39 [S2 E13] Jessenia: Adoptee Advocate

Jessenia Parmer of I Am Adopted shares her incredible journey from being abandoned as a baby, her challenges within her adoptive family, to becoming an advocate and voice for adoptees. She is incredibly candid about her personal adoption trauma experiences which include abuse, identity issues, and suicide attempts. As a Christian, Jessenia is open with her faith yet struggles with how the church presents adoption. We discuss the things we’ve learned from our work with adoptee advocacy and wrap up with some new and some familiar recommended resources.

Show Notes

Topics We Discussed

  • Abandoned at birth, Jessenia wasn’t formally adopted until age 8
  • Her older sister (a biological child to her adoptive mother) abused her
  • Jessenia was arrested and taken to a group home in her early teens
  • Her adoptive mother was also an adoptee with unresolved trauma
  • Jessenia started blogging and vlogging in her early 20s and was found by her biological family via her blog. Not ready for reunion, Jessenia waited for a couple of years before reconnecting.
  • Struggled with identity issues from a young age, first because her appearance was different than her adoptive family and later she just felt she didn’t fit in.
  • Struggles with suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts; alcohol addiction
  • How Jessenia got started in adoption blogging/vlogging
  • How the church gets it wrong with adoption, the weight of gratitude can smother adoptees, why adoptees are walking away from faith.
  • When is adoption helpful, when is it just promoting child trafficking, the problematic elements of money involved in adoption.
  • The four things we’ve learned through working with adoptees:
    • The need for mental health resources (books mentioned: Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier, Adoption Therapy: Perspectives from Clients and Clinicians on Processing and Healing Post-Adoption Issues edited by Laura Dennis)
    • We need community - start your own support group! (Keith’s episode is here)
    • Many of us are afraid to tell our stories until our adoptive parents pass away
    • We need permission (and space) to feel
  • Permission for self care time, permission to take a break from helping others when our tanks get empty

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