this narrative, I embody the role of a grateful saved soul. There is no place in this narrative version for reality and it only serves to perpetuate the stereotypes. This distilled classification of our relationship as an adoptive mother and daughter has resulted in a chasm of empathy where my experience of racial prejudice and marginalisation cannot be reconciled with my adoptive mother’s version of my lived experience. She cannot/will not acknowledge that I have/do experience any racial prejudice. It’s unfathomable and therefore remains a taboo subject between us. I would suggest a classic case of “colour blindness” which is the most common manifestation of passive racism. Let me strongly suggest that racial “colour blindness” is not a positive construct to build a relationship in. I don’t advocate for a monochrome world. It cancels out important conversations that need to be had to build empathy and understanding. It bypasses the integral act of individual and collective validation.

A typical interaction in a social setting with my white husband, would start with a few awkward glances while people assessed my proficiency in English. Once the conversation has warmed up a little, the question is always asked “How did you two meet each other?” At this point all newbies begin listening in the hope to hear some spectacular Tinder dating app story with me gaining Australian citizenship when we married. Sad to say the story takes an epic sad tone when it is revealed I was a baby from the Viet Nam war. The conversation moves very quickly from one set of stereotypes to another. The chameleon game is afoot. We have now moved into the Viet Nam war genre and to be honest the racial stereotypes are just as nauseating. As the conversation peters out, I am left with a very uncomfortable feeling that I might be the daughter of a B-Grade war romance story of a soldier and prostitute but on the positive side, I have ruled out that I am a “mail order bride” from Asia desperate to get my claws into a rich white “sugar daddy”. Either way, I always leave these gatherings feeling like I have shared way too much about myself, simply to justify my equal status at the table of white Australians. Needless to say, it’s exhausting and incredibly invasive. At times my inner evil chameleon just wants to re-enforce the stereotypes rather than use my life as an education case study. In the end I see curiosity is better than fear and putting examples forward and building knowledge is a slow continuous but necessary journey.

With regards to my children, I am conscious that they physically are racially ambiguous. They could have genetic origins from various backgrounds, but once I stand next to them then it becomes evident their dark features come from me and they are of Asian origins. My daughter has experienced racial slurs from having an Asian looking mother. It wasn’t until she spent her gap year in Viet Nam that she developed her own understanding of her origins. She has in fact spent more time in Viet Nam than me. 

School parent social groups are an interesting micro society and navigating them is a full-time job. In the private school my children attended I had two very distinct social groups that I interacted with. One was a group of Asian looking mothers where I felt like an honouree member. I learnt Asian cultural things and etiquette that I didn’t get elsewhere. I did a lot of listening. The other group were all Anglo-Saxon looking mothers and I was dubbed the “token” Asian (humorous chameleon!) These girlfriends understood how I saw the world. It’s in these situations that I reflect on the sophistication of my chameleon gift and in a positive moment reflect on the bridges I can construct between the groups just through listening and sharing.

There is a niche and powerful position that intercountry adoptees have in the conversation around racism and prejudice. It’s borne from the hybrid and fluid nature of our self-identities. We exist in the space between cultures and races. The triumphal story of our survival is in fact a narrative of weaving together of cultures, racial identity, tolerance and acceptance. Intercountry adoptees must reconcile the disparity between the physical and internal nature of racial identity, because at every turn we are challenging the stereotypes and presumptions. As an Asian in white Australia, we challenge the mainstream colonial stereotypes, as an Asian in Asia, we find ourselves challenging the long-held stereotypes in our birth culture. We belong to both yet neither wholly. 

If I was to consider the future of racism in context of Australia, I would continue to raise the challenge to government and individuals to embrace the complexity. Find the words, create the platforms, lead with optimism. Systemic racism embedded in the policies and practices by government and institutions needs to be constantly questioned and reviewed to ensure it leads in activating change. Structural racism that unpins mainstream think-tanks needs to be shaken loose. It is an uncomfortable and confronting task, but I believe Australia is mature enough to take this task on. Interpersonal racism is very difficult to navigate as an intercountry adoptee, but the freedom to express an alternate reality from the stereotypes is a good platform to build upon. Internalised racism is insipid and so very damaging. We want to move from passive tolerance to active validation of individuals. 

