Sanjana, with her grandfather
“My name is Jennifer Milian. I am a 40-year-old trans-racial international adoptee, born in Bogota, Colombia and adopted to the United States. My adoption was a closed adoption meaning that I was provided with my mother's name and age. I had no health records, no record of my father, nor any other information that gave me a base understanding of my roots or origins.
I enjoyed the typical suburban childhood. I played with friends, got involved in clubs and attended a diverse public school. At the time, I didn't realize how being an international transracial adoptee with a closed adoption was actually affecting my everyday perception of the world and myself. It wasn't until age 36 that I realized I was struggling with relationships, self-worth, identity, etc. I sought out a Christian therapist and slowly began to dismantle the wall that I had built around my heart. I came to understand this was caused by the separation/loss of my natural/biological mother. In adoptee language, we call it "coming out of the fog." It can be extremely unnerving if you are not prepared for, nor have an idea as to why, there are waves of sadness, confusion and a deep desire to belong. I'm very fortunate that I had support. Over the past four years, I've put a lot of time and effort into healing myself, and I am happy to say that I feel more comfortable in my skin than at any other time in my life.
Growing up without any DNA connection or any connection to origin left me with such a deficit of culture and feelings of isolation. I haven't reunited with my biological parents, but I have reunited with my half-siblings thanks to a Google search and DNA testing. I consider it a blessing to finally have a half-sister to see myself in, as well as gather some medical information from one another.
As a trans-racial international adoptee and Christian, my current work centres around educating adoptee parents, particularly Christians, about how to best help the children that they adopt. The research demonstrates two critical things that parents of adoptees should be doing, and my own life experience supports the research. The first is to recognize that when a child separates from their mother, it causes a loss. This loss impacts their entire life and parents of adoptees MUST be prepared to walk along with their child and help them grieve the loss of their birth/natural mother. It is highly recommended that parents of adoptees seek out a trained therapist who specializes in working with adoptees and their parents to help them in this process. Practice patience, be receptive to their needs and don't take their grief personally.
The second is to provide ample opportunities for that child to experience their culture of origin. Expose them to the language, art, music, dances, food and most importantly OTHER PEOPLE from that country. Doing so will alleviate feelings of isolation, insecurity and identity issues. It is my sincere hope to help families who choose adoption do what is best for their child.”
(New York, USA)