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Adoptee spotlight: Shelley Rottenberg

Zhejiang, China --> Ontario, Canada

Hey! My name is Shelley Rottenberg, and I was adopted from Zhejiang, China and moved to Ontario, Canada at 8 months old. I was raised by a single, Jewish mother, and I have a younger sister who is also adopted from China. Growing up, I always wanted to fit in with my peers, but belongingness was something I struggled with, even as I entered university. I didn’t feel Asian enough to join any Chinese cultural clubs, so instead I joined a Jewish sorority. Although I made some very close friendships, I still felt out of place in Jewish spaces.

For my undergraduate thesis, I explored the lived experiences of Chinese adoptees in Canada. I asked participants how adoption influenced their sense of place, how they balanced their Chinese and Canadian identities and how emotionally connected they felt to their birth country. Hearing their thoughts, opinions and feelings on these themes was both comforting and eye-opening.

"In 2018, I found the online adoptee community, which exposed me to even more perspectives and experiences that were both similar and different from mine."

In 2018, I found the online adoptee community, which exposed me to even more perspectives and experiences that were both similar and different from mine. When the pandemic hit, I started to become much more involved. This was a huge turning point in my adoptee journey, as I was able to learn so much about adoption and myself.

Now I hold leadership positions in China’s Children International, Asian Adoptees of Canada, Chinese Adoptees Alliance and Child & Youth Permanency Council of Canada. I also had the pleasure of helping to create an in-person adoptee community by hosting local meetups in Toronto. Additionally, I’ve recently become a mentor to a younger transracial Asian adoptee. Thinking back to when I had an identity crisis in university because I felt too in-between to fit in anywhere, I wish I could reassure my younger self that she will both find and make a community where she finally feels like she truly belongs.

 

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[Description: Pale pink background with white grid decoration. Two photos of Shelley. To the left, there's a large photo of Shelly. She's leaning on a railing and in front of an ocean. To the top right is a baby photo of Shelley laying in her crib. Large cursive text at the bottom says "Shelley Rottenberg."]

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