Featured Post

Adoption and Child Separation at the Border

On June 1, 2018 Rebekah Henson published an important thread on Twitter critiquing the hashtags #FamiliesBelongTogether and #Ke...

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Forgiveness Heals All Wounds

It seems I've been living my life incorrect, I cling on to past events and fear that history will repeat itself. People have told me several times that I need to stop living in the past or else I'll always consider myself a victim. I know I cannot change what's already happened-it was beyond my control. Yet I still seem unable to simply move on, time doesn't heal all wounds. The trauma that was done to me came at such a crucial time in my life that it still affects me as an adult.

source


A few years ago I went on a greif-counseling seminar and the person said we have to forgive ourself or ask for people to forgive us. Instead of seeing the events as independent or connected events focus on the relationships you have with other people even animals and inate objects.

This would mean I am more or less forced to forgive my maternal relative for what they did to me. I wish it would be the other way around. A part of me doesn't want to forgive this relative, especially not since my birthparents chose to cut all ties with this person. Their betrayal was to great. Maybe I will be able to eventually forgive this person. Forgiveness is one thing but forgetting is another the trauma I still suffer from is the cause of all my problems. They are of such a nature that it simply is impossible for me to just forget them the damage was to great...

Time does not heal all wounds and sometimes it's not possible to just forgive...

source


Once I managed that I should probably try to forgive my birthfather-for years I held him responsible for separating me from the rest of my birthfamily. Now I know he is without guilt just as my birthmother is, my birthmother didn't even know if the child she just gave birth to was alive or not. I believe I also need to forgive her for thinking she agreed to being separated from the child she had protected for nine months.

That only leaves my younger siblings, I used to blame my younger birth sibling for being born and in a way I held them responsible for separating me from the rest of my family. I am saddened that my separation meant I wouldn't get a chance to get to know them as their sister. I know I also should forgive the younger brother that my APs had- I used to somehow punish him for being the brother that I ultimately lost. I also used to compare myself to him which probably was unfare because we are total polar opposites he is social, funny and outgoing he excels in everything he does. He seems to have no difficulties to make friends or find a partner. He also makes good grades and was offered many different jobs. He is my succesful younger brother while I am everything he's not. Maybe I also think it is unfair that he has all the things he has while my younger birth sibling is forced to handle my birthparents expectations. I wish I just could be proud of him, of them both...




Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Woman's Worth

In Korea
A woman's worth
Is valued more
Once she marries
It doesn't have to be for love
After marriage 
The importance of her voice
Increases for every child she bares
It doesn't even have to be a son 
Yet she needs to have a son eventually
Or else she will be seen as a disgrace
To her husband and his family
But also her own parents
For unmarried women
It is recommended that they
That they don't have children
Children that are born in wedlock
While children is encouraged for a married woman
Children for an unmarried woman
Is still a major social stigma
Such a woman risk becoming ostracized
Isn't it ironic

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

#WeDie

This year has been marked by losses. As a community, we are reminded that we are fragile. In the month of May we lost JaneGabe and Phillip.

You see, adoptees die both figuratively and literally.



We die when we are separated from our original families. We die when we are taken from our home countries. We die when the smells of our cultures are snuffed out by hamburgers and fried potatoes.

We die when we realize that we are not truly a part of those we resemble. We are outliers. We never chose this for ourselves.

And yet, in the month of November, this institution that brought us to our new “homes” is celebrated and revered. In this celebration, our voices have died. In 2014, we tried to revive with the #FliptheScript on #NAM. We were successful to a certain degree.

However, since that time, we still see our fellow adoptees take their lives.

What if, we took this month to honor those we have lost as well as the parts of ourselves that we miss.

If you feel the urge to share on social media, tag it with #WeDie to remind us of our community of adoptees.

Feminist columnist, Rosita González is a transracial, Korean-American adoptee. She is married to a Brit and is a mother to two multiracial children. Rosita was adopted in 1968 at the age of one through Holt International. Her road has been speckled with Puerto Rican and Appalachian relatives and her multiracial sister, the natural child of her adoptive parents. While quite content with her role as a “Tennerican,” her curiosity has grown recently as her children explore their own ethnic identities. She considers herself a lost daughter, not only because of the loss of her birth family, but also because of the loss of her adoptive parents. After the death of her adoptive father, she discovered that he had fathered a Korean son two years before her birth; she is searching for him. Rosita recently returned from a five-month stint in Seoul, South Korea, with her family and their three cats. Follow her adventures as an adoptee on her blog, mothermade.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Filial Piety and Choices

source


Filial piety is still of significant importance in Asia but especially in Korea-at less I know. When I think of filial piety it's probobably no coincidence that my mind wonders to one of my older sisters', when my birthparents were busy with trying to provide for their groving family this sister took on the role of caring for the younger children. She would probably have taken care of me as well and helped to raise me-she seemed happy to look after them yet I think it had more to do with the fact that she had no choice. She was expected to that and as a filial daughter she agreed to it.

