Tag Archives: Inter-Country Adoption

life books

Last month at a training I attended for foster and adoptive parents, the subject of life books was discussed. The facilitators explained that for a child being fostered, a life book provides an important connection to the child’s birth family until he or she is reunified with them. Pictures of the biological family and special events are typically included in the book. The idea is that as the child grow, the foster family continues to add things to the life book. It is a link to the child’s roots and a history of his/her past and present.

During the training, a sample life book was passed around the room. I watched as prospective adoptive and foster parents thumbed through the pages. I then began to think of the overwhelming number of internationally adopted children who may never be privy to any information regarding their biological families. No pictures of their birth parents or siblings, no physical link to their cultural roots. A hollow feeling, one that I can now identify as loss, expanded right in the middle of my chest as I was reminded that I will never have the opportunity to meet my own birth parents. Yes, it is a tremendous loss even though my adoptive parents are who I consider to be my parents. I am grateful that my biological sisters gave me pictures of our parents when I was in Taiwan. Just to have a few pictures of my birth parents is something significant and that I now have a connection with my birth family is beyond words. I am truly grateful that my adoptive mom kept my adoption contract and many other things pertaining to my adoption, although they remained hidden for many years.

Before I left for my trip to Taiwan, I started my own “life book” mainly to share with my sisters. I included my adoption contract, some of the documents I found with it, and pictures of my adoptive family, school pictures, holiday photos, and pics of my husband and daughter. I remember that first evening in Taiwan and showing my sisters the album after dinner. They saw just a small glimpse of what my life was like with my adoptive family. The years my sisters and I spent apart and the disconnect between my cultural and Western roots suddenly became so very real. How can I express the significance of finding my birth family and establishing a connection with my birth heritage? To say that it was a pivotal turning point is an understatement.

My life as an adoptee began with loss. Though I don’t spend everyday thinking about or feeling such loss, every once in awhile I allow myself to go there. It doesn’t overwhelm me or send me into a huge state of depression – most of the time. It’s more a time of self-reflection. It’s an important part of who I am, and I accept that. Yet, it’s not something that can ever be easily captured in a life book.

the invisible red thread

Shumin_Vivian2Over the last couple of years, it seems that there have been a number of film documentaries made on inter-country/transracial adoption. But many people in Arizona do not have the opportunity to see such films, which are typically introduced at film festivals and then screened via special engagements. Earlier this year, we were able to host a screening of Somewhere Between by Linda Knowlton Goldstein through Tugg. We had a super turn out and even sold out of tickets. I received much positive feedback after the event from friends and adoptive families.

In 11 days, we will host another film screening on adoption in Chandler. This event is called, “Honoring One’s Cultural Roots.” We’ll screen the film documentary, The Invisible Red Thread, from director Maureen Marovitch, although this event will be slightly different, as the movie is shorter (approx. 55 minutes), and we’ve invited psychotherapist Stephanie Withrow to speak after the movie. Stephanie has a private practice inTempe, AZ and works with adoptive families. She and her husband, Doug, have adopted 3 girls from China. In addition, another friend and colleague, Dalena Watson, LPC, FAMI, MT-BC, has helped to coordinate the event. She and her husband, Dustin, have 2 adopted children from China and Korea. If you live in the Phoenix-Metro area, I hope that you’ll be able to join us. You can find all the details at the link above entitled, The Invisible Red Thread- An AZ Premier. The film is recommended for kids 11 and older. Reservations and pre-payment are required, so be sure to reserve your seats. You can actually pre-pay for the screening by clicking on the Paypal button located on the right sidebar of this site. If you cannot attend the event but would like to contribute to the cost of bringing the film to Chandler, you can make a donation by clicking on the same button. For more about the movie, see the official website by following this link.

Come out and meet other adoptees and adoptive families who live in the valley!

Stephanie and her family

Stephanie and her family