Community. Support. Connection. Adoption
By Katie Stickles-Wynen, MSW, Guest Blogger
Being adopted can often times feel very lonely. As I sit with fellow adult adoptees of color every month, I hear similar stories and feelings about how lonely it can feel to grow up in a family formed by adoption, especially a transracial family. I hear the voices of my adoptee tribe and realize how connected we really are and it reminds me that even though it can feel lonely, I am not alone in my adoption experience.
My organization, Pact, started an Adult Adoptees of Color Support group in November 2014. Individuals ranging from their early 20s to mid-40s were contacting us and seeking community, support and connection with other adult adoptees of color, specifically transracial adoptees. Over the last two years we have received inquiries from over 50 adoptees in our area and every month we have a solid group of 12-16 participants and new attendees. Many of us attend every month, others attend when they need to be with their adoptee community.
During our two hours we talk about EVERYTHING! Obviously, adoption comes up, but we also talk about race, families, jobs, class, the current political climate and more. For many of the group members, this is the first time they are sitting with a group of fellow adoptees of color and every month I always hear:
- “It feels so good to not have to explain myself.”
- “You all know that feeling you get when someone asks, ‘Is that your REAL parent?'”
- “I am so glad I found this group, this is totally what I needed.”
- “I know I don’t come every month, but I know you all are always here.”
- “If I had a group like this while I was growing up, I think it would have helped in those moments when I felt completely alone in my experience.”
Back in 2014, I never imagined the impact this support group would have on so many individuals, and I didn’t realize how much it would reinforce how important community and connection is for adoptees. Through my work at Pact I have the opportunity to work with pre-adoptive and adoptive parents, and I always emphasize the importance of community and connection. I explain how a 45-year-old woman attends our group every month because she finally found her people, and how a 27-year-old man knows that we will understand the feelings he is having around reuniting with his birth father. A safe space has been created for us to share what is really going on, and that is invaluable.
Many adoptees from other states, have asked me how they can attend groups, or who can run a group in their area. I always tell them, start the group yourself. It can take time to grow, but once people know there is community, connection and support they will come forward. They want to attend, they want to be with their people and they don’t want to feel alone anymore.
Katie Stickles-Wynen, MSW, Pre-Placement Adoption Specialist, is a transracial/international adoptee (adopted from Colombia by white parents) who has worked with the adoption community since 2006. At Pact, Katie works with pre-adoptive parents, runs the Adult Adoptees of Color Support group, leads educational webinars and works with Pact’s Tween/Teen Club.