Dance, Depression, and Poetry: Speaking Out

Yesterday, my friend T posted on Facebook about N, someone T didn’t really know well at all, who had posted and then deleted some frightening comments. T asked anyone who knew N to reach out to N, to see if she was okay. Word spread, and a friend of N’s headed to check on her. N is alive, is getting help, and is stable now.

I am glad (in a bittersweet, sad way) that N posted on Facebook. I am grateful that T saw the comments, saw that the comments were then deleted, and–even though N is only an acquaintance–reached out to others, who also spread the word of concern for someone they did not know at all, but who maybe knew friends of N’s friends.

I wish N well; I don’t know or need to know any other details. I am inspired, heartened, encouraged by T’s actions. I am not overstating to say she reminded me of my faith in the strength and power of the human spirit.

Depression is a cruel and real beast.

As it happens, today a video came across my Facebook feed by Ryan Smith, a young man from Bowie, Maryland, in Prince George’s County, where my kids grew up. I give Ryan credit for his artistry, his dancing talent, his poetry, and his courage in speaking out about what depression has felt like for him.

 

Some excerpts:

Do you know what depression feels like?

It feels like a thousand pound weight holding your body down in a pool of water, barely reaching your chin, so no matter how bad your neck hurts, you gotta keep your head up to survive.

It’s like looking at the sky and seeing how far away heaven is for you right now.

It’s pushing everybody who loves you as far away as possible. I don’t deserve them. Desert them, before they desert me.

It’s pretending everything is cool and content, When you know you will explode any minute.

I can get 100 hours of sleep and still feel tired as hell, Searching for a clear definition of self.

It’s being afraid of being alone with your own thoughts in your empty apartment, But not wanting anyone around you.

It’s tears that will never fall from your cheek, Fear of adding to the water I’m already chin deep in.

Ryan sums up a complex part of depression this way: “It’s the ‘thanks for nothing’ look you give to people who tell you to pray and everything will be okay, but the only explanation is crazy, but you wouldn’t call me crazy if you knew how much I hate me.” He recognizes that despair, and also refers to Romans 8:18  and Isaiah 14:27 on his Facebook page, relying on his faith but also knowing that, for some people, prayer must be accompanied by therapy, treatment, and counseling. And there is no weakness around that, only strength.

I write fairly often about depression. I have had my bouts of sadness, though usually in connection with a big loss, such as my dad’s death. That said, I have seen many beloved friends and family members in the vise-like grip of depression. I admit I have sometimes dismissed them as being overly sensitive or dramatic. I have learned how painful and real depression can be, even though as a society we don’t want to talk about it much.

Depression does not discriminate by age or race or income or gender or religious faith or being loved by many people. It’s real. It is treatable. It can cause great heartache and death. We need to listen to the stories of those struggling.

Thank you to N for reaching out for help, and to T for not being complacent, even as she didn’t know the full story. Thank you to Ryan for sharing a video that he hopes will be a blessing to others–what courage to share the pain, and to be an inspiration for others. Keep on dancing.

A few resources around depression:

National Network of Depression Centers

Depression Basics–National Institute for Mental Health

“We Are Not Well: The Affects of Stress, Racism, and Depression”–blavity.com

“After battling depression and surviving a suicide attempt, Mike Sweetney is spreading positivity” (Sweetney is, like me, a Georgetown grad. Unlike him, though, I never played in the NBA.)

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

 

Being “Home,” Being Adopted, Being Lemn Sissay

In the journey to and from home, there are many intersections, places where 2 or more roads meet. When you are expecting a delivery to your home, what do they ask you?

“What’s the nearest intersection?”

The synonyms for intersection are circle, cloverleaf, crossing, crosswalk, interchange, junction, stop.

Let’s make that a poem:

Intersection

Circle, cloverleaf, crossing, crosswalk.

Interchange, junction.

Stop.

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©: Maureen McCauley Evans

Consider the intersections of the poet/writer/broadcaster/foster care alum/Ethiopian adoptee/British citizen/MBE Lemn Sissay. “His head is in London where he’s based, his heart is in Manchester where he is not, his soul is in Addis and his vibe is in New York where his mother lives,” according to his website.

