Adoptee Influencer Network: NAAM

This is for day 26 of National Adoption Awareness Month, so this is my daily post to amplify the voices of adoptees, posted on day 27.

According to their Facebook page, Adoptee Influencer Network (AIN) exists “to EMPOWER adoptee influencers to hone their skills, know their worth and create excellent content; SUSTAIN adoptee influencers through facilitating equitable compensation for their work; and SATURATE the adoption space with adoptee centered content.”

That all sounds good to me.

Adoptee-founded and adoptee-centric, AIN “is a creative group of adoptees who amplify one another’s voices. We are artists, creatives, and professionals in a variety of fields. 

WE DO NOT ALL AGREE, but we know the world is wide enough for all of our perspectives. You don’t have to create content on adoption to join.”

The AIN Facebook page is full of events, books, and articles, by and about adoptees. They are actively welcoming adoptees to share their creative enterprises. On the AIN website, you can sign up for their newsletter, look at the most popular posts, and even shop for adoptee-related merchandise.

Adoptees empowering adoptees, and amplifying adoptee-centered content: that is a great focus for National Adoption Awareness Month.

Finnish Adoptees Call For Investigation of Fraud: NAAM

This is for day 25 of National Adoption Awareness Month, so this is my daily post to amplify the voices of adoptees, posted on day 27.

A group of international adoptees in Finland has called for an investigation of fraudulent adoption practices in their adoptive country. The adoptees (from Ethiopia, China, India, Colombia, Taiwan, Austria, South Korea, Thailand, and Bangladesh) are calling upon the government of Finland to look into historic “irregularities” in adoption practices.

The group sent a Letter to the Editor of Hufvudstadsbladet, the highest-circulation Swedish-language newspaper in Finland. Here is the letter in English, via Inter Country Adoptive Voices News‘ Facebook page:

Irregularities in international adoptions must be investigated

LETTER TO THE EDITOR 14.11.2021

Swedish Yle reported (29.10) that serious errors in adoptions are examined in Sweden, and that irregularities can also occur in Finland. Patrik Lundberg, one of the journalists behind Dagens Nyheter’s series of articles on Swedish international adoption activities, says that if it is a question of the same adoption countries, there is also great reason for Finland to review its adoptions. This is because the same orphanage has adopted children to several different countries in the western world, and because the same lawyers and corrupt people have been involved. According to Lundberg, control has been particularly poor in countries classified as dictatorships.

With reference to other countries’ investigations of international adoptions, and given that Finland has in many cases used the same adoption contacts as, for example, Sweden, we demand that Finland also appoint its own independent inquiry.

The issue of adoptions that have not gone right is not only limited to Sweden, whose government recently presented directives for an inquiry expected to be completed in the autumn of 2023, or the Netherlands, whose government earlier this year stopped all international adoptions after a comprehensive inquiry showed that children have been stolen or purchased from their biological parents.

We, who signed this submission, demand that the state of Finland investigate the international adoptions that have taken place to date, from all countries of origin from which Finland has adopted children. This also includes adoptions that took place after the Hague Convention was ratified. The inquiry shall be independent and autonomous and no members of the inquiry group may have any connection to the adoption mediation adoption organizations.The inquiry should engage experts and research competencies in the field, such as lawyers, historians and researchers, so that the international adoption activities in Finland can be fully examined. The investigation must be given sufficient resources, both personnel, financially and in terms of time. In addition to adoptions mediated by adoption organizations, the inquiry must also examine independent adoptions (private adoptions) and the role of the Finnish state in international adoption mediation in Finland.

The inquiry shall contain proposals for measures on how to ensure that today’s adoptions take place legally and ethically. The adoption agency must be quality assured and followed up in a comprehensive way. The inquiry must ensure that corruption does not occur in connection with adoptions today.

Finally, the State of Finland should provide sufficient resources to develop and disseminate knowledge about post-adoption services for adoptees. Adoptees must have low-threshold access to free or subsidized therapy services or other necessary psychiatric care for the treatment of adoption-related trauma. Adopted persons should also be able to apply for financial support for, for example, return journeys, in the same way as adoption applicants can apply for adoption allowance for the adoption of a child.

