I’m sure that most reading this will know and understand the “story”of Olivia Atkocaitis. I’m sure that it’s triggered emotions and feelings that are too heavy and difficult to think about and process. Or in other people’s minds, perhaps it’s far too removed from their reality and from their experiences in adoption to even consider. I know that when Lynelle asked me for this article, I really didn’t have the emotional capacity to sit and think about this, let alone, write about it. But I realised that she wasn’t asking for a news report and the headlines, as aforementioned, are enough to understand the gravity of what Olivia went through and it’s not just a story for her, it’s her life. As intercountry adoptees, the bigger picture and the call to platform our voices are ever more important, because look at who is platforming this narrative, look at how these “stories” are being headlined. Our voices, our experiences, our narratives, they deserve more to be than just part of a tabloid story that’s going to sell astronomically as a one-hit wonder. And the attention these stories get, they’re provoking the wrong questions, directing the outrage towards the microscopic lens of specificity, that these tabloid articles afford.
The issue with sensationalism in journalism is that it doesn’t just fall short on accuracy, precision and detail, it extrapolates from a larger picture, takes a story from the wider context and makes it seem so far-fetched that it becomes almost a one-hit wonder in terms of a news story. And much like those artists that rose to fame with their catchy tune, they’re memorable, they occasionally resurface for air and then they become a household note on “where are they now”. The very nature of adoption is transactional and I’ve written extensively on the subject, yet with every journalist I’ve come across to ask me about my experiences, whether it be my reconnection to my birth country, searching for my biological family, my experiences as British-Chinese in the United Kingdom, they’ve never offered financial compensation for my emotional labour and they don’t want to hear the authenticity, they want a news story. And so I decided in 2018, no-one was going to write my narrative for me, I’m perfectly capable of writing my own.
Calls to action, calls to anger, calls to highlight the failures of the adoption system, they’re not enough. As intercountry, transracial adoptees, there is enough content out there to be noticed and heard but why bother talking when no-one is listening. Lynelle is correct, Olivia deserves her place in our community, a space to advocate, a space to frame her own narrative and I’m not going to sit here and frame that for her. And I’m not going to call for action, call for anger or call for change, this is a call for empathy. A call for you to sit here and listen to intercountry, transracial adoptees. The issue is that the words ‘adoptee’ or ‘adopted’ alone already connotate the infantilisation of adults and people talk to us like we don’t know what’s best for us. Or the words ‘lucky’ or ‘gratitude’ get thrown around and we get told that “it could have been worse!” How could you push gratitude on people like Olivia, people like Huxley Stauffer or Devonte Hart? How can you assume a full picture without knowing any of the details? And that’s the power that White Supremacy plays in adoption. These systems weren’t built for people like us. The headlines of Olivia Atkocaitis, Huxley Stauffer, Devonte Hart are purposefully sensationalised and designed to exclude any real detail or any real information because who can you hold accountable for the people who fall through the cracks when the reader has descended into chaos, outrage and burning anger?
I could sit here all day and talk about the flaws of the system and the flaws of intercountry adoption. I could sit and bring about controversy, just like the tabloids are spark-noting but this isn’t a call to outrage or anger, this is a call to empathy. Behind the news stories, behind the anger, behind the broken systems, there are people like Olivia who deserve better in their lives and how can you have compassion for people if you reduce them down to a news story? How can you listen to someone when your inner monologue is already framed and narrated by the sensationalism of tabloids, profiting out of these experiences? The primary sources are there, they just need to be heard, not just when we’re the flavour of the month because something sensational has happened. Representation isn’t just about seeing our faces on screen or in spaces we haven’t been afforded. It’s about taking up that space and reclaiming it for ourselves; people like Olivia don’t need advocacy, they don’t need over-compensation. They deserve a place.
by Maars, taken from the Philippines to Canada. You can follow Maars @BlackSheepMaars
I have been researching my roots for the last 3.5 years. When I first started this journey, I had nothing but scribbled memories of moments that provided places and names. Mostly by things I’ve overheard growing up when my family would speak about me and my joining of their family. There were a lot of pieces of unconfirmed information, and most are assumptions and even made up.
I sat on the couch and wrote every bit of memory in my brain of what’s been said, what’s been mentioned, what’s been gossiped, what’s been screamed at me.
I had no real information to begin this journey, and even when I pleaded for information and called around asking questions. No-one was particularly keen on saying anything. It felt like a secret I wasn’t meant to discover. But I went ahead anyway, and the first year took a lot out of me, even mistaking a woman in America for my birth mother.