Lemn Sissay has a new BBC radio broadcast, taped at the Ghion Hotel in Addis, called “Homecoming.” He speaks about the various crossings of his life, and brings in several people who have traveled on some of the same roads as he has. He interviews two Ethiopian adoptees, raised in Holland and now living in Ethiopia, (An intersection: my daughter and I met also with those two lovely people in Addis last August.) He talks about Prince Alemayehu, about whom I’ve written several times. Lemn cooks with his Ethiopian sister. He recites poems to his audience at the Ghion. You can hear the cloverleaf of language in the broadcast, where Amharic is spoken, though not by Lemn, who speaks English, though he is Ethiopian.

He shares this poem:

…When I found out I am Ethiopian, I come home, and I am asked how Ethiopian I am.

At the end of the day, you are home where you are accepted. No?

You make home where you are accepted, and, in making that home, you accept it.

Home is not one place.

“Home” can be complicated, whether we are connected to adoption or not. I’d argue that the roads to adoption and from adoption are especially complicated. Lemn writes that “home” is not one place. It’s certainly not just a house or hut or hospital room, because those can and do disappear, either physically or in our memories. Perhaps adoptees start in one place, and often travel through many places which others may call “home” but they don’t feel fully safe, fully comfortable, fully right–until they do, until they can claim it themselves, in a way that no one else can. Perhaps in a way that no one but an adopted person can understand fully.

The radio show is called by the BBC a “Comedy of the Week,” in (I suppose) the English major sense of “comedy:” not everyone dies, the situation of the protagonist goes from bad to good, there is a happy ending. (Is that how adoption goes? Sometimes. Not always.) You might not laugh out loud while you listen, though you’ll likely smile. You may sigh as well, thinking about the losses alluded to, the roads not travelled, the differences made by wrong turns, missed exits, sketchy directions.

Lemn Sissay writes that, at the end of the day, you are home where you are accepted. Another innovative thinker wrote that, “We are all just walking each other home.”

May we be kind to each other on our journeys, and may we stop to understand those whose lives intersect with ours along the way.

Part 1 of Lemn Sissay’s Homecoming broadcast is available here. Part 2 will be available May 12.

Libraries, Mothers, and Children: Visiting the Awassa Reading Center

Being able to read, and having books, changes the world. I love to read, and take it for granted far too often. When my kids were growing up, the house was full of books. My granddaughter, at almost 8, is a terrific reader, at home and at school, with books at her feet, under her bed, on the family room couch, in her backpack, in her hands.

What a treat, then, for my daughter Aselefech, her daughter (my granddaughter) and me to visit Ethiopia Reads’ Awassa Children’s Reading Center during our recent visit to Ethiopia. The mission of Ethiopia Reads is to collaborate with Ethiopian communities to build schools, plant libraries, teach teachers, boost literacy and provide youth and families with the tools to improve their lives. They have planted libraries in every region of Ethiopia (no small accomplishment), and fill an enormous need in this ancient, beautiful country.

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Awassa (sometimes spelled Hawassa) is about a 3-4 hour drive south (about 140 miles/220 km) from the capital city Addis Ababa. We were just dropping in, a group of 7 of us, on a Wednesday afternoon. About 10 kids were inside when we got there, a few in the little nook to the left, a couple looking at the books on the shelves, and a bunch in the sweet treasure of a reading room at the front. The adults working there were gracious to us, helpful to the children. Books were available in English and in Amharic; the kids were reading a variety.

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Children at the Awassa Reading Center

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Boys choosing books from the collection at the Awassa Reading Center

For my granddaughter, the Awassa Reading Center was a comfortable, familiar place, some 7,000 miles from home. She looked through the books, pulled out a Magic Tree House book, and joined the kids in the sunny front room.

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Children in the cheerful reading room at the Awassa Reading Center

As an American middle-class child, she finds books and libraries nothing unusual. Not so for her Ethiopian counterparts, and that’s what makes Ethiopia Reads so valuable. They are building communities by bringing books and libraries to places that had neither. They are educating girls, as well as boys. Ethiopia Reads also provides soccer balls to kids (who deserve to play with more than deflated, dirt- and hole-covered footballs–look what our kids have for equipment here in the US), supports a running team of girls (including job training,which provides employment and keeps them safe), and offers monthly sponsorships for kindergarteners. Many families struggle to send their little ones to school, since there are no publicly funded options for kindergarteners. For just $21 a month, you can sponsor a kindergartener for a full year: that will help with tuition, food, and clothes. $21 A Month. Amazing. I’m sponsoring a child to go to school through Ethiopia Reads, and you can too. Change the world with me.

