116 Mariama J. Lockington


Full show notes: http://www.adopteeson.com/listen/116

Episode Transcription by Fayelle Ewuakye. Find her on Twitter at @FayelleEwuakye

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(intro music)

Haley - You’re listening to Adoptees On. The podcast where adoptees discuss the adoption experience. This is episode 116, Mariama. I’m your host Haley Radke. Today I’m honored to speak with Mariama J. Lockington, author of For Black Girls Like Me, which releases this month, July 2019. We talk about her experiences growing up as a transracial adoptee, what microaggressions are, how writing was always one of her passions, and why it is so critically important to share our personal adoption narratives. We wrap up with some recommended resources, and as always, links to everything we’ll be talking about today are on the website, AdopteesOn.com. Adoptees On is celebrating our 3rd birthday this week. And I’m gonna talk about that milestone a little bit more at the end of this show. First let’s get to the amazing conversation I had with Mariama. Let’s listen in.

(upbeat music)

Haley - I am so pleased, to welcome to Adoptees On, Mariama Lockington, welcome!

Mariama - Thank you so much, I’m really excited to be speaking with you.

Haley - Will you please start out the way we always do with sharing your story with us?

Mariama - Yeah of course. First of all, I just wanted to say that I love this podcast so much and its just been a really great way to stay connected with the adoptee community and I just appreciate the work you do on centering our voices. So I was excited to be on it and just have really enjoyed the community that you’re building. So thank you for that.

Haley - Thank you so much, thank you, that’s so kind of you to say.

Mariama -My story is, I am a transracial black adoptee and I was adopted in the 80s. It was a closed adoption so I was actually born in Atlanta Georgia. And when I was three weeks old, I was actually flown across the country by a social worker and I met my parents who at the time were in Colorado, living in Denver Colorado. And you know, like many couples who maybe turn to adoption, not all, but many, my parents had fertility issues up front. However my mom also has talked to me about the fact that she always sort of had adoption as something that she was interesting in doing as well as having biological children. So you know, I was adopted –

Haley - Did she say why? Was that like, a religious thing or a social justice thing or--?

Mariama - A social justice thing. I don’t know if she would use those terms, but I think she grew up in LA and actually has told me a story about the fact that her parents, my grandmother and my grandfather at one point actually started to do the process of trying to adopt a young black boy in the 60s and 70s. And they were actually told they couldn’t adopt because they were on government assistance. And so they were sort of deterred from continuing in that process. And so the story that my mom tells me is that sort of that moment with her parents sort of influenced her in thinking about ways to build her family in the future. So that’s the story that she has told me. I actually, I heard it from her but not from my grandmother when she was alive. So that is something that she has talked to me about a little bit. I am the oldest of four. Because two years after I was adopted, my parents got pregnant with my sister. So I have a sister who is my parents’ biological child and she’s a couple years younger than me. And then I also have two other younger transracially adopted black and biracial siblings who, my brother was adopted when I was 6 years old and then when I was a junior in high school, so I’m quite a bit older, my baby sister was adopted as well. And none of us are biologically connected. But we all are transracial adoptees. So it was not a secret to me that I was adopted of course. I am a different race than my parents. My parents are white. And so, to some extent growing up, I knew that our family was our family, and that families get made in different ways and that sometimes babies come from, my sister came from my mom’s tummy, and I had a biological mother somewhere out in the world that I came from. And you know, similarly, when my other younger siblings were adopted, my parents had to sit us down and talk to us about you now, we are adopting a little boy and give us a little bit of limited background and history that they had on that. So it was never a mystery to me, it was definitely a part of the narrative. And there was no way it couldn’t be. And so you know, I think that in my family, within the confines of our house, our family, our rainbow family was the norm in many ways. And we all belonged to one another. But as I grew up and as my family grew up, my parents are both classical musicians and so we actually had a nomadic childhood. And we moved, I’ve lived in more than 10 states, you know, spanning from childhood to now adulthood. And as my parents progressed in their careers, we moved from city to city or state to state. And so you know, the way that our family operated, sort of on the inside or as an insular unit, didn't change when out into the outside world. But I think the world looked at us differently and I began to encounter the world in slightly different ways than when, and maybe some of my white family members based on my race. And then you know I was definitely a curious, nerdy, overachieving child who really wanted to please. I've always been kind of a people pleaser, really wanted to, a peacemaker, I play the role of peacemaker in my family. And also a bossy older sister. But I think as I began to grow up and sort of experience microaggressions and then just questions from kids on the playground and kids that I was encountering, everything from sort of where are you really from to, are those your parents? To where’s your real mom? All the questions that you get as adoptees, as transracial adoptees. So I think that you know while I felt a lot of love in my family growing up, there was also a lot of silence and a lot of shame and a lot of grief. And a lot of fear of rejection and abandonment which are all things that you know, we’ve heard many adoptees talk about on this podcast. And you know, one thing, my family is not particularly religious, but music is a kind of spirituality in our family and is a big part of my parent’s life. On both of their sides we have sculptors and artists and other musicians. And so I did grow up, I had to play the piano. But I got to pick the flute as my instrument of choice. And so I grew up playing classical music, but I also always grew up writing and telling stories and journaling and writing really embarrassing diary entries and just cataloging and observing the world around me. And then also writing became a way to sort of interrogate some of those messier feelings that I was having, those contradictory sort of scary feelings I was having about who am I? And where to do belong? And what does it mean to be a black person? And who do I look like? And will my parents understand if I bring this sort of grief and questioning to them? Am I being disloyal to them if I, you know, ask them questions about my origins. And so writing became at first just a way to survive and to document my life and to sort of write my experience into existence. Because as we’ll probably get to later, I did not find a lot of literature when I was growing up that really spoke to my experience as a transracial adoptee, as an adoptee in general. So writing was really that survival tool and a tool of resilience for me growing up.

Haley - Oh my gosh I want to get so much of these things. But I wanna stop you before we go too much further. Cause you talked about experiencing microaggressions. And that’s sort of a word I've heard used many times. I'm hoping that you can just explain what that is.

Mariama - Yep.

Haley - And can you give a couple of examples. And then how you might have processed those through writing which is my guess as to how did that based on what you said?

Mariama - Yeah, so I actually looked this up for the best way to explain this. I don’t think, I obviously when I was young did not have the term microaggression to use and so I think—

Haley - That’s pretty new, right? That’s pretty new, yeah.

Mariama - Yeah, it’s pretty new and also just as a kid, you know you’re experiencing difference, right?

Haley - I should have corrected that. That term I think is new but what happens is not new.

Mariama - Yes, so the experience itself is not new. But the term was actually coined in the 70s.

Haley - Oh, okay.

Mariama - So it’s relatively new but not. But basically it’s like, brief, daily sort of consistent verbal, be it unintentional or intentional remarks that are kind of hostile or derogatory or that sort of negatively portray or insult a person of color. Microaggressions can also happen to different groups of peoples as well. But also the best way I've heard it described is, there’s some video on the internet that’s like, imagine you know, getting a mosquito bite, right? You know, one it hurts and it itches and it bothers you. But imagine getting like, consistent mosquito bites over and over again, that is another way to think about a microaggression. Obviously as a child I didn’t have the language to say it like, that’s a microaggression, what’s happening to me? But things for example like, someone asking me where are you from? And that’s a complicated, for me in general, just I've lived in so many different states. But when I would say here, or Atlanta Georgia, sometimes is what I would say, because that’s where I was born even though I really have spent very minimal time in that area. And then they say to me, but no where are you really from? And they’re asking me, they’re not content with the answer and they're asking me like, oh but you must be, people assumed I’m from, you know, different countries in Africa or that I wasn’t born in the United States. That’s an example of a microaggression. You speak so well, is another example because it implies things like, why wouldn’t, this is the way that I speak, why wouldn’t I speak this way, or that there is a correct way to speak, a proper way to speak. So those are some things that I’ve encountered when I grew up. And various different ones to varying degrees. And sometimes they can be really, really overt and sometimes not so much. But it’s sort of a buildup, a buildup of comments and phrases and things that make you definitely feel othered and definitely feel as if there’s something wrong with you or as if people are questioning your truth. Or the things that you’re telling them. Another microaggression is people refusing to get my name correctly. Or saying, asking me how to pronounce my name, and I’ll say it’s Mariama and someone will say, what is it, Miriam? And I’ll say, it’s Mariama. And they’ll say oh well that’s just too difficult. That name is too difficult. You know so it’s, moments like those it think, I encounter them as an adult and definitely as a child and you know, they are a part of my experience as a black person in the world that hasn’t always been a comfortable thing to bring to the attention of my family members, to my parents. And also sometimes you question yourself. You question yourself like, well is that really happening to me? Is that happening or am I imagining it? because also sometimes the world asks you to sort of stuff those things and just sort of suck it up and be like, eh. Maybe that’s not actually what’s happening there. But oftentimes it is what’s happening. And you know, as I've gotten older, I've gotten better at identifying and being able to suss those things out and call them out when I'm able or when I'm feeling like doing that work. And then sometimes letting it pass because I don’t feel like doing that work or there are battles to pick.

Haley - Can you remember like a specific instance in your childhood where maybe that happened and you’re like, I need to process this but I don’t necessarily wanna go to my parents with it, and you wrote about it?

Mariama - That’s such a good question! I wish I had my like stacks of journals that I’ve kept, it’s so embarrassing.

Haley - Oh my gosh, no.

Mariama - It’s actually wonderful, it’s like an archive of amazingness.

Haley - Yeah! When we get, we’re gonna talk about your brand new book very soon and like, I’m assuming that was a treasure trove for you.

Mariama - Yes it is, and it will continue to be. I think the thing is like there are so many. And you know, honestly, there are microaggressions and things that have happened at the dinner table with my family, unintentionally. I think things that family members have said that have sort of struck a chord with me and that have been really problematic in a lot of ways.

Haley - Do you remember coming to a point where you realized those things were happening? Like that, the mosquito bites were adding up? Like, to me, it just seems like, over time, I don’t know, it either is like you get used to it and it’s terrible to say that. But it’s sort of like, well this is just what life is like for me. Or you’re like, oh my gosh, stop this, what is happening right now?

