Finding My Place Amidst Identity Politics in Canada

It may seem strange, but I feel a bit confused every time someone refers to me as Canadian or Ethiopian-Canadian. Yes, I was born in Ethiopia, raised in Canada, but I’m from Québec—Canada’s only majority-speaking French province. Québec has its own separate identity apart from Canada, one that it is very proud of! Québec’s culture, language, and legal systems reflect its colonial ties to France; the other provinces reflect their British origins. Québec also has a different relationship with Canada and the federal system compared to its counterparts. Most French-speaking Québécois, who make up the majority, do not consider themselves...

Finding Home

Home. It’s a word that brings a smile to many and is supposed to offer a sense of warmth and comfort. But identifying and defining home becomes a struggle for many students during their college years. Often times, we have lived in the same house or state all of our lives until we come to college. We have friends and fond memories associated with this one very special place. Once on campus, though, it’s a whole new adventure filled with intriguing people who have come together in a very intentional community. The experiences we have with our fellow students are...

Film

For this issue’s cover story, we contacted the individuals behind three adoptee-centric films and asked them to share their thoughts: Why did they decide to make their documentaries? What was the process? And what do they hope the films accomplish? Their responses are below. As an added bonus, they agreed to share their work with you: Closure, in its entirety; the Gazillion Voices exclusive clip of the forthcoming YOU FOLLOW: a search for one’spast; and the animated short film Juxtaposed are available here FREE until June 4th. Enjoy. Closure Closurescreened in front of its first audience one year ago at...

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...