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Sharing Your Story Alleviates Stereotypes

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In watching Chimamanda Adichie eloquently speak of The Danger of a Single Story, I couldn't help but to reflect upon my own experience with Closure. Over the past year I have felt a nagging conviction that although Closure is affecting people positively and in droves (awesome!), I often find myself editing my words during the Q&A portion after screenings of the film. I am constantly searching for the words that help to reinforce the fact that my story is just one of many unique, valuable and beautifully tragic adoption stories. I'm often asked questions such as "...has being in reunion with your birth family brought peace and happiness or more struggle and confusion?" followed by "...would you suggest all adoptees to search?"  I work really hard to consistently only answer from my experience only, hopefully helping folks to understand that my answer and this film shows only one story. That my answers are not every adoptees' answers, and that my style of searching, the age I chose to start searching etc., was simply one approach. Chimamanda's TED Talk beautifully explains the danger of attributing one single story to an entire subpopulation.

Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story

I found this TEDTalk to be a remarkably great reminder that although we learn a great deal by watching documentaries, reading memoirs, autobiographies and listening to keynote speeches etc., we shalt not think to apply these details to all who happen to fall within the same category. The danger in this is that by attributing my answer to all other adoptees you're branding all other adoptees as intensely curious, psychologically minded, introverted, basketball playing, pianists who are determined to respectfully find their birth families at all costs. Or that we read Night (Elie Wiesel), and that we then think of all holocaust survivors as people with a resolve to understand the inhumanity that man is capable of, or that we read The Reason I Jump, and attribute Higashida's thoughts and words to all people with autism. There is a danger in hearing and interacting with a single story and that is the risk of attributing one's story to everyone else within that category.

I am moved by the amount of adoptees I've met while since Closure debuted. So many of these adoptees stated that they felt ready and interested in sharing their own story.  Please do join me on this liberating (and scary) adventure in vulnerability.

 

5 Statements That Prove Adoption Discourse Is Happening. Yay!

Mid-January, Bryan and I traveled to the Northeast to do a short tour with the film, meeting with adoption professionals, writers and others prior to the screenings of Closure. Thank you to the many folks who played a role in allowing these memories to be made, wonderfully challenging and respectful conversations surrounding the ethics of transracial adoption to be had and new meaningful friendships to have been forged.

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We are so grateful for these experiences, but find even more meaning in knowing that the film is affecting others and is spurring on conversation. Fellow transracial adoptee, Susan Harris O'Connor mentioned to me before we went on stage for the Q&A that in all of her years speaking about adoption, she'd never been on a panel made up exclusively with transracial adoptees (myself and April Dinwoodie - pictured below). What a success! On a daily basis, I receive wonderful messages from so many folks from around the world - making it clear to me that many folks are ready to further the adoption discourse. This makes me so proud to be a part of this film that allows space for these conversations to be had in mature and meaningful ways. Here's an anonymous sampling of notes that come our way:

Thank you so much for your inspiration. Seeking truth and pushing past old secrets brought pain to the surface, encouraged release, and relief. Your love, for each other, for all members of your whole family, led to more love. Thank you, thank you, thank you.  ---anonymous

I have now watched this film three times, and each time I do I am amazed by something more that I have taken away from it. Last night, it was your adoptive mom...and her gracious, warm, open and loving heart. Watching her love and support you though this was touching and I was very struck by the part of the film where when talking with your birth aunt she deflected away from the negativity and brought the conversation back to you, and your purpose in your search! Go mom!!  ---adoptive mother

One of the most poignant for me is how really amazing it is to see this sort of story told in this way. The participants put themselves on the screen and allowed all those of the world a peek into this incredibly emotional journey. In the past couple of months I’ve drawn away from blogging, the only way I can describe what I’ve been going through is that my world of adoption has had a growth spurt of sorts, and much like how I always responded to physical growth spurts while I was growing up, I’ve turned inward and gotten quiet. This movie was a reminder of the power in using my voice to tell my story.  -- A birthmother

I was very impressed by how gracefully Bryan handled the camera and his presence in so many intimate (and tenuous) family moments. I'm amazed that this is his first film and that he's never had any formal training.  ---A filmmaker

As I get older, the pain of my closed adoption grows more because I now have children of my own, who want to know as well...because I don't know from whence I came, I feel like I am not as completely here as I should feel. Good or bad, the need to know has not diminished for me, and neither has the sense of grief and loss. --- An adoptee

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