source


Not until 15 years later did she consider dating in the hopes of being someone's wife and future mother. The reason for that is that by now the youngest sibling had gone of to College. My sister eventually begun dating a fairly successful athlete-evidently he was promised a successful career in his chosen field but instead of going overseas he chose my sister and a future in Korea. Eventually birth father begun to contemplate that the end of his life was approching and he expressed that he wished my sister would give him a grandchild.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Perks of Being a [Haitian] Adoptee

The Perks of Being an Adoptee by Mae Claire is part memoir, part “how to" guide, and part humorous commentary on what it was like for the author growing up as a Haitian adoptee, adopted by missionaries living in the Dominican Republic. In each chapter Claire gives a “perk” of being an adoptee, often turning it around to explain the complexities of being adopted. The book doesn’t hold back and doesn’t try to make its reader comfortable with adoption, but through frank language and blunt descriptions, shows that adoptions is not always “unicorns and rainbows.”


Read the interview with author Mae Claire below:
Your book has a very "tongue in cheek" approach to adoption, and you often use sarcasm to make a point. For example, you wrote that one of the perks of being an adoptee is that you were handed a "white card" when you were adopted. For those who may not understand that term, can you describe what it means to get a "white card"?


Receiving a white card means there are certain things you are forgiven for because you are part of an elite club. Also, the reasons for which many transracially adopted kids get to do certain things is usually due to possessing this card. A situation in which having white parents made life easier for me really depends on the country you are being raised in. I was raised in the Dominican Republic, a country that carries a lot of history with Haiti. Having the white card allowed me to be somewhat secure from some of the discrimination.


Can you describe a situation in which having white parents made your life harder?


In the DR, having white parents also made people assume I was rich so I would often get ripped off at the local stores. A white male parent with a black child usually didn't equal a "loving" relationship, and it was assumed that my adoptive father had paid for me for the night-as a sexual partner.


The relationship between you and your parents (especially your adoptive mom) is the central theme to this book. You touched on the idea of adopted children showing gratitude towards their adoptive parents. You wrote, "I see thankfulness in so many ways. The way we raise our kids. The way we thrive after living with our adoptive families. The passion we have for others. The passion we have for our work." Now that you are a parent, do you see things differently?


My perception of my adoptive parents has changed since raising children. I better understand why they did certain things. As for gratitude, they still demand, require, and pine for it. They don't understand that we are already grateful. They still want proof, and yet, there is so much of it. The definition of how one gathers proof is different.


You also wrote that one of the perks of being an adoptee is the "wow  factor" that we all have. We all carry these unique stories and identities with us. Something that you struggled with growing up was feeling black with a white mask. Did you have a moment when you embraced your "blackness" or felt more comfortable with your black woman identity?


Embracing my blackness was difficult when I felt like I was an object, a gift, a prize. My color was celebrated when it meant that I supposedly didn't need sunblock, or I could wear any outfit. But going home to maid servants reminded me that that was what I would be good for someday. I do not believe as a child I ever embraced my "blackness" or was comfortable with my black woman identity. I lived in a country that was run by men and men who were lighter than me. As an adult, after becoming a professional, I learned to love my hair and my skin even though very few people did. I had to educate myself on who I was in order to begin to appreciate who I am.


Like you, many adoptees do not accept themselves until well into adulthood. What is one thing you want adoptees to know?


I want adoptees to know that there is a community of adoptees who get it. The chapter on empathy explains how much we get each other and how easy it is for us to reach out and be there for someone else. I want adoptees to know that they are really not alone in this adoption world. That there are so many of us just trying to figure it out and that we don't have to figure it out alone. I also want adoptees to know that it is ok to go through every phase of adoption. Currently I'm at the tongue and cheek phase, and it gives me joy to know that even the worst situations have a bit of light in them.


Besides writing, you also work in adoption consulting. Can you describe the kind of work that you do with your consulting?


I am a post adoption consultant and I work with adoptive parents who have questions or are struggling with their adopted children, young adults, and adults. I also speak with adult adoptees all around the world and help them access the proper resources as they are going through their adoption journey.


Besides The Perks of Being an Adoptee, what other books do you have available or in the works?


I have written 8 books and about 7 of them are adoption related. The newest book I wrote is a kids book in hardcover. It is called Dear____I'm Adopted. Dear_____I Know. This book was created to help young adoptees put words to their feelings. It is written in letter format and each letter targets a different audience.


Besides The Perks of Being an Adoptee, I have a few adoption resources for parents: Rainbows But Not Unicorns, Rainbows But Not Unicorns Workbook, and Multiple Intelligence Meets Adoption Healing.


