Help Us Celebrate!!

It’s been ONE YEAR today that we started the blog Don’t We Look Alike?, and what a ride it’s been!  We’ve learned a lot about adoption and related issues and have met some wonderful bloggers and other individuals along the way.

Coincidentally, this is also our 200th blog post!!!

English: Independence Day fireworks, San Diego.

English: Independence Day fireworks, San Diego. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Luanne:

When my husband and I adopted our two children in the 1980s, the only thing we knew about adoption was what we learned from local sources. My brother was adopted as a baby when I was eight, so adoption was familiar to me (link to my very first blog post about my brother). When we decided to adopt, we first thought of fostering because we knew the need was great, but we were told that because we didn’t have any children we didn’t qualify and were encouraged to adopt a baby for our first child. That seemed like good advice.

To do so we were asked to attend an “Adoption Information Meeting.” That evening five agencies were represented, and the bottom line was that if we wanted to adopt a baby we could go through Bethany, which represented Holt in Michigan.  Through that agency, we could adopt a Korean baby.  Within a year or so our son was in our arms. We then requested another child through the same agency because we felt it would be in our son’s best interests to share ethnicity with his sibling. Things were different in the eighties than they are today, and I still believe that was a good choice.

At that time, we didn’t have the internet to get information. Our information came from adoption-related sources, such as our case worker, the agency, other parents from our city who had adopted, etc. When the kids were little, we were connected to this network, but when the kids got older and were extremely busy with other activities and we moved away, we became less tied to any “adoption community.”

We never lost sight of our own notion that adopted children and children in transracial families couldn’t have their special circumstances ignored. But it often seemed like we were the only people around us who felt that way. People insisted that they “never thought” of our son or daughter “as Korean” or “as Asian” or “as adopted.” We would grit our teeth because ignoring realities doesn’t do our children any favors.

It wasn’t until Marisha and I started this blog that I found a whole community on the internet of people who “get” what adoption means, who understand that adoptees undergo trauma (often as infants), and that there are many political issues related to adoption which need to be considered. In fact, it feels as if the issues of adoption are just heating up.  Adult adoptees are leading the campaign to reform the way adoption works in this country.

I also didn’t know diddly about open adoption until reading like mad–blogs, articles, books. Open adoption is very different from the situation of my children’s adoptions, so it’s been such an educational experience for me to learn so much about it from the mouths of others.  We don’t know yet what adult adoptees are going to tell us in the future about their open adoptions, but I want to keep up on all this because it’s so important.

I feel passionate that reform is needed in certain aspects of adoption and foster care issues, while I am realistic about the impossibility of a system which works perfectly for every circumstance. I believe that the interests of children should be put ahead of the interests of adults.   I’d like to see our society work at becoming a “village” that cares for the various needs of foster children and children in need of adoptive families.

Thank you to all our readers and those who have participated in discussions on our blog.  And thank you to the other bloggers about adoption and foster care who share your hearts and experience with the world.

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Marisha:

I have done quite a lot of reflecting lately about this past year–mainly regarding my adoption. Seeing as this is the first year anniversary of our blog, I wanted to write a post about how amazing it is for me to see how much I have learned about myself, my mother, and other adoptees and parents.

I see most of my progress in how I now react to the different situations I am put in regarding being “Asian” and being “adopted.” The stigma has slowly started to drain away, and I am happy to feel a sense of relief when I think about my own adoption issues. In the past I would be overly sensitive and get hurt too easily by the comments someone would make to me such as the “tsunami in Japan” incident or my middle school crush telling me “I’m only into blondes.” I used to think that those comments were a reflection of how people saw me, or that I wasn’t good enough. Instead, I resound in knowing that most of those incidents and experiences have in fact, nothing to do with me or who I am on the inside or outside. Being comfortable in one’s skin is never easy– it would be false to think that one can fully live a life of confidence and not have any insecurities or flaws within them. I have accepted my flaws and faced my insecurities. I face them every day, in fact.