Ongoing political bi-partisan support for research and consultation is an essential investment to engage in effective societal change. A firm commitment to reviewing and evaluating key milestones is required for accountability and integrity.  Educational resources coupled with public awareness and youth engagement are core to developing a more mature future for all Australians.

For more from Sue-Yen, read her Riflessioni sull'ANZAC Day, her contribution to Cosa c'è in un nome? and advocacy with Green’s Senator meeting.

Risorsa

Read ICAVs small collation on Color blindness in Adoption

Gabbie Beckley sul razzismo

Il 3 aprile 2022, un gruppo di 19 adottati internazionali australiani ha partecipato a una consultazione dell'ICAV per la Commissione australiana per i diritti umani (AHRC) che hanno sviluppato un Carta concettuale per un Quadro nazionale contro il razzismo. Riteniamo che gli adottati internazionali/transrazziali siano sottorappresentati nelle discussioni razziali in quasi tutti i paesi adottivi e volevamo assicurarci di avere voce in capitolo. I prossimi blog saranno una selezione degli input degli adottati che hanno partecipato per dare una visione più sfumata della nostra esperienza vissuta di razzismo e dei nostri pensieri su ciò che deve essere fatto per sostenerci meglio.

di Gabbie Beckley, adottato dallo Sri Lanka in Australia, assistente sociale clinico.

Parlare contro il razzismo è responsabilità di tutti

Ho sperimentato molte e varie forme di razzismo nei miei 40 anni di vita, cammino e respiro in questo mondo. Mi ha colpito in così tanti modi, come faccio a scriverli tutti? Sono cresciuta navigando in questo mondo imbiancato come una donna orgogliosa di colore, tuttavia essere orgogliosa di chi sono e di ciò che sono diventata nella mia vita non si escludono a vicenda. Ci sono voluti molto duro lavoro, ricerca dell'anima e riflessione consapevole molte volte per diventare la persona più evoluta che sono fino ad oggi, e sono un costante lavoro in corso.

Ho molte storie familiari di razzismo, che ora possono essere viste per quello che erano, nel tempo, nel luogo e nel contesto generazionale dall'oratore, non un riflesso della mia famiglia nel suo insieme.

Uno dei primi ricordi che ho è che mi è stato detto che un membro della mia famiglia ha detto: "Nessun bambino nero porterà il mio nome!" Ma una volta che sono stato messo tra le braccia del mio familiare, tutte le cazzate razziste sono svanite e sono stato trattato come tutti gli altri. Crescendo, a mia volta ho avuto un grande amore e rispetto per questa persona, ho perdonato la loro ignoranza e mi sono concentrato sul nostro amore condiviso per il cricket e il footy!

Ho avuto esperienze durante gli anni della scuola primaria che posso ancora ricordare come se fosse ieri. Essere preso a calci negli stinchi per essermi opposto a me stesso, per essere entrato in alterchi fisici con bulli razzisti. Perché gli insegnanti mi dicono: "Mi vergogno di venire dal tuo stesso paese".

Sono stato chiamato con la parola N più volte di quante ne possa contare. Ho sperimentato razzismo palese, nascosto, intenzionale e non intenzionale per tutta la mia vita. Sono stato profilato razzialmente dalla polizia, sono stato seguito nei centri commerciali dalle guardie di sicurezza.

Ho lavorato in luoghi di lavoro in cui le persone mi hanno detto "da dove vieni" e che dire dei tuoi "veri genitori". Ho avuto persone che mi hanno detto: "Il tuo inglese è così buono per qualcuno che non è nato qui". Ho avuto un capo che non mi parlava per mesi a causa di qualcosa che percepiva che avevo fatto di sbagliato. Ma non era il caso, era solo uno stronzo razzista ed ero così felice di lasciare quel posto di lavoro ed entrare nel posto di lavoro dei miei sogni!