Mariama - Yeah, I mean so I think that the answer is I felt it when I was a kid. I felt those moments building up and yes I did write about them. I mean some of them weren’t microaggressions but just instances of racism that I faced too you know. I had this really terrible moment in 5th or 6th grade where a girl sort of like swatted her nose and was like, you know black meat attracts flies, right? So this idea that I was dirty or unclean and going to attract, you know flies and insects. That one just sticks in my mind. And it’s definitely not something that I talked about. I think I've talked about it as an adult more so. I’ve identified that moment as sort of a really traumatic moment and a moment where I didn’t know what to do with that. At first I was confused and then I sort of figured out what that meant. And then I felt ashamed. And I didn’t, I don’t remember processing that with anyone. I don’t really remember having anyone to process that with. But I do remember writing about it. I feel like I wrote about it in college as sort of like a memory. I don’t know, it might come up in you know, in a journal from that time as well. But my early writing was a lot of just journaling and reflecting, I wasn’t really sharing my writing as much as I was when I got into college, honestly. And it was in college where I started to get the language for some of these things. So I started to understand more things that were either happening at my dinner table. Or I went to the university of Michigan and I was there between the years of 2003 and 2007, and you know, I would come home and hang out with friends and go to parties. And you know sometimes white kids would say, oh, you got into Michigan? They were like, oh well that must be affirmative action. So you know, just, there are many, many instances and yes they build up. And yes they cause anger and, but I think one of my main experiences as a transracial adoptee was, figuring out if it was okay to bring those instances to my parents. And also a lot of times, just sitting in silence with some of those moments. And you know, I had other adoptee friends as a kid, other young girls and people that I knew that were adopted, you know, when I was like in elementary and middle school. But we didn't really talk about those things. We didn’t really, so there was also a sense of not necessarily a sense of am I the only adoptee that exists, but are there other adoptees that are feeling the way that I'm feeling. That are feeling silenced and conflicted and that are sort of stuffing and burying these things. I don’t think I had a sense that there were adult adoptees when I was a kid. So that’s another thing that in college I was like, oh my gosh there’s a whole community of us. So yeah, so I think the answer is there are so many and they're every day and they're constant and they continue to be that way. But I think that what is really important is that, you know if you are an adoptive parent and decide to adopt transracially is, being really aware of the terminology and the things that your child might be experiencing and your own biases and unpacking your own privilege. But also not leaving your child of color to sort of sit in those moments alone in order to preserve your own comfort. Because I think my parents did the best that they could with some of the resources that they were given. You know, they definitely tried to have books featuring black characters in the house, picture books, you know, we had black Santas all over our house. And you know I think they well intentionally put me in African dance and thought that that was a place that I might see myself reflected. But we didn't actually talk with one another very much. And we still don’t talk with one another very well about some of the uncomfortable, hard things that are different about our experiences in the world. And I think for me, I won’t speak for other transracial adoptees but that has been really silencing and hard to wade through both as a child and as an adult, to figure out how can I figure out how to speak a common language with these people that I love, but also that sometimes we are in conflict with each other. And we do not understand, fundamentally do not understand each other’s experiences sometimes. And that’s really hard place to be I think for a child. And then also as you know, as I move through my adulthood as well.

Haley - And I’m curious about your relationship with your siblings then. Because the 2 youngest you said were transracially adopted and your little sister is quite a bit younger than you. And then you have the one bio sister. I mean, biologically your parents’, all children are biological. I was just at an adoption conference, I’m not supposed to use that language. I'm trying to do better. Okay. But did you talk with your siblings about any of that or was it just like, as a family we don’t really go there.

Mariama - Yeah, yes and no. I mean I think also the other true thing is that even though I feel like there are some threads in commonality in adoptees’ experiences, we’re all very different people. And so definitely my sister who is very younger than me, who I honestly only lived in the house with her for about 2 years ‘cause I went to boarding school for my senior year of high school. So we’ve never actually lived together for very long. Because she's actually about to go to college which is frightening and wonderful. And exciting. But yeah, so we have a very different relationship and we actually have had conversations. You know I think, sometimes I am her big sister but I'm like more of an auntie figure because I'm much older. And so you know, we agree on things, and sometimes we don’t. And sometimes she doesn’t wanna talk about adoptee things and that’s fine. So I just try to let those conversations be organic if they are and talk through them. But you know, we do talk about it maybe a little bit more than I did with my brother who has a very different outlook than me on adoption. And so we don’t talk about it much. And then my sister who is my parents’ biological child, you know we do talk about like, she’s very supportive and reads my work and is excited and proud of me in many ways. But I wouldn’t say that we have very sort of in depth conversations at this point now. And I think growing up you know, this was our family and we were sorta like, this is who we are and this is what our family looks like and that was the extent of things, but no we didn't have family conversations necessarily about racism and our perspectives and just who we are in the world in that particular way growing up. That wasn’t, you know, my parents would leave me, there were books about African American history in the house and you know, I would do projects on different or at certain points I got excited about like doing a project about the civil rights movement. But no it wasn’t part of our everyday sort of makeup and language as much as I think I maybe needed it to be. And I think definitely as we’ve all gotten older, and gotten into adulthood, it’s become much harder somehow to talk through some of this.

Haley - Absolutely. We get in our patterns, right? And then you’re like this is how we are. Okay let’s switch back to talking about your writing and what your reading life looked like when you were a young adult. And into college, I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

Mariama - Yeah, so I actually was a late reader. But once I got hooked onto some books that I really enjoyed, I could not put books down. So I was actually, was actually homeschooled for a period of time and I, you know my mom took us to the library all the time. And I got super hooked, this is so ridiculous, but no shame, I got super hooked on the Sweet Valley High twins for whatever reason, that series. And you know, maybe part of it was escapism and just wanting to read about like two teenage girls who have very minimal issues and you know. And I mean, they have issues, but like, you know, I felt like they were kind of like low stakes, lovely books to escape into often. And so I –

Haley - Can I, listen this is confession time, I'm gonna go for it. So I read those a bit, but I really liked Lurlene McDaniel which was all the pretty teenagers who got cancer and died. So yeah.

Mariama - Well I will say that like, I've never been a big reader of fantasy. Like I always wanted books about real girls or real teens or kids going through real things. And so you know, I feel like there were different levels of stakes for some of those books. I also was a really really, I've always been really drawn to books that are about young kids who somehow are left behind or have to venture into the woods. Like I remember reading Hatchet or Island of the Blue Dolphins about like teenage characters who are sort of left behind or stranded or abandoned somehow by family members or society. Or stories that were just about like characters that were orphaned in some way. So I love Anne of Green Gables, loved that story. I loved Heidi, the musical Annie, just you know, stories that were about young people who were trying to figure out where they belonged in a sense. And those are the stories that I gravitated to, I wonder why. A lot growing up, and then you know, I loved Jane Eyre, which is a complicated book and very advanced, and I read it probably when I was much too young. But you know, all of these books I feel like I loved and I latched onto but none of them really mirrored or depicted exactly some of my circumstances and I specifically didn't find books about black or biracial kids who were being raised by white families or in white families or in mixed families when I was growing up. But I was always keeping an eye out and trying to hunt and look for those. But you know, didn't really find those. And so I think I gravitated to these out there novels. And then I also encountered Toni Morrison much too early probably. But you know my parents were happy that I was reading and there wasn’t any censorship on what I was reading really. In fact, my mom was actually more horrified that I was reading Sweet Valley High and I had to start like, hiding the books from her. And getting some other books as well ‘cause she was like, those are cheap trash. So I specifically remember like, hiding Sweet Valley books under my mattress at home. But I you know, I read The Bluest Eye and Beloved probably way too early. But I just remember being blowing away by The Bluest Eye and while Pecola Breedlove, and one of the main characters in the book has a very, very different life than me, there was a lot that I related to in that book as far as being a little black girl and trying to figure out what that meant in the world. And encountering racism. And encountering internalized racism. And that longing sometimes for, she longs for blue eyes, Pecola Breedlove longs for blue eyes. And you know I have memories as a kid of like, putting a towel on my head or being really envious of my sister’s whose, my biological parents’ child, of her hair and sort of the ease at which my mom was able to do my hair. And sort of longing for straight beautiful hair that I could braid easily. And so reading, you know even though that’s, Pecola has a very different story than me, that book was really affirming in a lot of ways, as well as devastating. Toni Morrison doesn’t write easy books. And she is not trying to make it easy for a reader and that’s what I like about her work. She makes you work. She makes you grapple with things and I like that about her work. And so she's been a big influence, I've read all her books. And I'm a big Tomo fan in general. because in some way it provided a mirror for me growing up. And then into adulthood as well her books have. So yeah, but I became a voracious reader. I still to this day read as much as I can. Books are my friends. And another way that I survived and I learned to sort of build my identity and to sort of learn about the world around me and was through reading and writing together.

Haley - Okay so you have stacks and stacks of journals from when you were a kid and to now I'm assuming. But when you went to college, did you already know, were you like, okay, I know what I'm gonna study. I'm gonna do this, how did that come about?

