There is an inherent connection when adoptees meet. Some adoptees describe it as a “comfortable” relationship, that there’s something natural about it, or that they feel a “click.”
Sometimes this connection manifests as a constant conversation or sometimes it’s quiet introspection, where two adoptees acknowledge but don’t necessarily address the link. However it’s described or experienced, the relationship between two adoptees or a community of adoptees is powerful.
There’s something intrinsically good when two or more adoptees meet, although it may not be palpable or explainable. I’ll list five myriad positives we typically see at camp. The many advantages of an adoptee community work in conjunction to form a unique, meaningful experience but the following are some of the most readily describable:
1) Adoptees learn that there are many more adoptees. It may be surprising, but we often hear that adoptees feel lonely in their communities, whether it’s as one of a few children of color in their hometown or one of a few adoptees they contact regularly. When they’re in an adoptee community, it’s immediately recognizable that there are many more adoptees out there, and they’re not alone.
2) Adoptees’ thoughts and feelings are validated. When adoptees talk with other adoptees, they often discover that other adoptees feel or think similarly or even identically! This is powerful validation for someone who may have felt alone.
3) Adoptees see adoptee role models or successful people. We don’t often see transracial adoptees (who outwardly identify as adoptees) in positions of power or responsibility in daily life or in the media. There’s something to be said for an experience with older adoptee role models, it elicits a significant response for an adoptee to meet another adoptee whom they respect. Think of when you see someone in a leadership position from a group with which you identify.
4) Adoptees can talk about their experiences “safely,” free of judgment or expectations. Sometimes, adoptees just don’t have many people to talk to about adoption. There aren’t many people who can both know what they’re saying and are free of judgments, expectations, or personal biases about how they should think or feel. Meeting other adoptees gives adoptees a chance to communicate freely about their thoughts and feelings.
5) Adoptees form fast, meaningful friendships that create a support network for years. When a relationship with an adoptee extends beyond just that single moment they are together, the relationship pays dividends. Adoptees gain from all of the above and more over multiple years when they can meet and share that innate connection with many adoptees. They begin to form a powerful support system.
These are just a few of the notions we see frequently. These don’t apply to every adoptee or to every interaction between adoptees, but this is what we regularly gather from adoptees across the country.
We work to create and nurture this environment at Holt Adoptee Camp. We create a deliberate and special place for adoptees to connect on a casual level; nothing is forced. It’s often as casual as a young adoptee remarking, “Don’t you hate it when people always ask you about why your last name isn’t Asian?” Meanwhile, the other children in the group nod or agree enthusiastically. Consider how frequently you like reaching out to people with whom you share similarities. We specifically train our camp staff to support these naturally formed connections. Even with this casual (though deliberate) approach towards the adoptee community, we see adoptees create and experience powerful, validating relationships with each other. We want to deliver this concept of adoptee community to many more adoptees in other ways; through day camp, for example.
I recommend that you seek out opportunities for adoptees to experience community with other adoptees. Don’t obscure the experience with other focuses because the power is in the most simple relationship, that of an adoptee with another adoptee. That experience never happens unless it’s deliberately sought out. Adoptee community is a powerful experience that coincides with a fundamental principle: that people want to be with people like themselves. Because of these huge benefits, we wholeheartedly support creating, offering, and encouraging adoptee community opportunities.