Sanjana, with her grandfather
“I was born in the United Kingdom and became a ward of court when my parents relinquished their rights to raise me. Inside of foster care, I was labelled and judged before I even knew what labels and judgments were. I was tagged as a “difficult to place” child. My social worker wrote that I was “dark and strange looking.” Presumably, she added, taking after my Spanish father. There were questions around whether or not a family could be found for me: an illegitimate and ethnic-looking child. But there was a family – an American family – who adopted me. I was brought to the U.S. and my journey of growing up as an international adoptee began.
I believe the hardest part of being an international adoptee was and has been to re-write the negative narrative that was given to me while in foster care. I believed, for quite some time, the labels and judgments that were handed down by people who had no idea of my real value or worth. Words have meaning. The words we use and the ways we respond to kids in care will influence how they view themselves today, and tomorrow. Words can heal, or words can harm. For example, children in care are not broken. They’re in a broken situation. There’s a difference!
I’ve learned to take the negative narrative and replace it with a new and empowering one. I used to view adoption as my weakness. Now, I know that my experiences as an adoptee have become my strength. This knowledge guides me as I coach, speak, and write for this community of adoptees and fosters.
After leaving television news, I committed my full-time focus to writing, speaking, and coaching. I’m now an Adoptee Empowerment Coach, a Motivational Speaker, and a published Author. I love this work and I truly am honored to connect with adoptees around the world and help them to transform their relationship with their own adoption.” (California, USA)
Michelle lives in California, USA with her family. She actively works with adoptees through empowerment coaching. She’s also a motivational speaker, published author, and host of The Greater Than Podcast. You can follow her work on Instagram @michellemadridbranch