Mariama - I have like, been making books and talking about being a writer since I was pretty young. But I think that when it became like an actual goal and a profession and a practice was in middle, end of middle school, beginning of high school. So I actually had the privilege of attending a summer music camp that’s also a boarding school in northern Michigan called Interlochen and Arts Academy and Interlochen Arts Camp. And I went for one summer as a flautist, so for music, was not very successful, it was very competitive. And even though I’d practiced flute for many years, I was not as good or as talented as some of the other students who were there. But that arts camp also had a creative writing program. And so the next summer when I attended, you know I told my parents I really wanna go as a creative writer, that’s really important to me. So that sort of was the beginning to practice my craft and think about being a writer and being an author and honing my skill in that way. And then I actually attended their boarding school for my senior year of high school and was a creative writing major. So even before I got to college, it was a goal and you know I was practicing poetry as like my core and my love. But I loved fiction, I loved nonfiction and so I went to college knowing yes, what I wanted to continue to pursue literature and creative writing so that’s one of my degrees is in. And then I also majored in African American studies at the University of Michigan. Yeah, I went into college knowing that was the path I wanted to follow. In addition to also finding a way because I think for me I love writing and I'm an introvert, I love to be alone, I can be alone for days. But I also felt like it was important to also teach in some way and be an educator and be in the community in that way. And so teaching and writing have always sort of been things that have been pretty focused on for a while. So but in college, I also found spoken word and slam poetry. And I participated in poetry slams like every Friday night in the student union. And then my junior and senior year of college, I actually made it onto our national poetry slam team. And we went to nationals and we competed as a team and so that was also a really important part of my writing identity, but also my identity as an adoptee because I wrote a lot of angry, loud poems about being adopted. And I got to perform them on stage in front of people who were not my parents although sometimes they did come to poetry slams. And so I got to work out a lot of things out loud through that environment. And then also I found my people, I found a really lovely community of friends and chosen family through that slam poetry, spoken word scene at the University of Michigan, many of whom continue to be my writing support and my community today. So you know that time was, I wouldn’t, those poems exist somewhere, but thank goodness it was before YouTube was really a thing and people weren’t filming them because not a lot Mariama, Self Portraits of Mariama at 19 exist in a recorded fashion, but yeah, it was a really important time in my development as a writer.

Haley - Well I’m super disappointed that I can’t see some of this. And maybe I was gonna ask you to, you know, give us a little something by I won’t.

Mariama - I honestly don’t, like, I don’t have any of those poems memorized anymore. So gonna be real honest there.

Haley - Oh my word. That is amazing, I'm just like, my eyes are just huge as she's telling this. I'm just like super invested. Okay. I love that. Okay the question that came to my mind instantly when you were talking about performing angry adoption stuff was, did you ever have any reactions from people after saying something about adoption that maybe people would be surprised by?

Mariama - Yes. I have had many unsolicited comments. The one that sticks out the most is just someone coming up to me and saying, aren’t you so grateful that your mom didn't have an abortion. Which just don’t say that to people. Don’t ever say that to anyone. You know I believe in a woman’s choice, that’s my personal belief, but there’s so much in that statement that is offensive and personal and just an assumption about a person that is a real person that you don’t even know who made a choice for themselves that they felt was best for themselves. Honestly that was in college and I had read a poem and you know it was well intentioned and I didn’t actually know what to do with it. I don’t think I handled it very gracefully, I think I just sort of shook the woman’s hand and was like, on my way with it. But that is a reaction that I've gotten. You know I think that in general, you know I was reading a lot of poems to my peers. And people were really supportive in general of me telling my story because people were getting up and sharing their stories. And that was what was so inspiring about it in the first place, was the truth telling that I saw come out of spoken word and slam poetry and I’d never seen that before and there was something really powerful about getting up and working out some of the messiness of life on a microphone. And so that’s what I was really inspired by. I definitely also remember reactions from my own parents who came to one of like the final poetry slam competitions that happened to be in Michigan that year, the nationals. And you know, there were two different poems that I was sort of, were part of my repertoire. And one of them was a poem about the fact that I grew up in a vegan, vegetarian family til I was 8. And was sort of like a more funny poem about like all the things I dreamed of eating and snuck eating like Skittles and chicken nuggets and my parents didn't know. And so it was like a funny you know goofy poem that got a lot of laughs. And then there was a very intense poem that was basically a self-portrait and I referred to my mother as a Venus Flytrap and I referred to my father as like, a colonizer. Or sort of within thinking about, this is a family that I know and also like bigger histories around us. And so you know like called out some of those things and I just remember my mom, we got to the final round of competition and I was trying to decide, you can repeat a poem when you get to the final round. So I was trying to decide do I do this like Venus Flytrap poem or do I do this Skittles poem? And I remember like, running it by my parents and my mom was like, I like the funny one. you know? Like, I like the Skittles one which you know is like a valid response.

Haley - Fair enough.

Mariama - Fair enough. I definitely went with the other one so I did the exact opposite of what she asked or what she recommended which is just, you know, like my typical behavior. So you know, those types of reactions, I feel like the one that sticks out is really the one just about aren’t you so glad, aren’t you so grateful, don’t you feel so happy that this choice was made for you in this way? And that one was really hard. Don’t say that to people.

Haley - And I mean, I can’t tell you how many times like, that’s been said to adoptees, like you are so not the only one that’s been told that. Me too. I've been told that too, so yeah. Oh my gosh. Okay. Let's get to your new book, For Black Girls Like Me. Wow, I loved it. I read it in, if I did not have teeny kids, it would have been one sitting. I got interrupted and then I read the whole rest of it in one sitting. And as you’re telling me some of your story, I'm realizing there’s a lot more of you in this book than I maybe thought there was. So will you tell us a little bit about writing this and yeah, I mean, I don’t know what else to say, I really loved it.

Mariama - Thank you, do you want me to explain a little bit about what it, like what it’s about?

Haley - Well, yes. I’m trying to be super spoiler-free. And then at some point we will talk again and spoil it and people will already have read it and loved it just like me.

Mariama - Okay, gotcha. So yeah, For Black Girls Like Me is my middle grade, so that’s roughly ages like 8-12. Although I think you could read it if you're older or younger depending on the kid you are or the adult you are. And it is the story of a black transracial adoptee named Makeda and she’s the only black person in her family. And the book sort of begins when her family is sort of uprooted, they move across the country from Baltimore to New Mexico. And it’s the middle of 6th grade for Makeda and so her life is sort of upended. And you know things in New Mexico are very different as far as the landscape and she goes to school and deals with some bullying and she’s also dealing with like a big sister who’s white, because both of her parents are white. And her sister is white. And a big sister who’s kind of too old to play with her anymore and mom who’s not really doing so well with the move and the dad who’s really absent because of his new job. And so Makeda starts to sort of dream and wonder and question where she comes from and what it might be like to grow up in a family that does look like her even though she loves and is part of this family that she was adopted into. So through singing and dreaming and other anchors, she sort of finds a place for herself in the world. And you know this book is, there is, it’s based on some of the experiences that I've had growing up as an adoptee. And there are, you know, parts of the character that I drew from myself. But it’s also very much fictionalized in a lot of ways. But in many ways it’s the book that I wish I had found when I was searching for books on bookshelves. And you know I think it’s about a young girl searching for her voice, it’s about family, about sisterhood, about friendships, about trying to figure out where you belong when you belong in a lot of different places, potentially. And you know, in a lot of ways it’s my love letter to adoptees, to transracial adoptees, and I feel really excited and nervous. But it’s gonna be out in the world very soon.

Haley - I love how you were able to incorporate, so seamlessly, your poetry and all of these, I’ve heard it described as lyrical. You know like, all of these so beautifully written passages. And they just flow so seamlessly with the story. it’s really remarkable.

Mariama - Thank you. Yeah, I think I sort of got my start in poetry but I loved to write all things and I like to write what I call hybrids. So things that look like poems or stories and I play around with different forms and so, I think something that I love about writing this book, or the process of writing it, is that actually the process of writing, of jumping from something that’s more of a traditional poem to something that’s a little bit more like a prose story block, to a song, to definition or things like that, is that it kind of mimics the main character’s identity and the fact that she often feels like a lot of different things and feels like she belongs in a lot of different places. And so in that way, it’s kind of memetic to her experience. And so it was fun to sort of write something that isn’t either or, it’s a little bit of everything. Which felt really natural to me.

Haley - And another thing that seems like such a simple thing, I haven’t seen this done before, though, is that lots of the chapter titles just like flow into the first sentence and so it’s easy to just read in one sitting because everything just keeps going and you just wanna keep the momentum going. And you know, as you said it’s really, it could be for all ages. And there are some very challenging topics addressed. Do you wanna talk about how you decided to incorporate some of those things? Hard without being spoilery, but there’s some mental illness, and some other really difficult things that you know, maybe you wouldn’t have read about as a young adult? Yeah, can you talk about your decision to write about that?

Mariama - Yeah, I mean, I will be the first to say that this book is not a book that, it’s not a book that’s interested in necessarily like a clean, tied up in a bow narrative that I was interested in writing a story that brings to light the nuances of the adoptee experience. But then also, that trusts young people and adults to grapple with some really difficult subjects. So you know, there, the book touches on mental illness, it touches on some really overt racism, it touches on you know, just everyday messy things that you might encounter as a young person or as an adult. And that was really important to me to include those things in you know, hopefully in age appropriate way because I know for me as a kid, I was looking for those stories. And I was looking for those reflections. And I think sometimes we do not give young people enough credit for the things that they’re actually experiencing in their lives. And I think that young people are super observant, super intuitive, and that they are you know, as much as we want kids to be kids for as long as they can be, we have, there are a lot of young people who are dealing with really, really real life things. And so it was important to me to write a book that spoke to some of that truth. And hopefully might validate a young person that needs it. And to trust that you know, the young person who needs this book will find it hopefully and will find some commonality and some thread that is important to them and that’s really why I chose that. And then also because this, you know I feel like it was important for me to write a book that showed that you can both have, you know, something really terrible and sad happen and there also be still hope and joy within a story too. And so you know, I feel like what I wish that adult me had been able to go back and tell young me, was that it is totally possible and ok to feel two things at once. So it is okay to both love and feel a part of my family and it is also okay to be deeply sad and grieve and question and think about where are my biological family, that those two things can live side by side. That it’s possible for me to be in conflict and feel anger about my experience while also feeling gratitude, right? Like those things can coexist, side by side. And so it was important for me to attempt to put that into a book too, where you know these feelings and experiences exist at the same time and it’s not one or the other. It is my daily reality that I am both a part of my family and love them and also deeply mourn and feel sad and angry about being separated from my biological family. Like those two things, one is not more important than the other. They just live side by side.

Haley - Yep.

Mariama - So it was important for me to tackle that. It was important for me to tackle, just some of the other things you deal with when you’re growing up, the messiness of growing up. It’s not always sunshine. It’s just not. And sometimes there’s messiness along with the sunshine.

