What Do Adoptees Have To Say About Adoption?

See video.



#PFF15 Adopted Persons Scholarship


Adopted People Scholarship

"What does family mean to you?"

In a short 250-450 word essay, adopted people and foster care alumni are challenged to answer the question above for a chance to win a free registration to our 2015 Putting Family First Conference, held in Washington D.C. on June 21-23 2015.  This scholarship is generously sponsored by Gladney Center for Adoption. The winning essays will also be published on our NCFA blog. Applicants must 18 or older and need to submit their essays by May 8th. 

*Please note that room and travel are not included in this giveaway and must be booked separately. 

NY State Access to Birth Records Status and Directory



For current advocacy activities in New York contact: Joyce Bahr or go to www.unsealedinitiative.org

CURRENT LAW:  Passive registry. Adult adoptees (18) and birth parents can register with the Adoption Information Registry to receive identifying information.  When a match is confirmed, registry will notify the parties and the court where the adoption occurred to request each registrant’s “final consent” to the release of information.  Upon receipt of the final consent, information is released.

The original birth certificate is available only upon order of the court.


American Adoption Congress supports state-by-state legislative efforts to obtain access for adult adoptees to their original birth certificates. AAC prefers unrestricted access to this document for all adult adoptees but will accept compromise legislation if, in the opinion of AAC and local supporters, such a compromise is necessary to obtain the greatest access for the greatest number of adopted persons.

Why We Need to Talk About Race in Adoption, Shared by Mary-Jean Gianquinto, LMSW

8881271685_e0641c51b3 Two years ago, on vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains, I saw a white couple at a restaurant with their Asian daughter. Though her father told her to quit staring, I felt the girl’s eyes on me all through the meal. I smiled at her, feeling a strong sense of kinship, a pang of sympathy. As a child, whenever I saw another Asian person – which I hardly ever did – I used to stare, too, hungry for the sight of someone, anyone, who looked like me.

Adoption has changed in the 32 years since a social worker told my parents “not to worry” about my ethnicity. Thanks to many transracial adoptees who have shared their experiences, there is a greater emphasis on the importance of racial and cultural identity. Numerous books have been written on the subject, and excellent blog posts abound. Transnational adoption has inspired documentary films such as First Person Plural, In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, Wo Ai Ni Mommy, and Somewhere Between

While “colorblindness” in adoption has been widely challenged, however, not everyone is convinced – like the adoptive mother who recently told me, “I don’t see my son’s color. Race is just not an issue for us.”

Some people maintain that any cultural loss is unimportant compared to what children gain through adoption. But in both mainstream media and personal conversations about adoption, cultural and racial identity need not be pitted against a child’s right to love, safety, and security.

This unfortunate “either-or” framing of the issue finds frequent expression in discussions of transracial adoption. Michael Gerson—whose wife is a Korean adoptee—wrote in the Washington Post: “Ethnicity is an abstraction…. Every culture or race is outweighed when the life of a child is placed on the other side of the balance.” In a National Review article criticizing Kathryn Joyce’s book The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption, adoptive father David French dismissed “the ‘culture’” (note the mocking quotation marks) of internationally adopted children as “the culture of starvation, of rags, of disease, and of abandonment.”

Another common framing of transracial adoption suggests that America’s “melting pot” has made race less relevant. In her NPR review of Somewhere Between, a documentary following four women adopted from China, adoptive mother Ella Taylor wrote: “[T]he film makes it seem that these girls’ lives are dominated by worry about who they are and whether they’ll be emotionally crippled by conflicting allegiances. Adopted or not, few of us develop our identities in the abstract – least of all today’s adolescents, who… are far more nonchalant about racial difference, let alone adoption, than we boomers can ever be.” But even if Taylor is raising her own daughter in “a polyglot world,” not all adopted youth feel “nonchalant” about adoption and racial identity—nor should indifference be presented as the ideal.

“There’s no one way to experience being adopted, or being a teenager, or being a woman of color,” says Linda Goldstein Knowlton, director/producer of Somewhere Between and the adoptive mother of a daughter from China.  “Being ‘race-blind’ – saying race doesn’t matter – could make a child feel as though an important part of her is being rejected.”

Some adoptive parents feel uncertain about how to discuss race with their own adopted children. Taiwanese adoptee Marijane Nguyen says that she doubts her parents were aware of how much she struggled with her identity. “They never asked,” she says. “Race in our household was never discussed. Because there weren’t many Asians in the community I grew up in, I always felt like I had some deficit because I wasn’t white.”

Louisville adoptive mother Amy Cubbage says that it is difficult to fully understand the challenges of transracial adoption until you are actually parenting. She and her husband recently transferred their six-year-old daughter to a more diverse school, and are now contemplating moving to a town with a larger Asian population. When they took their child to visit China for the first time since her adoption, Cubbage said, “We have never seen [our daughter] so at ease with herself… we underestimated her need to see where she’s from and see a place where everyone looks like her.”

