Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture Conference 2018

 Seventh Biennial Conference of Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture in cooperation with Adoption Initiative

*Formations: Thinking Kinship through Adoption*

Oakland Asian Culture Center and Oakstop

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ASAC 2018 Complete Schedule

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Notes:

Misdiagnosing adoptees youth with learning disabilities

First mothers signatures are forced on adoption records

We also need to challenge the adoption industries in sending countries

Poverty and lack of resources is the most common reason expectant mothers choose  to make an adoption plan

Adoptive parents do not naturalize their children are are being deported as adults

Gatekeepers to original adoption file include, but not limited to adoptive parents, judges, social workers, orphanage owners, legal corporations

School counselors in Virginia are not trained or personally related to adoption, and they are usually the first contact foster youth and adoptees have with counseling professionals.

Common messages given to international adoptees about their countries of origin are that they are dangerous and impoverished

The need for adoption language as a young child

Illegal international adoptions are still happening

Adoption is run on a business model

Trickery, manipulation, and fraud in court deceive first/birth families

Adoption is a colonial practice

Adoption is a construction of cultural genocide of indigenous people

Adoption profits off of mothers in poverty

Children were /are stolen from their daycare and placed in the international adoption industries

Demand for infant adoptions is greater than there are infants available… Supply and Demand

First/ birth mothers healing begins when they know where their child(ren) are and that they are doing well. “I just want to watch her walk by.”- Costa Rican birth mother that lost her child to poverty

Kinship- Deconstructing the competitiveness of parenting and ownership of children. I have four mothers. Which one is your real mother? Again, I have four mothers. European/white culture?

How am I representing myself today and archiving it?

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Very Few Understand

Nigel: Did your parents have any information about your biological family?

Me: No, they were not given any information. Although, I received a birthday card on my first birthday from the women that worked in my orphanage. My parents informed the adoption agency and all communication was discontinued.

Nigel: Thats kidnapping.

Me: Exactly.

Pact Camp 2018

It felt so good to be back at Pact Camp

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This year has brought new dear friends into my life.

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Its always tough to open myself up to strangers, but I do it because I absolutely love the adoptees and foster care youth that walk this path with me.

Transracial Adoptee Panel: What We Wish Our Parents Had Known/Done

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And after we give our hearts, we must rest

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Until next time…

Birthday Dinner

Every year on my birthday I think more about my first mother. Over the years, I have honored her presence in my heart with either a thought, a prayer, or a birthday wish as I blew out the candles. This year I did something a little different.

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It was just a few years ago that I met a woman via Facebook. She shared her stories of when she was a young Brigham Young University student volunteering at my orphanage in the 1990’s. The one detail that I kept dear to me was the food the women, mothers, and children ate; “dal and rice almost every day.” The budget was tight, but if they had extra money, they added vegetables.

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So this year, I decided to spend the evening of my birthday alone, honoring her by making dal, rice (not pictured here) chapatis, and coconut chutney. I said a prayer and sent a lot of love around the world.

 

Family Medical Hx?

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Everyday, I express gratitude to the heavens above for my health. With all my medical history being unknown, I am truly grateful that I haven’t experienced any serious health threats yet.

I have taken my health very seriously since adulthood forced me to. Up until about a couple of years ago, I kept up with all my visits with my OBGYN at Planned Parenthood.

It all starts with paperwork before the appointment. Sitting in the lobby, checking of boxes swiftly, and then get caught up at the family history section. I take a deep breath, and write in “unknown“, and lastly my signature.

I turn in my paperwork to the front desk and verbally request that they review the medical forms to include an “Unknown”, or “Fostered/Adoptee” option when asked about family medical history. I drop some knowledge, they have an excuse, I roll my eyes, and then I take a seat and wait for my name to be called.

Minutes later, I am undressed with my paper cover-up over my bare chest, laid on my back, breast exposed.

Lump is found

Mammogram is provided

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I am now living in Oakland and monitoring is suggested by my new Kaiser team. My most recent appointment was with the Breast Clinic.

