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The Importance of Sharing Our Stories, 2021 Year in Review

A collaboration with Still Standing Strong Stories

Originally published January 10, 2021.



Girls Adoption Connect submission form: https://forms.gle/ym51SofK1aNZxihb6

Still Standing Strong Stories: https://www.stillstandingstrongstories.org


 

Full Transcript:


Téa: This interview was recorded in collaboration with Still Standing Strong Stories on December 29th, with the intention of being in audio-only format. For the full transcript, please visit our website. Coming to you from Girls adoption Connect, I’m Téa Tamburo.


SSSS: Um, hi. How are you?


Téa: Hi, I’m good. How are you?


SSSS: I’m good. So for our listeners that don't know, what is Girls Adoption Connect?


Téa: Girls Adoption Connect is an online group aimed to connecting female adoptees. We accept story submissions and other adoption-related media and we publish around maybe once or twice a week. There's a form to submit your stories and your media on our website. You can also Instagram DM us and email us as well, to submit things.


SSSS: So what stories do you plan on telling through your organization?


Téa: Well, so far we actually have a variety of media. The main focus is sharing adoption stories. But we also have adoptees that have shared how being an international adoptee has affected their lives or thoughts around their birth parents and other major milestones. We have a few feminism posts up right now and things about the female and Asian culture just since most of our adopted community is Asian American.


SSSS: So adding on to the last question, how are some ways you are connecting adoptees through your organization?


Téa: As I said before, it’s pretty open ended. The main way is sharing adoption stories and then using the Instagram DM to connect further. We actually started when I reached out to the girls from my adoption travel group. And then just between us we started sharing our own adoption stories, which made me feel heard and validated. So that was the driving mission of Girls Adoption Connect.


SSSS: Have there been any struggles you faced starting Girls Adoption Connect?


Téa: Definitely, our main challenge was really just expanding the community and connecting with others not affiliated with my travel group, or directly affiliated with us individually. So kind of trying to expand has been a little bit tricky, but it's not that bad, since we are an online platform. And then also just kind of finding out how can we stand out amongst other organizations. And this is a trial and error process. It's definitely kind of a learning experience for myself and everyone involved. But there a lot of other adoption groups out there, most of which we've actually worked with in some capacity, but trying to find a way to distinguish ourselves amongst the others, has probably been one of the hardest things. And then on a more technical and personal level, getting the website the social media platforms and everything to be visually captivating but also to optimize the platforms’ potential. That's more been something for myself to deal with, because I do the website and social media management. But just kind of trying to keep it visually appealing for our audience, but also have it really utilized the tools available to us.


SSSS: So I feel like COVID has taken a toll on a lot of organizations. So how has COVID affected your organization? And do you have any plans and goals you want to accomplish after quarantine?


Téa: We've actually been fairly lucky when it comes to the effects of COVID-19 on Girls Adoption Connect. We established ourselves in, I believe, early January. So that was a few months before COVID was declared a global pandemic; it was declared a global pandemic March 11. So we still had some time before the pandemic to really establish ourselves and kind of get in the flow. So, as I said before, we’re completely an online platform so when everything shifted to being online, it wasn't a big adjustment. We didn't have to adjust too much when things went completely virtual. If anything, the usage of Zoom actually helped us, because it gave us the opportunity to grow the audience a bit. And using Zoom allowed Girls Adoption Connect, to collaborate with other organizations, actually such as yourself, in a more easily and more accessible fashion than I believe would have been possible had we not been in this virtual situation. And then when it comes to after quarantine, I don't think things will really change that much, because, as I said before, we were already an online platform before the pandemic, so we haven't really had to adjust our ways of doing things with the effects of COVID-19. So I feel like we’ll remain an online organization. But more on a networking and establishment level, this is like behind the scenes, we may try to connect with some other Chicago adoptees that are also active voices in the adopted community. So I mean, quarantine hasn't really affected us. But coming out of quarantine, it might just be an opportunity for us to connect in more of a face-to-face reality.


SSSS: So what story have you told about your own personal experience through your organization?