I had no real tangible expectation, direction, or any idea where this journey would end up. However, after finding my birth mother, I had but one goal. To piece together our little family, to heal my birth mother’s broken heart of having had to relinquish her first two children.
I wanted to find my biological full-brother, so that at the very least she can heal her guilt and her shame before leaving this lifetime. But I couldn’t do it. I was too late, I didn’t find him until 5 months after she passed.
Growing up as an only child, growing up feeling alone in the world, an alien to my own kind, my roots, my heritage, my ancestral tradition – everything I am made of, I would have but one person left on this planet, that shares the same wounds as me because of adoption. And yet, the trauma of adoption in our lives would eventually lead us to separate again, for the second time.
THERE’S SO MUCH LOSS IN ADOPTION!
I still try to work through my paternal side, hoping for anything, clues, but the inevitable is searching for someone/something you never even knew existed, is a feat to explore.
This year I will turn fifty. During seven years and four months of those fifty years, I have looked at adoption from another perspective than I did during my first forty-two years and here is something that I have spent the first hours of 2022 thinking.
When criticizing adoption, you often get to hear people contradicting you referring to other adoptees who do not share your critical view. “I have a friend who is adopted and she is just perfectly happy and thankful”. Well, so?
Another thing that often strikes me is that when it comes to adoption, being older and more experienced does not render you more respect. I don’t know how many times I have seen adult adoptees being pushed back by adoptive parents claiming that their ten-year-old adopted child has never experienced racism or felt rootless, etc..
For years, I was pro-adoption and I even participated in an adoption agency’s information (propaganda) meetings for prospective adoptive parents and social workers. I was never ever questioned and never asked to show statistics of other scientific sources to back up my claims. I was adopted then and I am just as adopted now. However, my words then were never subject for doubt whereas what I say today is always subject of scrutiny and quite often dismissed as sentimental BS. As opposed to what was truly sentimental BS…
Back then, I had not read any reports or seen any documentaries about adoption. I had hardly talked to other adoptees other than my sibling and the other adoptees on the panels at the adoption agency’s meetings. Sure, today one could accuse me for being a bit categorical, but why wasn’t I accused of that previously? And why are the words from my soon to be fifty-year-old self less trustworthy than those from my thirty-year-old self, or my fifteen-year-old self for that matter…
This is not only about trauma. For me, it is about political/ideological statements, it is about insights about privilege and colonial/patriarchal structures, of which I know far more today than I did ten years ago, let alone as a child.
I think it has to do with the way adoption is framed and cast. We, the adoptees are eternally children and as such equals to each other but not equals with adoptive parents, not even when you are decades older than the adoptive parent you are debating. Therefore, in the context of the adoption debate, I hate being labelled “adoptive child” and I don’t like having to refer to people who adopt as adoptive parents. In this context, I would prefer it if we were adoptees and adopters, but since I know what battles to pick, I do respect group rules in adoption forums. However, I do believe that language matters. Words paint pictures and these pictures affect the way a conversation is held.
by Kamina the Koach, transracial adoptee in the USA.
I am a domestic, transracial, late discovery adoptee born in 1979 just outside of Dallas, Texas in the USA. At 42, I identify as just another African American woman but I actually didn’t know I was black until I was 14 and even then, I only thought my mother had an affair, or at least that’s what I was told. I believed this lie because I wanted to believe my parents, until I found out, by accident, that I was adopted.
When I found out at 32 that I was indeed adopted, I was going through SO MUCH that I just could not bear to face this truth. I acknowledged it and suffered the ignorant comments people made about me being adopted, to include questions about why I hadn’t searched for my family. It all made me even more defensive. I’ve always had, what I determined to be, rage issues. That certainly didn’t help the matter, constantly being confronted with questions I couldn’t even answer for myself. Instead of facing this horrible new truth, I locked it away and left the USA for almost 10 years.
My adopted home was full of racism, chaos and confusion. I was homeless at 15 because my female adopter put me out. She called the police and they came and waited for me to pack my things and leave. I asked them where I was supposed to go. They said that they didn’t care but I couldn’t stay there because my frail white female adopter was afraid of her big black burden. The best thing that ever happened to me was getting out of that home, though it did prove to make life quite a bit more complex than it originally should have been. Up to this point, we had been fighting over a man almost 15 years my senior that she had been allowing me to see. Until I started to unearth all my trauma, I didn’t even realize that this too was abuse. Nonetheless, in the time she spent with him helping us sneak around to see each other, she fell in love with him. I will leave that first home right there but not before also mentioning that my female adopter’s biological son sexually abused me and when I finally had the courage to bring it up, I found out she knew. So yes, let’s leave them right there.
