On Centering Adoptee Narratives (A Conclusion)

Editor's Note:  Coinciding with Multi's Compass: Navigating Multiness Conference,"On Being Adoptee" is a three-part series dedicated to bringing light to the experiences of transracial adoptees at Swarthmore, and around the world.  This article concludes the series. Each part, along with the series' preface, can be found below.

part 1

On Adoption As Trauma 

Part 2

On Becoming Adoptee


On The Adoptee as Transracial



on centering adoptee narratives



In upper lefthand corner, left-to-right: Casey Lu Simon-Plumb, Christopher Malafronti, and Meghan Kelly

In upper lefthand corner, left-to-right: Casey Lu Simon-Plumb, Christopher Malafronti, and Meghan Kelly

Being an adoptee is dynamic and diverse. Many adoptees experience a lifelong process of making, remaking and becoming, coming into their adoptee self. Not all adoptees understand their positionality as we have presented ours here. Not all adoptee identities are politicized or mobilized in order to question the very systems that created us. We have found that our opinion, examining adoption in this way, is in the minority of adoptee voices. We, from personal experience, know that moving towards a critical consciousness is a process, sometimes a painful one, but we want to encourage others, particularly other adoptees, to begin this interrogation.

There are systems and reasons why this process does not come naturally. We know this best. Critiquing adoption, among other things, means that we critique our adoptive parents; we critique government policies that serve(d) particular purposes in our birth and receiving countries; we critique dominant norms of what the family is; we critique singular understandings of identity and race.

The pieces we present in this segment represent only part of our lifelong narratives as transracial adoptees. We write what is most salient to us at this moment, understanding that the processes of identity ebb and flow with time.

We wish to continue these conversations with you.

As we stated before, we have many reasons to write these pieces. We especially want to bring increased visibility of the adoptee community and generate increased thoughtfulness about the ways that adoptees fit into our racial landscape. We hope that we have only opened the door to further mindful critiques of adoption practices, specifically for international and transracial adoptees, recognizing how our lived experiences enrich current Swarthmorean and global conversations.

Questions we continue to ask ourselves and other stakeholders are:

Why have certain people and families had to give us up?

Why are people still giving up their children?

What do alternative politics, policies and activism that seek to preserve family look like?

Is transracial adoption a viable and ethically sound practice?

What critiques can adoptees bring to conversations around race, ethnicity, and biological essentialism?

The experience of an adoptee is one filled with questions. Time and time again we have had our identities and origins interrogated. Think before asking, and think about asking different questions that we can engage in together about the systems of power that uphold adoption systems and practices. We are transracial adoptees. We are here.