Téa: I've told a few stories. I started off talking about my own adoption story and how I was adopted from Hunan province, China when I was nine months old. So I started off talking about that; you can actually find the link on our website and on the Instagram. So started off talking about that. And that was really my initial goal was with starting the group, is to really emphasize and promote the sharing of our adoption stories. So I kind of wanted to start off talking about my own and kind of just like, set the groundwork on it. And then, from there, actually, pretty recently, I published a piece about my thoughts on my both parents, especially on my birthday, and kind of talking about what it's like being adopted and not knowing your birth family on your birthday. So not knowing the people that actually bought you into the world, and kind of thinking and kind of questioning whether or not they actually think about you, and how do they acknowledge your existence? So I published that piece. That was actually really personal, and I had had a few doubts about publishing it. But we put up some really personal pieces so far this year, and we're going to continue doing that. And through Girls Adoption Connect, I know it's given myself and other adoptees a platform to speak more openly and honestly about our adoption journeys, which isn't really something that we could do in a in a community not full of adoptees or also not via screen, email, social media. Girls Adoption Connect has kind of given us a way to speak openly and honestly about things have affected us.


SSSS: Are there any misconceptions about adoption that you would like to address?


Téa: There’s a lot. But I think the main one I can think of at the moment is the misconception that one's adopted parents aren’t their real parents. I was raised, most of my childhood, by my adopted family. I was nine months old when I was adopted by them. So I have no recollection of anything else. So I mean, I think I can speak for a lot of people by saying that my adopted family is the only family I have known. And I really don't feel like I have another set of parents. I have, like, the people that bought me into this world, but then I actually have people at raised me and I consider the people that raised me, and loved me, and kept me to be my family, my parents. So I think that's kind of one of the main things I want to address.


But then also just being an international adoptee, there’s this idea that I am less American than someone who has lived here their entire life. I became a citizen when I moved to the U.S. and I was under a year old. Adoptees brought to the U.S. at such a young age everything they know, and everything they were raised in is American. So this is kind of a, I don't want to use like a very canned term, but this is where we kind of get into like the “banana situation,” where like, I have an Asian face, but I have a American beliefs and I was raised in an American household. So I think that's definitely something adoptees have to navigate. And trying to balance those overlapping identities and balancing being American with also being Chinese and finding how they want to navigate that; it's different for everyone. But I feel like acknowledging those overlapping and multiple identities needs to be normalized, and understanding that international adoptees especially have to balance trying to fit into two cultures. It's very easy to be pressured to check yourself into a box and just write off all those other identities. And I feel like society does pressure you in a way to do that. So I think that's definitely something that has to be addressed.


SSSS: How has meeting other adoptees impacted your life, and have other adoptees had similar stories to yours?


Téa: I've connected with actually a fair amount of adoptees recently. I had the opportunity to meet adoptees at the 2020 Student Diversity Leadership Conference. This was one of the first times that I've shared adoption stories with people not adopted from China. And for me, this really broadened my understanding of adoption throughout many different cultures and regions. Girls Adoption Connect is mainly Chinese or Asian adoptees, so talking with people not necessarily adopted from China, really changed my perspective on it. And one of the most surprising things was noticing the similarities between our feelings, even though the cultural backgrounds of our adoption are not necessarily the same. So through meeting these adoptees, it made me feel really like validated. Because I often wonder: “am I alone with my thoughts and my feelings around my adoption,” because it is pretty conflicting. So talking with these people about my adoption story, I felt incredibly accepted and understood, which I feel really highlights the need to share stories. And it really just points to the mission of Girls Adoption Connect and action and also the reason it is important to share our stories and to connect with each other, but also with the greater adopted community.


SSSS: And finally, to what is the importance of stories?


Téa: I kind of touched on this in the previous question, but it's really about creating a community bond and hearing each other. So being adopted, there's a lot of complex conflicting feelings that someone who’s not adopted might not understand. So being able to talk with each other, share stories, and make them feel heard and understood. Most importantly, it validates their feelings. So that's really what the mission of Girls Adoption Connect is -- helping adoptees to feel understood and validated, by seeing others with similar experiences and emotions as themselves. So stories, I believe, have the power to convey emotions, connect people through anecdotes, and their shared thoughts. So really one of the main types of human connection is sharing experiences. So sharing our adoption stories has the power to harness our experiences and our feelings and use those to connect, validate our own feelings, and educate the greater population about our experiences as adoptees.


SSSS: Well, those are all the questions I have. So thank you so much for joining us today.


Téa: Yeah, thank you so much for having me on.


Téa: Thank you for listening. To learn more about Still Standing Strong Stories, you can visit their website, linked below. Please consider sharing your stories with both organizations.


Originally published January 10, 2200

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