I had so much trauma in the works before I found out I was adopted that I had spent almost 10 years attending to those wounds before I could even consider the journey out of the fog. I looked to religion, even attending seminary to become a chaplain in the Army. The book “The Secret” began my spiritual transformation. While I am not religious at all anymore, I am quite deeply spiritual as that book set me on the path to study Quantum Physics and other ideas and theories that not only supported my soul but also didn’t go against science. I needed to make sense of it all.
In China, I found the book A New Earth by Ekhart Tolle and started to learn more about energy and discovered I could control my menstrual cramps by focusing on the energy I hold in my body. That led me to discover energy medicine and energy healing, from which I took my atunement to become a Reiki master. Living outside the white noise of the USA gave me an opportunity to explore myself in a way I never had before, and so I did. Meditation became easier and I started growing and changing as I continued to feed my mind with knowledge about my soul and the powerful energy that we all share that is inside us.
I became quite a devout Muslim while living in Saudi Arabia and I studied Buddhism quite a bit while living in Thailand and Myanmar. I was constantly seeking a way to fill up the hole in my heart where a family should have been. Religion didn’t do it. Science didn’t do it. And let’s be painfully direct and say that spirituality didn’t do it either. I desperately wanted to have kids of my own but that was yet another attempt to fill that hole.
I returned to the USA after almost 10 years of living and working abroad in eight different countries during the worst time in my life to be an American, March of 2020, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m an introvert and an empath, so being at home was great but the problem was I could literally FEEL all the pain of the country. At one point, I was curled under my office desk in tears shaking and crying. The loneliness finally broke me on my birthday, a bad day for many adoptees and I’m no exception. This was the second time I self-sabotaged on my birthday and almost succeeded in ending my life. I was supposed to go see a guy I liked and he went missing. Instead, I got up, got dressed and went out to get the attention I so desperately thought I needed. I was arrested for driving under the influence on my way to who knows where. I was so out of it that I didn’t even know I had driven all the way to another city before I was pulled over and arrested.
That was it for me. I began my reunion journey shortly thereafter. Wherever you go, there you are and I had been running from myself for far too long. In the 10 years I was abroad, groups have formed to assist domestic adoptees in searching for free, using only non identifying information and DNA results. I’m a research fanatic and that’s how I ended up making a turn down the adoptee rabbit hole. I had joined an adoptee group once before and left because I was overwhelmed. Same this time. I joined many groups and each time I would find myself out of place or wildly uncomfortable. Luckily though, not before I made two amazing adoptee friends who are also women of color and transracially adopted. I’m so very thankful for their presence in my life, but I still avoid groups for the most part. I hate discourse that ends up in bickering. The one group I continue to enjoy is one for adoptees who have cut ties with their adoptive families. I have not found another group where I felt this safe.
As I moved through my reunion journey, I continued to hear people say that I NEEDED a therapist. I couldn’t afford one at the time and didn’t have insurance to help. Instead, I joined a support group for adoptees of color. I didn’t fit in there either. It was decent the first session but after that, I began to feel like an outsider yet again. I began to ask for help more to see if anyone had any ideas and one of my new adoptee friends turned me to Joe, one of the very first adoptee psychotherapists to start to write about this. His website stated he offered help for free to those who are moving towards reunion. Nonetheless, after our first session, he started discussing money. He was also an older white male which made me uncomfortable and he attempted to overcompensate by telling me he had a a black girlfriend. It was very creepy and uncomfortable. Needless to say, that didn’t work out either.
After Joe, a former military friend pointed me to a military funded therapist. I was so thankful to find out she was also trained in EMDR. I knew about EMDR because a friend of mine died in another friend’s arms and an Army chaplain suggested I research it to help him process his trauma. However, she ended up being quite racist, calling me a reverse racist. After two sessions, she ended our relationship via a text that almost snapped my soul in two. I had started seeing a very sweet person I was in love with and I was certain that I wouldn’t be able to maintain the relationship or navigate reunion without help. It was like being broken up with, like death. Abandonment has always equalled death to me.
