Robyn and I met through this project a few weeks ago and since then have exchanged many emails and have had a few lengthy phone conversations. Through our conversations and email interactions I’ve learned a lot from Robyn and look forward to continuing our conversations. As we began our conversations we quickly realized we had way more content than we could possibly imagine to upload for this project, as a result we each chose a few questions from a group of questions we both though up together and answered them. I hope you enjoy the interviews and pictures shared below.
What brought you to this project?
It looked like a creative and fun way to find another adoptee who might challenge me on my own paradigms re: adoption as well as dialogue about new ones. Plus did someone say it’s National Adoption Month?
Favorite colors: Gold, Purple and Red
When and where were you adopted from?
Adopted at 6 months from Korea. I had 1 foster mother (see photo). I was brought to the U.S. and lived my entire life in the Dutch town of Holland, Michigan. I also am considered a Transracial International Adoptee just to give you framework.
(Above: Robyn’s Foster mother of six months in Korea)
What kind of family did you grow up in?
I had one brother who was adopted from Korea (younger) but not blood related. We grew up in a school house back in the 70’s and lived out in the country with a dog, a rabbit, a big garden and a lot of fishing and deer hunting stories.
Is adoption one of those things where good intentions aren’t enough?
This question is hard to answer because it presupposes something.
Let me say that in the traditional paradigm of adoption, there is an assumed understanding that the ‘individual who is eligible’ for legal adoption is already in the position of needing something; i.e. permanent home, family, house etc. otherwise they wouldn’t be placed for adoption. When there is a family or entity who chooses to ‘adopt’ that individual and fulfill those needs, the intention in this scenario is very straightforward and pretty well defined as being ‘enough’ otherwise, I don’t think they’d be allowed to adopt; in other words they have met the requirements.
But that is where the rub might lie. Maybe those working definitions and requirements aren’t ‘enough’ – or there isn’t enough being done to see how or what the ‘enough’ might evolve into so that it can address some of the more nuanced circumstances; i.e. racial, cultural, mental and physical challenges, etc. unfolding with in the adoptees life. And it wouldn’t hurt to further examine the purpose for why the individuals or entity choose to adopt in the first place. All of this to say, lets not take away from the ‘good intention’ that was clearly enough, rather – this could also be a root cause of where the ‘meaning’ of this question might stem from and almost always
seems to pop up in the adoption dialogues.
Purpose – do Adoptees struggle with finding purpose in life? Do you think this has anything to do with the fact that we are or are not adopted if we do or don’t? What is Purpose?
I think it depends a lot on how Adoptees are taught first about what purpose is (either in relation to their adoption or with out). I also think it depends on how the adoptee might translate what purpose should be – either in relation to their adoption or not at all. Finally, whether that adoptee chooses to internalize it, live it out and/or challenge it – whatever ‘that is’ — clearly contributes to the overarching ideals or norms re: purpose as a whole. Personally, as an adoptee myself, I feel there’s something incredibly powerful about the word purpose – this can be defined as fate, destiny, luck – or in some contexts, faith. But ask most people and you might find that finding purpose is a struggle for most humans on the planet (adopted or not). To be able to see purpose from with in – in order to live it out, requires knowledge of self.
As an adoptee, not having knowledge of certain parts of self – is like trying to swing a bat with only one arm but you know your purpose was to always be a baseball player. This can at times, no matter how much you mentally compensate for the lack of knowledge, shapes the struggle and the experience of such; in they could be interrelated. Regardless, it’s hard to ignore these things and that is why the question is so intriguing to me and worth examining more.
What new paradigms would you like to see in adoption?
I would love to work with an organization that is addressing the root causes of adoption from a micro and macro level; more so in the International realm. We spend thousands of dollars on getting one child to the United States to join a nuclear family here. But what if we took that same amount of money and were able to support another family in that country to care for that same child – and somehow, figure out how to ‘adopt the entire family’ instead. And this isn’t writing a few letters to the family and send care packages, I’m talking about legally and literally extending he families to raise that child together.
I believe that type of partnership would go beyond the set paradigms we have today. It will also stretch us as people to really question our intentions and our definition of what ‘family’ is — how far does our ‘love and sacrifice’ really go– ? It’s easy to adopt a child from another country into a home that never has to think twice about that child’s country, their struggles, their people or their circumstances. But that child is an extension of them – and to love them isn’t just about loving them when they don’t cause dissonance to the prevailing model here— rather, it goes beyond.
How is it being a mother and an Adoptee, having biological children of your own?
It’s one of the most amazing most unexplainable thing ever. Having biological children of your own that is. Being an adoptee; knowing that my birthmother probably had this same biological experience ties me to her in a way that doesn’t need language. I realize however, she may have interpreted the account or the circumstances surrounding her at the time of the birth, very differently. But it doesn’t take away from the standalone moment of this ‘innate’ natural and most raw piece of yourself, having ‘life’ be created with in and then manifesting outside of you. When I see parts of myself with in my children, living, breathing and having their own being, I sometimes wish I could give them more roots (biological grandparents, heritage and culture) that match this piece of them. But I am thankful for my children, they heal me and they remind me of what matters in this life.
What do you do now?
I currently am a public speaker, consultant and strategist for diff. organizations on issues of race, diversity, culture and/or adoption. I have worked in non-profit, FBO community development and government combined for almost 10 years respectively.
End of Interview
Robyn has shared many insights with me and has certainly pushed me to more critically reflect on where my ideas come from, what biases they are infused with and what possible direction they could take next. I am very grateful for being paired with her and highly encourage folks to take a look at her writing. A link to the interview she did with me and her website (blog and more!) can be found here.
Thank you so much for taking the time to learn about Robyn and show interest in this project. Lastly, thank you so much to Heather Schade of Production, Not Reproduction for hosting the project once again and getting newbies such as myself involved.