Signed: Muluken Cederborg, adopted from Ethiopia, Sabina Söderlund-Myllyharju, adopted from Taiwan, Patrik Sigmundt, adopted from Austria, Oscar Lehtinen, adopted from Colombia, Maria Kallio, adopted from China, Mirjam Gullstén-Borg, adopted from South Korea (via Sweden), Kati Ekstrand, adopted from Taiwan, Anu-Rohima Mylläri, adopted from Bangladesh, Kerttu Yuan, adopted from China, Conny Wiik, adopted from Taiwan, Khalid Wikström, adopted from Bangladesh, Ada-Emilia Koskinen, adopted from China, Jasmin Lindholm, adopted from China, Jennifer Lönngren, adopted from China, Anton Sundén, adopted from Thailand, Yuli Andrea Paz, adopted from Colombia, Pooja Sandell, adopted from India, Naa Sippola, adopted from Thailand, Janica Palonen, adopted from Taiwan, Mei Monto, adopted from China, Iida Kuukka, adopted from China, Mimosa Torittu, adopted from China, Saba Holm, adopted from Ethiopia, Belinda Söderlund, adopted from Taiwan, Chris Gullmans, adopted from Hong Kong, Oscar Härkönen, adopted from Colombia.

Article from Hufvudstadsbladet, a Swedish-language newspaper in Finland, about adoptees calling for investigation of irregularities in their adoptions.

The original article in Swedish is here.

Lost Daughters Flip the Script: NAAM

This is for day 24 of National Adoption Awareness Month, so this is my daily post to amplify the voices of adoptees, posted on day 27.

Lost Daughters is an adoptee-founded, adoptee-led, adoptee-centric amazing resource. It was founded by Amanda Woolston, MSS, LCSW, a U.S. adoptee, author, and therapist.

From The Lost Daughters page:

“Lost Daughters is an independent collaborative writing project founded in 2011.  It is edited and authored exclusively by adult women who were adopted as children.  Our name was chosen in the spirit of BJ Lifton’s concept of one’s Self becoming “lost” and “found” throughout the journey of being adopted.

Our authors come from a variety of walks of life, world views, religions, political stances, types of adoption, countries of origin, and countries of residence.  Our ages span from early 20’s to late 60’s.  Although we cannot possibly cover every experience and perspective of adoptees on our blog, we try our best to provide insight on what it is like to live adoption from the adoptee perspective. The only position we take on adoption is that adoptee voices make it better.”

The mission of Lost Daughters is to “provide an adoptee-centric space that brings readers the perspectives and narratives of adopted women, and to highlight their strength, resiliency, and wisdom. We aim to critically discuss the positives and negatives of the institution of adoption from a place of empowerment and peace. We aim to bring change to the culture of adoption that undervalues the adoptee voice by lifting our voices as women who have adoption as an intersecting variable across many aspects of life and identity, and empowering other adopted women in the process.”

In 2014, one of the Lost Daughters, Korean adoptee Rosalita Gonzalez, proposed a #flipthescript movement in response to National Adoption Month.

#flipthescript began as a Twitter hashtag movement headed by Rosita González at Lost Daughters that began in the beginning of November 2014 for National Adoption Month. The movement’s phrase “flip the script” originated with Amanda Transue-Woolston in a video trailer for a book called Dear Wonderful You: Letters to Adopted and Fostered YouthThe context of the statement reflected on how adoption books have traditionally been written by adoptive parents. When adoptees write books for others adoptees, they get additional perspectives more like their own.

#flipthescript sought to address social media’s inundation with messages about adoption in which adoption professionals and adoptive parents are overwhelmingly represented during the month of November, National Adoption Month. Whenever education is taking place about an issue or community, all voices of that community must be included. The world needs to hear adoptee voices included in the dialogue about adoption.”

Among the tangible results of the #flipthescript hashtag was the creation of a powerful video, featuring the voices of eight women adopted as children domestically and internationally. Bryan Tucker was the videographer.

The truths these women expressed so eloquently resonate today. The video and all the writing and resources on the Lost Daughters page are profound.

Netherlands Ordered to Pay Damages to Brazilian Adoptee

The District Court of The Hague on November 24, 2021, ordered The Netherlands to pay compensation (amount not yet determined) to a Brazilian adoptee.

According to Prakken d’Oliveira Human Rights Lawyers, “Patrick Noordoven was illegally adopted from Brazil in 1980. His parentage was thereby misrepresented, by giving him up as the biological child of the Dutch couple who adopted him illegally. Shortly after his illegal adoption, the police conducted an investigation and concluded that Patrick Noordoven and 41 other children had been adopted illegally from Brazil to the Netherlands. Nevertheless, after the investigation, the State did not take measures to enable Patrick Noordoven to know his parentage and the circumstances of his illegal adoption. The Court concluded that by doing so, the State acted in violation of Patrick Noordoven’s right to identity and knowledge of his parentage.”

In 2018, based on Noordoven’s case, The Hague Appeals Court determined that “a child that was illegally adopted has the right to all information about their adoption. This encompasses, among other things, information about how the illegal adoption took place, criminal investigations into the illegal adoption, and press reports about suspicions of child trafficking.” More information is available here: “Illegally adopted persons have the right to obtain all information about their adoption.”