Haley - So I wasn’t sure if I should ask you this or not. because I almost feel like it’s sort of a spoiler but not really. So the main character, Makeda.

Mariama - Yep.

Haley - She doesn’t, this is not a book about search or reunion. And so much of you know adoptee literature, this small amount there is, is about that. And I was kind of like, excited that it wasn’t included in this story. Because that’s not the experience for most young people. Can you talk about that? Like was that ever on the radar? Or was it just like, you were like, I'm not addressing that in this story?

Mariama - To be honest, I wasn’t addressing, I think it was not part of this story. So it was never, you know this book actually started as a series of sort of disjointed but somewhat connected poems. And I wasn’t thinking about necessarily a young adult audience for it, it was more of like a literary poetry manuscript that I had worked on, and so it was much more abstract and less I guess character and plot driven, than maybe this book is now. But it was a series of poems just about an eleven year old nameless girl at the time who was transracially adopted and some of those poems were definitely more autobiographical then what has made it into the book. But it was really, initially it was you know, a project about sitting in that messiness of adolescence and grappling with those questions. And yes, having the thoughts and the wonderings about what if and who am I and where are the people I come from, but also it was important to me to write a story where that’s not really the point, where the character is yet. The character is just beginning to sort of question and interrogate and really really think about what does this mean for me in the world as I grow up into a person and how do I find my voice? And how do I tell my truth while being myself and loving myself and also loving the people around me. And that was what was important about it. So you know, I think yeah, I don’t think it, I did it intentionally because I wanted to stay within this, you know, one concentrated year or so of this character’s life.

Haley - And you said, like, she has these dreams or thoughts or you know, or there’s the fantasy life that, a lot of experience as young people wondering about our biological families. And so that’s sort of just interwoven just as a normal part of her thought life which is just yeah, so interesting. Everything I have flagged in here, in For Black Girls Like Me, they’re just, as you said, there are these little examples of microaggressions I have flagged, I have moments flagged where Makeda is thinking, I should be talking to my mother about this but I can’t. You know, it’s really things that we talked about in your personal story at the beginning of this interview. But the one you know quote that I wanted to share, was “I have two mothers, you both held me.” And I just think that’s just such a beautiful reflection of what you just said, the both and. Yeah. I don’t know.

Mariama - It’s the yes and. The both and. Both of these things exist at the same time and I think it’s not, not every family is like that. But I think sometimes there’s a fear, or at least in my end that like, well, you know, will one cancel out the other. And that’s not how this works. And it’s not as simple as that.

Haley - Okay, thank you so much for all of those thoughts and let’s go to our recommended resources. And spoiler alert, I'm gonna recommend that you pick up For Black Girls Like Me, it’s just, I loved it. And I think that there are so many moments that as an adopted person reading this you’re like, oh my gosh I just feel, I feel exactly what is happening in this moment for this little girl. And yeah, I think people will be able to relate, especially if you’re a transracial adoptee which I'm not, but also just an adoptee in general. There’s so many things that we have in common with this sweet girl Makeda. Also I picked up your poetry chat book, the Lucky Daughter.

Mariama - Oh thank you, yes.

Haley - And I have to recommend that too. It’s, I, oh my goodness. It’s so good. And I read it and I had to just like slow myself down because there’s so many very deep thoughtful, thought provoking things in your poetry. And one of the lines that I highlighted was from your poem, In This Story. And at the very end it says, “Even when I am wanted, I don’t know how to belong.”

Mariama - Yes.

Haley - Does that still ring true for you? Definitely rings true, yep. In a lot of therapy still.

Mariama - And this is the more adult of your books.

Haley - Yes it is.

Mariama - Definitely not middle grade focused.

Haley - No, no. there is some sexy time and, so yes.

Mariama - Definitely yeah, don’t buy it for your middle grade student. It is definitely more adult although there are some poems that are less adult, but yeah.

Haley - Yeah, so the Lucky Daughter and For Black Girls like me. You guys have to go grab both of those. And For Black Girls Like Me is out July 30th, of 2019.

Mariama - It is.

Haley - Okay, what would you like to recommend to us?

Mariama - So I'm really excited for my book to come out and for it to be in the middle grade sort of cannon but, I really wanted to recommend another adoptee’s young adult novel called, See No Color. And it’s by Shannon Gibney who is an adoptee, transracial adoptee based in Minnesota. And I similarly, if I had found this book when I was a young person, it would probably be dog eared and marked up and just worn with love because it is about a 16 year old biracial transracial adoptee who is growing up in her family. She has a sister and brother and two parents and they’re all white. And you know, in my story and Makeda in my book’s story, sort of the legacy in her family is music. And in Alex Kittridge family in this book, it’s baseball. It’s sports. And so you know, it is a story about a young girl who is very good and very passionate about playing baseball and has this relationship with her father who also is a former baseball player but it also much more than that. It’s a story about a girl who sort of at 16, stumbles upon, in a way that I won't spoil, her adoption file which I think is something that a lot of adoptees can relate to, sort of seeing that document or getting that information for the first time, finds out some information about her biological family and just sort of can't stop thinking about it and is just really is upended by that information and then at the same time is also falling in love with a young black man who is sort of validating a lot of the things that she hasn’t been able to talk about maybe with her white family. And also trying to navigate that relationship and not feeling black enough or you know, like she fits in. And there’s so much, there’s so much in this book. It is a story that touches on reunion a bit, it’s a story that touches on hair care and black identity surrounding hair. And then also that same messiness of coming from a loving family that sometimes doesn’t speak the same language or have the same experience in the world as you. And how you navigate those often uncomfortable, awkward, silencing moments as a young black woman, a young transracial adoptee. So I can’t highly recommend it enough. I devoured it when I read it. It’s also you know, like if you’re, it's got a very cover looks very sporty because that’s a big part of the story. But I would not turn away from it if you’re not a big sports person because there’s so much in it that’s more than that, that compliments sort of the legacy of this character’s family as well. So yeah, it’s about self-love, it’s about romantic love, it’s about familial love and then finding yourself in a lot of ways. And I am really, really honored that Shannon Gibney was able to read my book and give a blurb about it. And that our books hopefully will be in conversation with one another. Because I believe her book is one of the only possible YA books that’s written about a transracial adoptee by a transracial adoptee and I think mine will be one of the first for middle grade as well. And so it’s just been really validating to read her work. And she has another book called Dream Country and I believe she has a memoir coming out eventually as well.

Haley - Can I ask you to put your teacher hat on just for a second.

Mariama - Yes.

Haley - And give us a little lecture. Why should adults not be scared of reading middle grade or YA fiction? Or you know like, sometimes I think people are like, well that’s not written for me, so why would I read that?

Mariama - It’s that or people or like, well that’s just for kids. And it’s not like a real book. Which is problematic in many ways.

Haley - Ouch, ouch. Okay.

Mariama - Well there is, first of all, there are so many incredible like writers who are writing middle grade and YA, just talented storytellers. And so the first reason is that you’re missing out on some fantastic, innovative storytelling that I think that in many ways, YA and middle grade writers are not afraid sometimes to like, break rules or to experiment or to come up with an idea for a story and they don’t feel maybe as bound by some of the boxes that maybe more adult literary fiction sometimes puts you in. So there’s some like, there’s some, such talent, talented people writing middle grade and YA fiction. I also think that for me, I have recently been reading a lot more YA and middle grade and it has been so affirming and so wonderful also to see, you know, I think, there’s a long way still to go, sort of representation and the types of stories that get told or get published. But there is so much more than there was when I was growing up. There’s so many more stories featuring the LGBT community, featuring black characters, black girls on book covers. So many different stories that are out there. So that’s another reason to do that. And I also think that we can learn a lot from young people. I definitely feel like young people have a lot to teach us and a lot of wisdom. And they're looking for stories that are not dumbed down or stories that are not easy either. And so I think young people also will be the first to like critique and tell you about yourself and about your work and so I think that as adults we have a tremendous amount to learn from young people and from the literature that they’re reading and the things that they care about as well. It just, you know, good books. If you wanna read good books, you should read middle grade and YA. And also maybe feel some part of your child, your inner child like validated or seen or just find joy in it as well.

Haley - And you can go back and relook at your childhood. I mean, I had these moments reading this and I was like, oh my gosh, I totally, like it sparks things in you. Okay, you mentioned covers. And black girls on the cover. Your cover is so beautiful. And I kept flipping back just to look at her. And I don’t know, there’s just something about it, it’s just mesmerizing. It’s so lovely.

Mariama - I have to give the cover artist a shout out. Jamea Richmond-Edwards is a phenomenal artist and you should all look her up. She actually did the original piece of art that’s on the cover of the book. And I could not be more happy and in love with it. And I'm also just in love with all of her amazing art. She does beautiful textured, colorful work. And you should all be fangirls in my opinion. because she is just phenomenal.

Haley - I'm getting on the fangirl train, I’m doing it.

Mariama - I am, I stalk her on all the Instagram, on all the social media and just feel really really lucky and honored that she created such a beautiful piece of art for the cover of the book.

Haley -So good. I will link to her in the show notes too, I promise. But where can we connect with you online?

Mariama - So I am on Twitter, @marilock. I’m also on Instagram @forblackgirlslikeme. So a lot of pictures of my dog and other bookish things.

Haley -Who is so cute.

Mariama - He’s pretty adorable. So get ready for some cute dog photos. As well as some other things. But I just feel like you should know it is a lot of pictures of my dachshund Henry, or Sir Henry as we like to call him. And I also have a website for the book, it’s Forblackgirlslikeme.com and so that has more information, just about upcoming events which there will be some events that I’ll be posting shortly, throughout the summer, and just other ways to connect with me and also if you’re interested, if you’re a teacher and interested and bringing me for a Skype workshop or to a school visit, I love engaging with young people and also have a degree in education and so love going in and teaching writing workshops and engaging with young readers in that way as well.

Haley -That’s fantastic. And we will be doing a book club with you in the fall.

Mariama - I’m excited!

Haley -So make sure to follow both of us so you can get more details on that, when that is happening later this year. Thank you, thank you so much for sharing your story with us and just so many insights. I'm just so thrilled that we had this conversation.

