At this year’s two-day EurAdopt Conference in the Netherlands for the first time adoptees were present as well in the program. This conference is particularly frequented by employees of adoption agencies most of which are adoptive parents themselves.
Inter-Country adoption should be in the interests of the adoptee. It was interesting to see that other than on the panel, a lot of presentations were about us adoptees, but there was no conversation with us adoptees. The question is, who determines what is in the interest of the adoptee? Are these the mediators, adoption agencies, or the adoptive parents? This again raises the question, to what extent is there real scope to make our voices as adoptees heard if the conference is largely attended by people who are involved in adoption professionally or who have a pro-adoption attitude?
This week the results of an ‘adoptee satisfaction survey’ were published by Adoc.
This name alone is questionable. In preparation for this survey, UAI (United Adoptees International) was asked to give feedback to Adoc regarding the list of questions. Unfortunately, this feedback was not taken into consideration due to technical difficulties regarding the scoring, so the questions were still very suggestive.
At EurAdopt the preliminary results from the survey were shown by Adoc.
After the results were displayed, present adoptees responded within an emotional discussion. A large part of them stated that they did not recognize themselves in the results of this study. They found that the outcome gave too positive a picture. “People are always shocked when someone is critical of adoption”, responded a fellow adoptee. “But being critical doesn’t mean that we are deeply unhappy.”
On the second day, Hilbrand Westra exposed another dimension of abandonment and adoption. “We often present adoption as something temporary,” he said, “but it’s a lifetime process which never ends.” He was referring to the general idea that the adoptee needs to adapt to the new situation first emotionally, then rationally and then socially. “But if you go beyond the heart and soul: what is inside you? Being adopted is a full-body experience.” Adoptees are not empty bodies, but they have a soul as well. But who takes the responsibility to care for our souls? Our soul and our body belongs to ourselves and is inseparably connected to our culture of origin. Hilbrand illustrated this with a stunning video of Yuna Kim, a famous figure skater. Her performances are among the international top class, but only when she skates to Korean music, can you feel and see the connection between her soul and her body. The presentation by Hilbrand touched a lot of the present people.
SOS Save our souls, because we’re not empty bodies.
Chamila Seppenwoolde, 29 years old, born in Sri Lanka, adopted to the Netherlands,
board member of UAI (United Adoptees International) and co-founder and secretary of Lankan Affairs Global (Association of Sri Lankan adoptees)