I also have a teen book: P.S. I’m Eleven: Surviving Haiti’s Quake. The Spanish version is P.D. Tengo Once: Sobreviviendo el Terremoto en Haití.


I am currently working on a resource to be used in a classroom setting.


***


To find out more about Mae Claire, visit her blog https://solifegoeson.com,  her consulting website  http://noomaconsult.weebly.com, or follow her on twitter at @noomaconsulting. All of Mae Claire’s books can be found on Amazon, and the Dear ________ I’m Adopted book can be found on Lulu.com.

****

Mariette Williams (@mariettewrites) is a transracial adoptee born in Jeremie, Haiti. She was adopted at the age of three and grew up near Vancouver, B.C., Canada. She founded Haitian Adoptees, a Facebook group that serves to connect and offer support to other Haitian adoptees. In July of 2015, she reunited with her birth mother and several members of her birth family. She lives in South Florida with her husband and two children. In addition to being a Journalism and literature teacher, she is a published author and supporter of international adoption reform.

Friday, September 15, 2017

My Secret


I am what I am
Can't change what already happened
Refuse to accept what I've been through
All I can do
Is to learn to live with it
It's far from easy though
The truth is that I suffer from survivor's guilt
But also the constant inferiority complex
Never being good enough
For either of my parents
Considered a second best and last resort
My birth family wants me to be grateful
But they don't understand
What's it like
To be the only one
Relinquished for adoption
Never able to get to know
Your birth parents
Share a memory with birth sisters
Or create a new one with your younger birth sibling
Not even able to call them on the phone
Or write a simple short letter
I am the reject
The black sheep
No matter where I am
Part of me does not want to be alive
I have survived
But I don't know how to fully live my life


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

In Whose Best Interest?

source
Is it really true that interracial adoption always, always acts in the best interest of a child? I beg to differ. If that would be true I would like to believe that I wouldn't have been relinquished for adoption in the first place.

Pregnancy, childbearing and childbirth is not a basic human right and shouldn't be seen as one.

Recently, my friend was told that she probably would end up in constant problems with the authorities and social services if she decided to one day have a child.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Lessons in Whiteness: The Fragile Oppressor

It becomes increasingly difficult in the current sociopolitical environment to not feel acutely sentient of all that I have lost to Whiteness.

I read an article recently about Mike Vick criticizing Colin Kaepernick for his activism. Kaepernick happens to be a transracial, biracial adoptee, but nonetheless is perceived as Black. As a transracial adoptee, he was raised by White parents, and yet he has become an unapologetic activist for the rights of Black Americans and all people of color.

As I read the article, it dawned on me that I could relate to Kaepernick, not only as a transracial adoptee, but also as an activist--specifically, that my activism is in part a reclamation of my Asian identity and a reprehension of the Whiteness forced upon me.

As an Asian person adopted into White America, I spent the first 30+ years of my life erased by Whiteness. Drowned by Whiteness.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Found Daughter

My mother & I doing a Facebook Live event.
The woman who gave birth to me lives two miles down the road from my house. Ours is a fairly ordinary mother / adult daughter relationship. She is the one who picks up my kids when I can't do so, or checks in on the dog if I am out of town for the day. She helps me out with my direct sales business on occasion, and we get together for a movie or a meal when we can find the time. We don't see each other as often as we'd like because we both lead extremely busy lives, but we take comfort in knowing the other is nearby. All in all, our relationship is most remarkable in its unremarkableness.

Unremarkable, that is, except for the fact that we didn't see each other at all for the first 30 years of my life. We were separated on the day of my birth, and I was placed for adoption in another family.

I grew up happy yet broken. That may seem like a contradiction, but it isn't really. I grew up in a loving, stable family in a small town in a beautiful part of the country. I had friends. I did well enough in school and participated in extracurricular activities. I hit developmental milestones and seemed fine. But there was no acknowledgement that I had experienced profound loss. Not from others. Not from myself.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Official Apology & Clarification

I want to use this opportunity, to offer a sincere official apology, to first and foremost my fellow LD sisters. Second, I also apologize to readers, followers, associates, women, single mothers, the LBTQ community, and fellow adoptees. 

I did not want my post to be misinterpreted as it appears to have been. Occasionally the topic of same sex adoptions is brought up for official and political discussion. At the time I wrote (and published the original post) such debate was once again discussed in national media.

If anything my post, was meant as a societal reflection on the topic and not meant as a direct reflection of my personal opinion on said topic. I actually applaud every single mother out there, because parenting is never easy and once sexual orientation does not determine whether or not someone will be an ill-suited parent or not.