Libraries here in the US and there in Ethiopia are important community centers as well. While we were visiting, we dropped off flyers at Awassa about Ethiopian Adoption Connection, which offers a searchable database to connect adoptive families around the world with first/birth families in Ethiopia. Many Ethiopian mothers long to know how their children are, after placing them for international adoption. EAC helps in a compassionate, pragmatic way. Many children placed for adoption come from the Awassa area. As an adoptive mother, I was very happy to think that some mothers might be able to know that their children are alive and well. As an adoptee connected with her Ethiopian family, Aselefech was glad to share EAC’s information as well.

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The transcendentalist Margaret Fuller said, “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” Lovely sentiment from the early 19th century, and exactly right some 200 years later, whether meant for children in 1840’s New England or children in 21st century Ethiopia. Create a reader and change the world.

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Children’s books in Amharic at the Awassa Reading Center

 

 

 

 

Amazing Resource for Young Adoptees: Creating Home

Anyone connected with adoption is aware of the need, value, and scarcity of post-adoption resources, especially for teens and college-age young people. It’s a complicated, vulnerable time for figuring out identity, independence, and values for any adolescent/young adult, and often especially so for adoptees.

How about an opportunity to be with other young adoptees as well as with adopted adults/mentors and accomplished artists from many fields, sharing stories, creating art, and building community?

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Creating Home will be a great new resource aimed at connecting young adoptees with artists (many of whom are also adoptees) to tell their stories and explore their realities in a safe, affirming way. The pilot project is beginning in Minnesota, and will hopefully be replicated in many other places. The need is there–let’s get this into action.

An excerpt from the Kickstarter page:

Creating Home is a multidisciplinary storytelling program for teen and college age adoptees, and is driven by the idea that finding one’s voice through the arts can be an empowering experience. The three month pilot program will feature world-class teaching artist mentors (like the artists, actors, and writers featured in our video), interactive workshops, performance opportunities, and much more. It will serve as a space to affirm identity and build community in whatever ways that makes sense to the participants. Whether through spoken-word, visual art, dance, or other forms, the teen and college age adoptee participants will be given tools and resources to tell their stories and talk about their thoughts and perspectives on their own terms.

Sun Mee Chomet: actor/playwright. adoptee, featured in Coming Home Kickstarter video

Sun Mee Chomet: actor/playwright. adoptee, featured in Coming Home Kickstarter video

As the adoptive parent of 4 now-young adults (all in their mid-late 20’s now!), I know that this program would have been embraced by them, and would have been extremely useful to them. It brings young adoptees together in a creative, active way. It’s a partnership with COMPAS (Community Programs In the Arts), Land of Gazillion Adoptees, and the hip hop artist/activist/slam poetry champion Guante. Creating Home meets a huge, gaping need in the adoption community.

And it needs your support! Please take a look at the Kickstarter page and make a donation. Adoption agency professionals, adoptive parents, adult adoptees, artists, performers, photographers, poets, anyone who cares about solid, appropriate, meaningful resources for young adoptees–please join me in Creating Home.

 

Telling Genuine Adoption Stories

I used to think a story had a beginning, middle, and end. If I have learned nothing else in my decades as an adoptive parent and in my work as an advocate, it’s that a story has multiple beginnings, middles, and endings. It’s rarely a neat package. It’s mostly a work in progress, fluid, subject to change.

Adoptive parents often struggle with telling their children about how and why the children needed to be adopted. Their stories are, by their nature, filled with loss, and often with abuse, poverty, violence, and neglect. How these stories are held, honored, and told can be complicated.

An additional enormous complication is whether the stories are accurate. Another is whether the stories are available to the adopted person, who may search for the people and details that made up his or her life before adoption. What was thought to be The Story can turn out to be something extremely different.

On November 16, I attended the amazing, adoptee-led, adoptee-centric “Reframing the Adoption Discourse” conference sponsored by the Adoption Policy and Reform Collaborative and AdopSource. Held in Minnesota, also known as the Land of Gazillion Adoptees, it was a day filled with panels, ideas, and insights.

All the panels (Research, Policy, Mental Health, Performance, Advocacy) were wonderful, and I’ll write about each of them over the next weeks.

Today, I’m going to start with the Performance Panel.

