Recently, I was posed a question on Instagram from Naomi Quick @livingout127. She asked, “As an adoptee and adoptive mom, do you ever find it challenging to hold in tandem the beauty and brokenness surrounding adoption?”
The answer is, “Yes, Naomi, I do.”
As an adoptee, it’s been difficult to see a beauty in the broken pieces of my story. It’s been challenging not to identify myself as those broken pieces. Being adopted can be confusing when so many around you say, “just be grateful.” Gratitude is hard to arrive at when it’s surrounded by unspoken grief.
Adoption, as both an international adoptee and mom-by-international adoption, has framed so much of how I see the world around me. This framing has architected within me a deep and profound compassion and empathy for those who hurt and are alone. When I was a kid, I remember that I’d be completely shattered at the thought of an animal who was lost and afraid. Pictures of orphaned children left me trembling in tears. Even my plushy stuffed toys, in my earliest of beliefs, had feelings and emotions that needed protecting.
Courtney Rae arrived at my home, clutching a bag of toys and clothes. Her eyes darted around the room as she took in her new surroundings. Courtney Rae looked at her relinquishing foster mother, and then focused her eyes on me. Her new foster/pre-adoption mother. Standing firm, she angrily declared, “I hate you. You stink and this house stinks too!”
Our first night together was consumed with a little girl’s rage as Rae kicked the walls and screamed, “I don’t have any mama!” Exhausted and drenched in perspiration, she finally fell asleep. It was at this point that I approached her and began stroking her head and touching her fingers and toes, in awe. I fought back tears of sorrow as she, even in a deep sleep, clutched her jaw and tightened her face.
I openly welcome questions by individuals in our community of adoption and foster care who ask about my experiences as an international adoptee.
Questions of how those experiences have formed my identity, directed my relationships, and shaped my view of the world around me.
Recently, I was posed three meaningful questions to explore, which I will do in my next three blogposts. The first question is from Oleg Lougheed, international adoptee and founder of Overcoming Odds.
Growing up my dream was always to become an actress. I loved the humorous aspects of the theatre and had the quirky acting personality of Amanda Bynes. The left-sided brain that I am, however, drew me towards a more practical career choice, and I ultimately decided to attend University to become a psychologist and make a great career for myself.
One day in my senior year of high school, however, I found myself reading the book Charla’s Children by Charla Pereau. It was an outdated and simple book that my aunt had gifted me about the life of a missionary who worked in an orphanage in Mexico and had adopted many of the children. Despite the insignificant appearance of this book, it changed my world. I knew, after reading that book, that I wanted to adopt children and somehow be involved with kids without families. Initially, I envisioned working in an orphanage just like Charla, though I wasn’t sure yet how I would get there.
Cordelia Cranshaw is Miss DC USA 2019 and is an Education Specialist for DC’s Child and Family Services Agency.
Her journey to where she is today has come with great challenge. As a former foster child, she was told time and time again that she would never succeed.
On this episode of The Greater Than Podcast, we share Cordelia’s story of overcoming adversity and finding self-confidence. It’s a powerful story of a young woman who wouldn’t give up and who now lives to serve and support others in the foster care system.
To learn more about Cordelia, follow her on Instagram @missdcusa.
Adoption is hard. It’s so very hard. And, it’s beautiful. Adoption is heartbreakingly beautiful.
I understand the complexities of adoption.
I’ve lived them.
I live them.
Adoption never leaves you. For the adoptee, it’s a journey that spans a lifetime. Being adopted is an experience we didn’t ask for, or even cause. There are real and raw moments when it seems that the pain and confusion of adoption cannot be overcome. Asking why, often times, seems pointless when answers are hard to find. Adoption can seem unfair. Unjust. Adoption can hurt. You may wonder if you’ll ever move beyond the disempowering feelings.
CPS stood on my doorstep at 11:00 pm, with a sleepy one year old boy. We have been anticipating his arrival since we got the call, early this afternoon.
He’s had a rough day. A day not many of us can even fathom. Since we received confirmation he was coming, I have been eager to comfort him.
I look at him and I know, “This is going to wreck me.”
I scoop him from the social worker. Holding his innocence in my arms—losing a bit of my own. Committing to carrying the weight of his world, the good and the bad. Preparing to hear his story. Ready to give him all we have…
This week has been a week of powerful connections. I’ve connected with incredible people doing the work of adoption awareness in Colorado, Australia, New Zealand, and beyond.
I’ve linked with adoptees who are brave and courageous, taking on the journey of finding themselves. Facing the fear of rejection and disappointment. Walking through that fear.
It’s a long and difficult walk. Adoptees have, for far too long, been told what to think, feel, and believe. We’ve been silenced, judged, and misunderstood. Adoptees are a population of people who have had basic rights taken from them: the right to freedom of information, the right to dignity of identity, and the right to know their full story—their history.
My Adoption Story
“Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, you didn’t grow under my heart, but in it.” —Fleur Conkling Heyliger
March 24th will always be one of the most important days of my life. On this day, almost 29 years ago, I flew from Seoul, Korea, to Michigan to meet my forever family.
As an adult, I know that many stories begin like this. However, as a child, I never thought about what adoption really meant. I’m not quite sure my schoolmates knew either. My classmates just knew me as the girl who always shared cookies, cake, or cupcakes and celebrated her adoption every March 24th. Each year, my mom or dad helped educate my friends and classroom about my “Plane Day.” We would even bring in little folded handouts to give to everyone.