I've recently had the opportunity to connect with a few of the folks at Open Adoption & Family Services. A resource on the West Coast for 30 years, OA&FS has been a pioneer of open adoption, offering comprehensive training and lifelong support for adoptive and biological families. They are one of few non-religious adoption agencies in our country, and they identify as pro-choice, which allows them to provide comprehensive support to women through pregnancy termination, parenting, or adoption. Additionally, I appreciate OA&FS' commitment to helping families navigate the complex lifelong relationships created by adoption, with the understanding this helps adoptees "integrate the multiple facets of their identity." This progressive model isn't widely utilized in adoption, but it is a paragon that should help inform adoption reform around the world.
One of OA&FS' newest programs is Origins Therapy. This resource is offered to anyone in our community impacted by adoption or assisted reproductive technologies. Here's what they have to say about it:
We know how to make open adoptions work, and we’re bringing our uniquely specialized skill set to address these new therapeutic needs brought on by the complexities of building a family in the 21st century. We have learned that as children witness the important people in their lives come together and cultivate a mutually supportive relationship, they are able to integrate the many facets of their identity. While we believe children have a right to know the truth about their origins ... we also understand that sharing the truth can be daunting or scary for adoptive and intended parents, donors and extended family. We are here to support those who are discovering their own story, those considering sharing their story with their child, and those who are seeking support in their relationships as they relate to adoption and assisted reproductive technology.
I'm preparing for my final conference of the season, and my second presentation this spring. Last week (after an inspiring weekend in NYC with the Adoption Initiative at St. John's University) I had the honor of offering a presentation titled "Against the Grain: Critical Discourse and Grassroots Organizing in Adoption" at Portland State University's Community Social Work Conference. Next week, it's on to Postpartum Support International's annual conference to reconnect with this wonderful, kind, and insightful community of perinatal mental health providers; and this year adoption is on the agenda: my colleague Beth Bassett and I will present "The Impact of Adoption on Motherhood for Adoptees, Birth Mothers, and Adoptive Mothers." For post-conference learning purposes, I've been honing my list of adoption-related resources. I struggle to keep resource lists because there's so much out there, so, my disclaimer is: this list is not exhaustive. If you have additional suggestions, I'd love to hear them. These are many of my favorite progressive, thoughtful, and nuanced adoption-specific resources.
FAVORITE ADOPTEE BLOGS
· A Birth Project
· Ethnically Incorrect Daughter
· Harlow’s Monkey
· The Adopted Life
· John Raible Online
· May I Have a Word?
· Sunshine Girl on a Rainy Day
· The Declassified Adoptee
· Lost Daughters
· Coloring Out
FAVORITE BIRTH/FIRST PARENT BLOGS
· First Mother Forum
· Amstel Life
· Birth Mom Buds
· A Birth Mother Voice
· Musings of the Lame
OTHER FAVORITE BLOGS
· Anti-Racist Parent
· Paradigm Shift
· Foreigner in Buckeye Nation
· Gazillion Voices (online) Magazine
· The Adoption Constellation (print) Magazine
· Somewhere Between
· Approved for Adoption
· Struggle for Identity: Issues in Transracial Adoption & A Conversation 10 Years Later
· The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler
· The Adoption Constellation by Michael Phillip Grand
· Birthright by Jean Strauss
· Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption edited by Oparah, Shin, Trenka
· The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption by Kathryn Joyce
· The Language of Blood by Jane Jeong Trenka
· Parenting As Adoptees edited by Chau and Vollmers
· Inside Transracial Adoption by Beth Hall and Gail Steinberg
· Adoption Initiative, St. John’s University [adoptioninitiative.org]
· Adoption History Project, U of Oregon [pages.uoregon.edu/adoption/]
· Adoption Mosaic [adoptionmosaic.org]
· Adoption Policy and Reform Collaborative [adoptionpolicyandreform.com]
· American Adoption Congress [americanadoptioncongress.org]
· Child Welfare Information Gateway [childwelfare.gov]
· Concerned United Birthparents, Inc [cubirthparents.org]
· Donaldson Institute [adoptioninstitute.org]
· Global Overseas Adoptees’ Link [goal.or.kr/]
· Insight: Open Adoption Resources and Support [openadoptioninsight.org]
· Ko’Root [koroot.org]
· Land of Gazillion Adoptees [landofgazillionadoptees.com]
· North American Council on Adoptable Children [nacac.org]
· Training in Adoption Competence, C.A.S.E. [adoptionsupport.org]
· Pact [pactadopt.org]
· Pavao Consulting [pavaoconsulting.com]
It's that time of year! My schedule is full again this conference season, and the learning-fun began in San Francisco earlier this month at the 35th annual American Adoption Congress International Conference.
Since adoption-related conferences influence me on personal and professional levels, I feel particularly "full" when they're over. My experience with AAC was no exception, and I left this conference with many new friends and colleagues in the national adoption community. I was moved by the profound sense of community present at this conference--it was evident the majority of conference attendees (predominately first/original/birth mothers and adopted people) have long-term affiliation with the organization.
It is impossible for me to sufficiently summarize the depth of content within this packed 4-day event, but I will share a few highlights and include some relevant resources worth exploring. Among the greatest take-aways from this weekend was the wisdom shared by first/original/birth mothers. The AAC has a strong history of supporting and being led in their advocacy efforts by first/original/birth mothers. Typically marginalized and often excluded from our conversations in adoption, it was powerful to participate alongside and learn from this incredible, large gathering of first/original/birth parents. I had the privilege of meeting a few folks who have deeply impacted my own adoption-related journey: Jean Strauss, filmmaker and author of the first book I read about adoption (Birthright); Michael Grand, who wrote The Adoption Constellation; and Leslie Pate Mackinnon, whose heartrending experience as a birth mother I read about years ago in The Girls Who Went Away. In addition, I was blown away by keynote speakers Dr. John Raible and Lisa Marie Rollins. They are among the leaders in the transracial/transcultural adoptee community and I am incredibly grateful for their groundbreaking work and powerful influence at AAC this year. On a final summary note, the rapidly growing fields of third party reproduction and assisted reproductive technology (ART) had a strong presence at the conference. Between workshops led by adults conceived by anonymous sperm donation and many conversations exploring the intersectionality of adoption and ARTs, it is evident our collective efforts toward policy reform and community building are aligned.
I left the AAC conference motivated to continue this important work focused on shifting the dominant paradigm of adoption and improving the experiences of those of us who are affected by adoption. Surrounded at AAC by hundreds of people in the adoption constellation working in solidarity toward these goals, I was inspired and left with a renewed sense of hope and peace; and I'm looking forward to next year.
I've chosen one quote (of many I love) to feature on my website.When I'm able to engage with this tension, increase mindfulness and reach out to my supports, I can find my way back to the field of healthy critical analysis, empathy and deep listening. Of course this process is fluid, and my own abilities continue to evolve--they ebb and flow based on my internal and external resources, current stressors, distractions and triggers.