(L to R) Katie Hae Leo, Kurt Blomberg, Chad Goller-Sojourner, Marissa Lichwick-Glesne, and (facilitator) Kevin Haeboom Vollmers

(L to R) Katie Hae Leo, Kurt Blomberg, Chad Goller-Sojourner, Marissa Lichwick-Glesne, and (facilitator) Kevin Haeboom Vollmers

Click on the names to learn more about each talented panelist (poets, writers, dancers, playwrights, spoken word artists):

Katie Hae Leo

Kurt Blomberg

Chad Goller-Sojourner

Marissa Lichwick-Glesne

I’m starting with this panel because they spoke most about stories: not only their own, but also about the nature of stories and storytelling. Katie, Kurt, and Marissa were adopted to the US from Korea. Chad was born in the US, and is African-American. All are transracial adoptees. All are now adults, who have chosen to tell some of their stories through poetry, plays, spoken word, and dance.

I’ve written about Katie before, having seen her powerful one-woman show, N/A.

Here’s a quote from the Minnesota Star Tribune article about Katie:

“All she has is stories, some of which she has made up.”

Katie is an adult. She still doesn’t have the full story of her origins, something most of us take for granted. This lack of information has been particularly complex for Katie around medical issues.

Katie, like Chad, Kurt, and Marissa, has used art as a way to tell and understand her adoption story, even in its incompleteness.

We aren’t talking about Choco, or Horace, or foxes, bears, or the moon anymore. These are the genuine stories of adoptees, who are now adults, still working on understanding and processing the realities of how they started out in one family and were moved to another. In some cases, the doors seemed to have shut firmly on the first family, though the search for truth remains.

For these four, art has been a form of activism around their adoption stories, and around adoption generally. Katie talked about how meeting other Asian-Americans in theater work helped her to better understand herself, and created a community of creativity. Kurt participated in group sports in high school, and said that helped him handle group identity. It was dance, though, that genuinely allowed him to see his body as an individual, to further gain a genuine sense of self. The power of the arts, said Kurt, is that we remember, we create stories, and we create a platform then for talking about stories.

Chad said that, as a black child in a white family, he’d “been performing all along,” and that, for him, “things make sense on stage.” Performance and the arts create an “empowerment narrative,” a storytelling that can be liberating from the harsh realities of racism and isolation, though those are a core part of the story.

Telling stories, according to Katie, is “an interruption, an intervention, to the dominant narrative” of adoption told through other voices in our society, such as adoptive parents and adoption agencies. We need more adoptee voices telling their stories through their art: “we want more intersections” of truth, art, and personal stories, because that “brings strength.”

Marissa spoke about the power of stories to educate, and how telling stories can evolve into activism. When she is in the United States, she said, she is Korean American. When she is in Korea, she is American Korean. That difference informs her art, informs her story, informs her sense of self.

Brilliant, powerful, challenging. So important to be open to deep listening, even of painful truths.

And as Kurt said, “I hope we all dance soon.” Dancing through pain, dancing through closed doors, dancing through joy and healing.

Chinese Baby Girls and Terracotta Soldiers

China’s One Child law, which took effect in 1979, has meant that couples with more than one child would be fined or otherwise punished, There is a cultural preference for boys in China, and so girls have often been abandoned (or aborted or murdered). A trickle of adoptions from China began in the early 1980’s. Some 70,000 Chinese baby girls have arrived in the US for adoption since the early 1990’s. Thousands more were adopted to Canada, western Europe, and Australia. Most were under 3 years old, so most are now reaching adulthood.

The One Child law has created controversy in terms of ethics and economics; these controversies are familiar territory for international adoption as well. The policy has also, not surprisingly, created a range of responses from poets, filmmakers, writers, sculptors, and other artists, in China and around the globe.

You’ve perhaps heard of the astonishing Terracotta Army, a huge collection of sculptures buried underground in Xi’an with the first emperor of China, around 210 BC. They were discovered in 1974, and consist of over 8,000 soldiers, plus chariots, horses, and more. A Wikipedia article called “Terracotta Army” is here. If you are in Bern, Switzerland, you can see “Qin–The eternal emperor and his terracotta warriors” on display through November 7, 2013, at. The warriors will be on display at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in May 2014. The Indy museum is the world’s largest children’s museum, by the way. Of course, the best place to view the warriors is in Xi’an itself, of course. It was a TripAdvisor.com Travelers Choice 2013 Winner.

So what is the connection among art, Chinese baby girls, and the Terracotta Army?

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A BBC article “How Chinese art explores its one-child policy” explains. Here’s the introduction:

“Huiyun started her life in the garbage. As an unwanted baby girl, her parents abandoned her in the poor province where she was born in central China. There, a pair of refuse collectors found her with her umbilical cord still attached. They kept her, bringing her up as their own.

