Söker efter min familj i Kina

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

förbi Shelley Rottenberg, born in China, raised in Canada, www.shelleyrottenberg.ca

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coming Next: Searching for my family in Vietnam


Search and Reunion in Intercountry Adoption

Söker efter min familj i Colombia

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

förbi 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 Primalsåret by Nancy Verrier and Journey of the Adopted Self by Betty Jean Lifton to name a couple of outstanding examples. I am a regular listener to adoptee podcasts including Adoptees On with host Haley Radke and Adapted with host Kaomi Lee among others. I have met many adoptees and I am lucky to live close to an adoptee organization called Also Known As, Inc. that hosts meet ups for transracial, intercountry adoptees. Wise adoptees and adoption professionals these days counsel adoptees who are engaged in reunion to set some boundaries that include having a third-party present during reunion meetings, not staying with first family right away, and pursuing therapy before, during, and after reunion. I did none of those things. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coming Next: Söker efter min familj i Kina


Search and Reunion in Intercountry Adoption

Mina känslor angående min första mamma

förbi Maria Diemar, född i Chile och adopterad till Sverige; Grundare av chileadoption.se

Har du någonsin försökt gå tillbaka (i dina tankar) och lyssna på dig själv, till vad du verkligen kände när du växte upp som adopterad?

När jag försöker gå tillbaka i tiden så inser jag att jag har så många känslor och tankar som jag aldrig vågat uttrycka. Jag bär fortfarande dessa känslor inom mig.

Som transracial, internationell adopterad som växte upp i Sverige under 1970-1980 känner jag att jag var en del av ett experiment. Barn från länder över hela världen placerades i svenska familjer och vi skulle vara som en "ren skiva", som om våra livshistorier började på flygplatsen i Sverige.

Min bakgrund var aldrig en hemlighet och jag fick läsa mina dokument från Chile. Men jag kände aldrig att jag kunde prata om mina känslor och tankar om min första mamma. Jag höll så mycket inom mig och blev aldrig ombedd att uttrycka något angående mina känslor eller tankar. Jag kunde inte förstå varför jag var i Sverige, varför jag inte var med min mamma och mitt folk i Chile. Jag kände mig så oönskad och inte älskad.

Jag skrev ett brev till min mamma som om jag var 7 år gammal. Jag vet inte varför jag gjorde det, men jag skrev brevet på spanska.

Jag rekommenderades att skriva brevet med min vänstra hand, även om jag är högerhänt.

kära mamma och pappa

förbi Jen Etherington, född som First Nations-kanadensare och adopterad till en australisk familj

Kära mamma och pappa,

Det har gått 34 år sedan du lämnade denna planet . Hur jag önskade hela mitt liv att jag kunde ha träffat dig. Jag är inte säker på när sista gången du träffade mig var. Jag är säker på att du inte trodde att det var sista gången du någonsin skulle få träffa mig. Jag vet att ni visste var jag hamnade. Jag vet att pappa kände min pappa som adopterade mig.

Kerry och Steve (mamma och pappa) är två av de mest fantastiska människor du någonsin kan träffa. De är, tror jag precis som ni, älskade av i stort sett alla de möter. Jag fick en lillebror av Kerry och Steve när jag var tre år gammal. Han heter Josh och vi kom så bra överens när vi var barn. Vi hade väldigt få slagsmål. Jag tycker om att tycka att det är en fantastisk kombination av våra personligheter och att den är uppfostrad av Kerry och Steve.

Du kommer att bli glad att veta att jag hade en fantastisk barndom. När jag var 7 fick vi en annan lillebror som hette Brody. BroBro och jag var mer lika eftersom vi båda är mer sociala och extroverta. Josh, Brody och jag kom väldigt bra överens. Kerry och Steve uppfostrade oss med stora värderingar. Vi uppfostrades och flyttade nära Theravadas meditationscenter på Australiens östkust. Jag träffade några underbarn där som jag anser vara kusiner. Jag tänkte att om jag blev adopterad fick jag adoptera min egen familj också.

Jag hade några svårigheter i barndomen, inklusive skoningslös mobbning för rasism samt objektifiering. Det var alltid av ett barn som heter "Johnno" oavsett vart jag gick . Jag hade turen att ha starka vänner runt mig som hjälpte mig att inte låta det förstöra min personlighet.

