Sunday, March 29, 2015

American Adoption Congress Conference AAC - Part 2

Diverse Narratives in the Collective Adoptee Voice

Karen, Cathy, Angela, Rosita, Amira Rose, Amanda, Rebecca, Annette KassayeTrace, Jenn
Photo courtesy of: Light of Day Stories

Today, we're packing up our things and heading home to our little ones, our loved ones and our lives. Our responsibilities lie in wait - jobs, school, kids, spouses, households, commitments.

In the day to day, being a part of Lost Daughters is something that we squeeze in between all of these competing duties. Being a Lost Daughter is something that most of our families and friends don't really understand. It's a bit like a secret identity. Then again, as adoptees we know all about having a secret identity, don't we?

But, for a weekend, we were flying! Being a Lost Daughter was recognized at the conference, and we were welcomed with open arms. That people knew who we are was humbling. More than that, it was empowering. It meant that what we've been writing about has been connecting with readers. It means that adoptee voices matter. As Karen stated in the introduction of our presentation, "The only position we take on adoption is that adoptee voices make it better."

The title of our talk was, "Diverse Narratives in the Collective Adoptee Voice." The concept of the workshop was to bring the voice and feel of the Lost Daughter round-tables into a live setting. We talked about everything from how to respect differing views to how adoption is like the Matrix (don't worry, I'll get to that in another post).
Sitting side by side and talking with the other Lost Daughters was like doing one of our round tables. We all had plenty to say and I felt inspired by the others. But, what was also special for me, was getting to feel the audience react and respond to what was said. Feeling the connection not just between us on the panel, but among everyone there. They got it. We were connected.

In fact, if I had one complaint, is that there just wasn't enough time. I could've spent another whole hour just having back and forth with the audience. I wished there was more time to connect.

And then I remembered - there is. This is it. We get to have that same kind of connection every day on Lost Daughters. Yes, here we have to squeeze it in among our responsibilities - our job, our spouse, our school, our taxes (shoot - that's two weeks away! - never mind). And, when we're here, we're back to our secret identities, our time in Lost Daughters one role among many. But, we do get to steal away and, at the times we most need it, connect with our other Lost Daughters. All of us. Because you get it.

We are connected.


Cathy Heslin is a reunited adult adoptee of closed domestic adoption in New Jersey. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two boys. She met her birthmother when she was just 18 and moved out to Portland after graduating college to live with her birthmother. She has been in reunion with her birthmother for nearly 25 years, and with her birthfather for 15 and has a complicated extended family that includes all sides. 

She writes about adoption with a focus on long-term reunion. She has written a memoir in partnership with her birthmother called Kathleen-Cathleen where she and her birthmother write alternating chapters sharing their experience of reunion from both the perspective of the adoptee and the birthmother (not yet published). They also write parallel blogs on shared themes: Cathy's blog is Follow Cathy on Twitter @CathyHeslin.