As an international transracial adoptee, and someone who has had the honor to work with adoptees from all around the world for almost 20 years now, I understand the importance of building community. Adoptees are dynamic in their stories and experiences, and while we share a deeply rooted common bond, we can all offer different perspectives on our thoughts about adoption and the impact it has on our lives, and those in our lives. Being a part of an adoption-based mentorship program for 16 years, I have seen what creating a safe and open space for adoptees can yield. Lifelong bonds between younger and older adoptees, and peer relationships between both groups. Giving a space for conversations, for different perspectives and experiences to be heard and understood is invaluable to helping the younger generation of adoptees grow with a secure and assured sense of their adoptee identity by having adult adoptees in their lives.
An adoption agency may not be the first place an adoptee may think about to find support as their adoption journeys and identity grows, but that is exactly why having adoptee run, and led programming supported by agencies is important. Spence-Chapin hosted its first Voices of Adoption open panel discussion in November, inviting all adoptees, both international and domestic, adopted through Spence-Chapin, and not, to share in an evening of conversation about search and reunion. The event was organized and facilitated by an adoptee. This has had a profound impact. While an adoptee’s journey may start at placement, a lifetime of growth lies ahead. This presents an opportunity for agencies to be an integral part of supporting adoptees through all phases of this lifelong journey and offering adoptee led community-building programs is a great first step.
Spence-Chapin’s Adoption Mentorship Program has been for running for 15 years continuously. We have seen the lasting effects that creating a community has had on the many Mentors and Mentees who have participated in the program over the years. The bonds that are created when we give room to this topic have been incredible. For some, it may be their first time talking about their stories publicly, or even sharing a room with fellow adoptees. Allowing adoptees to share a space helps eliminate a feeling of aloneness that can sometimes happen, especially for younger teens who have not yet learned how to manage their emotions, is so important. Adoptees who are older may also feel a sense of aloneness, so creating a Mentorship program where adults are Mentoring other younger adoptees creates a platform for everyone to work through these obstacles simultaneously. Often, we see that those who participate in the Mentorship program as youths, then come back as they get older to become Mentors to the new generation of adoptees. Adoptees finding themselves amongst peers, and finding their community is powerful.
I am happy to facilitate spaces where adoptees are invited to connect and meet others who may have a very similar or different story than they have. It helps to support each other in our own growth, while also recognizing and guiding younger generations of adoptees who may seek out this community. When agencies embrace adult adoptees and understand that they are part of the continual work that needs to be done to support adoptees worldwide, we begin to see strong communities formed. For most adoptees, we look internally, we look within our adoptee circles, or seek them out via social media to better understand our own experiences, thoughts and hopes, while learning about each other’s. By offering a safe and open space for adoptees to meet and hear from each other, it makes the experience more real and tactile. We can also learn from each other as our own identity as adoptees, and adults takes shape. We look forward to many more conversations, discussions and panels to help support our adoptee community within our agency, and by agencies worldwide.
Spence-Chapin offers many community programs for adoptees and led by adoptees. Visit our website to learn more about our mentorship program for teens and other community events. Contact us at (646) 539-2167 or [email protected].