Huiyun is now 12 years old, and life has taken a turn for the better. This year she became one of eight models featured in provocative French artist Prune Nourry’s new exhibition Terracotta Daughters, now showing in Shanghai’s Gallery Magda Danysz. An exploration of China’s skewed sex ratio, the exhibition dishes up a new version of a national treasure − with a twist. Nourry has fashioned more than one hundred sculptures in the same clay, and using the same techniques, as the ancient Terracotta Warriors, the famous collection of sculptures representing the armies of the first Emperor of China. But instead of producing a brigade of soldiers, the artist has created an army of schoolgirls. They symbolise China’s millions of missing women.”

You can find the rest of the BBC article here.

I do want to note that while the title of the BBC article is “How Chinese art explores its one-child policy,” the sculptor of the Terracotta Daughters is a French artist currently based in Brooklyn. Prune Nourry in 2010 exhibited work titled “Holy Daughters,” which drew “parallels between the cow, sacred animal and symbol of fertility in India, and the depreciated condition of women.”

As a writer and artist, I find this work evocative and challenging.  “An army of school girls.” Terracotta Daughters: yet whose daughters are they? And of course, there is an army of Chinese adult adoptees as well, and I mean that in the most empowering and respectful sense. Baby girls, and adopted children, grow up. Some choose to travel back to China, to  explore the culture, to search for family, to re-connect as Americans, as Chinese-Americans, as immigrants to America, as Chinese adults.

The acclaimed documentary Somewhere Between follows 4 young women adopted from China as they consider identity, loss, ethnicity, race, and more.

We can learn so much by listening to their journeys and stories, as well as those of the Terracotta Daughters.

Listening, Learning, Honoring, Understanding: Many Voices

Public Radio International did a great interview with three writer/activists from Gazillion Voices, the new on-line adoptee-led magazine that debuted in August.

In the PRI interview, Kevin Haeboom VollmersLaura Klunder, and Shannon Gibney speak about being adopted, as well as about race, identity, and responsibility. Read about and listen to the PRI interview here.

Volume 3 of Gazillion Voices, the first adoptee-centric, adoptee-led, on-line magazine came out today, Wednesday, October 2, in honor of my granddaughter’s birthday.

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Well, no. I’m just exercising my grandmother prerogative here by posting that excellent photo. Z is not adopted, by the way; her mother, her aunt, and her uncles are. She has grandparents here in the US and in Ethiopia; she has an Ethiopian uncle in Seattle. She is surrounded by family who maybe don’t fit in neat boxes but who treasure her.

Gazillion Voices came out today in honor of Gandhi’s birthday, also October 2 (1869).

Well, no. Just a delightful coincidence, all of it.

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Still, it’s all pretty great, and a sign from the universe of an intriguing convergence. This month’s Gazillion Voices includes a powerful guest post by Lee Herrick titled “A Certain Shape of Home: Notes on How I Became a Poet,” “Imaginations of My Mother” by Jenni Fang Lee (LGA columnist; if you saw the documentary “Somewhere Between,” you saw Jenn/Fang’s story), a podcast with Dr. Jane Aronson (The Orphan Doctor), and many other fascinating articles and features.

Go read, comment, enjoy, be challenged, spark a conversation.

In the adoption community, we need to keep talking, listening, honoring, and learning.

Beautiful Women, Ugly Realities: Miss America and Miss Saigon

Anyone in any combination of interracial family (marriage, adoption, in-laws, godchildren, beloveds, whatever) becomes attuned to racism in a special way: when we love someone, it’s painful to feel they are being judged by race alone, or to see that their racial group is being disparaged, excluded, or condemned.

For those of us born, raised, and imbued in white privilege, awareness of racism has a particular poignancy–we don’t experience racism often ourselves. I know that I’m sometimes treated in a store very differently than how my daughters or sons are, for example. That’s a trivial example, in light of violent acts, civil rights violations, housing discrimination, and so on.

Yet that’s the point perhaps.  It’s the seemingly trivial things, the ones where people say “Oh, you’re overreacting” that add up and evolve into the big, ugly ones.

So as a nice, white, middle-aged woman, who has had her fair share of privilege just for being born white, and who loves beyond words her children and grandchild of color, I’m writing today about beauty and racism.

This one goes out especially for folks like me, adoptive parents of children from a mother of another color:

Racism is alive and well.

Two current examples:

Miss America: Nina Davuluri, our newly crowned beauty queen, was born in exotic Syracuse, New York. She won, and immediately a big, ugly, racist backlash began on social media.

Here’s a good article from the beauty pageant magazine Forbes: “Why We Need An Indian Miss America.”