Believe it or not, but in terms of single adoptive parents I think there's a slight but not so insignificant difference. If you do, eventually end up raising your children as a single mother - then it is what it is. But when you consciously decide to pursue single parent adoption you already know you do so on your own. That and only that is the only difference - single mothers and single adoptive mothers either have to be very stubborn and determined or have a larger support network. It seems especially important if there is no present father figure , or for that matter a make role model around.  

Friday, July 14, 2017

Adoption Jokes and Adoptee Punchlines: Journalists Should Do Better

I get it. Adoption jokes are low-hanging fruit. They dangle within easy reach. Tempting. Requiring so little effort. Overripe and starting to rot, yet still solid enough that if thrown at flesh they'll sting and leave a bruise.

And adoptees? We're just such easy targets.

Some folks simply can't help themselves. They pluck that fruit, take aim and hurl it, then snicker a like grade-school boy who just used his armpit to imitate the sound of a bodily function.

Because adoption jokes are funny

Remember this one?


 



And this ?


Funny, right? Sure...in a "you throw like a girl" kind of way.

More recently, there was this exchange between New York Times writer, Sopan Deb, and White House correspondent James Oliphant:





The entire thread is notable not only for the original interaction, but for the overwhelmingly affirming responses. Angela Barra, Huffpost contributor and adult adoptee, countered the sentiments with her post, It's Not Okay to Mock Adopted People Even When Taunting Trump!, saying, "7.5k people liked Sopan Deb's tweet, and this evidences that many people think that this kind of casual disparaging humor is okay."


There is a mass lack of understanding of the varied and complex experiences of adoptees, so much so that being the butt of the joke, yet again, isn't too surprising. This isn't the first time adoption jokes have been addressed at Lost Daughters. We've been tackling this for years. Take for example this post from 2013this post from 2014, and this post from 2015. When adoptees say we're weary of repeatedly addressing the same issues, it's not hyperbole. 

Do Deb and Oliphant truly hold adopted people in such low esteem? Probably not. Oliphant's comment, while mean spirited, leaves me scratching my head and isn't worthy of further response. Deb's, however, has hooks. Taken to its logical conclusion, the idea expressed is that adopted sons and daughters aren't really sons and daughters at all. The actions of an adopted son would be inconsequential because he is, after all, only adopted. Here, the adoptee is condemned to an adoption no-man's-land, legally severed from biological family and relationally severed from legal family, all in fewer than 100 characters. Funny, funny stuff indeed.

It's tiresome to continually encounter derogatory remarks such as these, and especially disturbing to see them coming so publicly and unabashedly from members of the press. Professional journalists shouldn't need reminders to choose their words wisely, but when it comes to adoption, these two apparently do.


If members of the press wish to write about adoption, there is no dearth of issues for them to explore. Deportation of adult adoptees, adoptee rights, fraudulent practices, adoptee experiences of racism, adoptee abuse, and rehoming of adopted children are only a few topics worthy of journalistic endeavor. Start by learning from adoptees. Our blogs, podcasts, books, research, and professional papers are easily accessible. If you need help finding information, ask.

It's time to stop using adoption as an insult and adoptees as punchlines. We're not here for your entertainment, we're not less-than, we owe no defense of our own existence, and we're not ashamed.


Yep, some people are adopted.


And that's no joke.





Sunday, July 2, 2017

KAAN - Learning to Listen

Me, Grace, Rosita, Shaaren, Emily, and Susan sharing a moment
“Welcome to Pittsburgh,” the flight attendant cooed over the intercom. “If you’re visiting, I hope you enjoy your stay. For our other passengers, welcome home.” 

The once quiet cabin was suddenly filled with passengers getting out of their seats, stretching their stiff limbs, and rattling the overhead compartments in search of their luggage.

It had been 10 years since I had visited Pittsburg, and in more ways than one, a lot had changed since then.

The weekend marked the first time I would be sharing my story at an adoption conference. And I was a little nervous.

When Rosita asked me last summer if I’d be interested in sharing my experiences as part of a panel of transracial adoptees, I told her, yes of course. But as the weekend drew closer, I started wondered if I was going to feel out of place. I mean, it was called the “Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network” Conference. What was an adoptee from Haiti going to share? How I would I be received?

But despite my apprehension, over the course of the weekend, I was openly welcomed into the Korean adoptee community.  

On Friday afternoon, I was a part of a session called “The Global Diaspora.” With Rosita moderating, Grace, Shaaren and I shared what it was like to be adoptees from China, India, and Haiti. As Grace and Shaaren spoke, I found myself nodding my head throughout their segments.

Sharing with Rosita and Grace.                  Photo: Allen Majors

I listened as they each shared their struggles of identity growing up. All three of us talked about feeling more comfortable with ourselves when we moved away from home. Through college, different cities, and new friends, we shed our “adoption background story” and learned how to rebuild ourselves.