Those two failed attempts at therapy didn’t deter me from continuing my healing journey. Dr. Gabor Mate is one of my favourite trauma experts and he asserts that all of our mental hang ups are a product of trauma, including addictions. He also endorses psychedelics for healing, though that wasn’t the first time I had heard about this. The first time was probably when I was wondering to a friend about near-death-experience and they mentioned DMT, the manufactured version of the plant medicine ayahuasca. At this point I had read a book on how people are able to rewire their brains through following an intensive meditation modality, but that ayahuasca had been able to achieve the same results, often with only one dose. As I went further down the rabbit hole, I found the psychedelic groups on the social media platform ClubHouse, and that’s where I first turned my attention to psilocybin, the psychedelic chemical in magic mushrooms. I had never thought of them before but began to study them more closely. I found they have the same capabilities to rewire the brain and quieten the ego portion of the brain so I could look at my trauma for what it truly is.
When I moved to Arizona in July of 2021, I finally had access and began the search for the medicine (magic mushrooms) while still studying what people had to say about the process. Science has done plenty of studies but I wanted to hear what the natives had to say about it as well. Colonization has allowed white people to appropriate everything and make it seem as though it was their ideas, but these natural healing modalities have been around for 1000s of years. I wanted to hear what everyone had to say so that I could make the best decision for myself. ClubHouse offered that opportunity as well.
In the process of searching for magic mushrooms, I began to search for a therapist. My romantic relationship ended quite violently and I just couldn’t bear the idea of hurting anyone else with my hurts. I believe the concentrated positive energy of my adoptee friend, led me to my new therapist or at least aided in my search. Not only is she very aware of her whiteness and the privilege it yields her, she isn’t uncomfortable to talk about it. She’s also adoption informed, trained in brainspotting and psychedelics for healing. Brainspotting is even more effective than EMDR and requires less prep work. I found her using https://www.psychologytoday.com/us. I like this site because it allows me to search for therapists who accept my insurance, the modality I wanted, and the area of specialty. I always searched for adoption informed first, but would have accepted merely trauma informed. I’m happy I found the therapist I have now because she trusted my intuition about my own healing, even before I did.
At this point, I have done three sessions of psilocybin and 5 therapy sessions and I’m stunned at the breakthroughs and progress I’ve made. I love myself, probably for the first time in my life — truly love myself. I mourned what I lost when I lost my family and have developed deep compassion for myself. My biggest fears to date have been my rage and my issues developing boundaries. Guess what I’m now working on? That’s right, my rage and my boundaries. Why now? It’s amazing what you’re willing to do for someone you love, especially when that someone is yourself! It’s still scary but I know for sure that I’m worth the effort. Now, I’m actively using psilocybin on my own and using my therapist for integration after each ceremony.
I will wrap up by saying that we are all unique, even though we share adoption in common. Before you begin such a radical healing journey, please consider where you are spiritually and emotionally. Also, don’t take other people’s word for anything. Take everything with a grain of salt, even what I have written here. Though people may have a title like doctor or therapist, that doesn’t mean they know which healing path is best for YOU. Only YOU truly know that.
If you don’t have money for a therapist, which I understand wholeheartedly, there are so many resources online that will point you in the right direction and help to give you some insight into your struggles. Take plenty of time reflecting on yourself, your journey and where you want to go before you make any decisions. All the healing you need is already there inside of you. The trick is finding the key to unlock it.
One last thing, healing is a journey, not a destination. Though I am making huge leaps and bounds, I will always be walking down this road. You can’t rush it and you might even hurt yourself if you do. Have patience with yourself, though often easier said than done. Sending love and light to all who read this as you move along your healing path.
Recommended Resources for Healing with Psychedelics
I also recommend joining in on ClubHouse and the groups that discuss this topic. Specifically, there is a couple that I have joined who have been doing this for 14 years i.e., healing people with magic mushrooms. Their names are Tah and Kole. They are VERY knowledgeable.
I would be so bold to say that the vast majority of, if not all, adoptions are the selfish act of those wanting to, or having already adopted. The result of adoption leaves the adoptee in a perpetual state of dehumanisation. If we look at the word dehumanisation defined by the Oxford Dictionary, it means “the process of depriving a person or group of positive human qualities.” For the public and individuals who are not well versed in adoption, the adoption industrial complex, and its practices, this can be quite confusing and the representation of adoption and adoptees have, for the most part, been a glamorised sensational plot twist or form of character development. Yet, here lies one of the many ways adoptees, both on-screen and off, are dehumanised and portrayed as void of any critical thought or experience.