Vi växte upp med nästan varje semester med hela familjen eftersom det var viktigt för dem att ha mycket tid med familjen. Vi åkte på underbara semester och campade, bodde på husvagnsparker vid stranden, gick på milstolpeutställningar som expo 88 med familjen och bodde i ett härligt hus. Vi kom till Kanada för många helgdagar eftersom Steves mamma bodde i Victoria. Jag vet att Kerrys dröm för mig var att träffa dig när jag var redo. Jag vet att hon var knäckt när hon hörde nyheten om att du dog. Jag var förvirrad. Jag visste att jag var adopterad hela tiden eftersom jag såg annorlunda ut än Kerry, Steve, Josh och Brody. När jag fick frågan om jag ville gå på din begravning var jag 9 år och inte säker på hur jag skulle bearbeta det och ångrar nu att jag inte kom dit.

Jag hade en ganska bra skolupplevelse förutom mobbning och sexuella övergrepp. Jag får höra att jag är smart som pappa. Jag anstränger mig sällan för att använda intelligensen. Jag är inte säker på om det är självbevarelsedrift att inte sticka ut mer än jag gör.

Det var en tredje person som uppfostrade mig och hon var fantastisk. Hon var min faster, Nanette. Jag älskade henne så mycket och hon var en otrolig person. Redan innan nummerpresentation på telefoner visste jag alltid när hon ringde. Nanette gav mig också bort på mitt bröllop. Mitt bröllop var för 20 år sedan för två dagar sedan. Mannen jag gifte mig med var ingen trevlig person. Jag hade mycket övergrepp från honom. Vi separerade som tur var 10 år efter att vi träffades. Jag hade inga barn och jag hade terapi i 12 månader för det. Jag kämpade för att vara ok med om jag någonsin skulle få barn. Jag kan inte föreställa mig hur det var för dig att förlora mig och jag var så orolig att jag skulle återuppleva den upplevelsen och hur det var för dig.

Jag är inte säker på var min empati kommer ifrån men det är en välsignelse och en förbannelse. Jag fick två missfall och bara det andra hörde jag hjärtslag. Detta är en bild på mig igår på jobbet. De hade harmonisdag och de satte upp vår totem.

Jag har så mycket att jag ville fråga dig och berätta. Jag älskar dig mamma och pappa. Jag har en underbar familj nu – min mamma och pappa (Kerry och Steve), mina bröder, mina syskonbarn och min partner James. Min moster gick tyvärr bort men jag är så tacksam att jag fick tid med henne.

Läs Jens tidigare blogg: Pengar tar aldrig igen det jag har förlorat som First Nations-kanadensare


Första nationerna i Kanada

Över 200 stulna First Nations-barn hittades i kanadensisk omärkt grav

The Stolen Generations – Kanada och Australien: arvet efter assimilering

Kära Korea, om Mia*

*Name has been changed to protect identity

förbi kim thompson / 김종예 born in South Korea, adopted to the USA, Co-Founder of The Universal Asian

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

Artwork: Gone But Not Forgotten by Amelia Reimer

Dear Korea,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Intercountry Adoption and Suicide: A Scoping Review

International Conference for Verifying and Guaranteeing the Human Rights of Overseas Korean Adoptees (English – Korean translation, Research Overview of the largest study done on Korean intercountry adoptees)

Intercountry Adoptee Memorials

Research on Adoptees and Suicide

Adoptees and Suicide Risk

R U OK Day? – It’s time to talk about adoptees and attempted suicide

Att lära sig att sörja som ett barn

förbi Paul Brian Tovey, en brittisk inhemsk adopterad och begåvad artist, adopterad förespråkare, skapare av 2022 Global Anon Adoptee Survey

Jag fyllde i nyanserna av en annan linjebild igår av "Dogpache" som dansar med två Dogohawks och märkte senare inflammation som kom genom min kropp och armar ...

Jag gör flera upprepningar av bilder och de ger ofta en djup vandring av adopterade känslor .. I mitt fall är ett kärntrauma att misshandla och använda barn efter adoptionen ..

Långsamt ekar bildervandringen mina känslor och visar också nya vinklar och prismor som jag använder för att lösa smärta.. I min typ av terapi kan jag göra när som helst nu, eftersom jag är pensionerad, är jag tränad att tillåta känslorna att vara vad de vill bli.