(upbeat music)

Haley -As I mentioned at the top of the show, Adoptees On is celebrating our 3rd birthday this week. Or is it anniversary? I don’t know, I think it’s our birthday. And I wanna share some fun stats with you. So there are 5,384 minutes of Adoptees On content for you to binge. That’s almost 90 hours. And you’re listening the 116th episode. We have been downloaded in 123 countries around the world, 277,560 times, which kind of blows my mind. I have to thank my monthly supporters and people who have given financial gifts. Without that, I couldn’t continue this show. And in fact today I wanna ask if Adoptees On has supported you on your adoptee journey or taught you something, if you’re an adoptive parent or a first parent and you have benefitted some way in listening to the podcast, I literally cannot continue the show without some more people stepping up to partner financially with us. I don’t get, if you think like, I don’t get paid for making this show. All the money that comes in goes to my editor, it goes to the costs of hosting the show, and the website, and other behind the scenes costs and at this moment, I am trying to hire some help from other adoptees to kind of step in and take care of some social media for me and do a couple of other things that are so critical to the continued success of the show that I am just not able to do on my own any longer. So if you do value Adoptees On and want it to continue, today’s the day, I’m asking that you go and sign up. AdopteesOn.com/partner has the monthly Patreon support and there are more episodes of Adoptees Off Script to download, there’s over 20 when this is being released. This show cannot continue without your support. So if you are able to financially support, you can do a one time gift at AdopteesOn.com, there’s a link for that right on the home page, or monthly which is fantastic because that helps us budget and figure out how we can hire and do kind of those things which again, I said these things kind of happen behind the scenes, you don’t see them necessarily because you just see your episode pop up each week in your feed, if you’re subscribed. And so there’s a ton of work that has to happen before an episode ever appears on your podcast feed. Another way to support the show that doesn’t cost anything is to leave a review in Apple Podcasts and to share the show with just one other person that you think would learn something. And because there’s so many episodes now, the best way to do that is say, hey have you heard this one particular episode of Adoptees On? Because sometimes people will go and be like, oh my gosh, there’s like a hundred episodes! I don’t know where to start. And it’s kind of overwhelming so if you just share one specific episode, that’s the best way to share a podcast. With that pitch, I asking you to go to AdopteesOn.com/partner to help cover the costs of the podcast and share the show. And I just wanna say a gigantic thank you to those of you who have already been doing those things, who have been listening since the early days back when I didn't have an editor and I didn't have my fancy windscreen on my mic which, you know. And I was doing absolutely everything by myself which was so unsustainable. So I'm so honored that you choose to download the show and listen and allow me the opportunity to speak to you in this way each and every week and I would be just so grateful if you chose to support me in this way. So AdopteesOn.com/partner has details and thank you so much for listening and cheering me on for these last three years and I hope we are able to continue. Thanks so much for listening, let’s talk again next Friday.

(exit music)

115 [Healing Series] Anchored with Macy Oosthuizen, LCSW


Full show notes: https://www.adopteeson.com/listen/115

Episode Transcription by Fayelle Ewuakye. Find her on Twitter at @FayelleEwuakye

This show is listener supported. You can join us and help our show grow to support more adoptees, by going to AdopteesOn.com/partner.

(intro music)

Haley - You’re listening to Adoptees On, the podcast where adoptees discuss the adoption experience. I’m your host Haley Radke, and this is a special episode in our Healing Series, where I interview therapists who are also adoptees themselves, so they know from personal experience, what it feels like to be an adoptee. Today we are going to meet a new to Adoptees On therapist, and do a hybrid episode. We’re gonna hear her story and then dive into some wisdom on identity development and how to feel connected. Let’s listen in.

I’m so pleased to welcome to Adoptees On, Macy Oosthuizen, welcome Macy!

Macy – Thank you so much Haley!

Haley - I’m really excited! So you’re gonna share your story with us, so why don’t we get started with that?

Macy - Sure! Um, first I just have to say I’m so honored to be on the podcast. The members of our South Florida support group and I have been fans since the beginning, so I just wanna thank you for that.

Haley - Aw, thank you! That’s great, love that.

Macy - So my story starts I guess with the adoption at one month old. I was adopted from Spence-Chapin Agency in New York City, in 1970. The peak of the baby scoop era. I was adopted into, you know, into a couple, I was the oldest child, their first child, to a couple in New Jersey and I have a younger adopted brother, from Bogota Columbia actually. And he is also a therapist.

Haley - Really?

Macy - Yes. In New Jersey. And even though I was in the baby scoop era, my first parents were actually on their honeymoon when they relinquished me. And my mother was not single or young, or too young, or financially struggling, she was 24. He was 27. He was from a wealthy, large Catholic Mexican family. And it’s like, it’s just a kooky story, but um—

Haley - Wait. They were on their honeymoon?

Macy - Correct.

Haley - Married, together, when they relinquished you.

Macy - Relinquished me, yes. So the information that I got was that they got pregnant while engaged and decided to bump up their wedding and make it earlier. And they married when she was four months pregnant, near their home in Mexico City. And they lived in Mexico City, Mexico. And they kept the pregnancy secret from everyone. And a friend of the family had given them a trip around the world to use as their honeymoon, right? Must be nice. And while on their months long honeymoon, and her pregnancy continued, they actually tried to arrange my adoption in different countries in Europe. But no one would give them the time of day and would kept sending them along and saying no, we don’t take babies from married couples on their honeymoon. And they found an agency in London, England actually. And that agency said, you know what, we have a sister agency in New York City, and my mother was an American Citizen, a dual, she had dual citizenship, grew up in southern California. And they said, since she’s American citizen, why don’t you go to this agency in New York City, they will take care of you, you’re gonna have to go early though, they’re gonna wanna talk to you, you know, extensively. But they’ll probably help you. And so they went to New York City and later I had found out that the London agency kind of wired Spence-Chapin and said, this is the strangest situation we’ve ever come across. And essentially like, good luck with that. You know, with working with this couple. And so they traveled to New York City, a couple months before I was born, to meet with the agency and they were still on their honeymoon, so they were still calling home and pretending that they were off skiing in the Alps and doing all these things. And the story they were telling the agency was that since I was conceived while they were still engaged, they were concerned I would be shunned as he was from a very prominent Catholic family in Mexico City. That was the story that they were saying. And so after they relinquished me in New York City, they immediately, and I mean the next day, they went back to Mexico and pretended like nothing had happened. So the agency then told my adoptive parents, what they said, the agency said that I was European, quote unquote, and didn’t tell them anything about them living in or being from Mexico. And that my first parents were two, what they did say was that my first parents were two kids from Columbia University who got into trouble, quote unquote, and were not ready to be parents. So the agency lied and I grew up not having a clue, and my parents, my adoptive parents not having a clue. And when I was 26 years old, like, you know, as we do, as adoptees, the stirrings start happening and I’m really, you know, questioning who I am and where I come from. So I petition the agency for my non identifying information. Which is the crumbs that we get as adoptees, right?

Haley - That’s a good way to put it, crumbs.

Macy - Yeah, like they throw us a couple of crumbs about our identity and hope that this will help us and meanwhile that just threw me into, like a tailspin because when I got this information, you know, you get this letter. And it just so happened to arrive, I had asked for it in like, February of that year and it arrived like exactly the Friday before Mother’s Day which was 26 years to the day that my parents brought me home. So I just thought that was really strange. But anyway it arrived that day, and reading that letter, I was like, completely dumbfounded. My whole world came kind of crashing down and to find out my parents were 24 and 27, and on their honeymoon just totally threw me.

Haley - So this was a letter that they had written?

Macy - No, this was the letter, like Spence-Chapin had sent me, ‘cause when I said, can I please have my non identifying information they said, oh yeah we’ll write it all in the letter for you.

Haley - Oh okay, okay, okay.

Macy - Yeah.

Haley - Okay, oh my gosh.

Macy - And that was the letter. So I got it and it was like, that letter to me was everything. Like I had waited my whole life to find out like who I was, you know. And, you know and I really got the story, like you can get on board with kids in college you know, and oh, like, I’m on board with that story. The story, the other story of them being 24 and 27 and on their honeymoon, and I was 26 at the time, so I was thinking, I wouldn’t, no way, if I was on my honeymoon, be giving up a baby for adoption. Like this doesn’t make any sense to me.

Haley - Well and also, like, when you said they were traveling the world. I know it was a gift but it sounded like they had means. Like this wasn’t like—

Macy - They had means, oh yeah.

Haley - This was not a financially impoverished couple.

Macy - Absolutely no, they had a lot of means. My mother didn’t come from much, but you know, his family was wealthy, they had, they definitely had means. This was not a financial situation in any way.

Haley - So bizarre.

Macy - Right? Well it gets a little kookier. But anyways. So you know I kind of, I went into emotional tailspin. You know I really just did not have anything to hold on to. And talk about, you know I was feeling completely just like, literally like floating off into space. And so I grabbed on to a first husband that wasn’t the healthiest situation for me. And I just grabbed on to all kinds of things that were around just hoping it would help me feel anchored and nothing really worked. But, so because this information was so shocking and like I didn’t know what to do with it, you know, I mean, I was also raised Catholic. So part of me really understood some of that. But like, this was you know, it wasn’t 1950, you know. I just couldn’t really wrap my brain around it. Now looking back on it now, it feels and seems obvious why they gave my up. But the funny thing is it didn’t click with me at all. Because it turns out I was the result of an affair.

Haley - Okay.

Macy - Right? And so my mom and her husband or fiancé were engaged, they had a fight, an argument or whatever, she decided to fly home to her parent’s in southern California and decided to take some time to cool off and while there, she met my actual father, had an affair with him, and then her fiancé flew to southern California, wooed her back to continue, like, let’s continue our wedding planning, and brought her back unknowing that she was pregnant. But he knew that there was an affair. So went back to Mexico, and oopsies, there’s a baby. And so instead of, so what I found out also, is that her husband said, let’s raise this baby as our own, like no problem. And even when I went to, I eventually found the doctor who delivered me. And he said I will never forget your parents. And he said, you know, it was weird. And he said, I told them, that they cannot leave you here and that I will write a letter to say that you are premature even though I was 9 pounds, I was almost 10 pounds, I was a large baby. But he said you know, I will write a letter saying that you’re premature and so that you cannot leave this hospital without this baby. And my mom, when I reunited with her, did confirm that story, I mean she told me the story without me even prompting her. So she just was hell bent on not having me. Not raising me.