We talked about finding mirrors for ourselves through movies, our children, and connecting to adoptee communities online and in person. We also discussed our frustrations and successes in searching for our birth families.

There was so much that the three of us shared. Our histories, although separate, had some of the same threads woven throughout.

And as the weekend unfolded, I found that I had a lot in common with other adoptees too.

On Saturday morning, Rosita, Shaaren and I hosted a session on how being an adoptee influences our mothering. We had other adoptees sit in the inner circle, and for an hour we had a candid discussion. We cried about the obstacles that our children face - some of the same obstacles we endured growing up. We laughed about the craziness of pregnancy, and we connected over the desire to have children - to see our faces and features in someone else for the first time.

During our two sessions, I felt comfortable sharing. During the question and answer period of our sessions, people asked me questions. I talked. I explained. I described. And they listened.  

Listening and learning with Shaaren.        Photo: Allen Majors

But after Saturday morning’s session, I decided to stay quiet and become a listener again.
I listened to a panel discussion about Asian masculinity. I went to a session about navigating the sometimes complicated relationship with adoptive parents as an adult adoptee.

I attended a packed and very lively discussion about racism. The participants talked about white guilt, micro aggressions, and being an ally. There was so much to take in. So much to unpack. But I (tweeted) and listened.

Listening means holding back. Listening is humbling. It’s quiet. It means sometimes wanting to say something, but then turning the thoughts over in your mind. It’s taking notes. It’s honoring the voices that are so often silenced.

Sometimes listening is more powerful than talking. Listening says, “I see you. I give you this space. I want to learn.”

In every conversation that weekend, I saw myself. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t been born in Korea. I felt a sense of community among my fellow adoptees.

It’s a powerful feeling being surrounded by people who get you. Conversations are different. Sometimes you can skip the pleasantries and talk about the things that matter. There are some things that only transracial adoptees have experienced.

On Sunday afternoon, I boarded my flight to go back to South Florida. I was exhausted. But I also felt at peace. I had spent a weekend with a group of people, that regardless of where we were born, understood each other.

Another chirpy flight attendant came on the intercom. “If you were visiting Pittsburgh this weekend, I hope you enjoyed your stay.”

I looked out at the window, silently saying goodbye to the city, and smiled.

***


 Mariette Williams (@mariettewrites) is a transracial adoptee born in Jeremie, Haiti. She was adopted at the age of three and grew up near Vancouver, B.C., Canada. She founded Haitian Adoptees, a Facebook group that serves to connect and offer support to other Haitian adoptees. In July of 2015, she reunited with her birth mother and several members of her birth family. She lives in South Florida with her husband and two children. In addition to being a Journalism and literature teacher, she is a published author and supporter of international adoption reform.



Saturday, June 17, 2017

How to Help an Adoptee with an Unknown Father

If you were in Aurora, IL in 1965, I would like to speak with you.
This topic is very personal to me for many reasons, not least of which I fall into this category as well as anticipating another Father’s Day with no answers.  I found an article written by Adoptive Families Magazine that attempted to address this issue for adoptive parents; however, the article does not go far enough to point out a very obvious issue when it attempts to comfort parents that their child's feelings are more important than facts:  not having facts causes negative feelings. It also gives the parents permission to say, "I don't know." to their child.  Now, granted, if that is the truth, that is fine; however, just because you don't know, does not mean you shouldn't attempt to find out. 

Not having the answers to the basic building blocks of who we are as humans is painful.  It leaves a void that many times cannot be discussed but will be acted out in self-destructive ways. Because adopted people with unknown parentage walk around with this void from an early age, he/she may not realize that this particular void is not experienced by the non-adopted.  This void was something I could never discuss with my own family while still a child.  I found it nearly impossible to voice it even as a mature adult.  It runs that deep.


Now it may be true, an adopted child may not be asking  any questions to the adoptive parents  at “this age” about their birth parents.  That in itself is not evidence of a lack of needing to know.  When I realized that an adoption agency, Spence-Chapin, supports Adoptive Families magazine, the article made better sense to me.  The goal is to help adoptive parents; however it falls short of telling adoptive parents what they can specifically do to help their child besides validating his/her feelings (which is always a good thing).

The writer of this article makes it sound like you have plenty of time to deal with this issue claiming that many kids never ask until adolescence.  Again, the article fails to point out this:  if a child asks in adolescence,  he/she has likely been wondering secretly about it for years.  Yes, even if you directly ask them if they want any information and they deny it. Yes, even if they insist they “don’t care”. 

Instead of hoping and praying that your child is not negatively affected by the absence of any information about his/her father, here is a better plan:  assume an adoptee needs to know even if they never ask and be prepared to do some digging. The article does suggest going back to the agency, etc. to ask questions, but this is not enough to ensure you have answers. 