Dr. Elizabeth Vonk, director of the MSW Program at the University of Georgia School of Social Work and an adoptive parent, leads a play therapy group for transracially adopted children. She notes that many parents find it easy and fun to introduce their children to their birth cultures, but may be less comfortable helping them explore their racial identity. “Racial socialization requires pushing beyond parents’ comfort zones to acknowledge racism, white privilege, and prejudice,” she told me. “I do still meet parents who are convinced that a colorblind approach is best. It is a belief system that makes positive racial identity development more difficult for their children.”

Even adoptees whose parents are willing to engage in meaningful discussions about race will inevitably have questions about their identity and needs their families might not be able to anticipate. Angela Tucker, an African American adoptee raised in a large, racially diverse family, credits her parents for taking her to African-American fashion shows and teaching her and her siblings about different cultures. Still, she said, she has struggled with knowing where she fits “within traditional Black culture,” a question that led her to search for her birth family. She and her husband recently secured the funding necessary to complete Closure, a documentary about Tucker’s adoption reunion.

We cannot have an honest discussion about transracial adoption if we aren’t willing to discuss race, prejudice, and privilege. Adoptees need to feel safe when we talk about the instances of racism we encounter. This may not sound easy—because it isn’t easy for white parents to raise children of color. But as the mother of two multiracial children, I can say that it’s not easy for parents of color, either.

Some people who plan to adopt across racial lines give me blank looks when I suggest that they closely examine their town, their neighborhood, their local schools, their social activities and community organizations before adopting outside their race. They bristle when I emphasize the importance of educating themselves about the persistence of inequality and the experiences of transracial adoptees and people of color living in this country. Sometimes they remind me that my experiences as a transracial adoptee aren’t universal—which is true—and therefore I don’t actually know what their adopted children will face.

Maybe I don’t, and I don’t know why adopted Asian kids stare at me. I just know why I used to stare.

Photo: The author, her mother, and their dog in 1983.

Source: http://bitchmagazine.org

Adult Adoptees’ Views of Open Adoption

A report compiled by Heart of the Matter Seminars

293f3dde2203aed4769c089a8447f2ae LEE’S SUMMIT, MISSOURI – 1-28-2013 – Heart of the Matter Seminars announces the release of the data gathered by their survey which captured the voices of 281 adult adoptees.  Because of the amount of interest shown, HOTMS has decided to make the full report public.  

Heart of the Matter Seminars’ conducted a survey of 281 adult adoptees on the topic of open adoption.  Since much of the research previously available focused exclusively on birth parent and adoptive parent interviews and surveys, our report is unique and provides compelling statistics for anyone interested in adoption.

Heart of the Matter provides research based education and practical parenting tools for today’s adoptive parents and professionals. Results from the survey will be used in the upcoming course entitled  . . .

Opening up Open Adoption: What is it and is it right for you?

.  .  . scheduled for release next month


HEART OF THE MATTER SEMINARS: Learning from Adult Adoptees


Heart of the Matter presents this week’s revealing insight into open adoption as seen by 281 adult adoptees…

4th Sneak Peek!
OPEN ADOPTION: How They Described Challenges in Open Adoption

An interesting glimpse of the data gathered by HOTMS’ survey that captured the voices of 281 adult adoptees.

Complete report scheduled for release later this month!

New course entitled: Opening Up Open Adoption: What is it and is it for you?
Available for parents and professionals early 2013

Did you miss one of the first Sneak Peaks?
Never fear… they are available HERE!

Adult Adoptee Survey Talking Points: Their Perceptions of Benefits of Open Adoption

Heart of the Matter Seminars’ co-owners Julie Drew, BA and Katie Prigel Sharp, LMSW conducted a survey of 218 adult adoptees on the topic of open adoption.  A full report, Adult Adoptees’ Views on Open Adoption, will be released soon.  This short article  provides a brief summary of one of the key topics in the survey, followed by a series of Talking Points meant to spark further thought and discussion.  Results from our survey will be used in our upcoming online course on open adoption entitled.Opening Up About Adoption: What is it and is it right for you? scheduled for release early 2013!

Learn more about the participants here.

Talking Points

  • “Having access to medical information”  was most often reported as “very important”.  With medical advances in genetic testing do you think this will become less important over time?
  • Does an open adoption always guarantee accurate and complete medical information?
  • What does the phrase “knowing where I came from” mean to you?  How is it different than “knowing why I was placed for adoption”?
  • With all the focus on identity and adoption, does it surprise you to see that so many adult adoptees reported it as not a benefit or of little importance?
  • Do you think some of these would have been more important or less important to these individuals when they were children?
  • Do you think there is a connection between identity and self esteem?
  • Consider the how evenly distributed the responses are to “having ongoing contact with birth family members”.  Why do you think there is such a wide range of responses?  Do you think this speaks to the individual nature of open adoptions?
  • Do you think the responses to “knowing who I look like” would be different if we had asked children?  Adoptees who are part of a transracial family?
%d bloggers like this: