10 Things Adoptees Don’t Want to Hear

As adoptees, we probably aren’t allowed to tell you we’re tired of dumb comments from adoptive parents, friends, neighbors, and even strangers. But we are. Here are 10 things adoptees don’t want to hear anymore. 1. I Bet You’re Thankful To Be Alive. As if adoptees should be more thankful to be alive than someone who hasn’t been adopted. Why should an adopted person be more grateful for life than you are? In fact, maybe you should be reminded regularly that you, too, could have been aborted or found dead by a dumpster had your parents not saved you. 2....

5 Tips to White Dining

My White boss invited me to have dinner with her family. I am a person of color with WTF (White Trigger Formation) and fear that I am being tokenized. She never asks me about my work, though she always calls me “girlfriend” and goes in for a fist bump when she sees me. Can I confront her about my concerns? Token, Saint Paul, Minnesota *** Dear Token, No. Let me rephrase that: Hell No. Under no circumstances can you bring up the r-word to White people with whom you work. I don’t care if your job is diversity and you’re...

Why Birth Mothers Don’t Search

The other day, during an email exchange about adoption search registries, a colleague pointed out that, compared to the number of birth mothers searching for information, it seemed that the registries were overpopulated by adoptees. He asked me why I thought that to be the case. Did the lack of mothers searching correlate to the desires of the mothers to be contacted by their adopted children? The short answer to that question is no: if adoptees begin searching and do not immediately find a matching search request waiting for them, either on an online or state registry or at the...

Between the Extremes

I have been on this earth for over 45 years now. Over half that time, my entire adult life, I have been a birth mother. I will admit that I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I contacted that adoption agency so long ago. I had no idea of the lifelong ramifications for myself, my child, and really, everyone I would ever come into contact with in my life when I signed those papers in some dark office 26 years ago. I had no idea of the social framework that I would try to force myself...

The Band-Aid of Heritage and Culture Camps and What They Cover Up

Heritage and culture camps are very popular among adoptive families with children from other countries as mini-vacations with similar families (which mostly means white parents with adopted children from Korea, China, India, Guatemala, Ethiopia, and so on). Google “heritage camps for adopted children” and you will see dozens listed that take place all across the country. They are largely run by adoption agencies and adoptive parents, though increasingly they include adult adoptees as presenters and mentors. The camps are billed as ways to strengthen adoptive families and to build pride in the children’s culture and heritage. They are part post-adoption...

Life Grief, Life Goals

On the fateful day when I found a listing in the New York City Yellow Pages for an adoption agency, I knew that in many ways my life was never going to be the same again. My thoughts were on the here and now; however, there was no way I could have seen how it would all unfold. The obvious issue — I was almost 6 months pregnant and thought I had no means of properly being able to mother my child — was the “problem” and the kindness of the adoption agency was a path to a “solution.” Little...

An Introspective Conceptualization of Student Development of an Activist Identity

When throngs of protesters took to the streets of several local cities as part of the Occupy Movement, I took the opportunity to observe and absorb the reactions to activism in my community. Some of the reactions surprised me; some people accused the activists of being selfish. Protesters were supposed “lazy” individuals who would sooner demonstrate for policies that would increase government “hand-outs” instead of getting a job. Others erupted with compassion, their eyes opened to human suffering and injustice that they had never before seen. Praised or critiqued, activist life is not easy. Activism involves taking a position that...