Yin-Yang Balance“Celebrating adoption may mean celebrating family separation, secrets, sealed birth records, lies.” ~ Jodi Haywood

This month Laura Barcella bravely shares the difficult feelings she has experienced and continues to experience as an adopted person on the NY Times online blog, Motherlode. I encourage you to read Laura’s words and to read the linked articles and posts as part of your ongoing parent preparation education; there is a lot of food for thought. Consider Laura’s words and viewpoint whether you agree with her or not, because she is an adopted adult, an adult version of your adopted child or the child you hope to adopt.

Currently there are 415 comments about Laura’s article as I post this. When you can, carve out an hour or more of your busy day to read through them. Try to remove yourself from the role you have in adoption; hard to do I know, but try to detach. Take a deep breath, remind yourself to remain detached, and open your mind. There are a myriad of stories, experiences, and perspectives represented throughout the comments.

Adoption is complicated, folks. Adoption is no one situation or one story fits all.

Adopted adults are changing how we—adopted people, birth parents, adoptive parents, adoption professionals, support people and support organizations, adoption agencies, etc.—view adoption, as well as our roles connected to it. This ground swell of movement is good, as painful as might be. The voices of adopted adults need to be heard. The voices of adult adoptees help to create awareness throughout the constellation, and hopefully, compassion and needed change. This awareness can influence our language and our perceptions, effectively helping us advocate for all who are impacted by adoption.

For Discussion: Can you make more time to learn about how adopted people can feel about adoption? Follow these hashtags on Twitter: #flipthescript #NAAM #adoptee. You’ll discover a multitude of posts and valid opinions. Please share your thoughts here as well.

~ Photo Credit: NliveN, LLC

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twin_sisters-07-thumb-largetwin_sisters-06-thumb-largetwin_sisters-03-thumb-large“Even if I run and run I can’t stop thinking of her. My biggest wish is one day she’ll come here and see where I live. … I think about her every night because I miss her so much. I care about her a lot.” Alexandra, adopted daughter of Wenche and Sigmund Hauglum, Fresvik, Norway, population 234 (Twin Sisters).

“There’s a big ocean between us.” Mia, adopted daughter of Angela and Andy Hansen, Sacramento, California, population 479,686 (2013, U. S. Census Bureau).

I was given the opportunity to view the upcoming Twin Sisters in advance of its airing, a documentary that is a poignant examination of our notions of family—the genetic ones we inherit and the ones we create. Chinese twins Alexandra and Mia are separated, living respectively in Norway and the United States with their adoptive families.

I watched the documentary several times. I experienced feelings of anger towards the individuals who knowingly separated the girls; sadness that the twins were separated; hope that the girls’ connection continues and strengthens; and admiration for their parents who, despite this awful predicament, are dedicated to keeping the twins connected. They put their daughters first.

We know that the initial separation of mother and child is the first of many losses for adopted children. But what happens when the separation is created by the country of origin (China)? What happens when twins are adopted by two sets of parents living a world apart?

What happens when the mothers of these newly adopted daughters met by chance in China and were struck by the similarities of their babies’ features, and realized that their daughters shared more than a birthday and the same backstory? Adoptive mothers Angela and Wenche asked the orphanage personnel if their daughters were twins. Orphanage personnel told them that the girls were not. A DNA test a year later proved otherwise, proved that the girls were not only sisters, but also identical twins.

This certainly is not the first instance of Chinese twins being separated by their country of origin and raised by two sets of adoptive parents. Twin Sisters provides viewers with a glimpse into the contrasts and similarities in the sisters’ lives.

Alexandra and Mia were 8-years-old when the documentary was filmed. They are now 11. Angela Hanson shared with me that the girls have been together several times since the documentary was filmed, “Our visits together have varied in time from a few days to a few weeks. “

Additionally, the girls FaceTime every weekend, “Alexandra is doing great with her English and the girls have no problem communicating.”

Twins Sisters documents the sweetness, anticipation and excitement of Mia and Alexandra as they prepare to visit with and spend time with one another. Viewers will pick up on the uncanny connection between the sisters, despite the language and cultural barriers and being raised thousands of miles apart. Angela shares. “The girls are very much alike in their personalities, likes, and dislikes.  They are both outgoing and friendly.  The do not like carbonation (no soda for them!), spicy food or olives, and they love pasta.”

Tune in to watch Twin Sisters, produced and directed by Mona Friis Bertheussen, premiering TOMORROW NIGHT (Monday, October 20, 2014) on the PBS series Independent Lens from 10:00-11:00 PM ET (check your local listings). I encourage you to watch and then share your thoughts below, and/or comment on the documentary’s Talkback section.

~ Photos courtesy of ITVS

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An Exercise for Shifting Perspective on Adoption Loss

September 18, 2014

This post is shares one of the exercises that I and many other adoption educators, social workers, and parent coaches have used to facilitate easing parents into the “pay attention” mindset when preparing to adopt or parenting their adopted child. Adoption is seeded in loss. In other words adoption cannot happen unless there is loss. […]

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Know Yourself, Honestly

September 6, 2014

Welcome! This post is part of Apart at the Seams blog tour that began yesterday. I was invited to take part by my friend Lori Holden, author of The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption. Frankly, while reading Apart at the Seams late this summer I scratched my head through much of it. The main character […]

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Going on Now! The Motherhood and Mindfulness Summit

July 1, 2014

I was asked to participate in a summit on motherhood and mindfulness by Australian mom and intuitive coach Carla Wood. To speak about motherhood via intuition within the realm of parenting adopted children. The focus of the Motherhood and Mindfulness Summit is to help moms discover their inner genius and ignite the extraordinary in their […]

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A Conversation with Friends about Adoption and Multiracial Families

June 27, 2014

It has been quite a while since I have posted. I have been busy with “projects”—producing and directing Listen To Your Mother, preparing for and presenting at a national conference, preparing for an international summit on motherhood and mindfulness, and working on my new book, Writing to Heal Adoption Grief: Making Connections & Moving Forward. […]

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