Review of the Indiana Adoptee Network Conference, 2018:

The weekend was a whirlwind of many sights, people, and feelings in a very short time span. I’d never been to Indianapolis before. I’ve driven through it but never stopped…even for gas. So the first big mind-blow was the fact that I live only two hours east, but was totally new to the city and had a room at the Union Station Crowne Plaza in a converted train car!  They tell you when you check in that you will hear engines and feel rumbles on occasion throughout the facility, and do not fear an earthquake; it’s just the trains. Those front desk people were not kidding!  Sleeping was fine though.  No noise to speak of.

I had to work a full day on Friday, so I missed seeing the keynote speaker and the workshops, which was a bummer. However, I arrived in time for dinner and was immediately immersed in the meeting new people and learning names thing, which was fine. I was totally prepared for that. Lynn, Amy, Shannon, Lisa, Becky, Mike and I ordered pizza and got drinks at the bar. Then in the hall, we ran into Wendy and Pam plus one other guy I don’t know, but I’m sure I’ve seen him online in a FB adoptee group.

It’s a unique experience seeing the faces of all these people who stroll down our Facebook sidewalks all the time, (AKA your news feed), and actually getting to hug them or shake their real-life hand.

We’re all real!  Feeling “real” is a biggie for adopted people anyway, and being able to acknowledge other adopted people’s realness was a bonus. All of a sudden, here we were, exchanging stories about how we arrived in Indiana and how the first day went, eating pizza and walking around together. Wow!

Adoptee and playwright, Suzanne Bachner brought her one-woman show, “ The Good Adoptee” to stage for our evening entertainment. It was funny, articulate, engaging and very honest about her adoptee experience. The actress portraying Suzanne was excellent. How she basically monologued for 90+ minutes non-stop and did the voices for Suzanne, the parents and a social worker was incredible. The energy was impressive. The whole production was such a beautiful, thoughtful work of art.

Adoption or not, a ton of effort went into that show.

All the social connecting too was something I miss and need more of. It felt like being back at college going through the battery of where-are-you-from, do-you-have-siblings/kids/pets, What-do-you-study/work at type questions again. I don’t mind. It keeps my people skills honed.  I need more honing opportunities.

Even if you’re more of an introvert, times like these at conventions and conferences are as valuable as the workshops themselves. Adoptees crave feeling connected. Connecting with people just like ourselves is as big a deal as connecting with family members. Fellow adoptees are sort of like extended family members.

Saturday morning started with a  “continental breakfast” of sweet rolls and bagels. There was a small amount of fruit. Lots of white carbs. Low in protein. Many people commented that they would have liked some eggs or other warm offerings instead of all the bread products.  Nevertheless, everything I tasted was good.

The morning showing of the documentary film by Steve Lickteig, Open Secret, was fabulous. The cinematography, writing, and research were stellar. The film evoked a lot of emotion for the viewers. I’m 30 years out from search and reunion. It’s all less raw for me, but had I been newer to learning my truths and secrets I would have been much more impacted. I don’t know how filmmaker, Steve does/did it, reliving his family drama, his birth mother’s trauma, the gradual aging of the mom and dad who raised him…Again, Wow!  Open Secret is filled with emotion, artful cinematography and explains the plight of many birth mothers and the lasting effects that some secrets can cause to individuals and whole communities.

During lunch, we were randomly grouped by table number so it forced people to meet new folks. It also scrambled the adoptees, birth parents and social workers around, which, IMO was a good thing. The name game “getting-to-know-you” activity was the EXACT same one we did at my school’s in-service last week!  We had to discuss our names and any cool stories or feelings we had regarding the name we have.

Names play a tremendous part in an adopted person’s identity. Some of us may have two names. So while this name game icebreaker might seem simple, it is more complex for adoptees and causes us to reflect on a deeper level about the way we identify as human beings.

(I could write a super-huge, separate post about my name another time.)

During all these amazing, exciting and informative meetings and presentations, attendees get tired and sated. The material is that intense. Sometimes too it’s just the effect of being away from our norm and off routine that causes the fatigue. The anticipation of the weekend is an adrenaline rush, especially for those boarding planes or driving long distances. Like many adventures, we’re pumped up and ready to go initially. By the closing session our energy is dropping and refocusing on returning to our other lives as workers, parents, volunteers, caregivers and anything else we do besides acknowledging our adoptedness. We are flooded with feelings and beliefs we’ve often kept silent about our whole lives, but in our spacious safe place of a hotel and conference center, where other hard-working people make our beds, feed us lunch, take away our old drink cups and provide water and coffee all day, we find freedom to share our stories and opinions. As adoptees in the outside world, we must work to find a way to keep our awakened thoughts validated and existent while continuing on with regular life of the home, work, school, chores, errands and scrolling down the social media sidewalks, reminding ourselves that adoption support, kinship, and connectedness are out there.

The IAN conference was a fun, enlightening and celebratory event that went way too quickly. It was good to be immersed for a brief time in just myself as an adoptee; not as a wife, daughter, mom, employee, teacher or anything else. I was able to put Adoptee Me first. During the presentation that Lynn and I did together, I blended Adoptee and Teacher Me. It’s what I wanted to do and needed. I enjoyed being Adoptee Me.  Adoptee Me is the first version of me that ever existed. Adoptee Me deserved this time, and Adoptee Me can’t wait to go back next year!

Powerpoint of You Have Your OBC, Now What?

Thanks to Lynn Grubb for all the hard work making this such a fine presentation!

IAN Powerpoint Version 3 4.7.18

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