So I’ve been trying to come up with a snappy way to talk about my
first trip to New York – but all my metaphors sounded too likely to
make the search engines mistake my blog for a p*rno site, so let me
just preface by sharing that I have indeed experienced that which is
New York: where everything is too expensive, too dirty, too
logistically difficult, too time consuming and yet TOO FABULOUS. I
guess all my old dreams of being an artist in a skanky NY loft 20 years
ago still look appealing now that I’m headed straight to middle age. I
have to say that I don’t think I’d enjoy the logistical nightmare that
parenting in New York might present but as for everything else, it was
The conference itself was a mixed bag, but I’m not going to linger
on the few disappointing aspects because there were too many other
positives that made it worthwhile overall. First, it was really
humbling to be included in the line up of presenters; not only was I
fortunate enough to lean on the brilliance of my friend, Kim Park
Nelson, for our workshop together but the attendees at this workshop
left me inspired and motivated to continue fighting on.
Our workshop was titled: Adoption Rsearch from the Inside Out:
Making Space for Adoptee Researchers and Professionals. All but one of
the attendees were adopted professionals! And of those, all but two
were transracially adopted. Their feedback was extremely valuable and I
think I can share that we all were so engaged in our discussions of how
our positionality of being both adoptee and professional influence our
work, that we were disappointed that time ran out. I know that
personally, I want to continue that dialogue. So thank you, all of you
who attended this session, for critically engaging my mind, validating
my experiences, and sharing yours. It was the highlight of the
conference for me!
In addition, my paper presentation went well too. For a first-timer,
it went amazingly well. No technology snafus, I didn’t spill coffee all
over myself minutes before presenting, I made it to the conference
(though I did get lost several times – ah the beauty of learning the NY
subway system). I got to meet Dr. Ruth McRoy, Dr. Joyce Maguire Paovo
and Dr. John Raible. I met Beth Hall from PACT, Susan Ito, the lovely
writer/blogger, and Susan O’Connor Harris who I think is one of the
most beautiful and engaging women I’ve ever met. I was able to
re-connect with Dr. Amanda Baden and Hollee McGinnis.
The second highlight of the conference for me came when Dr. John
Raible, who I now consider a friend as well as colleague, spoke at the
keynote on Saturday. Holding up a copy of Outsiders Within, he spoke
eloquently about how history-making this book is – because it is a
critical analysis of the mechanisms of adoption – and written by US.
And he, like Dr. Baden and all the other adoptees who have earned their
PhD. [or are in the process of] are now becoming the
experts in the field. We are no longer going to be relegated to the
"adoptee panels" and the "personal essays" in the adoption field. We
are now what I term the Authors of our own stories, the Teachers, the
Experts. We are the Keynote Speakers.
And yet – I think we need to remember, those of us who have made it
to this place, that many others have made it possible for us. Many
adoptees who worked in the field but were afraid to disclose their
adoptee status. Those mentors who advocated for us when nobody wanted
to take us in. Those who believed we had things to contribute to the
body of research, knowledge, and practice. For those of you who
advocated for us, Thanks.
And for those of us who are working in the field – as both adoptee
and professional – I am expecting great things from you all. As I hope
you will also give me feedback as well. Let’s sharpen each other.
Because there are generations of transracially adopted children who one
day will build on the work we are doing. And I, for one, want to give
them a solid foundation.