There is always value in being connected to those who are experiencing similar circumstances or have gone through similar life events so you can share and learn information, ideas, hopes, and fears. For adoptive parents, there is a bond that exists with those who have adopted a child from the same country, or a child of the same age, race, or ethnicity. In many ways, this is why Tapestry exists — to provide opportunities for these bonds to develop between adoptive and foster families. However, this is a need for adoptees too.
As an adoptee, I have my story. I love my story. I love that I am still learning bits and pieces of my story, even at the age of 51. But just as every adoptive and foster family’s story is different, so too is every adoptee’s story. When I am with teens who were adopted I have the opportunity to hear the losses they’ve experienced, the challenges they face, and their joy in finding a place and a family where they belong.
I hear the differences in our stories, even as I hear the similarities too. There are events, circumstances, and experiences that bind us together. Yet we do not have to really say how our stories are different. We know it, and we rejoice and empathize as we hear the beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking realities of those differences. I love that Tapestry sees this need for adoptees (of all ages). I love that the Tapestry community is seeking to become a safe place for adoptees to find and use their voices — and a place where others are invited to ‘listen in.’
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Christian Alliance for Orphan’s Summit in Nashville, Tennessee. It was my first Summit. I sought out sessions that gave voice to adoptees. I had the opportunity to hear many voices and, although some of the voices were familiar ones, I was able to hear their stories in more detail and with a different perspective. One of those voices was Carissa Woodwyk.
Michael and Amy Monroe met Carissa last year and they introduced her to the Tapestry community at the Listen to Our Hearts event last fall. Carissa spoke last week to over 2500 attendees at Summit and she spoke in a way that challenged every person in the room — professionals, adoptive parents, foster parents, pastors, church ministry leaders, and adoptees. In just 13 brief minutes she silenced this large gathering as they accepted her simple, yet challenging invitation — to listen. When she finished the entire audience rose to the their feet with applause. It was overwhelming and beautiful. The voice of the adopted person in all of its honestry, pain, beauty, and hope was given an opportunity to be heard and people listened.
In the days to come we will continue to invite people to listen to the voice of the adopted person. But for now, I invite you to ‘listen’ to what Carissa wrote about her experience at Summit. I encourage you to read Carissa’s blog, and I encourage you to really absorb her words. Our hope is that Carissa will be with us again at this year’s Tapestry Conference in October 2013, and I hope you will plan to attend to hear her for yourself. Although her story is unique and she shares her heart in a way that only she can, she touches other adoptees, including myself, with her honesty and her grace. Like I said, there is always value in being connected to those who are experiencing similar circumstances or have gone through similar life events so you can share and learn information, ideas, hopes, and fears.
You don’t have to wait until the 2013 Tapestry Adoption and Foster Care Conference to her Carissa and the honest voices of other adoptees. Visit the Tapestry Store to purchase the 2-hour DVD of Listen to Our Hearts, featuring the ‘voices’ and stories of 14 adoptees, including Carissa Woodwyk, mine, Melanie Chung-Sherman, and others.