Remember that even if the adoptee says today they don’t want the information, later in life, when a significant event happens in their lives as adults, a shift may take place.  Events like marriage, birth of a child, death of a parent, divorce, etc. can trigger the adoptee to then begin asking simple questions such as, “Who else in this world looks like me?”  “Why was I given up?”  or “How am I going  to protect my child’s health when my own health history is missing?”

Here are some suggestions for an action plan when an adoptee has an unknown father:

1.  Always tell the truth.  Don't embellish a story to make it sound better.  Don't leave out important facts that you believe your child "can't handle". If there are special circumstances in the child's story that you fear he/she can't handle, seek out an adoption competent therapist. Lies and withholding information damages trust.

2.  Start EARLY. Each year that passes, the trail gets colder.

3.  Using your child's birth date, calculate your child's conception date.  There are free conception calculators on-line.  Write this date down.  I used this calculator.   Here is my result:
This is the weekend following St. Patrick's Day!
This date is very helpful to understand the story surrounding an adoptee's birth.  Where were the parents living at this point in time in their lives?  Where did they work?  In my own search, my conception story begins in Aurora, IL. (If you have ties to this area in 1965, I would like to speak to you!). Email me at stpatrickdaybaby1965@gmail.com.

4.   If possible, order your child’s original birth certificate before it is sealed and amended by the Court.  It is too late to order it from Vital Stats if the adoption is finalized as you will receive the amended copy with the adoptive parents' names.  State laws differ, but I recommend you ask your attorney to get a copy of it.  The father’s name may or may not be on there but this is a very important document to have in your possession.

5.  Keep every scrap of information that the agency, birth mother, social worker, court and attorney gives you.  Even pieces of information you deem insignificant should be kept. I was fortunate that my mother turned over all the court documents that the attorney had given my parents.  I learned in my late 30’s my mother's birth name by studying them, never realizing it had been there all along.

6.  Put your child’s DNA into Ancestry and trace her lineage yourselves. (They are having a 20% sale through Father's Day). Build a family tree and in time, you may be able to discover who the paternal birth family is.  Check with state laws and your attorney, but Ancestry DNA has over 4 million testers currently and is growing every day. 

7.  Contact the attorney who handled the adoption and ask him/her to make contact with the agency or the birth mother and ask questions.  Request copies of the files. (If you are an adoptee, you should always request your Non-ID from the agency who handled your adoption).  If you do not get any cooperation, do not give up. Authorities will many times block your access.  Remember that adoption is an industry and it wants to self-protect.

8.  If you know that the father’s name is in a file, request that it be released to you.  You are the paying clients and this information may become vital to your child some day.  Don’t take no for an answer.

9.   The paternal medical history can become life-saving if your child has a genetic disease that needs treatment and information to diagnose and treat.  I was fortunate to have been healthy growing up; but I know numerous adoptees who didn’t learn until adulthood they have genetic medical illnesses that run in their biological families, and suffered as a result.

10.   If you do have the names, it’s even better if you know some information about the birth parents and the details of why your child was relinquished.  I am not advocating stalking people, but knowing what state they live in, a somewhat recent address, a general idea of the “story” surrounding the relinquishment, awareness of whether the parents married, moved, worked in a particular industry, etc. can be important to your child. Life books are a nice way to organize this information.

If your child is internationally adopted, you will have more road blocks than a domestic adoptee.  However, get advice from adult international adoptees for more insight. Making a trip to the home country before the trail goes cold and incorporating the child’s culture are some tangible things you can do in the absence of any information about birth parents. 

Taking the 23 and Me DNA test would be my recommendation for an international adoptee because I have noticed that most of my international matches (my father is an alleged South American)  show up in 23 and Me.  Go here to read the recommendations of  The Legal Genealogist (an attorney who is also a genetic genealogist).   She advises an adoptee take every autosomal DNA test that you can afford to take.

I have done this myself.  I am in five databases currently (Ancestry, Family Tree DNA, 23 and Me, Gedmatch and My Heritage).  For help in maneuvering the DNA results, I recommend CeCe Moore’s DNA Detectives Facebook Group."