Increasing numbers of international adult adoptees are searching for their origins, and finding that fraud and corruption were involved. Patrick Noordoven spent 20 years tracking down his truth. This appears to be the first time a country, in the case The Netherlands, has been ordered to pay damages for an illegal adoption.

I am not a lawyer, but I would say this case has global ramifications for illegally adopted people.

Thanks and Trauma: NAAM

This is for day 23 of National Adoption Awareness Month, so this is my daily post to amplify the voices of adoptees, posted on day 24.

Holidays evoke a lot of emotions, and sometimes our bodies remember things our brains don’t (for whatever reasons). As an adoptive parent, I saw a range of emotions in my children on days like Thanksgiving, birthdays, Mother’s Day. There’s such a thing as a trauma-versary, an annual or seasonal recollection of a trauma that may be felt subconsciously, and that may manifest as unease, anger, or sadness, on what is supposed to be (to others) a happy day.

So maybe young adoptees will experience this tomorrow. Maybe older adoptees will struggle with the whole complicated notion of gratitude in adoption. Some adoptees and their adoptive parents are estranged, and that can be painful. Some may have searched and reunited with birth/first family, and the outcome is confusion or even rejection. Maybe birth/first parents will be reminded of the grief and loss they have endured.

Trauma is a part of adoption, or more precisely of relinquishment. The separation of mother and child is recognized as traumatic, even as a child may be loved by others. Some adoptees experience trauma-versary during the month they were relinquished, and may or may not know why they feel disquieted.

Anyway—I am not an expert on this, though I have some experience with it. Thanksgiving and other holidays can be difficult, even as there is so much pressure to be a Hallmark card. I wish for all adoptees to find peace and space for healing with their families.

Resources: The book “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the healing of Trauma” by Bessel Van Der Kolk may be helpful, along with “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies” by Resmaa Menakem may be helpful.

Newport Beach, OR © Maureen McCauley

Plan A Magazine: NAAM

This is for day 22 of National Adoption Awareness Month, so this is my daily post to amplify the voices of adoptees, posted on day 23.

Plan A magazine is not specifically adoptee-centric. It is though an online magazine found by several Asian American women and men, “a group of Asian diaspora navigating shifting political and social climates, attempting to make sense of the conflicting roles we are thrust into and the conflicting narratives that are told about us.” That description, I think, could apply to adoptees as well. And indeed, Plan A includes Asian adoptees within the diaspora, and within its writers and podcasters.

International adoptees are all immigrants, and they are also members of a diaspora, the dispersion of a people from their original homeland. I would guess that some adoptees feel part of that diaspora, and some do not. Some are accepted as part of the diaspora by their diasporic community; some are not.

Plan A magazine welcomes them, and has a section of both essays and podcasts related to Adoption. A sample of titles: “Imperial Reproduction,” “The Manufactured Crisis: Adopted Without Citizenship,” and “Adoptee Mental Health.” The podcasts, and the rest of the magazine, address a range of issues: tech, humor, racism, sexism, gender, media. There is a Culture section on Fashion, Food, Travel, and Dating.

There may be other diaspora movements that seek to include adoptees. I know of Adopted and Fostered Adults of the African Diaspora, an adoptee-founded and adoptee-led Facebook group. There may well be others. Plan A magazine is different in that it is an umbrella for all Asian diaspora members, inclusive of adoptees.

“By presenting perspectives that are not being discussed at large, we hope to provide new ways to interpret and understand current events through the lens of the Asian Diaspora. What is not being said can be as important as what is being focused on; often it can be more important. Talk to us, we talk back.” Asian adoptees, wherever you are in the world: take a look at the Submissions info. They pay! And everyone can help in keeping writers paid and the magazine going via Patreon.

We need to hear adoptee voices, during NAAM and all the time.

Dear Adoption,: NAAM

This is for day 21 of National Adoption Awareness Month, so this is my daily post to amplify the voices of adoptees, and posted on day 22.

The mission of “Dear Adoption,” is for adoptees to “reclaim the adoption narrative by amplifying adoptee voices, so a more honest depiction of what adoption is will emerge.” It was founded and is curated by Reshma McClintock, an adopted person from India who was the subject of the excellent documentary “Calcutta Is My Mother.”

Adoptees are welcome to submit an essay to the site: hundreds have, and their voices are impressive. The writers are international, transracial, domestic, same race, former foster care youth, a wide range. The essays are long, short, poignant, angry, thoughtful, sad, insightful, and more.

There is also an extensive list of adoptee-led, adoptee-centric blogs and websites, as well as podcasts and other resources.