Så mina armar gick upp i luften och in i klorna och då kom bilder på min födelsemamma in i mitt sinne..Jag kände mig som ett barn som kliade sig i ansiktet. Och det gjorde jag i mina "image-sfärer" och i luften .. Jag är ganska rationell, galen, och allt är bra .. Jag har ett välutvecklat kreativt sinne ..

Födelsemamma lämnade mig vid 3 och det kärnområdet är omgivet av senare missbruk av min kropp .. Hon kände personen hon lämnade mig med så långt tillbaka som 1940 när födelsemamma var 7 år .. Hur som helst, jag kände de smärtsamma känslorna, men ett annat prisma återvände av en fast mun .. Dämpade språk. Var säker … SÄG INGENTING……Tryck på att tala dock..

Äntligen bröt smärtan ut ur mitt yl-mun-barn-hål i lösande skrik som var som ett spökebarn som ylade efter mamma ... Det är bara ytterligare ett prisma i det massiva fragmenteringsfältet av tidig barndom som läker för mig .. Hur löser det sig. ? Genom att vara och bli sig själv .. Genom att äntligen tillåta vara, att vara inuti vara som sig själv .. Att sörja som det barnet delar ... Det är sanning fördröjt förvisso men kan terapeutiskt återupplevas ....

Gör det ont ? När det är i stadierna av inflammationer ja... Du slår vad om, för kroppen döljer en gammal "lögn" från det tidiga sinnet som ändå försökte skydda mig från fasan..Jag behöver inget skydd nu (stackars autohjärna) i själva verket behöver jag vara hela mig .. Hålls som mig av mig .. Det är allt ..

Nu är jag äntligen gammal nog att vara ung igen och känna saker från mitt olika förflutna eftersom jag har utvecklat en hjärna som kan hålla allt ..Det är en långsam väg tillbaka till känsla-anknytning och den formen av inre integritet. Jag noterar att det är nödvändigt att släppa ut sorgen av: "Vem borde ha varit där och inte var där" ...

Det är poängen med att reducera det otillfredsställda behovet (av mamma) till lösbar sorg och gråt..."Mammaeeeeee"... "Howlllll".. Jag har varit på en långsam väg mot att acceptera det som hände, men det som hände var under många år med smärta. .. Det är därför jag fortfarande blir vän med monster i konst och får dem att gråta och landskap också att yla ..

OWWWWWLLLL OWWWWOOOOOO…. Jag älskar tjut som befriar min tidiga primala själ som var kedjad till dissociativa känslomässiga fängelser..Jag har lärt mig att sörja som ett barn som stoppades från att sörja... Jag är här i mig själv ... jag har kommit .. Jag är hemma i min hud bättre och det är sorgligt på ett mer positivt sätt bara för att tragedi är ..  

Olivia Atkocaitis är inte bara en tabloidrubrik

förbi Maya Xian Hewitt, adopterad från Kina till Storbritannien.

Jag är säker på att de flesta som läser detta kommer att känna till och förstå "berättelsen" om Olivia Atkocaitis.
Jag är säker på att det har utlöst känslor och känslor som är för tunga och svåra att tänka på och bearbeta. Eller i andra människors medvetande, kanske det är alldeles för långt från deras verklighet och från deras erfarenheter av adoption för att ens överväga. Jag vet att när Lynelle frågade mig om den här artikeln hade jag verkligen inte den känslomässiga kapaciteten att sitta och tänka på det här, än mindre, skriva om det. Men jag insåg att hon inte bad om ett nyhetsreportage och rubrikerna, som tidigare nämnts, räcker för att förstå allvaret i vad Olivia gick igenom och det är inte bara en historia för henne, det är hennes liv. Som internationella adopterade blir den större bilden och uppmaningen att plattforma våra röster allt viktigare, för titta på vem som plattformar denna berättelse, titta på hur dessa "berättelser" rubriceras. Våra röster, våra upplevelser, våra berättelser, de förtjänar mer att vara än bara en del av en tabloidberättelse som kommer att sälja astronomiskt som ett en-hit-underverk. Och uppmärksamheten dessa berättelser får, de provocerar fram fel frågor, riktar upprördheten mot den mikroskopiska linsen av specificitet, som dessa tabloidartiklar har råd med.

