22 [Healing Series] When You Don't Find Answers with Katie Jae Naftzger, LICSW

We talk with Katie Jae Naftzger, LICSW about what to do when you don’t find answers at the end of your search. Katie shares about her trips back to Korea to search and her two moments of clarity during her second trip. One while hearing babies cry all night long at the adoption agency and another when a birthmother asks her, “What’s the hardest part about being adopted?”. We’ve got four steps to finding some peace when those answers never come.

Show Notes

Topics We Discussed

  • Katie is a Korean adoptee, psychotherapist for almost 20 years

  • Didn’t consciously think of her birth parents throughout childhood

  • Went to the First International Gathering of Korean Adoptees in 2000 and decided to initiate a search, but didn’t find anything

  • Betty Jean Lifton encouraged Katie to do a second search

  • She went back to Korea on a tour with her adoptive mom and didn’t find any answers a second time

  • Hearing babies cry all night (the infant care unit at Dillon Adoption Agency) and had this urge to run in and tell the babies, “They’re not going to choose you if you cry.” Realizing that this feeling of survival is so embedded in adoptees.

  • One of the birth mothers asked her, “What’s the hardest part about being adopted?” and Katie broke down and answered, “Not knowing any information”. The birth mothers got very upset and said this isn’t right, she deserves to know her story. This moment of being heard by mothers, having witnesses, and the power of the group helped Katie let go of her search.

  • It’s hard to feel empowered when you’re alone. Talk to people who understand.

  • Adoption as an experience with no words, no witnesses, and no documentation

  • Four steps for finding peace:

  1. Find the words for what you’re going through (without trying to fix it, change it or help)

  2. Have someone to be a witness to your story (a therapist or friend)

  3. Document your story in a tangible way (book, blog, podcast, etc.)

  4. Help others along the same journey

  • What do you say to someone who keeps pressing you to search? There’s a big cost to searching. Money, time, away from family, turmoil, emotional and psychic energy to spend. I have boundaries - I’m not going on tv to search.

  • The difficulty in search internationally, closed records, baby scoop era - like finding a needle in a haystack

  • Film “Somewhere Between” about Chinese adoption

  • Katie’s book “Parenting in the Eye of the Storm: The Adoptive Parents Guide to Navigating the Teen Years”

  • Our secret facebook group: http://www.adopteeson.com/partner