International Adoptee Organization Launched at Washington ConferencePosted by:
laurakujawski on Monday, December 11, 2006
With its official launch confirmed by its first annual conference, the International Adoptee Congress (IAC) came into being in early November 2006 as the first organization of its kind - a nationwide organization organized by, and populated by, and created for, adult international adoptees. International adoptees are adopted individuals who came to live in the United States from foreign countries. Among the numerous projects and initiatives IAC members are already developing are programs that will support international adoptees of all ages and help them to network on a personal level; a network of research and researchers that will help gather and synthesize the myriad academic and scholarly information available on international adoptees and international adoption issues; programs to link adoptees to their birth cultures in diverse ways; venues for creative expression through the arts and media; and a quarterly online newsletter.
Following the conclusion of the first International Adoptee Congress gathering in Washington, DC, IAC President Bert Ballard said that the Congress's first gathering had fulfilled all his expectations for it. "I was hoping that we would come together as a group, recognizing that we have more similarities than differences, and would unveil a national agenda to help shift the paradigm on how international adoptees are viewed within the international adoption community. We did all that." And, in the process, noted Ballard, 34, who was adopted from Vietnam in 1975 as part of Operation Babylift, and grew up in Colorado, "We brought together a variety of different adopted individuals from different birth countries as well as places of residence, occupations, ages, and experiences, and established common ground to speak with a unified voice."
Forty-seven internationally born adoptees, representing nine different birth countries, are founding members of the IAC, while 32 attended the first gathering in November. The countries represented are South Korea, India, Vietnam, Iran, Colombia, China, the Philippines, Colombia, Russia, and Greece. The Congress gathering itself encompassed formal and personal introductions, the development of broad goals for the organization, and then the creation of committees focused on specific spheres of activity for the organization going forward.
Participants from all backgrounds expressed enthusiasm about the process and the outcome of the November meeting. "I'm proud to be a member of the IAC," said Jared Rehberg, 32, a Vietnamese-born adoptee from New York City. "It has always been a dream of mine to work with other adoptees to help create a voice for our community and empower the younger generation." Rehberg, a professional musician, is involved in the creative expression committee, and is also a co-publisher of In Third Space, an international adoptee-oriented online publication, which he sees as complementary to the goals of the IAC.
Give adoptees more information
By Natalie Jones
(December 6, 2006) — I am writing in reference to the Nov. 19 article "Schools may need update on adopted kids." As a 57-year-old adoptee, it doesn't seem to me that the stigma concerns the fact of being adopted as much as it does the secrecy that surrounds the adoptee's birth family history.
When asked to do a family tree for class, the adoptee may feel left out because he or she doesn't know his family background. Some of us have lived as only children right into adulthood without knowing we have siblings out there somewhere that we have probably never met, but could have married, due to our adoption records being sealed away forever.
The New York State Adoption Information Registry does give an adoptee non-identifying information, but in many cases the information is limited. In my case, some of it wasn't even true. The only true information I got 20 years ago was that my birth mother was 33 years old when I was born. My adoptive parents were told that she was a "young girl." Also conveniently left out of my adoption file, and therefore my non-identifying information, was the fact that I had six older brothers and sisters. After me, two sisters were born, one in December 1950 whom my adoptive parents were asked to adopt but declined, and the other in July 1954. They were also given up for adoption.
I have since been reunited with my youngest sister, thanks to the NYS Adoption Information Registry, but the sister my adoptive parents were asked to adopt remains a stranger to me and remained a secret that I discovered only after both of my adoptive parents' deaths.
The Adoptees Bill of Rights has been a work in progress for 10 years in New York. It should be passed to allow adult adoptees the opportunity to get their original birth certificate so that we have a better chance of finding what our birth family history is. There also needs to be more non-identifying information made available.
Political correctness can only go so far in helping adoptees adjust to school activities that might make them feel excluded. Change the laws so adoptees have greater access to their birth family history. To me, not knowing is far more difficult than being different due to being adopted.
If anyone knows a female adoptee born in December 1950 in Syracuse, please let them know that her sister may be right around the corner looking for her. I need her to help complete my family tree!
Jones lives in Rochester. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.