Constructing Identity After Adoption
'Adoptees search in the mirror for a glimpse of their mother's eyes, their father's nose, a grandparent's lips, and some clue to who they are and what they might become.' - B. J. Lifton
On April 22, Dr Jo-Ann Sparrow facilitated a workshop on Constructing Identity After Adoption. The workshop also included sessions and support from Forced Adoption Support Service (FASS) staff, Andrea Lynch and Jane Sliwka.
The workshop provided participants with a template to begin (or continue) exploring their own adoption experiences through art (writing, painting, multi-media etc).
Using her own adoption story and the research processes used during her doctoral studies, Jo-Ann led the group through adoption literature and theories; including Nancy Verrier's primal wound, Betty Jean Lifton's divided self, disenfranchised grief and why breaking the silence of adoption trauma is so challenging for adopted people. Jane and Andrea also spoke about the neuroscience of adoption and explored self-soothing techniques.
The day was full of practical exercises - building an adoption timeline, free-writing and moulding the divided selves, and participants were engaged and enthusiastic throughout. They gained new insights into their experiences and left with solid foundations on which to explore in the future. Some of their work and feedback about the workshop is included below.
This activity was funded by the Small Grants program Forced Adoption Support Services.
I felt understood, I felt I belonged, and there has been a lot of discovery.
I feel less alone and my experience felt validated, I feel like I belong.
I valued the unification of others in a shared awareness through professional science, techniques, creativeness and Jo's wonderful story for empowerment.
I appreciated the kindness and the willingness of the participants to listen and share their stories.
I liked being able to come together to listen to other adopted people's shared stories, being guided to think about important issues that have affected us and perhaps transform into, or closer to, our authentic selves.