"No matter what the circumstances of the conception - half of that adoptee's DNA still comes from that unknown father. Too many dismiss the 'sperm donor' as never being involved, never caring - which is irrelevant as there will always be a living breathing reminder that 'half' of you is unknown." - Gaye Sherman Tannenbaum


Lynn Grubb is an Illinois adoptee, stepmother, biological mother and adoptive parent.  She is a contributing author to Lost Daughters, and to various adoption anthologies including the newly released It’s Not About You:  Understanding Adoptee Search, Reunion and Open AdoptionHer proudest accomplishment is creating and editing The Adoptee Survival Guide:  Adoptees Share Their Wisdom and Tools.
Besides writing, Lynn also enjoys singing with her church praise team and watching true crime shows, which sparked her interest in DNA and genetic genealogy. Four years ago, Lynn began blogging about her DNA discoveries at her blog, No Apologies for Being Me
Lynn is a volunteer co-facilitator of the Adoption Network Cleveland (Miami Valley) general discussion group in Dayton, Ohio and a board member of the Adoptee Rights Coalition which gives her an opportunity to educate legislators about equal access to original birth certificates.
Lynn lives with her family in Dayton, Ohio.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Why (Interracial Adoption) Still Exist

I know that there are many adult KADs that want to see Korean intercountry adoptions sease. And if it is absolutely neccesary it should be replaced by domestic adoptions.

Maybe that's delusional to try to strive for an ideal word, since the "demand" for orphan babies doesn't seem to end. The only thing that possibly would end intercountry adoptions would be if the South Korean government outlawed interracial adoptions.

After nearly 64 years the practice still remain, which is remarkable even if some social changes has been made to improve the legal rights and protection for single mother's in Korea.

As long as there will be affluent foreign APs willing to raise these orphan babies  it seems like there will be slow progress. International adoptees are not and should not be compared to imported and exported goods. Unfortunately it seems as if they still are and will continue to be seen in this  way.

Maybe that could explain why there seems to be so many different practices of actual deciet;


  • falsified birth records
  • altered birth dates
  • hidden records
  • switched children
  • matched with wrong birth family
It seems as if the South Korean government originally thought these poor orphans never would return. Maybe they use successful cases of reunited families as some sort of PR? Because if there were no success stories then it might seem as if few APs and adoption organizations might want to use that country as a supplier.



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Motherhood Unchartered Waters

It's taken me this long to come to terms with that much of what I believed to be true probably is not in terms of my adoption. Especially this statement about my reason for relinquishment.
The child was given up for adoption because birthparents already had several daughters to raise. Birthparents were struggling to make ends met and decided it was better to relinquish her while they still would be able to raise a son. 
The truth is that my gender would not have influenced or changed the fact that I was relinquished. Due to the extreme circumstances related to my birth the fate of a son would not have ended any differently. I used to be jelous on my younger brother for in a way-taking the place that rightfully was mine. I can no longer feel those feelings any longer but I will always suffer from the trauma of adoption separation and the loss of my sisters and a childhood raised with several siblings.

What difference would another mouth to feed have mattered if a family already had exceded the accepted number of children ? None and everything. Truth is that if that statement had been true its likely that my birth parents would have relinquished more than just one child and it probably would not have been the youngest at time-and they would definetely mot have chosen to add another baby if the simple reason was for econmic reasons. Why would my birth father have been able to visit the adoption agency to try to take me back-only to discover I legally no longer was theirs? Would he have used his connections to try to find out where I was sent and more importantly how was he able to find out what country I was sent to ? Would a parent have behaved like that if they only saw children as an economic burden as well as a necessity ? I truely believe my birthfather acted out of love just as I believe my birth mother was prepared to have a large family. I still hold my maternal grandmother responsible for my adoption, there has to be an extremely good reason why my birthparents decided to disown my mother's side of the family. What those reasons are I will most likely never know-perhaps her crime was that she decided I was to relinquished for adoption but there probably was more than that perhaps it's reasons that are connected to my birth and my adoption.



Hilarie Burton aka Peyton Sawyer, in One Tree Hill 14th episode season six "A Hand To Take Hold of The Scen"
Yet I still fear pregnancy or more importantly childbirth, especially since my birthmother was on the brink of death as she gave birth to me. Then again I am not my birth mother, its no longer the 80s and I probably will not give birth to as many children as she have.


Empress Ki


So far I have only experienced one side of loss from adoption trauma which means I'm very reluctant to raise a child all by myself without another parent. It's not nothing wrong with that, but I have my reasons for not wanting my child to experience the loss of their mother or to be born in posthumous birth and especially not a maternal death. I don't mean to say that mothers are more important than a father they both are equally as important. No matter if a child is forced to grove up with a single parent the loss of that missing parent might impact their life and shape their person and their future. I think I finally am ready to consider parenting and motherhood, given that I met the right person. Although there never are any agrantuees in life I feel like I am as comfortable in my own skin as I ever could be.

I have also been afraid of what legacy I will inprint on my child... daughters learn from their mothers... I've seen my mother as an overachiever and perfectionist for much of my life. That was how my mother was raised by her grandmother. I hope I don't walk down the same road or that my children don't mimic me as they grow up... That's the social heritage while I confess I'm also worried about my biological heritage what diseases could lay hidden in my genes... Unlike most adult adoptees I got a small part of my birth parents medical history. It involves two types of cancer, heart disease and fertility issues.

