Adoption Mosaic’s Program for “Seasoned Adoptive Parents”

I consider myself a “seasoned” parent in that my kids are all in their 30’s and I have two grandchildren. Adoption remains part of all of our lives, an undercurrent of sorts.

Adoption Mosaic’s 6-week online program for Seasoned Adoptive Parents looks at why we parents chose to adopt, and what we have learned in the intervening years. “Seasoned parents” have children who are legal adults; the kids may even be in their 30’s or 40’s or older. As Adoption Mosaic’s director/founder Astrid Castro has written, “At Adoption Mosaic, we believe adoptees should not be solely responsible for educating and supporting their adoptive parents in becoming adoption-fluent…

Our hope in offering this course to adoptive parents of adult children is to help create stronger family bonds between adoptees and their parents.”

The curriculum for “Seasoned Parents” was developed by Astrid, the Director snd Founder of Adoption Mosaic and an adopted person from Colombia. I also helped develop the curriculum. Astrid and I have co-facilitated the first two “Seasoned Parents” programs. Jordan Davis, a Black transracial adoptee and current PhD candidate, will also be co-facilitating, which will be wonderful. We’ve been working together to make the curriculum even stronger.

In this course, we talk about adoption in a historical context, and about some of the current big issues, especially as adopted adults are speaking out more. We talk about adoption as an industry, about the role of race, about the concepts of gratitude and anger and adoption fog. We work on ways to talk about these things with our children, and with other folks. And we do this with compassion and openness, meeting people where they are, hoping to create community and growth.

This fall will be the third time we have offered this program at Adoption Mosaic. The parents who have taken the class adopted their children from the US and internationally; many were transracial adoptive families. Some parents were estranged from their children, and hoped to find a way back to . Some were asked by their children to take the course. Some wanted to better understand the realities of adoption today, far from the time they had attended their adoption agency’s classes.

If you are an adoptee who thinks their adoptive parents might learn from the course, and you are uncertain what to say to them, feel free to schedule a free consultation with Astrid.

Learn more about the Astrid and Adoption Mosaic team here.

“Seasoned Adoptive Parents” will be offered online for 6 Wednesdays starting October 11 through November 18, from 4pm to 5:30pm Pacific time.

Please join us! Please also share the word about this “Seasoned Adoptive Parents” class!

At the KAAN Conference This Weekend

I am attending the annual conference of KAAN, the Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network, in Chicago this weekend June 30-July 2. I am looking forward to it for several reasons.

One is that I will be presenting a workshop with my colleagues at Adoption Mosaic. The workshop is directed toward adoptees and adoptive parents, and is titled “Educating Your Adoptive Parents: Not Your Burden.” We have found that many adoptees, when they are adults in their 20’s, 30’s 40’s, and even older, would love for their adoptive parents to learn more about adoption—about the role of trauma, racism, identity, search reunion, and more. That education, though, should not be the burden of the adopted person—it should be the adoptive parents’ responsibility to learn and gain more understanding.

Another reason I am looking forward to the conference is that I will be bringing “Lions Roaring Far from Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees” to sell and to talk about at the conference. As a co-editor, I appreciate this opportunity. KAAN has worked on reaching out to other adoption communities, and I look forward to bringing the book there.

I am also looking forward to meeting up with folks I know and haven’t seen for years, and also to meeting folks who I “know” via Facebook or otherwise, folks who I feel as though I know but have not yet met in person.

And, of course, I look forward to listening and learning from the wisdom that will be shared there.

Adoption Mosaic: NAAM

This is day 6 of National Adoption Awareness Month, so this is my daily post to amplify the voices of adoptees.

Adoption Mosaic is an adoptee-founded, adoptee-led, and adoptee-centric space, One of its main mantras is that adoptees are the experts in adoption. Their “We the Experts” series of workshops has featured panels of adoptees talking about birth/first parents, humor, names, substance abuse, siblings, reunion, and more. Today (November 6), there is a panel of adoptees speaking about their decision to become adoptive parents. Some issues are more controversial than others; Adoption Mosaic looks at the whole range.

Astrid Castro is the founder of Adoption Mosaic. She was adopted from Colombia as a young child, and has been consulting about and presenting workshops on adoption for decades. I have known her so long that we don’t really remember where we met: an adoption conference? In full disclosure and transparency, I have been an advocate for Adoption Mosaic for a long time, and have had the honor of participating on panels and workshops. Astrid, as an adoptee, and I, as an adoptive parent, have talked about adoption from our own perspectives, and I have learned so much from her lens.

We are currently co-facilitating a workshop as part of Adoption Mosaic’s Conscious Adoption series. The workshop is for “seasoned parents” such as myself, an adoptive parent whose children are now adults. Astrid and I viewed this as important because adoption-related issues don’t disappear when a child turns 18. The realities of trust, loss, grief, and identity manifest in different ways in adulthood. Sometimes they don’t even emerge until adoptees have children themselves, or decide to search for birth family, or become estranged from their adoptive family. At our first session last week, our group considered what we thought about adoption before we adopted, what we thought/learned about adoption as our kids were growing up, and what we think about it now. My eyes and heart have opened a lot in the last 30+ years.