It all starts with paperwork before the appointment. Sitting in the lobby, checking of boxes swiftly, and then get caught up at the family history section. I take a deep breath, and write in “unknown“, and lastly my signature.

I turned in my paperwork t othe front desk and verbally request that they review the medical forms to include an “Unknown”, or “Fostered/Adoptee” option when asked about family medical history. I drop some knowledge, they have an excuse, I roll my eyes, and then I take a seat and wait for my name to be called.

Minutes later, I am undressed with my paper cover up over my bare chest, laid on my back, breast exposed.

The doctor paced and asked me three times if I had information on my medical history within 15 minutes. THREE TIMES, I had to breathe and say no, calmly.

Lump is found again

Mammogram is ordered

Benign.

Everyday, I express gratitude to the heavens above for my health. With all my medical history being “unknown,” I am truly grateful that I haven’t experienced any serious health threats, yet.

 

Pact Fall Fundraising Gala Speech

Pact Has Changed My Life Forever

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In my mid twenties, I embarked on an adventure back to my first home in search for my family in India, in search for what is rightfully mine. With my future children in mind, my dear friends and I documented my travels that ended up eventually becoming a feature length film. Unexpectedly, knowledge of my film began to travel through the adoption community. And that’s how I was introduced to Beth and PACT. Beth was so kind to invite me to the Pact Family Camp to present my film to adoptive parents. She was the first person to call me a transracial adoptee. I had never heard of that label before but it was exactly what I needed to hear. Something so small as two words helped me settle years of confusion about my experiences and my place in my family, with white parents.

With no expectations about what camp was going to be like, I packed my bags and drove up to Lake Tahoe. As I drove up the driveway, I saw a little brown child running across the street towards the pool and their white parents following not too far behind. My heart sank and tears began to flow. That was really the first time I saw myself from the outside. 

Opening ceremony welcomed all families into the conference room. I will never forget when Beth asked all adoptees, foster care youth and alumni to raise their hand. I saw at least a hundred hands in the air! This rush of validation, acceptance, and unconditional love went through my body. Coming from a family that didn’t speak about my adoption, India, my first family, adoption language, or the possibility of searching and reuniting, I was absolutely overwhelmed to see so many other families built like mine, all in the same room. I immediately knew that I was where I was suppose to be.

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Since my first Pact Family Camp in 2014, I have met, listened to and became close friends with other TRA’s, Foster Care Alumni, natural mothers, and adoptive parents. In fact, they are the reason I moved to Oakland earlier this year. Together they all have honored my voice, my experience, and gave me credit for being an expert in adoption. Through the authors, bloggers, filmmakers, theatrical performers, and poets that PACT has exposed me to, my perspective have expanded around race, gender, sex, identity, parenting, and language. The most precious gift that I have received from PACT is my support group for TRA’s of Color. I’ve been allowed to cry, mourn, express anger, laugh, and roll my eyes without having to defend myself. I am not alone in this and my self esteem and self love have heightened to a level I have never experienced. I consider everyone that I have met through PACT an extension of my family. A family that understands me as a whole person, without having to say one word.

So tonight, I am here to celebrate and highlight the work of the dedicated, strong, insightful, gracious and compassionate staff members, including all the counselors, volunteers, panelist, and board members of PACT. Transracial Adoption is complex with so many unexpected challenges. But with the all trainings, webinars, annual family camps, consultations, education, support groups, placement services and more, PACT truly is a leader in providing the best opportunities to learn how to move through the challenges with the adoptee’s best interests at the core.

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Myself, along with so many other adoptees and foster care alumni have been given the open space to share our experiences, joys and challenges. We hope to create a better experience for those that walk this path beside us and behind us, and sometimes before us. I want to personally thank you all for coming tonight and supporting the much needed services for those that are the most vulnerable. I am proof that PACT can change lives and support a healthy and open narrative around adoption. Thank you Beth and my dear PACT family for making me a better person. I love you all dearly.