Adoption, as portrayed by social media and film, consistently shows adoptive parents (who are often white) as selfless philanthropic couples whose only intentions are to dote and shower love on a poor child (who are often BIPOC), ever pushing the narrative of white saviours. The consistent and inherent goodness and altruistic nature of whiteness by default shifts both power and racial dynamics in favour of whiteness and the dependent, in need of saving, is helpless without the all-powerful and knowing whiteness bestowed onto the child of colour. When these patterns of adoption become representative and up for societal consumption, it dehumanises the adoptee to be merely a puppet without inherent positive attributes on their own. Any potential is tied and associated to the people who adopted them, leaving the adoptee as a hollow shell used to narrow in the spotlight on the adoptive parents. Through film and TV, adoption is the stripping away of an adoptee (again, predominantly BIPOC), the illumination of adoptive parents (and, again, predominately white), how can society possibly see us as humans when we live in the shadows of those who adopted us? How can we be seen with inherent potential, with the successes of our ancestors running through our blood, and dreams reflecting our truest selves when we are constantly being shown that we are nothing without adoption? That we are nothing without whiteness?
In the continual film and TV portrayal of adoption and adoptees, adoptees are always pitted against one another. When you think of some of your favourite films or characters that are adoptees, who are they? Do they happen to be Loki, Frodo Baggins, Black Widow, Batman, The Joker, Lord Voldemort? The paradox of society’s fascination and indifference for orphans is destructive, the demand for adoptees (and thus, adoption) is binary and forces adoptees to fill the dual desire to save adoptees/orphans and villainize an adoptee/orphan. The loss of biological connection and identity loss is fantasised to create a more contextualised storyline. The need for adoption to contribute trauma and fantasy for character build-up is highly sought after. This is the double dehumanisation of adoptees through film and TV.
The danger with artificial and weak backstories is that it boxes adoptees and orphans into narrow forms and compounds the stigma and expectations surrounding our existence. This forced role of villain or hero does not provide a realistic experience of cohesively incorporating mountainous rage, burdening grief, exuding joy, and love. What Hollywood and the media project of “bad” or “good” adoptees/orphans limits and strips them of their individuality, autonomy, and humanness. The “damaged and broken” adoptee or “overcomer and hero” orphan are roles that are inaccurate and are a weak reality that is far from the nuanced life an adoptee/orphan lives that requires a burden too heavy to carry. Film and TV strips away our humanity and adoptees do not get the privilege to exist as ourselves. We are only for consumption and the limited space provided for us in the binary tropes romanticises our trauma, confines our capabilities, and diminishes us to fit a consumer’s palate. We never belong to ourselves. If we cannot have ownership over our own stories and lives, are we even able to be fully human?
In my experience, the greatest form of dehumanisation occurs for an adoptee within the church. Growing up in an all-white environment and heavily involved in a white church that preached white Christianity, I had to survive in an ecosystem of whiteness that demanded gratitude to the good white Christians who saved me from big, bad, heathen, communist China. I would find myself, more than once, being paraded around as a token of Christian and white goodness. Of how “the Lord works in miraculous ways” and gave lil ol’ me the “opportunity and privilege to be adopted by a Christian family in a Christian country where I learned about Christ.” What that told me loud and clear was that China was irredeemable unless under the power of the white Christian church or through adoption by whiteness. In other words, I did not possess inherent potential and positive traits without the white man liberating me and providing me access to success under the guidance of white Christianity.
The dehumanisation continued, as in my early years during conferences I would be brought in front of a congregation or made to stand onstage alongside my adoptive parents, and they would discuss how adoption was a beautiful gift that touched their life. Other times, youth leaders would openly discuss how my adoption is a metaphor for how Christians are “adopted” into the family of Christ. And how my adoption gave me a new father – we have a new father through Jesus! Different variations and versions of these scenarios have plagued my youth and further trivialised my existence into a metaphor that others could benefit from. Not once did anyone question if adoption was a gift to me, if being taken away from my homeland touched my life in a beautiful way or not, or being uprooted twice before the age of three with a group of white strangers benefited me or could replace a sense of family for me.
To have your story told through a white lens as a person of colour that protects the white man while diminishing your autonomy and the multifaceted complexities of your existence, is one of the most dehumanising grievances that can happen. Adoption through mainstream media and the church gave little room for me to feel human but instead made every space feel like an advertisement that others could project their value onto, for their own benefit. Winners have the privilege to write history or speak about it on stage. Losers, those who are not given the same chance to speak their own story, those who are bought…are dehumanised.
by Roula Maria stolen from Greece and adopted to an Australian family.