Yes motherhood, may or may not be a source of fear and worry. But I don't think it's right to say to someone that they doubt your ability to be a suitable parent for an hypothetical child. I think all birth mothers should be offered enough support and resources to enable them to raise their children. Don't threaten a young woman that she may end getting her suitability to care for a future child leading to possible loss of costudy.





Sunday, May 14, 2017

Why I stopped using the term "birth mother"




Photo taken at Museum Sisters of Mercy, Montreal 


Last fall, I was approached by CKUT McGill Campus and Community Radio about starting an adoptee-centric radio magazine, after they had heard an interview I had done with my friend Stefan on his radio show Free City Radio. I was unsure about accepting the offer, yet I also felt that I couldn’t turn down such an amazing opportunity. After thinking about it for a week, I invited my friend, filmmaker and adoption prevention activist Pascal Huynh to collaborate with me on what would soon become, Out of the Fog Radio

For us, Out of the Fog is not only about bringing greater understanding about adoption issues and family separation to people outside of the adoption community-- it’s also about empathy and vulnerability in storytelling. In our past episodes, we have covered topics such as adoptee gratefulness and reproductive justice, the 60s scoop and Indigenous child removal, mothers of adoption loss, infertility and creativity and the importance of relationships in social services

While Out of the Fog started as a platform to creatively disseminate important information about issues that are close to us and our communities, I quickly found myself being challenged personally by some of the content of our episodes, particularly the episode on mothers. As a politically-aware adoptee and feminist, it hadn’t dawned on me that I knew very little about the plight of mothers, until I did more research and interviewed guests for the episode. But even after the episode came out, I was repudiated a number of times by mothers on Facebook groups about using commonly-used terms and expressions like “birth mother” and “surrendering children to adoption”. I was alarmed and very embarrassed because I was trying to be “in solidarity” with them, yet here I was deeply offending them by using words that obscured their experiences as mothers having been forced to give up their children for adoption.

Up until that point, I was ignorant about the origins of these terms and how triggering it could be for mothers to be referred to as “birth mother” or “biological mother”. Yet, it is true that these terms are highly reductive because they focus only on their biological function, and by doing so, do not take into account how their experiences were shaped by gender, class and race. Moreover, “birth mother” is a very static term that insinuates a mother's parental role stops at birth, whereas she still may play an active role in her children or adult children’s lives. 

I understand the desire to distinguish between one’s family and one’s adoptive family, but there is an indelible power in language that should not be ignored. Whether you acknowledge it or not, your choice of words holds power and it affects people's interpretation and understanding of the issue. These terms are problematic because they do not convey what actually happened and what is still happening today: mothers and fathers are forced to give up their children, usually because they are young and unwed (which still happens in some countries) or because they lack the financial, psycho-social support or tools to raise their children.

I’m truly happy that I got called out on my use of “birth mother” because it forced me to look at how mothers of adoption loss do not get the recognition as mothers that they deserve. Since then, I no longer use these terms out of respect for both mothers and fathers. If I need to assign titles or make distinctions, I use "mother" or "Ethiopian mother" and "adoptive mother". In doing so, I'm stating the truth in a way that is recognizing Ethiopian mothers motherhood, even if they rarely have the power to an play active role in their adopted Western children or adult children’s lives. Still, their loss and grief is not widely acknowledged. I think partly because there is a pervasive idea that it is a “good thing” for children to be placed; that the mother made the “right choice” and that her children are better off. In fact, it’s almost seen as a heroic and selfless act that is done out of love. People tend to either commend or shame mothers for giving up their children (especially because we are extremely quick to judge women for being bad or unfit mothers), but one of the misconceptions is that children are given up out of love when it's really desperation and survival. Kat, a self-identified birth mother and PhD student, who appeared on our episode on mothers, describes how mothers are told to forget about their children or that they will forget, but that it’s a myth. The loss and grief that mothers experience is long-term, possibly lifelong and because of this, they tend to have higher risks of suicide, mental illness, higher instances of secondary infertility and to make matters worse, it’s difficult to find adequate counselling services. 

Hearing Kat's story and others similar to hers made me realize that my adoptee advocacy was lacking; how can I talk about reproductive rights and family preservation without learning from and partnering with those who are directly affected? It also made me reflect on the importance of creating more spaces for open discussion with mothers and fathers of adoption loss, because the more adoptees’ create alliances with mothers and fathers; the less shame, guilt and secrecy will exist. Similarly, the more we understand each other's struggles, the more empathy we create and hopefully, the more we can heal. 


Kassaye co-hosts Out of the Fog, a podcast and radio show on CKUT 90.3 FM. She is also co-editing Lions Roaring Far Home, an anthology by Ethiopian adoptees, which is set to come out towards the end of 2017. Besides writing and radio production, she mentors youth living in group homes.