Problemet med sensationalism inom journalistiken är att den inte bara brister i noggrannhet, precision och detaljer, den extrapolerar från en större bild, tar en berättelse från det bredare sammanhanget och får den att verka så långsökt att den nästan blir en ena. -hit förundran i form av en nyhet. Och ungefär som de artister som blev berömmelse med sin catchy låt, de är minnesvärda, de dyker upp ibland igen för luft och sedan blir de en hushållsanteckning om "var är de nu". Själva arten av adoption är transaktionell och jag har skrivit mycket om ämnet, men med varje journalist jag har stött på för att fråga mig om mina upplevelser, oavsett om det är min återkoppling till mitt födelseland, letande efter min biologiska familj, min erfarenheter som brittisk-kineser i Storbritannien, de har aldrig erbjudit ekonomisk kompensation för mitt känslomässiga arbete och de vill inte höra äktheten, de vill ha en nyhet. Och så jag bestämde mig 2018, ingen skulle skriva min berättelse åt mig, jag är perfekt kapabel att skriva min egen.

Uppmaningar till handling, uppmaningar till ilska, uppmaningar för att lyfta fram misslyckandena i adoptionssystemet, de räcker inte. Som internationella, transracial adopterade, finns det tillräckligt med innehåll för att bli uppmärksammad och hörd, men varför bry sig om att prata när ingen lyssnar. Lynelle har rätt, Olivia förtjänar sin plats i vårt samhälle, ett utrymme att förespråka, ett utrymme att rama in sin egen berättelse och jag tänker inte sitta här och rama in det för henne. Och jag tänker inte uppmana till handling, uppmana till ilska eller uppmana till förändring, det här är en uppmaning till empati. En uppmaning till dig att sitta här och lyssna på internationella, transracial adopterade. Problemet är att orden "adopterad" eller "adopterad" ensam redan konnoterar infantiliseringen av vuxna och folk pratar med oss som om vi inte vet vad som är bäst för oss. Eller orden "tur" eller "tacksamhet" kastas runt och vi får höra att "det kunde ha varit värre!" Hur kunde du driva tacksamhet på människor som Olivia, människor som Huxley Stauffer eller Devonte Hart? Hur kan du anta en fullständig bild utan att känna till någon av detaljerna? Och det är den makt som White Supremacy spelar vid adoption. Dessa system byggdes inte för människor som oss. Rubrikerna på Olivia Atkocaitis, Huxley Stauffer, Devonte Hart är målmedvetet sensationella och utformade för att utesluta alla verkliga detaljer eller verklig information, för vem kan du hålla ansvarig för de människor som faller mellan stolarna när läsaren har hamnat i kaos, upprördhet och brännande ilska?

Jag skulle kunna sitta här hela dagen och prata om systemets brister och bristerna med internationell adoption. Jag skulle kunna sitta och skapa kontroverser, precis som tabloiderna är gnistrande men det här är inte en uppmaning till upprördhet eller ilska, det här är en uppmaning till empati. Bakom nyheterna, bakom ilskan, bakom de trasiga systemen, finns det människor som Olivia som förtjänar bättre i sina liv och hur kan man ha medkänsla för människor om man reducerar dem till en nyhet? Hur kan du lyssna på någon när din inre monolog redan är inramad och berättad av tabloidernas sensationsförmåga och dra nytta av dessa upplevelser? De primära källorna finns där, de behöver bara höras, inte bara när vi är månadens smak för att något sensationellt har hänt. Representation handlar inte bara om att se våra ansikten på skärmen eller i utrymmen vi inte har haft råd med. Det handlar om att ta det utrymmet och återta det för oss själva; människor som Olivia behöver inte påverkas, de behöver inte överkompensation. De förtjänar en plats.


Kinesisk född kvinna stämmer adoptivföräldrar för att de påstås ha låst in henne i källaren, tvångsslaveri och rasistisk behandling

Kvinna anklagar adoptivföräldrar för att svälta, slå och låsa in henne i källarfängelsehålan som luktade mänskligt avfall

Kvinna, 19, stämmer adoptivföräldrar för att de "håller henne i en fängelsehåla och använder henne som slav

Olivia Atkocaitis – hålls mot sin vilja i 12+ år av adoptivföräldrar (video)

New Boston-polisen säger att de räddade en flicka som säger att hon var förslavad

Reagerar känsligt på rädslor för att bli övergivna

förbi Lyla M, Chinese adoptee raised in the USA

“What’s that key around your neck?” – I get that question as much as I get questioned about where I’m from.