Haley - Did she think her husband would just like hold it over her or something? Even though he was willing to parent? I mean.

Macy - I have no idea. Because from all accounts, he’s the sweetest, he seems like a very sweet man. And I just, I don’t know. You know, I don’t know what was going on in her brain. Because even my birth father, or you know, my birth father said, hey if she had called me from New York and said, by the way I didn’t tell you but, you know, he said I would have come and picked you up. He said, I never, my family would not have been like oh no, this is a horrible thing. Like they were very open and he said I would have come and picked you up. In no way, you know. So it doesn’t sound like from any different sources was she getting the information that she had to do this. This was, I think, an internal thing. She was from a very unhealthy family. And I think that informed her decision quite a bit. And I don’t know what she thought. But the whole scheme of the honeymoon and everything was so elaborate. It just, it’s a little bit shocking. And actually preparing to talk with you today, I went and read over some stuff and it was things I didn’t even remember reading the first time. I had, I have some notes that actually I got from the agency or whatever, but anyways, but you know it’s shocking what her, how far this scheme went. But when I, I didn’t reunite with her until I was 37. And they had used fake names during the whole process. So it was really hard finding them. But I reunited with her when I was 37 and after she moved back to the states with her third husband and my younger half-sister, and she went on to have two kids with that first husband. And when I met her, she told me those two kids were my full siblings and she kind of continued that whole story. And I kept saying like, something isn’t right, you know, but she really wouldn’t, she wouldn’t give it up. I found them because the private investigator I had hired found in the society pages, Mexico City Society Pages, a picture of what looked like me on my wedding day. And they had, turns out they had used the same first names but fake last names. So, and the newspaper, it was an extensive huge article about all the famous people at their wedding, and et cetera. And in the article it corroborated a lot of the non-identifying information that I had gotten from the agency about how many brothers and sisters and family members and things like that. And that’s how I found them and then you know, I kind of also sat on that information and waited til I felt like I was ready to you know, to contact her. But I was reunited with her for 10 years and that entire time, she kept that story going. And I would beg her, please tell me the truth, I really need to know the truth. Like, this isn’t, I don’t know, doesn’t fly. And I got to meet and I still have a relationship with my two siblings. And talking with my brother, I said, you know, I begged him to do a DNA test with me. And he put it off for 3 years. I think he knew you know, but he was so kind and gentle and nice to me. And I don’t think he knew how to tell me. So he did the DNA test, and it came back we were half siblings. So that’s when I knew something was going on. And coincidentally, not coincidentally, but through that DNA test, I also did Ancestry at the same time, DNA. And I got connected to a bunch of second cousins. And I couldn’t figure out how they were related to me. And after the second, you know, my brother and I coming back as half siblings, I realized, oh, this man is not my father who I thought was my father for all this time. Which put me in another tailspin. But I recovered from that and I reached out to these second cousins on Ancestry and realized they were from my father’s side of the family. And I found my father within like 2 weeks of knowing that this man wasn’t my dad.

Haley - So you were in reunion with your first mother.

Macy - Yep.

Haley - And for like 10 years, before you did this DNA test with your brother. Who turns out to be only half.

Macy - Correct.

Haley - Oh my gosh.

Macy - I know.

Haley - Okay so you find your dad.

Macy - I find my dad, and he explained everything to me, and I was like, oh. You know, he told me the other side of the story.

Haley - So did he know?

Macy - No he had no clue. He had no clue. Except when I found her, the thing, okay this is what really gets me going. When I found her 10 years ago from that point, now this is just last year by the way. So like, this is fairly recent, I’m just saying. But when I contacted her 10 years ago, she apparently called him and said, I think you have a daughter. And he was like, wait, what? ‘Cause he never had any other kids, and nobody in his family had kids. Like his sister never had kids, nobody had kids. So he was like, oh my gosh this would be amazing, this is fantastic. And so she was like, you gotta do a DNA test and just swab your cheek and send me the Q-tip and you know. And so he was like okay and so he did that and nothing ever came of it and she never called back and he was like, oh I guess it’s not my daughter. And she sent me a DNA kit for my, I don’t know, I think it was my 38th birthday. And said, just do this DNA test and don’t ask any questions. Well, Macy doesn’t do well with don’t ask any questions. And meanwhile I had been asking her for a year like, I need the whole story, like please could you give me the whole story. I don’t know if it was a year or two at this point. But and I said, you know, if you could please tell me the truth and then I’ll do the DNA test. So she wouldn’t tell me the truth so I was like, the DNA test is either because you’re just trying to stir the pot, or you think there’s a reason why this other man is not my father.

Haley - So when you eventually contact your first father.

Macy - Yeah.

Haley - He did have an inkling only because she had reached and asked for his swab like 10 years ago, but hadn’t contacted him after.

Macy - Exactly.

Haley - Oh my gosh.

Macy - Yeah. So I had, so after that I contacted my mom and to say, you know, hey. I found him, he told me everything, I hope this brings you peace, like this isn’t a secret you don’t have to keep anymore. And I thought it would really bring her peace. And that she would feel free, that all these years she wouldn’t have to keep up this story. And instead she just got super angry and responded with, well now you found your father and you no longer have a mother.

Haley - Oh!

Macy - Yeah. So I was like, oh. That’s tough, you know, I was kind of prepared. Because our 10 years was a really, was really hard for 10 years. You know I really struggled connecting with her. We look so much alike, like physically we are very, very similar.

Haley - Well you said the wedding picture in the newspaper looked just like you.

Macy - Yes, oh my gosh, exactly. And so physically we are exactly the same, or look very, very similar. But personality wise, you know I really struggled connecting and understanding and I really wasn’t getting it. Like am I really from these people? Like this is just not making sense to me, but I kept squishing myself into a, you know square peg into a round hole, trying to make it fit. Because as adoptees, that’s what we do. We find the people and it was great confirmation that I looked like somebody. But she didn’t have crazy hair and she didn’t, you know it was all these things that I was just so, and I was a super artistic kid. And she was crafty, but not artistic. So there was a lot of things that when I found her, you know, really, really confused me.

Haley - So did that really end your relationship with her?

Macy - Oh yeah, I haven’t spoken with her since.

Haley - Okay.

Macy - Yeah. And you know, it don’t I don’t know what else to do there. I still have a relationship with my brother and my sister although it’s very, I’m sure it will get back on track with them. You know I wanted to give them some time. And my brother and Macy - I are very similar in personality and he was somebody that I really connected with. So when I found that we were half siblings, it really crushed me.

Haley - So this happened like a year and a half ago?

Macy - Yeah.

Haley - This estrangement? Okay, and then so everybody knows because your brother, you guys had done the test, so he knew, and you kinda thought he might have known before.

Macy - Yeah.

Haley - And how about your sister? Like how did they all find out?

Macy - Well I called my sister to tell her, she still lives in Mexico with the guy I thought was my dad. So she lived, they live in the same house actually. And so I called her and skyped with her actually and said, you know, can we have, can we chat? And she’s okay with, I mean, I think she also knew somehow. But she was, you know both of them have told me, you know you’ll always be our sister, which is nice, and that’s what I really needed to hear. I just think that I don’t know, it just makes me kind of crazy that I spent 10 years not knowing this man and in the meantime, in those 10 years, my grandparents died. They died actually the year, just really soon before I contacted him. And nobody in his family, he and his sister are the only two kids. And neither of them have children so I was the only grandchild. And he’s like, they would have loved to have known you. So, you know, that’s the way it goes, you know, with our story.

Haley - Those secrets.

Macy - Right.

Haley - Come at a cost. Wow. Hey, wow. That’s a, that’s a wild and crazy story.

Macy - Yes.

Haley - I was not expecting most of that. Is there anything else in your story that you wanna touch on? That I didn’t ask you about?

Macy - Yeah, no, there’s so much, there’s literally so much. But that’s, you got the gist and that’s really what’s needed.

Haley - Okay. Just checking. So you’re an adoptee obviously, and you’re a therapist. How did you decide to go into therapy?

Macy - Well you know, when I was a teenager, I was going through some stuff. And I told my parents, I need to speak to someone. My parents were saying that I was out of control, I wasn’t doing anything, like I was just breaking curfew. Which to them, was like crazy, you know?

Haley - Shocking.

Macy - It was shocking, yes. And they said, okay, yes, we’re gonna send you to someone. And actually.

Haley - I’m sorry. We’re gonna send you to someone so you don’t break curfew.

Macy - Yes, ‘cause this breaking curfew thing. But you know actually I just remembered this story that I had not remembered up until just now and talking about this, is that I actually stole a shirt from a store while shopping with my mom. And I, like when I tell you I'm the goody two shoes, everybody calls me the rule follower. Like this is the most shocking. To me I think that was what I was doing to cry out to say I needed help. And what’s hilarious is my mom and I like, our thing was shopping, my adoptive mom and I and lunching and those kinds of things. And so we were at the store and we’re trying on tons of clothes. And it was the 80s so, forgive me, but it was a neon yellow and aqua polo shirt, like a rugby shirt, ok?

Haley - Mmhmm.

Macy - And I tried it on and she’s like, what do you think and I'm like, nah I’m not gonna take it and I put it in my bag and brought it home. And totally stole it. I went back to the store and confessed and they were like, okay weirdo. But you know like, nothing happened but anyways. But before that all happened, I left it on my floor in my room. In the middle of the floor. And like I'm a very neat person, I don’t leave clothes on the floor. But I clearly left this in the middle of the floor. And in our house when you come up the stairs, my bedroom was right at the top of the stairs. So it was just there for my mom to see. So I think it was my way of saying, I need help but I don’t know what’s going on with me. And so I think that, now I just remembered, that was the catalyst. That and the curfew breaking--

Haley - Okay.

