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Is It Even Possible to Do Transracial Adoption Well? with Katie Wynen - Ep 126

Unraveling Adoption

Release Date: 01/01/2024

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β€œIf you, as the white adoptive parent, are comfortable, you're not doing it right. Because your kid is uncomfortable.” - Katie Wynen

Are you touched by transracial adoption? Or do you know any adoptees who were adopted transracially? How do you personally frame transracial adoption? Some common rationalizations include the belief that love is enough, that colorblindness is the solution, and that children will assimilate easily into their new culture. But this episode will challenge those cultural norms which are based on white privilege. Stay tuned as our guest, transracial adoptee and adoption professional, Katie Wynen, shares her truth about ethical practices in transracial adoption.

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Understand the complexities of transracial adoption and how to navigate them effectively.

  • Find support and insight to do the very best you can as adoptive parents in a diverse family dynamic.

  • Recognize and combat the impact of white supremacy on transracial adoptive families.

  • Discover strategies for helping a transracially adopted child navigate their racial identity in a loving and supportive environment.

My special guest is Katie Wynen

Katie Wynen is a transracial, Colombian adoptee who holds a Master's degree in Social Work and boasts over a decade of experience as an adoption professional. Having studied under Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao in Boston, Katie's professional journey led her to join the staff of Pact: An Adoption Alliance in 2012. In her role, she is involved in adoption placement, leading adult adoptee support groups, and providing adoption education on a national scale. Notably, Katie's commitment to advocating for adoptees, particularly those who are people of color and LGBTQ+, was acknowledged with the Angels in Adoption 2019 award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. With her extensive personal and professional background, Katie is a key resource for gaining insights into ethical practices in transracial adoption.

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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

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The resources mentioned in this episode are:

  • Visit pactadopt.org for information on support calls, webinars, teen and tween club, and other resources related to adoption, including race and adoption-focused therapy.

  • Contact Katie at [email protected] for additional resources, adoptee support groups, and therapy support resources.

  • Check out unravelingadoption.com for a free support group for adoptive parents, individual and group coaching, and other resources for people touched by adoption.

Understanding Transracial Adoption Complexities
Transracial adoption brings unique complexities that need acknowledgment and understanding. As Katie Wynen highlights, adoptees of color often grapple with feelings of discomfort and a lack of belonging in their adoptive families. Moreover, nuances such as navigating racial identity within a family of a different race underscores the need for comprehensive support structures.

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Other resources:

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Unraveling Adoption is produced and hosted by Beth Syverson

Music written and performed by Joseph Nakao

Email questions or comments to [email protected]

Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

Support Unraveling Adoption on Patreon: Patreon.com/UnravelingAdoption

www.UnravelingAdoption.com

Create your own podcast through Libsyn: https://signup.libsyn.com/?promo_code=ADOPTION

 

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Support and Insight for Adoptive Parents
Adoptive parents play a pivotal role in shaping the experiences of their adopted children. As such, they require adequate knowledge and tools to help their children navigate challenges related to their racial identity and adoption. Wynen emphasizes the need for adoptive parents, especially those of transracial adoptions, to consider proactive approaches like finding their own support systems and continually educating themselves about various adoption issues.

Timestamped summary of this episode:
00:00:00 - Introduction and Background
Beth introduces herself as an adoptive mom of her 19-year-old son, Joe. She also introduces Katie Wynen, a transracial, international Colombian adoptee with a Master's degree in Social Work.

00:00:57 - Katie's Adoption Story
Katie shares her adoption story, being born in BogotΓ‘, Colombia, and being adopted by a white Episcopalian family in the U.S. She discusses growing up in a predominantly white community and the impact of being a transracial adoptee.

00:03:15 - Challenges of Growing Up
Katie reflects on challenges she faced growing up in a white family and community as a person of color. She discusses the lack of cultural connection, language barriers, and the importance of diversity in educational settings.

00:08:40 - Career Path and Mentoring
Katie talks about her career trajectory, from initially wanting to be a teacher to pursuing social work, inspired by her experience working with adopted youth. She also shares her experience working under Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao and the impact it had on her professional development.