I am so thankful for my mom for being patient with me these past 25 years. This blog has not only bonded us even more, but has given us an honest outlet to communicate with each other about the problems we both are facing in life and with each other. It has been a rocky year personally for both of us. I have done some things that I am not particularly proud of, but have learned from them and found it easier to move on from the past because I have given myself the time to understand my issues of abandonment and insecurities about being an Asian-American adoptee.

At the same time, the amazing adoptees I have been in contact with or have shared some of their stories on our blog or on their own blogs have educated me. They help to fill a void–that feeling of being alone. It has given me a comfort to know that I am not alone in this. That a lot–if not most– adoptees face the same feelings I do at some point in their lives. I am inspired by that.

This next year is full of excitement. I ring in the one year anniversary with the blog by announcing my new journey. I will be playing one of my dream roles: Mimi in the musical RENT! I have waited my whole life for this moment, and I feel as if it has come at the perfect time for me to start this next chapter as a proud adoptee and woman. I have learned to not let my race or my cultural position define me because at the end of the day, that doesn’t matter. What you choose to do and how you choose to live your life is material enough to create a success out of oneself. I am so proud to see the world start to change to give opportunities to people like myself, despite what we look like on the outside or where we come from.

Thank you for tuning in to the blog every week and thank you for allowing me and my mum the freedom to share our stories without judgment. I look forward to many more stories in the future from us and especially from all of you!!!

To help us celebrate, please consider donating to help foster children.  As an example, here is a news story about an Arizona charity (not yet rated by the BBB or Charity Navigator) which seeks funds to send foster kids to summer activities of their choice.  We donated for dance classes for a boy who wanted to take dance. Click this link to read the article.  In the article is a link to donate.

Gifts to the World by Kayla Richardson

 MEET KAYLA RICHARDSON

Dancer, Choreographer, Musical Theatre Performer

fierce dance 4

Kayla spent much of her childhood performing in musical theatre in Cincinnati.  Today she is a senior dance major at Point Park University, where she also studies dance management.  She was born in Fort Worth, TX, in 1992 and was adopted a month later by Brian and Helen.  The family lived in Namibia in southern Africa from 1995-97, but has lived predominantly in Ohio.

Wait ’til you see Kayla dance!!!

Here is Kayla dancing in a piece this fall – her senior year in college:


Kayla choreographed for her high school, selecting girls for their first featured roles:

In this video, Kayla performs her unique anti-lyrical piece for a college audition:

fierce dance 3

Gifts to the World by Marisha Castle

MARISHA CASTLE

SINGER/SONGWRITER

Marisha writes and performs singer/songwriter, pop, and acoustic music with her guitar and piano. She is currently working on her first demo CD with a music producer.  She has performed in Los Angeles at clubs such as Parlor on Melrose and Eleven Nightclub.

A graduate and B.F.A holder of the University of Oklahoma’s Musical Theatre Department, Marisha has been trained in many vocal styles, dance, and acting.  Her resume includes many musicals, such as Miss Saigon, Rent, and Chicago; plays like Joy Luck Club and A Piece of My Heart; screen work such as the lead in a short film All the Little Girls; and music videos. She has representation across the board in L.A, where she currently resides.

The singer/songwriter passion drives Marisha to work hard at her dreams. Through self-examination, which includes understanding her adoption, she has been able to delve into all aspects of herself and use it to create her art in many forms. She wrote this song, “Save Me,” over a year ago and has provided a snippet of it for us to enjoy. Her songwriting truly is her diary and her lyrics really express what she is going through–raw and with honesty. She is so excited to share this with our blog supporters and to be among the other talent that is being represented in the showcase!

Note from Luanne:  Marisha provided this short video ” Save Me,” and we were going to post it with a video from a club performance.  But with a mom’s privilege I begged her at the last minute to record another song just for us without background club noise.

arrow-rightHere is If I Could.

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In costume for a music video

Gifts to the World by Emmy Farese

MEET EMMY FARESE

MUSICAL THEATRE PERFORMER

DWLA is thrilled to present Emmy and her prodigious talent.  Watch for her name to start appearing in the playbills for Broadway and National Tour musicals in a few years!