My name is Roula and I was born in Greece with my twin and sold separately on the black market in July 1981. I have only just found my twin in the recent years and hope to meet in person once COVID eases. This is my story.
About my parents
After migrating from Greece in the early 60’s they settled in a small country town outside of Adelaide, South Australia. There were other immigrants that also went to the same town after coming from Greece.
My parents were not able to have children after many attempts and eventually decided to make themselves known to a family who had adopted a little girl from Greece. It turns out that family did not actually adopt the little girl but purchased her from a doctor who was producing and selling gypsy children in an institute in the heart of Athens. They gave my mother the contact details for the midwife in Greece.
My parents made contact with the midwife in Greece and made an appointment to travel to Greece to speak to the doctor. Once they had arrived he told them that there were many babies available but they would need to wait. They agreed and travelled back to Australia.
About 6 months later, the phone rang with good news and they travelled to Greece within the week. My mother’s request was that she wanted a girl but at that time there were no girls available, so they remained in Greece until one was. She also wore a pillow under her belly to show she was pregnant – the lengths my parents went to was phenomenal.
Then I came along.
My dad went to the town of Korinthos to sign the paper work. On my birth record my mother who bought me was written as my birth mother, so authorities would not pick up on the falsified documents, then my dad went back to the hospital in Greece and I was given to him. They payed $6000 euro in 1981, the equivalent of around $200,000 dollars Australian back then.
They stayed in Greece for around 40 days as the culture states a child needs to be blessed around their 40th day of birth. They took me to the Australian Embassy and registered me as a citizen of Australia under parental authority.
Then the fear of being caught played on their minds. They knew from the time at the airport ’till the time the plane took off that they were in grave danger of being caught. Once onboard and the plane got into the air, my mother breathed for the first time.
I was flown to Australia on the 24 August 1981.
I grew up with two sides. I was the happy little girl who loved life and everything in it but I was also the little girl who was traumatised by intense sexual abuse and a victim to domestic violence. My childhood was filled with sadness and also happy family moments, it was as though I lived in a time warp between two worlds, the real and the hidden.
Even the Greek kids that I grew up with would tease me about being adopted and when I confronted my mother, she denied all allegations. It was a part of my everyday life growing up with my mother being untruthful about it all. It was not until my teens that a cousin confirmed the truth to me in a state of anger, as the behaviours that I was displaying where the behaviours of a survivor of abuse.
No one knew the turmoil and the hurt I was facing as typical Greek families do not discuss issues and are taught to bottle them up and never spoken about it, especially with the older generation.
It was not until I had reached year 7 at primary school that I finally spoke out about my life but even then, it was dismissed and ignored.
My family sold their land and moved me to Adelaide thinking that it would help me move on with my life, but from what psychologists and counsellors say to me, running is not an option. My parents thought they were doing the right thing but it led me to destructive teenage years filled with drugs, homelessness, violence, jails, and institutions.
If only people could have been able to help me but by then, I had been hurt and lied to, too many times to even want anyone’s help.
At the age 15 in 1996, I started my search, homeless and in the library trying to find information about black-market adoption from Greece. I came across 100’s of articles about selling of babies within the gypsy community in Greece. I was shocked and intrigued at the information available. I put up posts in forums stating that I was searching for my birth mother. I had no idea what I was writing but I tried everything.
For some reason though I knew I was on the right track, something inside me knew what I was doing and where I was searching was real and leading me to where I belonged.
After years of trauma from living on the streets and being a complete drug addict, in 2003, I went into rehab. I got clean and my life started to get better. I still had some very damaging behaviours but in 2010, I moved back to that small country town and found a great psychologist who is today still a large part of my healing and journey.
I ended up marrying a man from that town and we moved away due to work reasons, then in 2015, I had a child through IVF. My son has a great childhood but he has also had some life challenges. Compared to what I had, I’m thankful I was able to change the mistakes that many Greek families have today and we communicate!
Being a product of adoption and black market selling of babies is not an easy life. We children come from all different backgrounds with genetic disorders and family health systems. These need to be addressed and I disliked having to say to a doctor, “I don’t know, I am adopted,” whenever I was asked what my family health history is. I’m sure my feelings on this must be very common amongst adopted people . When a doctor knows you are not the biological product of the family you are in, more tests, more health records and more information should be assigned to the adoptee, to assist in finding out the health answers we deserve.
If it wasn’t for the technology of DNA testing, I would not have known my heritage or my health record. I am so glad I can now got to the doctors and say I genetically carry this, this, this, and this. It is extremely empowering.
