Feel the Burn

I’m strangely relieved. Listening to the stories and experiences of adult transracial adoptees, I frequently feel a jolt that inevitably gives way to a strange relief. I’ve come to recognize that burning jab: the flash of fear, of pain – that’s my defenses kicking in. Like an autoimmune response, fight or flight: “Must get away … must argue … must rationalize …” My feeble mind tries to control reality because I’m scared. I’m scorched by their fire, but I’m learning to let it burn. Some (there I go again – no – a lot) of what adult adoptees have shared...

Film Essays & Serial Novel

Here are a couple of pictures from John Sanvidge‘s upcoming film essays, featuring Julie Young of Korean American Story and Chef Alex Pilas of Eataly. Plus, following up on the success of Parenting As Adoptees, next week CQT Media and Publishing and Land of Gazillion Adoptees (LGA) will release Shannon Gibney’s YA serial Hank Aaron’s Daughter on Gazillion Voices. An excerpt: ___________________________________________________ The record-breaking game was by far my favorite tape, though another one that Dad had of Hank explaining the spate of hate letters he received from people around the country who didn’t want him to break the record...

Exploring Countertransference in the Adoption Community

Written with deep gratitude to Joy Lieberthal-Rho, Kat Nielsen, and Martha Crawford. As a budding psychotherapist who has shared adoption in common with clients, I approach this work with a nuanced lens. Yet still I am challenged to manage strong emotions evoked by my clients’ narratives of adoption trauma, loss, and grief. My first therapy session with a fostered youth was my first and most powerful experience with countertransference. In a brief moment of silence I became wholly and powerfully filled with anxiety and sadness—the space between us heavy and charged with emotion. These sensations filtered through my experiences as...

Excerpts from “Diasporic Articulations and the Transformative Power of Haunting”

Note: This is a collection of excerpts from “Diasporic Articulations and the Transformative Power of Haunting: Returning Adoptees’ Solidarity Movement with Unwed Mothers in Korea,” a thesis researched and written from 2011-2013 to fulfill graduation requirements for an M.A. in Anthropology at Hanyang University, Seoul, South Korea.~ Shannon Heit When I was young, I was often aware of a feeling that I could sense but could not articulate. I envisioned this feeling as a black hole, a void, an abyss – that which exists in its very absence, that which becomes significant because it was missing, or, as Avery Gordon...

Excerpts from ‘It Wasn’t Love,’ Literary Nonfiction by Jessica Sun Lee

I petted Maggie downstairs in the playroom today for what must’ve been hours. The light from the windows shone down onto us in the dark room. He looked up to me as if to squint, thank you for loving me, as I’d stroke him from the top of his head down to the end of his fluffy tail. It feels almost ritualistic petting the cats this way. We get into a rhythm of petting and purring and it slowly fills the empty space. Maybe it’s the movement, our ritual, that reveals that I feel more like them than my brothers...

Declined

A few months ago, I was approached by a local journalist interested in learning more about my adoption story. I agreed to meet the journalist, without having any expectations. I simply thought the journalist wanted to hear my opinion on international adoption, but I was mistaken. The project proposed was something I had never imagined: documenting my search and possible reunion with my birth family in Ethiopia. Up until very recently, I thought searching would be futile, given the incredibly small amount of potentially flawed information I have (I have to say that it’s mainly my anger at this injustice...

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...