Dana was born in North Carolina and is currently working as an Orthopedic Registered Nurse. This is her 5th year as a Mentor in Spence-Chapin’s Adoption Mentorship Program. Dana is passionate about helping others, even if it means just being there to lend an ear. You can always count on Dana to tell a joke or a funny story.
WHAT MYTHS OR MISCONCEPTIONS DID YOU ENCOUNTER AS AN ADOPTEE?
Some people describe being adopted as feeling like there is a puzzle piece missing. To me, it feels like this:
You arrived at the movie theater 2 minutes late. You gather the gist of the movie – the plot, important characters and main themes… but the whole time watching, you can’t help but think that there was something integral in the beginning that you missed which affected the entire story.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND?
I was born in North Carolina and was privately adopted a few days after my birth. My maternal grandmother had a connection to my birth mother and facilitated my adoption.
HOW DID YOUR FAMILY SHARE YOUR ADOPTION STORY WITH YOU?
I always knew I was adopted but didn’t understand fully until we started learning the basics of genetics in second grade and realized that my brown eyes were not the same as my parents’. It wasn’t until I was older that I came to find out the true story of my adoption. I was the third daughter born to young parents and I was 24 when I found out they both had died. One of my sisters found me through Facebook and I keep in contact with her and the rest of my biological family on social media. It’s amazing to think how different but the same we are.
WHEN DID YOU GET CONNECTED TO SPENCE CHAPIN’S MENTORSHIP PROGRAM?
In my mid-twenties I became invested diving deeper into my adoption story and feelings that went along with it and found the Mentorship Program at Spence-Chapin. It has been incredibly rewarding to connect to children and teens and I wish there was a program like this when I was younger. Being in a room filled with adoptees is powerful and fulfilling. Now, I look forward to the Saturdays I get to spend with my Spence-Chapin friends.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU SHARE WITH YOUNG ADOPTEES IN THE MENTORSHIP PROGRAM?
I think it is important to validate a young person’s feelings – whatever they may be. I remember feeling a certain way but then questioning whether it was “okay” to be feeling that way or if I would be hurting my parents if I felt curious about searching for my birth parents. It is more than okay to be curious, cautious, angry, sad, or happy. Those are your feelings and your feelings are valid. Sometimes it is hard to be comfortable in your feelings but knowing that you share these feelings with other adoptees makes it just a little bit easier.
Spence-Chapin’s Adoption Mentorship Program is for adopted middle and high school students. Our program empowers adoptees through friendship, building self-confidence and challenging them to discover and understand their adoption identities and experiences. To learn more about joining the Program as a Mentee or Mentor, contact us at [email protected] or visit our website at www.spence-chapin.org/mentorship