Patricia was born in Armenia, Colombia and was adopted at 1.5 years young. She grew up in the Pacific Northwest with 3 sisters, her parents, and several pets. Patricia moved to NYC in 2012 with her husband. She recently graduated from Capella University with a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy and works as a Behavior Intervention Specialist. Patricia has been a Mentor in Spence-Chapin’s Adoption Mentorship Program for 5 years.
What would you like to share about your background?
I have a younger sister adopted from Guatemala who is deaf. I grew up with several other adoptees from all over the world, especially from Colombia. Those relationships, experiences, and support made a huge impact on me and my wanting to continue to be involved and provide support in an adoption community.
How did your family share your adoption story with you?
My aunt was involved in adoption and in my own adoption process. My story and my sister’s story were always an open conversation in my family, especially as we looked different than my family. Being in an adoption community provided many opportunities for all of us adoptees to share our story and what that meant to us. My mom saved every letter, every correspondence, every document from my adoption process and gave me all of the paperwork as an adult. Having all of that information has meant a lot to me. She and I have even been back to my birth town together and I have been back to Colombia with my husband several times.
What myths or misconceptions did you encounter as an adoptee?
One question that was asked to me a few years ago was, “Can an adopted person get over the fact that they don’t know their ‘real’ parents?” This question caught me off guard on many different levels. Even though I have a wonderful adopted family who are my “REAL” family, I will always wonder things like, “who do I look like?”, “what are my other siblings like?”, or “do the others in my genetic family have as loud of a laugh as I do?” There will always be questions that might not get answered and/or feelings of loss. Those feelings and questions should not be discounted but given the space to be shared and discussed.
When did you get connected to Spence-Chapin’s Adoption Mentorship Program?
When I moved to NYC, I wanted to volunteer somewhere that I felt I could give back to from my own experience. I asked my aunt for adoption agencies and sent my resume to all of them in the New York City area as she suggested. Spence-Chapin was the only agency that responded, asking if I would be interested in being a Mentor. I could not have asked for a better opportunity!
What has been your experience as a Mentor?
This program, these kids and teenagers, and this community has been a great experience. Being a Mentor to the Mentees and watching them grow in so many ways over the years has been amazing. Additionally, being with other adult adoptees and hearing their stories and seeing their own growth has been encouraging. I cherish the relationships with the Mentees and want to be a support for them when they have questions or need to talk. Also being there for the parents and building the relationships with them is another important aspect of why I am grateful to be part of this Program.
Being part of the Mentorship Program was one of the reasons I went back to school to pursue a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. I hope to create a clinical career in the adoption world working with families pre-and post-adoption and with kids who are adopted.
What advice do you share with young adoptees in the Mentorship Program?
That it is okay to have questions, to feel confused, or to struggle with questions. There is a lot to question, experience and process. We as Mentors are here to talk to and share your questions and feelings. We respect your process and time. We also want to build the relationship with you to have fun, be comfortable to share, and to have those experiences to look back on later. We enjoy the fun outings and being able to all have the commonality of being adopted.
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 646-539-2167 or [email protected].