With teachers and school counsellors, I believe adoptive parents need to take responsibility for ensuring information is provided to the school, disclosing that their child is adopted. There should be no judgment or repercussions in any way when parents disclose this. Teachers also need to be aware that the child may be facing or feeling empty from not knowing their identity nor understanding why they may be feeling this way.
These days in schools, there are mindfulness clinics, self-esteem talks, anti-bullying days, and wellbeing classes and they have a different curriculum compared to what I had in the 80’s. Adding a box to identify at enrolment whether adopted or not, should start from early childhood care, all the way through to university. All enrolments should ask us to identify if we are adopted or not. If the student does not know, then parents should be asked discreetly with confidentiality maintained, as some parents chose to wait until their child is old enough, to be told.
I suggest support resources such as social media, jumping in online forums where other adoptees share the same voice. I run 2 groups. One is called Greek Born Adoptees with 450 members and the other is called Greek Sold Gypsy children with 179 members. This group is for sold children and for the gypsy parents to assist them in finding each other. We use DNA testing to match the parents and the sold adoptees.
Thank you for your time and I hope that more people will come forward about their adoptions. I speak for the Greek born sold children of Greece and I know there are 1000’s of us. Here in Australia, there are around 70 who I would like to make contact with when they are ready because we have gypsy parents who are wanting to meet their children for the first time and have given their permission to be found.
by Mila Konomos, adopted from South Korea to the USA. Poet, artist, activist.
I have been processing the Aloneness of #MotherLoss a lot lately.
Intellectually, I know what self-talk to cultivate. I know I am not alone. I know that I have people in my life who care for me and value me.
But this aloneness is deeper than that.
This aloneness is the the aloneness of Mother Loss.
I feel so alone so often because I do not have a Mother.
I lost my First Mother at 5 days old.
I lost my Foster Mother at 6 months old.
I grew up with a Mother who could not see my trauma. Hence, she did not know how to love or comfort me through the loss, pain, and grief of my Adoptedness.
I feel alone because I was always alone in my pain and grief.
I feel alone because I have spent most of my life crying alone.
I feel alone because I have rarely known what it is to not be alone, not only physically but emotionally.
I feel so alone so often, because Mother Loss is a loss that remains for a lifetime.
There is no way to replace a Lost Mother.
No one else on earth can compensate for a Lost Mother.
Only One Mother bore me in her own body. Only One Mother’s heartbeat, breathing, and voice were what I heard for 9 months. Her scent, her face were as though my own.
I watched a documentary recently during which the narrator said, “Babies think they are a part of whomever they are within.”
This is profound in the context of Adoptees severed from our mothers as infants. We must have experienced separation from our mothers almost as though being ripped in two, torn away from ourselves. Split violently apart.
I have to allow myself to grieve this Mother Loss. It is eternal. Even 12 years post-reunion, Mother Loss remains. I can never get back the Mother I lost. I cannot retrieve the over three decades of my life that I was lost, compounded by the loss of language, culture, and geography.
There is a pain and loneliness that is hard to describe when you find what you had been looking for all of your life and yet it still slips through your fingers.
This pain of being so close yet still so far.
As though looking through a window but never actually getting to go in.
For more from Mila, follow her at her website, The Empress Han. Her newest poetry album Shrine is being released in May 2021.
by Sabina Söderlund-Myllyharju, adopted from Taiwan to Finland. Translation by Fiona Chow. Original post here in Swedish.
Recently my Facebook newsfeed has been flooded with important news items from places such as The Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden. The Netherlands has suspended all adoptions from abroad after an investigation revealed systematic abuses as well as illegal adoptions. A similar investigation has begun in Switzerland. In Sweden, adult adoptees from Chile along with those from other nations, are fighting for a nation-wide investigation to be implemented as soon as possible.
This build-up of steam in the adoption world started to stir up feelings inside of me. For a long time now, I have been observing strong opposition against adoption from adopted adults in the international circles I am involved in on social media. But to completely halt all adoptions? That sounded foreign to me. Many years ago, I thought likewise, but since then I have come to the realisation that such thinking is a little too radical. At least, not while there are children out there without parents.
The other night, I listened to a discussion in which a Swedish adoptive parent openly stood in the gap for the illegally adopted children who are now demanding Sweden to take responsibility. She supported them whole-heartedly, even though her engagement is likely to bring negative consequences into her own life. It warmed my heart that she as an adoptive parent is willing to do everything in her power so that her own children in the future would not need to question the adoption system in the same way as the stolen children of today.
