putting meaning to words

photos-by-lanty-597554-unsplashSince last November, I’ve had the privilege of connecting to many other adult international adoptees around the U.S. via a podcast I hosted called Global Adoptee Talk. Some participated in my podcast and others did not. Nevertheless, just to hear and share stories was incredibly validating, and I appreciate the supportive community that we’re a part of. Unfortunately, I had to let go of my podcast before it even had a real chance to get off the ground due to increasing demands at work and the lack of time and energy I had to keep up with all of the editing/interviewing. I’m a Social Worker – anyone in the profession of social work understands what a drain it can be physically, emotionally,  psychologically and spiritually. I am always inspired, grieved, saddened, angered, and motivated by the many adoptees stories I hear – motivated primarily to elevate adoptee voices in whatever shape or form that may take. I think it’s always so important to be mindful of the fact that even though an adoptee may have a positive adoption experience, there is still undoubtedly loss, trauma, and a longing to connect to his/her cultural roots. That may mean searching for one’s birthparents or birth family or traveling to one’s country of origin, learning the language, and/or connecting to other’s who have similar backgrounds and experiences. It doesn’t go away – it may ebb and flow across the span of an adoptee’s life, but it’s a part of our makeup, it’s part of our DNA and hard-wired into our brains, literally. I don’t have time to go into how separation from birth mother is trauma, but suffice it to say, there is research that supports it.

I work in foster care and adoption, and it’s not easy as an adopted person. Whenever there is an adoption, it’s very difficult for me to celebrate because I know that it means loss first. When there is reunification that occurs with the birth family, my heart makes a little leap. It does happen, but unfortunately, reunifications are rarer.

I have the opportunity to work with some resource or foster families that are truly stellar people, and they get it as much as they possibly can without having lived it – the trauma, the loss, the necessity of keeping birth connections in the child’s life. Families are trained in TBRI, and we talk about loss, trauma, and attachment from the very first clinical interview with prospective foster parents. I don’t want to villainize every foster/adoptive family out there, as I know some foster/adoptive parents who attempt to understand the loss and trauma adoptees experience. Even so, I dare say that it’s difficult for non-adopted persons to grasp the magnitude of what being in foster care or being adopted means. And by no means do I ever want to minimize the hurt and wounds experienced by adoptees who have experienced secondary rejection by birth families, inability to connect with birth families, or struggles with adoptive parents. I experienced my own struggles with my adoptive mom, and it was extremely difficult and painful. In my work, I see things from the perspective of an adopted person, not as an adoptive parent or case manager or supervisor-my thoughts and opinions are often very different from those I work with. But this work also gives me the opportunity to educate foster/resource/adoptive parents. Not every family who comes through gets approved to continue the process for multiple reasons, and that’s a good thing.

All in all, I’m sad to let go of my podcast, but I have hopes of one day picking it back up, as time allows. I miss that connection to other adoptees. There are plenty of super podcasts out there. Right now, I’m digging a couple of podcasts related to intuitive eating, health, and nutrition. Two of my favorite adoptee podcasts are Adoptees On and Adapted. The Rambler was also a favorite, but the show closed earlier this year. All of these podcasts are available on iTunes – listen in – it’s totally worth it.

One day, I hope to work in post-adoption, like adoptee, Angela Tucker of The Adopted Life. In the meantime, there are loans to pay off, clinical licensure to achieve, and getting our daughter through college. It ain’t cheap…financially, emotionally, psychologically or spiritually. Have you ever felt as though you were in a holding pattern? This is that time for me. I’m super grateful for the international adoptees I have had the chance to connect with because of my podcast. I’m that much richer, and it’s been great maintaining those contacts. Adoptee voices are truly making their way to the forefront of discussions on adoption – sometimes, I have to step away from social media and just breathe. That always helps me re-center.

This weekend, two of my co-workers and I are facilitating a TBRI training for pre-approved resource families. It’s our first go of presenting this training, so naturally, I’m a little nervous. But then I remind myself, I’m an adopted person – I’ve lived it. The principles we will set forth are all TBRI, but I have within me the lived experience of trauma, loss, and insecure attachment. I hope to make a difference this weekend.

Photo by Photos by Lanty on Unsplash

Past episodes of Global Adoptee Talk are available on iTunes


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