Adoption Mosaic serves all members of the adoption constellation: parents, adoptees, professionals. They emphasize the need for “compassionate, informed education, training, and resources for the adoption constellation.” At the “We The Experts” presentations, non-adopted people are requested to listen—not to comment or otherwise impose ourselves. And that’s good. There are occasional “Adoptee Ally” presentations as well. One of the best ones was the panel of adult children of adoptees talking about how adoption had affected them. The adult children were not adopted; adoption had, however, deeply affected them via their parent (the adopted person). An upcoming “We the Experts” Ally panel is about partners/spouses of adoptees, and the December “We the Experts” panel is about Adoptees and Judaism.

Please feel free to share the programs of Adoption Mosaic with others.

“Adoptees, Mental Health, and Suicide Awareness”

The role of suicide and mental health in adoption are topics most people don’t want to hear about. As an adoptive parent, I’ve been writing and speaking out about it for years, and I know how painful and difficult it can be. That said, we need to talk and learn, and work toward suicide prevention and better mental health.

This Saturday September 12, Adoption Mosaic will host a panel called “Adoptees, Mental Health, and Suicide Awareness: Breaking the Silence, Breaking the Stigma, as part of their “We The Experts” series. The experts are adoptees, who share their lived experiences, as well as professional expertise. If as an adoptive parent you ever wished you could be a fly on the wall for discussions like this one, here’s your chance to listen to and learn from adoptees. I want to give credit and respect to the adoptees who will participate: they will be helping so many others with their courage and experience.

The focus on the “We the Experts” events is adoptees. Please share this event (and others in the We The Expert series) with adopted adults and others who may be interested. Non-adopted folx are welcome to attend: as listeners, as learners, as supporters of adoptees. Not as experts, not as authorities, not as dominating voices.

As an adoptive parent, I learned a lot about adoption as my kids were growing up. My sons were babies from the US when they were adopted; my twin daughters were 6 years old when they arrived from Ethiopia. All my children identify as Black; their adoptive dad and I are White. My children are all now adults in their 30’s. 

Over the years, we have had a lot of conversations about adoption. My four children’s perspectives on adoption vary greatly, around wanting or needing to search for birth family, around how they react to friends asking about their birth parents or why they were adopted, around trust, grief, Mother’s Day, and fairness. As children, they participated in adoptee camps and workshops, more or less willingly depending on age and mood. They dealt with memories or the lack of them, with baby photos or lack of them, with family tree assignments (never lacked them). As adults, they have settled into their identities, on their own terms, subject to change.

Questions and issues around adoption don’t end magically when adoptees turn 18. Children grow up. They seek out partners and relationships, and adoption can influence both. They have children themselves, who are not adopted and whose parents were. Those biological connections are powerful. As a mom, a grandmother, and the parent of adoptees, I continue to see the impact of adoption, and to learn.

One of the best ways I’ve been learning recently is through Adoption Mosaic’s “We the Experts” series. Depending on the topic, we get to listen to adopted adults talk about their experiences as parents, and how being adopted has affected their relationships with their children. We can learn why or why they chose to search for their birth family, how they have retained or rejected the religion they grew up in, what their relationships with their fathers have been like, and most recently, how they view DNA testing. In August, there was a great conversation about LGBTQ+ folx and adoption. The panelists talked about coming out to adoptive families, sexual orientation and how it can affect reunion, how dating and adoption can intersect (among other intersectionalities), and more. There was so much to say they held another session the following Saturday, and I have no doubts many conversations are still going on.

The panelists are consistently amazing and insightful. The adoptees attending the events ask great questions and share thoughtful comments. Astrid Castro, a Colombian transracial adoptee and thought leader in adoption, is the founder of Adoption Mosaic, and she facilitates the discussions. I especially urge adoptive parents, whatever age your adopted child is, to take advantage of the opportunity that is Adoption Mosaic’s We The Experts series. 

Adoption Mosaic has several resources about adoption and suicide posted on their facebook page as resources for the September 12 panel.

I want to also note a few other resources, by and for adoptees. One is Stop Adoptee Suicide, an Facebook page that provides resources. Another is this post from Intercountry Adoptee Voices (ICAV), “Dealing With Adoptee Suicide.”

Another important event will be Adoptee Remembrance Day, October 30, 2020. “Adoptee Remembrance Day is a day to recognize all of our brothers & sisters who are adopted, that didn’t survive adoption. It’s also a day that signifies an acknowledgement of loss for adoptees because before we’re ever adopted we experience the biggest loss of our lives that’s continuously ignored by our world today. Over the years, the adoptee community has had multiple conversations on creating a day set aside for adoptees, but we’re ready to bring this to life as a way to raise awareness and honor those adoptees who are no longer with us. It’s important that we don’t forget them and after all we’ve lost, adoptees deserve a day just for them.” – Pamela Karanova. Pamela is the force behind Adoptees Connect, whose goal is to “focus on putting adoptee voices first by creating a safe and valuable adoptee-centric space, created by and for adoptees, where their voices can meet and be heard.”

In recent years, the number of adopted adults who are speaking out about adoption has increased greatly. Each one has an important perspective to share, and I am glad to see their wisdom being acknowledged. Discussions around mental health and suicide remain challenging, in and outside of adoption, and each of us feels a terrible sorrow at the news of an adoptee dying by suicide. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Let’s keep learning, together.

A crisis text line is available 24/7. That link will take you to text lines in other countries as well. In the US, you can talk to a counselor right away by texting HOME to 741741. If you or someone you know is in an emergency, in the US call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 (or your country’s emergency number) immediately.