In 1998, Emmy Farese was born in Latvia and joined her adoptive parents Susan and Michael very soon after.  Always smiling, connecting well with others and moving with a zest for life, Emmy entered the world of performing arts at 2 ½ years old with dance lessons.  As she gradually increased her knowledge and skills in dance, she also began acting and vocal training.   Emmy, now 14,  has performed in professional, community and school theatre productions, as well as feature, independent, and student films and music videos.

She is a freshman at Canyon Crest Academy, a high school specializing in the arts in San Diego. In her spare time, Emmy enjoys hanging out with friends or playing with her tuxedo cat Chloe.  “I’m really happy in life and I’m so lucky to be where I am today. I’m really thankful for my parents and all the opportunities I’ve had.”

Emmy and her family have asked us to add a dedication to those family,friends and groups who were especially supportive in welcoming Emmy. “Special warm regards from our family to Brenda Baker, Kathlyn Brigham & family, Maryann & Frank Felice Jr. and Frank Felice III, Renee Mordente Singer and family, the Felice, Mentasti, Farese, Micek, Cebulski, Zvalaren, Kopala, Cebulski, Gettis, Micek, Families, B-Cliff, Forster-Loy, Adoption Center of Washington, D.C., CAFA Adoption support group, Laura and Anna, Las Madres San Jose, ’98, and friends/neighbors of Ocean Township, and Preston Forest in Cary, N.C.”

SKIP TO EMMY SINGING

IMAGES FROM SOME OF EMMY’S SHOWS AND PERFORMANCES

“Lullaby League” from “The Wizard of Oz” Sept. 2005–Emmy was 7 years old
This professional stage production from American Musical Theatre of San Jose (AMTSJ) starred James Monroe Iglehart (Broadway performer in Memphis and 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) as the Lion!

HipHop Performance

Emmy in “Taming of the Shrew”

In “Caucasian Chalk Circle”
with Dashiel Grusky and Max Grusky

Broadway Students Summit

Still from film “Little Black Girl”

All headshots by

Chris Evan Photography

EMMY SINGING

LAST DAY TO HELP AN ADOPTEE ARTIST

Chad Goller-Sojourner, a Seattle-based writer, solo-performer and transracial adoptee, has launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign for his sophomore solo-performance “Riding in Cars with Black People & Other Newly Dangerous Acts: A Memoir in Vanishing Whiteness.” Riding in Cars… is the groundbreaking and crushingly honest story of what happens when a black boy, raised by white parents “ages out” of honorary white and suburban privilege and into a world where folklore, statistics and conjecture deem him dangerous until proven otherwise. Of course this show is about a lot more than what happens when white parents ship their black kids off to college in ill-fitted automobiles. At times funny, biting, and somber,Riding in Cars with Black People unpacks race, privilege, and identity formation like only a transracial adoptee can.

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/249182?show_todos=true&a=1351934

Excerpts from Riding in Cars:

“What I remember most about that first stop was that he asked “Where are you headed.”Not “license, registration and proof of insurance, please” but “Where are you headed.”Eighteen years, nine months, sixteen days and one thousand seconds of riding around in cars with nothing but white folks and not once had an officer expressed interest in where I was headed.”

“While I did not know it at the time, growing up one of the benefits of my honorary white and suburban privilege was the ability to gather, congregate and move aimlessly through public spaces without attention or purpose… Perhaps that’s why for years after leaving home I carried an old family picture, tucked it directly behind my driver’s license, where the latter went the former followed, sometimes whispering, and sometimes shouting “I am not the Black Man you think I am. Now please let me pass without delay or further hindrance.”

Artist’s Bio:

Chad Goller-Sojourner is a Seattle-based writer, solo-performer and recipient of a distinguished Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission Performing Arts Fellowship. His work has been funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and featured on NPR. Most recently he was awarded a 2011 Artist Trust/Centrum Creative Artist Residency to develop his sophomore solo show: Riding in Cars with Black People & Other Newly Dangerous Acts: A Memoir in Vanishing Whiteness. In 2009 he launched a national three-year college tour of his award-winninginaugural solo show: Sitting in Circles with Rich White Girls: Memoirs of a Bulimic Black Boy, which debuted July 2008.