It’s the letters to Dear Adoption, though, that I’d say are especially powerful. You can read them on the Facebook page or on the website. “Dear Adoption,” just celebrated its fifth year of elevating “the astounding, noteworthy work of adoptees worldwide,” and of creating “a better, safe world for future generations of adopted people…through the sharing of our stories.”

That phrasing always makes me think of the Maya Angelou quote, “There is no greater story than bearing an untold story inside you.” And I hope many more adoptees will continue to share their sacred stories.

Adoptees on NPR: NAAM

This is for day 20 of National Adoption Awareness Month, so this is my daily post to amplify the voices of adoptees, and posted on day 22.

Three transracial adoptees were interviewed by Audie Cornish of NPR on November 16, sharing how hard it can be for them to be heard about issues of race and social justice

Sunny Reid is a Korean adoptee raised in New Jersey. Hannah Jackson Matthews is a Black biracial woman living in New Jersey. Annie Stefanko is a Guatemalan adoptee, raised in Minnesota. It is a brief interview, and I was glad to hear their voices. All too often, National Adoption Month and NPR (and other media outlets) have focused only on adoptive parents.

You can hear and read the interview here.

Adoptee TikTok: NAAM

This is day 19 of National Adoption Awareness Month, so this is my daily post to amplify the voices of adoptees.

I will start this post acknowledging I am not on TikTok. I’ve never done a TikTok Challenge. I am not a significant part of TikTok’s demographics: 80% of its 80 million monthly active users are between 18 and 34 years old. Did you know that TikTok users spend an average of 52 minutes a day on TikTok? And that users age 4 to 15 spend an average of 80 minutes a day on it? Wowsers. I got those statistics here.

So. I think it’s gonna catch on.

This post is about Adoptee TikTok. No doubt there is a wide range in terms of attitudes and perspectives in the videos shared by adoptees. Adoptees are not a monolith, and neither are their videos. TikTok is one more social media platform to share thoughts about adoption, and the videos indeed contain multitudes, as both What Whitman and Bob Dylan have said..

A recent Mashable article, “TikTok helps adoptees find a new community to explore joy, family, and belonging,” said that “adoptee TikTokers have embarked on a mission to speak out about their past, their present, their families, and their shared experiences — including conversations around mental health and trauma.” (The trauma link is in the original Mashable article.)

The hashtag #AdopteesofTikTok has had some 60 million views. That said, one Twitter user, Conversations About Adoption (@caa_on_Youtube), posted this:

Social media has a vise-like grip on the formation of attitudes, including toward issues like adoption. TikTok is one powerful player in this, especially among young people.

Adoptee Voices—Supporting Adoptee Storytelling: NAAM

This is day 18 of National Adoption Awareness Month, so this is my daily post to amplify the voices of adoptees.

Sara Easterly, an author and adoptee, founded Adoptee Voices to create a writing community that is all “about supporting adoptee storytelling.” As the website says, “Adoptees, it’s your turn to have a voice in conversations about adoption. You’ve lived through relinquishment. You know adoption from the inside. Your voice in the adoption narrative is both needed and necessary.”

To this end, Sara and her facilitators, who are all adoptees and all writers, have created Writing Groups for adult adoptees with stories to share. They meet weekly via Zoom, use adoption-specific writing prompts, and provide publishing and writing advice. They note that adoptees may all be adoptees, but their experiences may be vastly different. They call for grace and respect, and they acknowledge the reality of sensitive and difficult topics. They also are clear that these are not therapy sessions, but are facilitated peer writing groups, intended to serve a community of adoptees.

In her book “Searching For Mom: A Memoir,” Sara shares how, as an adoptee, she “had difficulties attaching to her mother, struggled with her faith, lived the effects of intergenerational wounding, and felt an inherent sense of being unwanted that drove her to perfectionism, suicidal ideations, and fantasy mothers. When she became a mom, her search to find and become ‘the perfect mother’ intensified … until her mother’s death launched a spiritual epiphany. Sara’s perspective as an adoptee offers insight for anyone in the adoption constellation.”

I’ve known Sara through our work in the adoption community, and was thrilled to hear she had created this series of online writing groups. This Saturday November 19, Sara will moderate a free, online panel along with Alice Stephens, a Korean adoptee and author of the debut novel Famous Adopted People.The eight panelists are all adoptees, from Korea and China, who will discuss what the Adoptee Voices Writing Group has meant to them. Learn more about this UniversalAsian conversation here.

Upcoming Adoptee Voices writing sessions include “Write Your Way Through the Holiday Season,” and “Writing Resolutions Winter 2022.” You can learn about all the writing groups and register for them here.

It is wonderful to have more adoptees writing and sharing their stories.