Macy - Was her saying okay you have to go talk to someone ‘cause now you’re stealing things and I was like well, you know. And she made me go back to the store and everything’s fine with the store and everything. But I mean looking back, I was having identity development issues. But at the time I had no clue what was going on and I was feeling so detached from everyone and everything in my life. And at the first session the therapist said to me, oh your parents tell me you’re adopted and I said, oh yeah. I don’t have any issues with that at all. I'm fine. And he said, oh okay. And literally just dropped it. And then he went on to tell me, at the end of the session, that I was the most well-adjusted, articulate teenager that he had ever met and that I don’t have any problems and that I don’t need therapy and that my parents just need to relax. And it was like, oh. Darn it. You know? And I was so confused. Because I felt like something was really wrong inside, you know, and then what ended up happening, is that I internalized that, that I must be just a bad person. And that began years of self-esteem issues and self-loathing. And excessive partying at that point in college and things like that. And what I really needed him to say was, oh, you’re adopted? Adoption is everything, you know. You may not realize it but this is why you feel unanchored and disconnected. Here’s what we need to work on. And so, while I did go on to do therapy at a few stages in my life, you know. My first marriage was kind of falling apart and I was experiencing distressing career confusion, and stuff. Therapy was helpful but I never thought the therapist really truly understood what I was going through. And like they kinda got me through the marriage problem and career problems. But I never got to dig deep you know, into that. And so later in life, I decided to go to graduate school, after my younger brother went to graduate school to become a licensed clinical social worker. And he said to me like, this is so you, you have to do this. And I was like, yeah, you know, I had been going to a support group for years and that saved me.

Haley - Like a support group for adoptees?

Macy - Oh, for adoptees, yes, in New Jersey.

Haley - Really!

Macy - Oh yeah, it was, and it was not, it was a triad. I guess the old term, we’d call a triad group. But it was adoptees, adoptive parents and birth/first parents.

Haley - So how did you know to go to that?

Macy - Oh.

Haley - ‘Cause Macy, the therapist is like, oh you’re fine. You said, there’s nothing to do with my adoption, it’s fine. And he was like, you're right. So how did you know you needed that?

Macy - So if we go back to when I was 26 and got my non identifying information, I was just grasping at anything. And we got this like, flyer in the mail from Spence-Chapin that said they were holding a panel for adult adoptees and you know a discussion panel of post adoption stuff. And I was like, my adoptive mom said, do you wanna go? And I was like, yeah, okay let’s go. So she and I went together. And I didn't, it was literally like, I think of a cartoon character, your brain explodes. Like my brain exploded at that panel. And there was a woman there, Betsy Forest, a therapist who was also an adoptee, she was always, end up becoming a mentor to me, but I saw her and she used the word adoptee. And I was like, oh, I'm an adoptee! Like I didn’t even know that word, you know? And then they used the word birth parent. And you know now, depending on what you wanna use, but that was, I didn’t even realize. Like I felt like I was born from a building. I really, I knew intellectually that I was born from a woman, but emotionally it didn’t feel that way. And so seeing these people talking about their experiences, like just blew me away. And afterwards, I was like, a stalker and I ran up to Betsy, and I said, tears streaming down my cheeks, and I was like, I'm an adoptee too! And she was like, oh. Yes, like I think she was used to it, you know. And I was just like, I, I, I! And she was like, you’re new right, you’re kinda just like—

Haley - You’re new!

Macy - You’re new in the whole process, right? And I was like, yes! And she said, you have to go to this support group. And I said, okay, what? And she wrote it down for me. And she was like, you have to go, it’s everything and I went and I literally cried, I think it was once a month. And I cried for I think, the first six months like, bawled my eyes out, barely could get three words out. And cried every time. And just knowing that oh my gosh, like, there are people who get what I'm talking about and I'm not crazy. And they told me to read the book Lost and Found by Betty Jean Lifton, and when I read that, I was like, oh my god! There’s people out there who get this! Who understand it! And it just began my whole like, I completely opened up. And I think through that, well my brother went back to grad, Betsy became a huge inspiration to me. I think at that time I realized I wanted to be a therapist. But I didn’t, I still, feeling, like as adoptees we’re such chameleons, you know. I was living someone else’s life. The time I was married to my first husband, he was a huge personality, and I jumped on his coattails. And so that I didn’t have to pay attention to my stuff. And my parents were big, you know they had big careers, very big careers. And my mother was a research scientist working for a big company. My dad was a commodities broker. And so I thought like I too had to work for a big company and get the gold watch, you know what I mean? And I just didn’t realize that I could actually say I wanna do something different.

Haley - So your brother comes to you and is like, you gotta do this. What did you say?

Macy - I said, you’re right.

Haley - Oh?

Macy - I said, you’re right. I knew it. And my brother and I, I adore my younger adopted brother. He has been my, he’s been my therapist all through life. I'm gonna actually tear up talking about it. But he’s such a good person and he’s been such a light in the dark times for me. And so, ooh, I didn't expect that, getting a little emotional. But when he said that, I just felt like he gave me permission, you know, to be who I truly was meant to be. And becoming a therapist has felt more like a calling than a vocation, you know? Or a career. And that’s really, and when I went to graduate school, it was like, all bets are off. Like here comes Macy. Like, look out. You know, like I just went. And it really felt so right. And I just know that this is what I'm supposed to be doing. And it’s hard, I think, for us adoptees, that we don’t get, you know it’s really hard for us to find that voice.

Haley - So how long have you been a therapist now?

Macy - Not that long actually, but it’s been I guess 5 years.

Haley - Okay.

Macy - 5 years, yeah, and I joke, I feel like it’s been longer because I've had a support group during that same time and I’ve facilitated support groups for about, over 20 years and would mentor people. So it feels like longer, but officially, you know, 5 years.

Haley - Officially with your practice.

Macy - With my practice, yes.

Haley - But yeah, wow. Okay, okay. So you have said a few things in this interview. You said you felt like you were floating off into space at one point, that you were grabbing on to anything. You used that word unanchored. What did that really look like for you and can you talk more about that? Because I think the unrootedness, the unanchored feeling is really common for a lot of us.

Macy - I agree. And when I work with adopted teens and adults now, you know I tell them, it is painful to have an identity that is based on rejection and loss.

Haley - Wow.

Macy - Yeah. And so you know, that’s our beginnings. And we are not really allowed to honor that and to really other people don’t really wanna honor it and people wanna skip over it. And it’s kind of like when, Darryl McDaniels talks about like having your chapter, like needing your chapter 1, you know. You need that first chapter. So when I say this to them, and then I say I bet it feels like sometimes, sometimes you feel like a boat that someone just untied from a dock and sent adrift. I mean people just look at me so relieved and they’re like, yes, that’s what it feels like. And they look at me like I just told them the secret to the universe. But it’s like someone who just gets it and then I’ll go on to say, that they feel so disconnected from their family but they love them and it’s confusing and it is, it’s so confusing. And it’s so layered. And I think it’s important to understand that this rejection and loss sets the foundation literally for the relationship to ourselves, to the world, and with our partners and friends. So that beginning, sets the tone of how we relate to ourselves, how relate to our partners and friends, how we relate to the world. And if the attachment piece of our adoptive parents, if they’re confused by us being so different from them temperament wise, or whatever, it’s sometimes it’s completely unconscious, it’s not something that they’re thinking about, but there’s this subtle rejection or not understanding of who we are as babies, that can just layer on top of the whole thing. So this is why we feel unanchored and this is why we feel adrift. And I use the phrase in my therapy work and in our support group, I’ll say, oh it’s a thing. And I use it as a way to validate adoptees and their experiences, to help adoptees know that they’re not crazy. This is something that adoptees commonly experience to your point. And I'll say yep, it’s a thing. Like feeling unanchored. That’s a thing. And there’s such a weight lifted when we know we’re not the only ones. One of the things, I'm a very visual person, I was an artistic person and it always helps me to visualize something and it kind of gives me something to sort of, I guess, anchor myself to, right? And so one of the visuals that I have keep coming back to is that, I’m the boat and our parents are the dock. And this can be your birth parents, this can be your adoptive parents, you know, we can look at it multi different ways. But let’s just call it our adoptive parents right now. And that at times, we can be anchored to that dock. I don’t know if you know anything about boats, but they have to have like the front and the back end, kind of, sometimes are anchored, depending on how the, it is. And if there’s a storm and that boat is anchored, you're good. You’re there, okay fine, I’m not going anywhere. But if there’s a storm and that anchor comes undone, for whatever reason, or that mooring comes undone, then you’re gonna be set adrift. And it is not uncommon for us to feel like someone has set us adrift. And this can happen, it happened to me again when my adoptive mother died, I felt completely, I felt like worse, like that I was, before I would be adrift and just still be in the marina. And they could just bring me back. But when my adoptive mother died, I felt like I was in the middle of the ocean. And there was no one coming to get me. And then I think also if we think about it from our birth parent perspective, is that it is just not a natural process to take children away from parents. And the people we’re given to, smell strange, they sound strange. Especially international adoptees. This is not a language you’ve been hearing in utero. This is so strange, everything is completely strange. And so we are adrift and it’s almost like trying to get on the boat while the boat is not moored. So the adoptive parents, trying to board that boat and trying to bring it in. And you know, that makes it very difficult for us and I don’t know if people really get the gravity of that. Is that we feel this on a cellular level, we feel this sense of unmoored, unanchored, on a cellular level. And like, you know, essentially, every person in the world wants to know that they’re seen and they’re heard, and simply recognized. And speaking very generally, when one is raised in a biological family, you have parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, et cetera, who are mirrors. And they reflect back parts of ourselves. So like you would, you know if you’re raised in a biological family you can say, oh I see I have my grandfather’s nose, my aunt’s laugh, my mother’s sense of humor, my father’s musical ability, oh my cousin and I both love to play sports, and you spend your life checking in with these people subconsciously and telling yourself, I’m okay, I belong. This is why I am the way I am. And that’s essentially that mooring that’s keeping us tied to the dock as people who are raised in biological families. And Erik Erikson, a developmental psychologist, he spoke about the importance of this checking in our healthy psychosocial development. And when I studied him in graduate school I just kept thinking like, well what about adoptees? Because we don’t, when we go to check in, we grew up not having these mirrors or reflections and we desperately check in with our family members and what do we find? Nothing, you know? And we don’t find any similarities. And that also helps with this unmooring feeling, you know, with this unanchored feeling. Because you’re constantly looking and checking in and seeing, you know, is there anything that I'm like. And then if there are similarities, you know if we do find something that we’re like, I mean people would say to me, oh you’re tall just like your father. And I would wanna say, it’s just a coincidence, you know what I mean? It’s not, you know what I mean? We have nothing to do with each other biologically. And you feel like a fake. You don’t feel legit. And so—

Haley - Can I ask you about reunion then? Because you said, your first mother, you look so alike, but you were like, nobody has my crazy hair, or, you know?