Work in Progress . . .

by Marisha

When we started this blog, I mentioned that I was going to be writing about my life here in LA. To be honest, as time went on, I realized that that was a little harder than I thought it was going to be; to write openly about my life might mean publicly exposing people in my immediate life or people who I do not know.

That said, I have thought for the past week about what I would write about, and I finally realized how this city has brought me a lot of tests of strength.  These are tests for  a performer–and especially a performer who is an adoptee.

The business and dream I have chosen to pursue is, to say the least, not the most comforting/stable business. As a performer, you are not just selling a presentation of a certain product. You are selling YOU. Every part of you is under surveillance, whether it’s your looks, the way you speak, even the size of your feet. You are either right for the role or you aren’t. You live in uncertainty about your finances.  Even more importantly, you have to evaluate your personal stability on a daily basis, as well.

This business is based so much on “rejection.”  You sometimes have to hear a hundred “NOs” before one resounding “YES” comes along. I was struggling with that–have been struggling with that pretty much since I started auditioning as a teenager and moved outside the realm of just dance. I used to take it so personally, analyze every moment of the audition and drive myself crazy when I wouldn’t get the call or the gig.

“Was I too big?”

“Did I talk too much?”

“Should I have done the character differently?

“I could have done that scene better.”

And so on.  I know that everyone in this business–they don’t have to be adopted!–has felt this at one time.  To some degree, it’s not only human nature, but it’s the reality of any line of work.

A lot of time I not only felt “rejected,” but I honestly felt “not good enough.” There were so many times that I questioned my strength in this business, but, thankfully, because of this blog, I have figured out why.

One of the biggest things that adoptees face is the feeling of “abandonment.” It took me almost 24 years to fully understand that, and even so, it was thinking more thoroughly about the role of adoption in my life through work on this blog that helped lead me to this new understanding.

I think that this awareness will come at very different stages for other adoptees. I never really put two and two together before. But just like adoption affects your relationships, it can affect your work as well. Especially this work. I have always wanted to be accepted, to be loved and respected for what I do and bring to the table. I can get very sensitive to harsh criticism of my craft not only because it is my passion, but it is my dream.

But there’s a bigger picture, I now realize. Criticism is all in how you perceive it, and quite frankly, EVERYONE is going to have an opinion of you and your work. You have to take it with a grain of salt and try NOT to take it personally. Easier said than done, right? I’m learning that I have not always taken it as that, but in fact, as criticism to me as a human being–that, again, I am not good enough. That I do not have the tools to make someone believe in me and not “abandon” me or my potential.

Photo by Louise Hay

I now see how silly that is. I have become so much better, and have learned to separate my adoption from getting in the way of my dreams and relationships.

This blog post feels like a diary entry for myself.  I am a work in progress and this journey in LA has been anything but easy. I am going to fight for my dream, and I can’t promise I will always be on the up and up emotionally. But I will say that each day gets a little easier, and I am very much “good enough.” Thanks for helping me with that, guys! x

WE…..WANT…..YOUR…..ART!

DON’T WE LOOK ALIKE? WANTS YOUR ART!!!!!!!!!!!

ANNOUNCING

GIFTS TO THE WORLD: ART BY ADOPTEES

The month of December will be devoted to SHOWCASING the artistic endeavors of adoptees. ADULTS AND CHILDREN are welcome to submit.

We are looking for:

* VISUAL ART–painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, cartoons, scrapbooking, needlework, more (jpg)

* PERFORMANCE ART–singing, dancing, acting , comedy, choreography, directing, musical composition (video link)

* WRITTEN ART–poetry only (Word document)

No, art does not have to touch upon the subject of adoption.
This is the time for adoptees to SHARE THEIR TALENTS with others.

Submit to marishaandluanne@gmail.com.

Videos need to be YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu, Flickr, DailyMotion, Viddler, Blip.tv, TED Talks, or Videolog. We will embed onto the blog.

Other than our right to publish your art on this blog, you keep the rights to your artwork. THIS IS NOT A CONTEST OR COMPETITION. It’s a chance to show off your work. Therefore, whether your piece(s) is selected or not is not a reflection on talent, but on other factors, including space.

AND, YES, WE LOVE REFRIGERATOR ART!!!

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