00:11:18 - Joining Pact
Katie describes her journey to joining Pact: An Adoption Alliance, and how she initially volunteered before being hired. She shares her persistence and manifestation in pursuing her career in the adoption field.

00:14:27 - Focus on supporting prospective adoptive parents of color
Katie emphasizes Pact's focus on supporting prospective adoptive parents of color, including same-race placements, and how this approach differs from traditional adoption agencies.

00:17:32 - Family preservation approach
Katie discusses Pact's approach to family preservation, highlighting the organization's commitment to exploring all options to support birth parents in parenting before considering adoption placements.

00:22:04 - Ethical adoption practices
Katie emphasizes Pact's commitment to ethical adoption practices and how they prioritize the best interests of the child and family preservation over the desires of prospective adoptive parents.

00:24:06 - Post-placement support and resources
Katie explains how Pact provides extensive post-placement support, including virtual support calls, webinars, family camps, and specific support for adoptees and their families, setting them apart from other adoption agencies.

00:26:19 - Support for Birth Parents
Katie discusses the support provided to birth parents, including financial assistance and check-ins. She contrasts this with other agencies that do not offer similar support.

00:26:59 - Pact Camp Overview
Katie provides an overview of Pact Camp, including its focus on education and support for both kids and adults. She emphasizes the importance of providing a safe space for adoptive families of color.

00:28:39 - Age-Appropriate Discussions
Katie explains how she conducts age-appropriate discussions about adoption with kids at Pact Camp, addressing the challenges they face and empowering them to respond to teasing and intrusive questions.

00:30:44 - Impact of Pact Camp
Katie shares heartwarming stories of kids at Pact Camp expressing their emotions and having meaningful conversations with their parents. She emphasizes the importance of creating a supportive and inclusive environment for adoptive families.

00:35:32 - Transracial Adoption
The conversation delves into the complexities and challenges of transracial adoption, with Katie expressing her personal and professional views on the topic. Both the adoptee and social worker perspectives are presented.

00:39:25 - The discomfort of adoptees of color with white parents
Katie shares that adoptees of color often feel uncomfortable around their white adoptive parents 95% of the time. She emphasizes the need for white adoptive parents to prioritize their child's well-being over their own comfort.

00:40:30 - Relationship with parents
Katie discusses her relationship with her parents, acknowledging that they are not fully estranged but also not extremely close. She highlights the importance of adoptive parents acknowledging their involvement in the adoption process and the need for better support for adoptees of color.

00:43:38 - Coming out of the fog
Katie advises adoptive parents to find their own support and therapy when coming to terms with their role in the adoption process. She emphasizes the need for adoptive parents to acknowledge their involvement and privilege, and to commit to being different moving forward.

00:45:25 - Acknowledging involvement in adoption
Katie expresses the importance of adoptive parents acknowledging their role in the adoption industry and their lack of knowledge. She also highlights the need for adoptive parents to recognize their child as a person of color and to provide support and understanding in the face of racial challenges.

00:50:27 - Adoption trauma
Katie discusses the ongoing impact of adoption trauma and relinquishment trauma on adoptees, emphasizing that it is always a significant part of their experience, especially for those who do not look like their parents. She encourages adoptive parents to understand and address this underlying trauma

00:52:09 - Identity and White Supremacy
Beth shares a troubling experience of her son seeing a white person when he looks in the mirror. The conversation delves into the impact of white supremacy on identity and adoption.

00:52:44 - Ethical Adoption
Beth acknowledges Katie's work in ethical adoption and expresses gratitude for her efforts. The conversation highlights the thin line of ethical adoption and the challenges faced by adoptees.

00:53:19 - Importance of Listening
Katie emphasizes the importance of audio platforms for learning about race and adoption. The conversation encourages listeners to reflect and engage in difficult conversations on race and transracial adoption.

00:53:48 - Resources and Support
Katie shares information about Pact's website and resources for support groups, therapy, and events related to race and adoption. The conversation also touches on the evolving perspectives on transracial adoption.

00:55:15 - Collaboration and Support
Beth and Katie discuss collaboration opportunities and encourage listeners to explore Pact's and Unraveling Adoption's websites for additional support and resources.