Dear Mom

Dear Mom, I know times were different when I was adopted. People didn’t think it should be made into a big deal—which ended up making it a bigger deal than necessary. I don’t remember being told I was adopted. It was something I always knew. I still like that part of my story. It was the beginning of forming my identity in the world. Since my brother is also adopted, it seemed to be the norm in our house. You’ve told me that experts said not to worry. You felt that we were yours; we would feel that you were...

Contemplations on Being Ugly*

“You could be a model for Benetton,” J.S. said — this being a time when Benetton was putting people we all considered to be highly unattractive on their posters. This being after she had “assigned” future modeling gigs with Gap, Banana Republic, Vogue and Seventeen magazines to everyone else on her private “my dad’s a lawyer” party bus for us junior high-schoolers. This being a moment when J.S. had just listed the magazines and stores that we all considered to be the crème de la crème of beauty (after all, we were 13 or 14 years old) and throwing me...

Created Family

I’m lost. Well, not lost really, but disjointed. Tragedy can do that. It can take you and throw you against a wall so hard and with such force that when you come to, you are not aware of which direction you’re facing or which direction is up. And, the disorientation continues. So, really, you try to scramble for anything that feels familiar, safe, like home. I’m trying to scramble now and realized the level of my disorientation only when Kevin asked for the article and I hadn’t produced one. I’ve re-written it several times and am still unable to produce...

Connecting with Ethiopian-French Adoptees Through Les Adoptés d’Éthiopie

Since my entry into the adoptee world, thanks to my fellow Ethiopian adoptee and good friend Aselefech Evans, I’ve been wanting to connect with more Ethiopian adoptees. In fact, Aselefech and I often discuss the absence of Ethiopian adoptees in adoptee circles. My initial thought was that most Ethiopian adoptees are probably much younger than us since adoption from Ethiopia became more popular toward the end of the 90s and early 2000s, which might help explain why there is less participation in adoptee advocacy. However, a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a French-speaking Ethiopian adoptee Facebook group with over...

Colonization and Adoption – A History

Recently, after giving a presentation on American Indian Transracial adoption, I was asked a question. “Where do you think you’d be now if you hadn’t been adopted?” Without pausing, the man who asked the question answered for me. “I bet you wouldn’t be giving presentations with a college education.” He was a lawyer who handled private adoptions. He was right; I probably wouldn’t be where I am now. However, the price I—we—have paid to be here has been high. So what is the price I paid? That we, as adoptees have paid? We have become second class citizens in our...

Colonialism, Race, and Child Welfare

Note: Excerpts of this essay are drawn from my article manuscript, “Generations Stolen: Opposite Futures and the Elimination of the Native,” in Race, Law and the Postcolonial (Routledge, 2015). My second grade teacher was Native American. Her son and I were best friends during elementary school. I do not recall which tribe she belonged to, but I remember being drawn to this aspect of my friend and his family. The following year was one of my favorites because that was the year Mrs. Glennon introduced me (and the class) to Native American history. Thinking back, it makes me wonder if...

Chapter 2

Cover by Christopher Harrison CHAPTER TWO Dad’s favorite place to go running was Lorraine Creek, on a small path through the woods that he had beat out himself, running there through the years. He said that the trees and the water always felt like they were running with him, like they were the only things moving in the twilight of the early morning. I knew just what he meant. “Creek’s high this season,” he said, his breath jagged. It was the Monday after our win against East. I jumped over a sinkhole. “Yeah.” It had snowed a lot that winter,...

Chapter 3

There were grainy, chopped up tapes of Hank Aaron talking about hitting more than 20 home runs for 20 straight seasons; tapes of him in the early sixties, discussing removal of segregation signs and policies at the Milwaukee Braves’ spring training facility in Sarasota Springs; footage of their contest against the Dodgers in Atlanta on April8, 1974, where he hit his 715th home run in front of 54,000 people and broke Babe Ruth’s record. It happened in the fourth inning, with two outs and a man on first base. Though I knew exactly when it happened, I would never fast-forward;...

Café Korea

I have enjoyed getting to know Korean adoptees like myself, and I have really enjoyed learning about and eating the food. And sure, I am thankful, grateful, blessed, lucky, and so on that I was adopted into a loving family. But tonight at dinner, I had a moment. I wish I would have had someone filming us: me; my Korean adoptee boyfriend; and my non-adopted, half-Korean daughter at dinner at a local Korean restaurant. For me, the moment really illustrated how I have been feeling lately about myself, relative to who I am as a Korean adoptee in this country....

Can you hear me, Guatemala?

When someone adopts they have to reach their hand into a rotting cave and pray to any sort of God that they grab onto you and only you. Like any natural birth, I came with the slime of my mother stuck onto me. For my tenth birthday, I asked my adoptive parents for pictures of this mother, Flora Vasquez. The lawyer who facilitated my adoption went up into the hills of San Lorenzo, Guatemala to hunt Flora down. They sent me a compiled photo album filled with pictures of this woman. I thought seeing Flora would bring me peace. In...