I wear a golden key around my neck. I’ve been wearing it that way for ten years.

It says, “Togetherness is love, 10.02.62” on one side and “M. T.” on the other.

My mom, being a rebel, decided to skip school with a childhood best friend. They wandered the streets of New York City. They found the key. They tried to find the owner/place it went to. However, it had been thrown into the middle of street, so they were unsuccessful. My mom and best friend always thought it was a lover’s quarrel. Key thrown away in anger.

Fast forward to when my mom adopted me.

When I was little, I had a fear my parents would not come home to me after a date night.

My mom would say, “Take this golden key from this tower, keep it with you. We’ll be home when you’re sleeping and you can personally give it to me in the morning.” It gave me a sense of security. Like my mom and dad were with me and would return.

When I graduated high school, I had chosen to attend college out of state. As a gift, my mom had the golden key strung and gave it to me as a gift, as a promise to always be with me, that my mom and dad would always be there, at home, waiting for me to come home, key in hand (or around neck, to be precise).

A little story about a key shaped like a heart in honour of Valentine’s Day.

Ett privilegium, inte en rättighet

förbi Kamina Hall, en svart, transracial, sent upptäckt adopterad i USA

They say it’s their right, their right to create and own a life,
Interestingly enough, this is a perception as old as buying a wife.
Are we nothing more than cattle, to be traded and sold?
Or we are the light of the Universe, sent through her womb, more precious than gold?

Interesting the amount of studying and toiling that goes into obtaining degrees,
Yet, when forming life any and everyone is allowed to do as they please.
Change your mind, wrong color, or simply too young? 
With the swipe of a pen, that new soul changes hands, and their life comes undone.

I knew your heartbeat, your voice, your smell, all before I ever saw your face,
Though their arms might have attempted to replace you, no one ever took your place.
There was a dark empty yawning void in my soul I never knew existed,
Drugs, sex, alcohol, and self-sabotage; still the madness persisted.

Vi förklarar bestämt, du kan inte äga ett liv, och att skapa det är inte din rättighet,
Själen är helt enkelt i din vård, utlånad från universum, tills den kan utkämpa sin egen kamp.
Ta på allvar de konsekvenser och krusningar du släpper ner i livets damm när du skapar,
Barn vi är för bara ett ögonblick, vuxen ser oss med högar av traumasederande.

Du kan följa Kamina på hennes Youtube-kanal – Koachen Kamina
Läs Kaminas andra gästers inlägg på ICAV:
Healing som en transracial adopterad
Din sorg är din gåva

Din sorg är din gåva

förbi Kamina Hall, en svart, transracial, sent upptäckt adopterad i USA

Det handlade aldrig om dig, mitt kära söta barn, 
Din själ har alltid haft ett syfte, även om du har fruktat att den är förorenad.
Hon övergav dig, sorgen är giltig och ack så verklig,
Men det här är inte för evigt, det här är inte din evighet, känslor finns där för oss att känna.

Så sörj, kära själ, mitt syskon i kärlek och ljus,
Låt sorgen och smärtan skölja över dig, men vältra dig inte för länge i fel och rättigheter.
Behandla dina känslor som besökare, välkomna dem med öppna armar och ta hand om dem vänligt,
Ta sedan farväl av dem, tacka dem för att de kom och underkasta dig dem aldrig blint.

Se på din smärta, skada, sorg, ilska och rädsla,
Fråga dem vilka lektioner de har för dig, men vägra att låta dem blanda sig.
Din själ valde denna väg, just denna resa, för ett syfte,
Så titta på dina känslor med nyfikenhet, inte identitet, eftersom de bara existerar för att varna oss.

Allt du längtar efter bor inom dig just i denna sekund,
Du är inte ofullständig eller felaktig; så stå stark och vägra att känna dig hotad.
Familjen, mamman, kärleken outtalad,
Ingenting och ingen håller kärlek till dig som du blir, med vidöppna armar.

Så sörj vackra själ; sörja det som gick förlorat,
Kom ihåg att du valde denna väg, även om den kommer med den mest värdefulla kostnaden.
Du valde denna svåraste väg för att dela din kärlek, ditt ljus och din själ,
Du är här för att skina ditt ljus för räkningen och för att vara med och göra oss hela.

Du kan följa Kamina på hennes Youtube-kanal – Koachen Kamina