This is the first of a series of chats featuring adoptees and their stories. If you would like to be considered for a future chat, please send me an email.
Liana Soifer created BIPOC Adoptees to bring attention to a community of adopted person and BIPOCs whose voice is silenced by an expectation of gratitude and historical underrepresentation.
Liana, what is your adoption story?
I am a Korean Transracial Adoptee raised in Oregon. I was raised with two older brothers who were the biological sons of my adoptive parents. My adoptive parents were always open about my adoption however, my experiences as a Transracial Adoptee have affected my identity and how I relate to the world. I have a degree in Human Services and experience building software and technology solutions to address and improve the lives of people. I crossed paths with other adult adoptees who experienced adoption in similar and different ways to me.
How has your adoption shaped your life?
Adoption has given me perspective and opportunities for growth. It has presented both challenges and rewards along the way and has helped me learn and embrace my identity at every stage. Being an Adoptee is a lifelong journey, and finding community has been vital to my path of healing.
Please tell us about BIPOC Adoptees and what inspired its creation.
I was inspired by several challenges that I, as an adult adoptee, experience. I met many adult BIPOC adoptees who longed for a larger community with like-minded souls. BIPOC Adoptees is a logical extension of my conversations and desire for a larger cultural community. For the past century, the adoption industry placed children in homes based on a model that has gone virtually unchanged. It’s a model hat revolves around the concept that adoption is a one-time transaction where success is measured by the permanency of the placement rather than a family’s capacity for the long-term adjustments required for the emotional health of the Adoptee.
Phrases like “You’re so lucky” or “Imagine your life without adoption” or “Your parents did a wonderful thing adopting you.” are common responses to Adoptee’s struggles. This leaves little space for a nuanced discussion of adoption’s complexities and problems. This has also led to an absence of safe spaces for Adoptees to tell their stories without the repercussions of being perceived as angry and ungrateful. It also explains why industry practice sees these stories as outliers rather than the norm.
Why focus on BIPOC?
The ability to assimilate as BIPOC identifying folk is another identity that has been historically misrepresented. Our BIPOC Adoptee community is a space for those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color intergenerational Adoptees. While we do not turn away or discount the experiences of all Adoptees. Our project focuses on BIPOC Adoptees’ experiences, giving a voice and a platform for this historically underrepresented community.
Please tell us how BIPOC Adoptees works with the BIPOC adoptee community.
BIPOC Adoptees has several aspects. It’s a grassroots movement to provide a platform and community for BIPOC Adoptees to share real-life experiences, creating hope and healing for our community. We are also producing a docuseries that will share stories from BIPOC Adoptees combined with learning through animation and illustration for the broader audience. BIPOC Adoptees holds in-person and virtual events centered on BIPOC storytelling. We partner with other Adoptee organizations and individuals who focus on sharing the truth and knowledge around the Adoptees’ lived experience. We seek to build technology that easily breaks down barriers to knowledge and services within our BIPOC Adoptee Community and more.
What are some challenges you are finding, and how can you overcome them?
The industry does not focus on the mental, emotional, and physical aspects of adoption, or post adoption. Our Adoptee community is not seen as needing intervention. Sharing life experiences activates experiences from the past that may have been traumatic and/or still traumatic. For some, sharing their experience about adoption will not occur until late adulthood, and recalling experiences may elicit trauma. Creating inclusive and safe spaces is a priority for our community, along with sharing stories that build a vital, healthy community. We work with mental health professionals who have experience in adoption and adoption centered work to ensure that we work from a trauma informed perspective. Representation matters, and our team reflects this. There is a mutual understanding of experiences and the need for safety and care in every aspect of our work.
Tell us about upcoming events or projects for BIPOC Adoptees.
BIPOC Adoptees is partnering up with Adoptee Centered Organizations and Adoptees who are working to bring awareness to the real-life experiences of Adoptees. We have ongoing storytelling events and meet-ups.
Our next Storytelling event is on June 11, 2023 in Portland, Oregon. This event will be followed by the Adoptees of Colors Bike Ride and a meetup after the bike ride.
We are tabling at the Asian Celebration on July 29th in Eugene, OR and our next in-person Storytelling event will take place on September 24, 2023 in Portland, OR.
We are also collaborating with Patrick Armstrong, Founder of Conversation Piece, a podcast centered on the Adoption experience and sharing pieces of our Adoption experiences that we’re not talking about, but should be. Episodes to be aired this September 2023.
Where can people reach you and find out more about BIPOC Adoptees?
Folks can get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, find us on Instagram @bipocadopteesdocuseries and visit our website www.bipocadoptees.com