 Non mi sono state date opportunità per promuovere la mia carriera a causa degli atteggiamenti, dei risentimenti e della meschina gelosia delle persone, che in realtà si riducono al fatto che non vogliamo lavorare per una persona di colore.

Sono stato sottovalutato, licenziato, sottovalutato e non ho visto per tutta la mia vita, motivo per cui probabilmente sono attratto dal lavoro sociale e dalla lotta per i perdenti e dal tentativo di smantellare le disuguaglianze strutturali che rimangono così radicate nella nostra società.

Sono un combattente, sono un guerriero della giustizia sociale, credo fermamente nel potere di fare la differenza e un impatto positivo sulle azioni delle persone, credo nella gentilezza e nel dare alle persone un fair-go.

In che modo questo ha avuto un impatto su di me? Ebbene, mi considero una persona che pensa e riflette profondamente sulle mie azioni e decisioni. Ho avuto la conversazione "cosa fare se vieni fermato dalla polizia" con i miei figli, sulla scia degli omicidi ben pubblicati di George Floyd, Tamar Rice, Brianna Taylor, e per non dimenticare la tragica storia delle nostre prime nazioni le persone con il più alto tasso di carcerazione per i giovani e tutte le morti nere in custodia di cui nessuno è o è stato responsabile. Sono triste, sono arrabbiato, sono costernato dal fatto che questo sia lo stato attuale delle cose in cui io e i miei figli viviamo. Eppure ho speranza, speranza che possiamo costruire una comunità che porti al cambiamento, che lavori con simili... persone di mentalità che condividono la mia passione e guidano per un cambiamento positivo.

Le mie esperienze di razzismo hanno plasmato la persona che sono, il genitore che sono e l'assistente sociale che sono. Ha un impatto sui miei pensieri, azioni e azioni. Sono consapevole di come le persone mi vedono, rispettoso di fronte ai maiali razzisti e mi rifiuto di essere attratto al loro livello. Penso che abbia avuto un impatto sulla mia salute mentale quando ero più giovane, ha causato molti dubbi su me stesso e la ricerca del mio posto in questo mondo.

Penso che una delle mie grazie salvifiche sia stata la riconnessione con la mia famiglia e cultura d'origine. Conoscerli è conoscere me stesso! Ho passato gli ultimi 22 anni a conoscere, crescere e amare la mia famiglia e sono grato ogni giorno di trovarmi in una posizione unica in cui faccio parte di due mondi e posso sedermi comodamente in entrambi. 

Cosa suggerirei di fare per affrontare meglio il razzismo sperimentato dagli adottati internazionali/transrazziali?

Credo che l'adozione non debba essere la prima risorsa. Credo che tenere unita la famiglia nei loro paesi di nascita con il supporto tramite sponsorizzazione/istruzione/attività generatrici di reddito sarebbe vantaggioso per gli adottati in generale, ma in particolare in termini di salute mentale e connessione con le loro radici e culture. Se le adozioni devono avvenire, mantenere un rapporto con la famiglia è un imperativo! Ciò include genitori naturali, zie, zii, cugini, nonni e fratelli.

Ci deve essere una maggiore enfasi sui pensieri e sui sentimenti dell'adottante in relazione all'adozione di un bambino di colore. Immergiti nella loro storia e nelle loro esperienze, invitali a seguire corsi annuali sull'impatto del razzismo e su come essere un alleato/difensore dell'antirazzismo. Chiedi loro di guardare i loro circoli di amicizia, è diverso? Rappresenta un'ampia gamma di persone culturalmente appropriate, socioeconomiche e di genere diverso?

Penso che dovremmo provare collettivamente a condividere le nostre storie ed esperienze, nella speranza che da una grande conoscenza derivano grandi responsabilità – e questo è affare di tutti!

Per ulteriori informazioni su Gabbie, leggi il suo articolo condiviso anni fa e incluso nel nostro Ricerca pagina: Diritti umani e giustizia sociale nell'adozione internazionale

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