Macy - Right.

Haley - What was that experience like for you then?

Macy - So that, funny that you say that because it reminds me of this story. I'm gonna go around and I’ll come back. But this story makes me think of when I was about 5 yrs old, I was with my adoptive family and a stranger came up to me and said, oh look at your hair. I used to have crazy, wild, red hair which I mentioned before. And my adoptive family all have straight black hair. And I said, oh I'm adopted! And my mom jerked me away and after an awkward silence, the stranger left and my mom said, oh we don’t dare, we don’t air our dirty laundry.

Haley - Oh!

Macy - To strangers. And I was only about 5 and I thought, oh. I'm dirty laundry. And my hair also has been a thing my whole life. Like it’s very different and very wacky and until, thank everything for keratin, but I've been able to tame it. But it was really wild and crazy. And anyone who knew me growing up knew I had this Diana Ross hair on a white girl. Like it was just crazy. And it was huge. It was crazy hair, it was the 70s too, so there was no hair products to help me or straighteners, or anything. And so when I met, when I found my biological father, he sent me a picture of him as an artist. And he was doing street art and like drawing chalk art or whatever on the street. And he was in the newspaper. And he had this huge afro. And like this white guy afro. And this crazy hair and I thought, oh my gosh! There it is! That’s what I've been looking for. And it started that feeling of anchoring for me. And actually getting to know him, his personality and my personality are very similar. And we have the same really dorky sense of humor, and vocabulary, we have the same words. I found out we use the same planner you know, like, it’s, but it was just very anchoring for me and helped me really like ground myself and say, okay, I am not so floaty anymore. You know, I actually do come from somewhere. We don’t always get that, you know? So we have to find ways to anchor ourselves. That’s the tough, that’s the tough stuff.

Haley - Well yeah, I was gonna ask you. So for people who don’t have that, what are some of the ways that adopted people can find anchoring or rooting or feeling grounded? Whatever kind of lingo you wanna use there? What are ways we can address that?

Macy - Well one of the things that I do, that I have done for a really long time before non-identifying information, before that kind of stuff, is I do a morning writing meditation. Every morning. And what that is, is a way for me to get out all the gunk, that unconscious gunk that I know is keeping me, and actually that unconscious gunk we tend to fling at other people if we don’t get it out. It comes out in our relationships. We can fling it all kinds of places. And so that, just all you need is 10 minutes. You sit down. And if you get a journal you really like, I don’t particularly get fancy journals because they intimidate me and then I don’t do anything. So I get like really, literally, spiral bound notebooks. Like cute ones, but nothing too fancy ‘cause people have given me fancy journals and I'm like, ahh! And I feel like I have to perform in them, you know? So I get just a regular spiral bound notebook and you put your pen down and you literally don’t pick it up for 10 minutes and you just, whatever’s in your brain, you write out. So you’re like I don’t know what to write, this is so terrible, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I have to sit here for 10 mins. And you do that for 10 mins, but if you do that every day, you eventually get to a place where it becomes this outlet and stuff comes out that you’ll be like, whoa, I had no idea that was in there. So I have found for me, and I use it a lot in working with my clients, that it really helps us ground ourselves and get our some of that gunk so we’re not flinging it at other people. And I got this from Julia Cameron, she wrote a book called The Artist’s Way. And I don’t know if anyone else has talked about it but, it’s one of my all time favorite books and it’s essentially like an 8 week program that you can do for yourself. Or 12 weeks? I’m not sure, but anyways, you can go through it and she has you do these writing morning meditations. She calls them morning pages. That’s where I got the idea from, many moons ago, and it has helped me tremendously. My clients say it really helps them. If you’re into it, it’s a great way to anchor yourself. Because we can let some of that stuff really get in between us and our relationships. So that’s one thing. And then what I also love for anchoring is yoga. I am a big yoga person. I'm in the middle of getting certified as a yoga teacher, in Kali Natha yoga which is a small branch of yoga but it has really been wonderful for me, because it kind of pulls a bunch of different yogas together. It has chanting and meditation, breath work which is key, and also traditional yoga poses and stuff. But any kind of yoga I find, helps you connect with your body, it helps you listen to your body, ‘cause a lot of us as adoptees, sometimes unanchoring can show up is us not paying attention to our bodies. We kind of shut that whole thing off. Like no, no, no, you don’t get a voice. And part of it is, we’re so used to searching the environment for clues, that we don’t realize we have all these clues of what’s going on within us. That body work really to me, is just brilliant. And really helps you kind of connect with who you are listen to your body more. And the other thing that I love is an app called Insight Timer. And it’s a meditation app but you don’t have to meditate traditionally, everyone thinks you have to sit in like a lotus pose and ohm and everything. You can literally just sit in your favorite chair and, but there are guided meditations, there are five minute meditations, there are 1 minute meditations, there’s thousands and thousands of meditations on there. And when we get quiet, that’s when we hear our soul speak. And so I find that any time we can just get quiet, and listen to our soul, we can then anchor ourselves. And reanchor ourselves and not rely on others to anchor us. Because sometimes we climb on to a relationship, sometimes we climb to friends, and we look for these anchors everywhere. But really we have that responsibility to anchor ourselves and so then the other people around us, then feel anchored.

Haley - Wow, it’s very wise, very wise words, Macy. And you know, I like that idea of being responsible for our own grounding because you don’t know who’s coming in and out of your life, right?

Macy - Right.

Haley - You know, I don’t wanna be morbid but you know, people die, right? So you—

Macy - No, absolutely.

Haley - So the person that you can rely on is you. And hope you can be a trustworthy person for yourself. And I think that’s part of, probably part of the work.

Macy - Absolutely.

Haley - Alright. Wow. Anything else that you wanna tell? That I didn’t ask you about?

Macy - No, I think the only other thing is, I love support groups. I have one here. If you can find one, I think they’re a great way to really connect with others, that’s another way of grounding, I think of, when we have those connections, those meaningful connections who get it. You know, people who just understand, we don’t have to explain ourselves 100 ways over when you’re in those groups. If it’s an online group, if it’s an in person group, however you connect with people, that’s another way.

Haley - And where do we find your group that’s in Florida, right?

Macy - Yes! We are in South Florida, in Boynton Beach, Florida. And we have a website called, you can find us at www.floridaacts.com.

Haley - And you guys meet monthly and you’ve been going for a long time.

Macy - We’ve been doing 5 years, so this is our 5 year anniversary in February.

Haley - That’s awesome.

Macy - Yeah.

Haley - So good. Well, another place you can find in person adoptees support groups, is Adoptees Connect.

Macy - Correct.

Haley - Which is great, we have an Edmonton chapter here, which I run with my friend John. Yeah, in person is so special. Okay, I didn’t prompt you to give recommended resources? But all of those tips were your recommended resources.

Macy - Yes.

Haley - And I wanna just give my quick recommendation, is a fairly recent new list on the website growbeyondwords.com. and it’s a directory of adoptees who are therapists. And you are on this list, Macy, along with many other familiar names, people who have been on the podcast before. Yes there are of course all the, oh my gosh, the legal speak at the top. You know, of course you have to vet therapists before you sign up to work with them, but this is so cool. This full, adoptees that are therapists list on growbeyondwords.com. And I’ll have the link for that in the show notes. And if you are an adoptee who is also a therapist, you can send in your information to be included on this list. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, and I really enjoyed your insights about the unanchored part that we can so often feel. And I think that metaphor can be so helpful for people to picture ourselves as the boat and you know, what we’ve experienced. Again I think we mentioned this, just having that validation, like, this is a thing, is so helpful for us, so thank you Macy.

Macy - You’re welcome, thank you for having me.

Haley - Absolutely! So we shared where we can find your support group, but where can we connect with you online?

Macy - Oh yes, you can find me through my practice website which is centerformindfulfamilies.com and you can contact me through there and see more about the work that we do. We are also play therapists and work with young ones as well as adults and teens. And you can also email me at Macy.oos@gmail.com. And those are the two ways you can get hold of me.

Haley - Perfect, thank you so much.

Macy - Thank you so much. It was such an honor being part of the podcast, thank you.

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Haley - Thanks so much for allowing me this time with you. I am so honored to be in your earbuds every week so thank you. Wherever you’re listening, if you are listening on your commute or on your, I was gonna say on your commute or on your drive, same thing, walking the dog, washing dishes, however you’re listening, I so appreciate it. And I don’t take it lightly, the honor I have to be able to share these really beautiful interviews with you. I am so grateful for my guests and how they open up their lives to us and give us this intimate view of what it looks like to be adopted. It’s such a treasure and yeah, like I said, I don’t take it lightly that I get to share that with you every week. I have some updates for what summer is gonna look like for Adoptees On. And I’m gonna be sharing that with you next week. But for now, I just wanna say a big thank you to my monthly supporters, I wouldn’t be able to do this show without you. If you wanna join them you can go to AdopteesOn.com/partner and another amazing way you can support this show is by telling just one person about the podcast and the impact it’s had on you. And if you know someone that’s adopted, I would love it if you would share this episode with them. Thanks so much for listening, let’s talk again next Friday.

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