Video: Recognizing Each Other: Adoptees of Color

Recognizing Each Other Video Transcript

Just over a month ago, I met up with two other queer adoptees of color to talk about adoption.  Mariama Lockington is a queer black transracial adoptee and So Yung Kim is a queer korean adoptee, both of whom have done writing and work around adoption.  (We had over an hour and a half’s worth of footage, so it took awhile to whittle it down and pull out some of the highlights and pieces from what was shared.)

As with my last video*, whenever I get to hear queer adoptee of color stories, I am entranced.  I crave adoptees of color that want to talk about adoption, what it was like for us growing up and how we are still being impacted by adoption—and always will be.  I crave time and experiences with other adoptees of color that is not mitigated through, by white people, white parents and non-adoptees.  It is so rare that I get to hear queer adoptees of color talking about our lived experiences.

I love hearing our words (all of them, in whatever way they come tumbling out) and feel ever-so appreciative, especially knowing how long I went without ever hearing any of our voices tell our own stories and stumble through sharing and asking and loving.

As adoptees, it is so important for us to tell our stories and to leave evidence for each other.  We are often isolated, individualized or discouraged from connecting our stories with each other.  There may be adoptees who will watch this in secrecy, who have never met another adoptee, who never talk about being an adoptee with anyone in their life or don’t think about how adoption impacts them.  It is not easy.

Our stories are all so different and complex and they all have value–we have value.

We will not be polarized, made one-dimensional and pitted against each other.  I don’t want to be used by non-adoptees to prove, justify, and support arguments about adoption that don’t include us, profit off of us or don’t speak to our whole, full and various lived experiences.  There is no “good adoptee” or “bad adoptee,” as many of us may have come to understand.  We are complicated, our lives are complicated, our histories are complicated; our identities are complicated.  And as adoptees of color, all of us have the lived experience of being people of color who were adopted, and that thread connects us all.

Immense love and gratitude to Mariama and So Yung for sharing some of your story, knowing that it’s not all of your story.  Thank you for your honesty and humor.  And most importantly, love and gratitude for being visible (as adoptees), for being recognizable to me and for recognizing me.

(*This is the second video in a series of videos I am making for Leaving Evidence.  They are video snap shots of some of the brilliance and deep complexities that we hold individually and collectively, as a people.  We must leave evidence for each other.)


Filed under Video, Writing

9 responses to “Video: Recognizing Each Other: Adoptees of Color

  1. moyazb

    you’ve done it again! Thank you for revealing the truth just below the surface, leaving evidence once again of survival and the healing power of laughter!

  2. Mia,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and just wanted to say thank you for all you do. As a fellow trans-national Korean adoptee, it is so refreshing to read other blogs of politicized adoptees who are questioning the framework in which we place adoption and looking at the larger context of race, class, sexuality, gender, able-ism, and more.

    I’m currently exploring the intersections of the doula community and reproductive justice movements. As a labor and postpartum doula I offer services to birthparents and adoptive families, and I’m connecting with Adoption Mosaic, here in Portland, to put on a birthparent panel for doulas who are interested in providing labor support those considering placement.

    I’m also collaborating on a project to start a non-profit in the Pacific Northwest inspired by the Doula Project in NYC, to bring abortion doulas into local clinics. As an adoptee and doula, it’s been a learning process to think about how I support other people on their journey to creating family, being mindful of the way that these very personal decisions are a part of a larger political and economic infrastructure that favors some families over others…

    If you’re ever up in Portland, let me know! I’d love to connect!

  3. thank you mariama, so yung and mia!!

  4. Mia Mingus

    lena! whoa, your work sounds intense and amazing–and so needed. i was just talking with someone the other day about adoptees and birthing and how i wanted to hear more stories about all the complexities that holds. i heart doulas. and reproductive justice. that is such important work, rj and birthing and doula-ing. i will totally let you know if i am ever in portland and it would be wonderful to connect! (and maybe shoot a video with you about your work… i’m just sayin’) <3

  5. sistahmamaqueen

    this was truly amazing. i’m a 19 year old transwomyn, transracial adoptee from the bay area. and i never thought of adoption like this. ya’ll have opened up a door and helped me peel off a layer of who I really am.

    much appreciation and love for all ya’ll.

  6. YES!! doula brilliant birthing power!
    & fabu post. i love, love, love listening to & watching fierce women tell their truths. xo :)

  7. Lena Wood

    That would be fantastic! I’m doing an interview soon with Shafia Monroe, of ICTC, on the role of African American midwives in the birthing community and reproductive justice movement, which will be published in HipMama magazine…if they haven’t already, I’d love to propose an interview about women with physical “disabilities” giving birth.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I need to learn more about privilege and disability, and I can guarantee that while midwives and doulas may read a blurb about it here and there, it’s not on the radar much. I’m so glad to have found your blog–it’s a great resource and wonderful opportunity for me to push intellectual boundaries and rethink my language around issues of disability.

  8. skittleroo

    I just watched this video out of curiosity, and it had a much greater impact than I could have possibly expected. I’m a 29 year old Belizean-American transguy who only came out as trans in the past couple years, and have only been healing from a trauma-filled past in that amount of time. I was adopted at 5 years old from Belize (leaving a huge family behind) and have only met three other adoptees that I’ve known of–two of whom were straight white cis males, the other a straight white cis female. None of us talked much about adoption beyond stating the fact that we were adopted. I’ve always felt isolated as an adoptee and wasn’t aware people created space to share and talk about what it’s like to be an adoptee. I’m a late bloomer when it comes to this sort of awareness; I’ve spent many years locked in my traumatic existence feeling like it was all that I would ever have, and only in the past couple years have I begun to heal and look outward for community and support for things I never felt I deserved support for before.

    I want to thank you for being here, for creating this video, and for giving me and others hope that maybe someday (and possibly sooner than later), I too can share a space with other adoptees of color and get into what it’s been like for us to be set apart from the rest of our cultures in this way since our adoption.

    I’m also curious how you all found each other? I’m more introverted than extroverted, and tend to not seek out and find folks without help. I’d really like to know more and do more with what has arisen from this video for me. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much, once again. I’m so glad you all exist.

  9. Pthalo

    I found your blog from Wheelchair Dancer’s recent link to you and I really like your writing style, how powerfully you use language. So I’m reading some of your other posts as well.

    Thank you so much for providing a transcript of this video! I know transcripts are a lot of work to produce, but I can’t tell you how grateful I was when I was fumbling around for captions or some way to figure out what you were saying and saw that there was a transcript. I was so excited, I told my girlfriend about it, I said “hey, i was at this blog and they posted a video and there was a transcript!”

    I’m glad you have found other queer adoptees of colour that you can relate to and share experiences with. It’s so important to finally be understood. And I’m grateful that you’ve shared this video with a wider audience — as a lesbian, adoption and fostering are options we’re considering, and we plan to make an environment where it’s okay to express what ever you’re feeling and also to recognise that whatever child we end up with, that child won’t be a blank slate, but will have had a history before us and find a way to nurture that child’s past and accept them for who they are. These are our ideals anyway, and reading about the lived experiences of adoptees helps us to be more aware of all of the complexities involved.