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"The Mulatto Child the Strubes Adopted" with Janell Strube - Ep 122

Unraveling Adoption

Release Date: 12/04/2023

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More Episodes

I think for my mother, she didn't always really see me quite as a person of equal value. - Janell Strube

A biracial adoptee, Janell Strube, shares her powerful journey of navigating racial identity and the impact of racism behind closed doors. Did she ever find the acceptance and understanding she sought?

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Realize the complexities of biracial identity.

  • Begin to understand the impact of racism on identity formation.

  • Navigate the unique challenges of biracial identity.

  • Learn how to create a supportive environment for biracial or transracial adopted people.

  • Break the cycle of intergenerational trauma through awareness and action.

πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

My special guest is Janell Strube

Janell Strube is an accomplished domestic interracial adoptee, memoirist, novelist, and poet. With her unique perspective as an biracial adoptee and an adoptive parent, she navigates the complexities of race and adoption with depth and insight. Having been adopted at just four days old through a church adoption and growing up in a predominantly white community, she faced challenges and prejudices that shaped her understanding of her biracial identity. Her writings and poetry offer a powerful glimpse into her journey, providing valuable insights for parents of biracial children seeking guidance and understanding.

The resources mentioned in this episode are:

πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

πŸ“† Community Calendar: UnravelingAdoption.com/Calendar

✨Healing the Adoption Constellation database: UnravelingAdoption.com/Healing

πŸ’ŒSign up for our Unraveling Adoption email list: http://eepurl.com/hVIAVX

πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

Exploring impact of racism on biracial identity
Racism can play a significant role in the development of a biracial identity, particularly when it manifests within the familial setting, as encountered by Janell. This can lead to confusion, insecurity, and emotional distress, potentially disrupting a child's self-esteem and sense of self-worth. The way in which a family navigates and counteracts racism can heavily influence a child's perception of their racial identity and their ability to fully embrace their dual heritage.

Learning strategies to navigate challenges
Navigating the challenges of biracial identity formation involves actively embracing and valuing the child's distinct cultural backgrounds. Acknowledging and addressing inherent prejudice, providing positive role models from both of the child's racial backgrounds, and listening to and validating the child's experiences are strategies that can cultivate a supportive environment. As in Janell's experience, writing can also be used as a tool for healing and making sense of one's racial identity.

πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

Here's Janell's Tree poem:

πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

Timestamped summary of this episode:

00:01:17 - Early Childhood and Adoption
Janell shares that she was adopted when she was four days old through a church adoption. Her birth mother, who was white, made the decision to relinquish her. Janell also reveals that she was introduced as a "mulatto child" during her childhood.

00:03:32 - Discovering Her Biracial Identity
Janell explains that she learned she was adopted and biracial when she was three years old. She recalls the emotions she felt upon finding out and how her parents handled the revelation. She also discusses her perception of herself as both black and white.

00:05:59 - Community and Racism
Janell discusses her experience growing up in a predominantly white community. She shares that she faced racism from some members of her community and struggled with the lack of support or protection from her parents. She also reflects on her parents' pride in adopting a mulatto child.

00:09:26 - Lack of Context and Value
Janell talks about the lack of context her parents provided regarding her adoption and how it affected her sense of identity. She also mentions that her mother didn't always see her as a person of equal value, which has been an ongoing source of pain.

00:13:41 - Experiencing Racism in Closed Doors
The guest shares her personal experience of racism within her own family, including her birth grandmother's refusal to be called grandmother and her birth mother's family's rejection of her because she is biracial.

00:14:31 - The Impact of Racist Comments
Racist comments have a deep and lasting impact on children who are adopted into families that ignore or perpetuate racism. The guest describes these comments as cuts on the soul, causing long-term emotional and psychological harm.

00:15:19 - Lack of Cultural and Racial Mirrors
The guest discusses the lack of cultural and racial mirrors in her early life, with white people dominating her surroundings and no role models to look up to. It was only later, in high school, that she found a black friend who became her cultural mirror.

00:16:41 - Uncomfortable Interracial Experience
The guest's mother felt embarrassed when they attended a Jesse Jackson event where they were the only white people. It was a moment that made her mother uncomfortable and gave her a glimpse of what it feels like to be the racial minority.

00:20:12 - Writing as a Coping Mechanism
The guest turned to writing as a coping mechanism, using it as a way to express her feelings and experiences that couldn't be openly discussed or shared. Writing became a tool for self-expression and a way to release the pain she felt.

00:27:33 - Being a Bridge
The guest discusses the importance of being a bridge between two worlds and finding inner strength to navigate challenges and find purpose.

00:28:10 - Fostering Children
The guest shares her experience growing up as an adopted child and how it inspired her to become a foster parent. She highlights the need for better treatment and support for children in foster care.

00:29:28 - Adopting her Son
The guest talks about adopting her son after his mother passed away and how she made a daily commitment to him. She acknowledges the struggles he faces but expresses pride in his resilience and ability to find joy in life.

00:31:32 - Mother-Son Bond
The guest shares a precious memory of visiting her son in Florida and wearing matching hats. She describes their close bond and her admiration for his big heart.

00:33:07 - Advice for Parents of Biracial Children
Janell provides advice for parents of biracial children, emphasizing the importance of examining prejudices, modeling non-racist behavior, and valuing all cultures. She also encourages parents to listen to and advocate for their children's experiences.

00:41:41 - Connecting with Family
Janell discusses how she connects with both sides of her family and sees herself as a part of them, whether for good or bad. She expresses that writing her memoir is helping her process her experiences and put them into perspective.

00:42:30 - Complex Lives
Janell reflects on the complexity of her own life and the lives of those involved in her adoption. She discusses the importance of understanding the struggles and pain of her adoptive mother and birth mother, and how it shapes her perspective.

00:43:45 - Generational Trauma
The conversation shifts to the concept of intergenerational trauma and how it is passed down through genes. Janell believes in the truth of epigenetics and how the trauma of her ancestors is present within her. She emphasizes the importance of mitigating pain for future generations.

00:45:01 - Unconditional Love and Acceptance
Janell highlights the importance of unconditional love and acceptance within her family, especially as an adoptive parent herself. She acknowledges the need to let children find their own path and not see them as mirrors of ourselves.

00:47:19 - Validating Adoptees' Stories
Janell expresses gratitude for being able to share her story and emphasizes the importance of adoptive parents listening to adoptees without trying to minimize or invalidate their experiences. She hopes that her story will help others understand the complexities of adoption.