It’s important to speak out, and also to listen.

Miss Saigon: This hugely successful play has been presented around the world since it premiered in 1989. It also has been highly controversial.

The poet/spoken word artist/more Bao Phi has written this beautiful, powerful post called War Before Memory: A Vietnamese American Protest Organizer’s History Against Miss Saigon.

Here is an excerpt, describing a recent protest against the upcoming production of Miss Saigon at the Ordway Theater in St. Paul, MN:

The President and CEO of the Ordway, a white woman, suggests that we all see the show so that it can provoke feelings in us. Though several of us have in fact seen the play, I can’t help it. “My entire family was almost wiped out in that war,” I blurt out. “You think I need to go see your play in order to have my emotions provoked?” There goes my resolve to avoid losing my cool.

 I feel raw. Can barely sit still. I want to vent, to rage, to add my perspective as a Vietnamese person, but I also don’t want to dominate the conversation. I listen to several Asian American women talk about how men assume they or their mothers are prostitutes, or see them as submissive sex objects who will do anything for a white man – a behavior that Miss Saigon reinforces. David Mura is there. His daughter has graduated college. My daughter, not yet four years old, is at home. Her middle name is the Japanese name of Esther Suzuki, who died shortly after the second protest of Miss Saigon at the Ordway.

His whole post is prose, it’s poetry, it’s powerful.

I had posted on my blog here about Miss Saigon, and the protest about its Ordway staging. Really, though, I was primarily writing about the production of “How To Be A Korean Woman,” the nearly sold-out, one-woman play, written and performed by Sun-Mee Chomet at the Guthrie Theater. I’ll be attending the play Sunday afternoon, and then participating on the post-play discussion panel following the performance. Here’s the blurb for the discussion: “Moving Forward: Grappling with Unknowns and Never-Will-Be-Knowns” with Michelle K. Johnson and Maureen McCauley Evans. Michelle K. Johnson works for the State of Minnesota’s 4th Judicial District (Hennepin County) as the Guardian ad Litem Volunteer Coordinator. Maureen McCauley Evans is an artist, writer, and editor who spent many years involved with adoption professionally.

Michelle is a transracial adoptee. I feel confident we will talk about race, adoption, and their intersection, as those are all parts of Sun-Mee’s work.

I recognize these are all hard things to talk about sometimes, but they are important. And I’m grateful to those who are speaking out against racism, and helping me learn.

I’ll close today with the words of a brilliant Middle Eastern poet:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
– Rumi

 

When Adoptees Become Mothers

Often, when we think about adoption, we think only of babies or little children. Adoptees, of course, grow up. They are parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. The fact of being adopted or having been adopted has not changed, though the way they look at adoption–its meaning, its value, its power–may well have changed through the years.

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Lost Daughters posted this writing prompt this morning:

The prompt: In what way, if any, has your experience as an adoptee affected the way you parent? Does your adoptedness impact your children and/or your relationship with them? When you consider the choices you have made or might make in the future regarding reproduction, does adoptedness play a role?

Already there have been several thoughtful responses. I hope to read more, and encourage everyone to send this link on to anyone they know who is adopted and is a mom or grandma. I’m sending this on to my daughter; when she gave birth to her daughter almost 7 years ago, her perspective on being adopted took a whole new journey.

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Here is information about the (wonderful, powerful, amazing) Lost Daughters site:

Lost Daughters is an independent collaborative writing project founded in 2011.  It is edited and authored 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 experience of being adopted.

Our mission is to bring 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.

Strength, resiliency, wisdom, empowerment, and peace.

Not always the first words we associate with adoption, but consider the possibilities if we did. May we continue to listen, to speak out, and to learn.

Asian Adoptees: Poetry from Diaspora Dreams

I believe so much in the power of art and in its ability to liberate emotions and create new perspectives.  I’m also interested in the art of adoption, as I define it: the creative work and energy that evolves from adoptees. I wrote about it in Art of Adoption: Playwrights and Poets.

From the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, here is “Tending the Speculative,”  a thoughtful, provocative, evocative group of poems by adult adoptees from Asia (including Vietnam, Korea, the Philippines) who grew up in the United States. They reflect yet another dimension of Diaspora, those individuals united in separation from their roots.

A quote from the introduction:

“…unlike the witness who remembers history or who can turn to birth family or ethnic community to ask, the poet writing from an adopted diasporic condition oftentimes cannot testify to the events that orphaned her or him. These conditions retain an uncanny presence in her/his dream life.”

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