My own adoption didn’t go as it should have, and this has been the source of a myriad of different emotions inside of me. These have ranged from the sadness of not having grown up with my biological family, to real anger over a system full of inadequacies. How is it even possible that I was transported from one continent to another with the help of falsified papers? That the offenders have now been tried and punished is of course just and right, but why was there never any attempt to re-unite me and dozens of other children with their original families?
At the same time, I have experienced huge feelings of guilt for even thinking this way, as I have had a good life here in Finland. Who am I really to complain? In fact, this isn’t a question of not being grateful. I am truly thankful for many things, not the least of which include my three children who are growing up in a fantastic country such as Finland. However, am I thankful that I was separated from my biological mother? Is it even possible for me to ever stop wondering why my identification documents were falsified at the time of adoption? Was I sold? Is this what my biological mother really wanted?
It has been many years since my own adoption and at that time, the arrangements were made privately, without the help of an adoption agency, nor the protection such an agency would have provided. I am happy that today’s Finland adoptions are regulated in a totally different way, so that we can be certain that things are done legally and correctly when we place children through international adoption. This is the way it is, isn’t it? Surely our focus is on what is best for the child, just as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) demands? Surely we choose to act without delay when suspicious activity arises on the adoption field?
My hope is that adoptees, adoptive parents and adopters can be assured that all those who work with adoption in Finland are, with good conscious, able to say that everything is working as it should. I sincerely hope that adoption agencies such as Interpedia, Save the Children and the City of Helsinki have been quiet for so long because they absolutely have nothing to hide.
At the same time, I can hardly be the only person who thinks that an independent state investigation is long overdue, even in a country such as Finland.
by Yolanda, a transracial adoptee (of Jamaican, black mixed with Chipawaue Indian origins) raised in the USA into a black American adoptive family.
I was adopted at seven months old and my adoptee story isn’t a good one.
Basically I grew up in a religious family full of mental, physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Because of that, I was taken away from my adopted mom and placed in the foster care system, where the mental and physical abuse continued.
Growing up was hard, I was always the black sheep of the family. Now that I’m older, my adoptive family act like I did something to them. They don’t accept me or my children. At family functions they won’t even speak to me or my kids. So I stopped going and cut them completely off, but it still hurts.
All I ever wanted was to be close to my family. But I guess I’ll never know what that feels like. Life sure does suck sometimes. I get sick and tired of not being accepted. I can’t seem to make sense of my life anymore. Why am I even here on earth? They tell me my life has purpose but I don’t see it.
My artwork above reflects how I’ve been broken. My music also helps provide me an outlet to express my journey.
This is the one time of year where I’m reminded I don’t have that childhood family with amazing memories and closeness. I’ve always yearned, as only some other adoptees can know, for that sense of family where I feel wanted, cherished, loved deeply. I know my family, like many others, are never perfect, but the older I get, the more I see my childhood in my adoptive family and can only remember the pain it created for me. Adoption is supposed to be happy isn’t it? It’s what gets portrayed. But I know I had spurts of moments of happiness in mine — it’s so hard to recall because as I grow older and relive it all again via children of my own, I realise the level of neglect and trauma my adoptive family caused, that could have been avoided.
How do I get past it? Should I? Or do I accept it will just always be … yes it hurts beneath the surface, oozing with pain every time I have to think about “adoptive family”. I’m old enough now to understand this pain is part of who I am. It’s not going away but I can hold and honour what I’ve had to do, to come past it —to be functional, stable, loving.
Healing doesn’t mean the pain stops and goes away. Healing means I’ve come to accept the truth. I no longer sit in it drowning or reacting. I’ve learned better ways to manage my emotions. I’ve learned how to have boundaries and not give past what I’m willing to. I’ve learned it’s ok to remain true to my own needs. I’ve learned to accept what can’t be changed but to change what I can. I can accept them as they are and know they’re not capable, even if they wanted. I have to give it to me, myself. Love, connection, acceptance, nurturing.
Xmas, like Thanksgiving for Americans, is a time where as an adoptee, I feel those sad feelings for what I might have had but didn’t. I know the reality of reunions is that even bio family, if I ever find them, will most likely never be able to meet my emotional need for “family” either. So, this Xmas, I will bring my children and husband close and treasure every moment I have with them for they are the only true family I will ever have! I am thankful I was able to heal enough to have a loving relationship and become a mother myself and give to my children what I never got. This has been my life’s blessing and will be my focus this Xmas!